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Building creatures in ZBrush

By Cameron Farn
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 24th March 2015
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Fleshing out

It was then time to start building up the underlying tissue and fatty deposits. Depending on the nature of the character I'm trying to create I'll spend a lot of time with the selection of clay brushes and build up the deepest crevasses. I'll then add larger secondary forms to areas of compression under the arms and between the legs while building the forms to support suggested anatomy, such as mouths, ears and eyes.

My muscle and bone SubTools were kept in the model as I developed the sculpt so I could refer back to them while placing new forms.

Fleshing out the primary, secondary and tertiary forms of the creature

ZRemesher and projection

Before I start applying the smallest forms or micro details, I like to produce a well organized and ready-to-go mesh. This helps to optimize the polygon flow and apply the details with little or no distortion, which can occur when applying them over an oddly stretched polygon layout. I duplicated my work to allow me to project back onto the new mesh. ZRemesher does a great job every time.

If I'm looking for more control over the flow, especially around the mouths or eyes, I will use the ZRemesher Guide brush to force the polygon flow into a direction I prefer, simply by drawing guides directly onto the mesh.

Optimizing polygon flow to allow the model to take more detail


After ZRemesher and projecting, I took some time to review several areas like the hands, feet and face, to refine the sculpt, and do any clean up from errors that may have occurred during the projection.

This was good time to push all the forms a little further too, so that they could hold the details I apply in the next steps. I added volume and weight to the larger wrinkles with the Inflate, Clay and DamStandard brushes, which gave some reason behind my choices in placing the original forms. I tried to hit every area and bring the whole figure up to the next level. This stage took some time, but it was absolutely worth it to get as much out of concept as possible.

Refining passes are essential to add volume and gravity to the sculpt

Refining render test 1, ©2014 Cameron Farn

Micro Details

I like to use custom alphas for each character I create in Photoshop. Making my own helps to bring another layer of originality to my work, while making each of the characters unique from one another. Skin details, scars and imperfections add another level to the story I want to tell and gives my Red Sands characters the look of a life well-lived. I added these details after creating a HD subdivision level; mixing bumps, pores and micro wrinkles to achieve the illusion of skin.

I essentially apply diffusion no matter what the alpha. When I work at such a small scale, it will affect my specular highlights during renders so I checked the model from a distance by zooming out and changing the lights.

Layering micro-detail is key to creating a great model

Micro detail render test 2, ©2014 Cameron Farn

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