Jin Hao Villa covers the general software and sculpting processes used in the creation of his image, covering workflows using ZBrush SpotLight and Softimage.
In this tutorial, I will go over my process of sculpting a realistic toad inside ZBrush. I will show you the brushes I use, and the tips and techniques I was mindful of in the development of my sculpture. Afterwards, I will take the model into KeyShot and show you my materials and light setup over there. I'll also show how I composited my passes in order to achieve the most realistic result possible.
This toad model actually started as just another simple exercise to educate myself more about animal anatomy. At first it was only going to be a head bust, but somewhere down the middle of my sculpting exercise, my creativity and imagination got the best of me and I decided I would chuck an armature in there and mimic an actual real life clay model in the process of development.
First off, it is important to gather references of your subject. I had a look at many kinds of toad species on the internet. The one I admired the most was the ‘cane toad' and decided that that was what I was going to sculpt. Apart from looking at Google for references, I would also highly recommend the BBC nature collection
and gaping maws
Once I gathered my references together, I picked the main 3 that would represent the front, side and back view of the toad and loaded those into SpotLight. The rest of the other references were loaded in XnView and placed and stacked across my 2 other extra monitors. ZBrush was loaded in my main monitor.
The first thing I did was load my reference image as a texture in ZBrush, then afterwards I loaded it into SpotLight by pressing Add to SpotLight. Once loaded, I used the spotlight panel widget to resize my reference image, making sure to decrease the Opacity so I could align the model to see how closely it matches the reference.
I then made sure I set my spotlight radius to 0, otherwise when I pressed Shift+ Z to go back into edit mode, my reference image would not have correctly dropped into the canvas and I would have ended up with a transparent brush cursor that resembles a stamp of the reference image underneath instead. If that happened, I could always press Shift+Z again to hide/unhide the reference image, while pressing just Z to enlarge the Spotlight widget.
Loading my reference images into ZBrush as a texture
"Make sure that when you DynaMesh, you do so at a fairly low resolution; this way you don't end up with too much topology that would make pulling forms around that much harder to do"
Sculpting the toad
I started off using a ZSphere rig, and when I got to a ZSphere armature I was happy with, I then pressed Make Adaptive Skin and then Make PolyMesh 3D. From there I began pulling shapes together until it resembled the appearance of a toad, DynaMeshing each time I felt the topology was not enough and getting stretched.
Make sure that when you DynaMesh, you do so at a fairly low resolution; this way you don't end up with too much topology that would make pulling forms around that much harder to do. When I sculpt I also like to use the basic material with a bit of gloss to the Specular highlight and have a Bounce light added into my light rig to properly evaluate how all the forms are looking. The brushes I mainly used at this stage were the Claybuildup, Claytubes and Move tools.
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Sculpting the toad in ZBrush using the Claybuildup, Claytubes and Move tools