David Anastácio Ferreira gives 3dtotal a rundown of the key processes involved in creating his image, Doctrich – Post Apocalyptic Scientist Mechanic
In this tutorial I will go through my process for creating the character Doctrich from scratch. I will first start with the concept sketching, then go into ZBrush to sculpt it and texture part of it. I will then bring it into 3ds Max to create the final materials and textures for the Hi Res model and set up a basic studio lighting set for tests and for the final image.
References and sketching in 2D
The first thing to do is to establish your theme, your concept. What it is that you want or have to do?
This applies to a professional scenario as well as a personal work – the main difference is that on the first situation, the theme/script is given to you by someone else.
For me the story is very important so if there isn't any, I will make one up. And it doesn't have to be a complete narrative; it can just be a short profile/bio on the character. As Bert Dodson writes in one of his books, "Creativity likes constraints and specifics." It's also on this stage that I'll do some research and gather all the references I feel relevant.
I had stopped drawing for many years and with this project I finally got back to it. It was something that I knew I would really benefit from but was always postponing it. It really doesn't matter if you do it digitally or traditionally, as long as you really take advantage of the speed in which you can quickly experiment with different possibilities.
It is very important that you go through the iterations process, not just personally, since it will really make your final choice a better one, but also professionally since it's something employers in the industry appreciate. Keep in mind that you're not doing pretty drawings for presentation, you're just making those sketches for yourself and so long as you understand them, they're doing their job.
Here I gathered a few sketches I did in Photoshop. It's important to make them as different from one another as you can
Refining the sketch
After I choose my favorite concept from the first sketches, I try to take it a bit further by trying out different angles, poses and expressions. It's pretty common for me to take weird pictures of myself in strange poses, to use as reference.
Also, try playing with the proportions a bit, particularly if it's not a realistic character. In Photoshop you can quickly change things up with the Free Transform Tool and Liquify. These really help you precisely define the silhouette and all the features and accessories you want for your character. Again, these don't have to be pretty drawings, just good enough for you to be able to read the character.
Here you can see the further development of the sketch, trying out different proportions with the same gesture, based on weird pictures of myself
Another advantage in starting with some 2D sketches/studies of your character is that when you get to the moment of sculpting it, it's really, really fast.
I like to start with ZSpheres. To me they're the best way for you to quickly block your proportions and gesture. I find that the topology you get from the ZSpheres is more than enough for the initial and crucial stage of your sculpt. Since the topology follows the flow of your ZSpheres structure, it's really easy to mask an arm, a leg or even a single finger. You just have to hold Ctrl while dragging your Transpose tool along the topology you want to mask.
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Here you can see my initial ZSpheres structure, the Adaptive skin and 20 minutes of sculpting on that base mesh