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Using masks for fine details

By Gavin Goulden
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 5th June 2014
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In this quick tutorial, Lead Character Artist, Gavin Goulden will show you how to create fine detail in a face, like pores, wrinkles, and blemishes using a mask created from a texture in ZBrush


When sculpting faces and skin, placement of details is very important, and that extra level of polish can really make your sculpture sing – but it can be tedious and time consuming.

To help speed things up, and keep the details accurate, I like to use a mask based off of a grayscale texture that marks the peaks and valleys of the surface and allows you to push them in or out using Deformation > Inflate. This technique helps lay down a nice base layer of detail that is far more interesting than just surface 'noise' and allows you to build from that using normal sculpting methods.

Adding a final pass of surface detail to your model can make a world of difference, but overdo it, or have unnatural details, and the effect is ruined

Using masks to create fine details

To begin, you will need an unwrapped model and a grayscale texture where white represents high points of information and black represents low points of information. In this example, you can begin with a desaturated texture and manually paint extra details that would be lost.

Once you are happy with the larger and medium forms of your sculpture, import the grayscale texture into the alpha slot within your brush in ZBrush. Navigate to Masking > Mask by alpha and click Mask by Alpha. This will cause black areas in your texture to mask off areas of your sculpt (by default leaving them deactivated) – if you cannot see your mask applied to your sculpt, simply enable View Mask.

Once your mask is applied, navigate to Deformation > Inflate and decrease or increase the intensity. You can see your geometry being displaced based on the texture you applied.

In this example, you can see the different steps taken to mask out details and the effect adding this information to your sculpt has – and it only takes a few minutes

Pro tip: pushing details further

Using this technique means that your model is being changed globally – meaning all exposed areas have the same treatment, which isn't necessarily true in the real world. You can continue to mask out areas and, with your favorite brush, push out details further!

Continue pushing details out in your sculpt by masking off areas more and running a standard brush over the
exposed areas

Related links:

Check out Gavin Goulden's portfolio
Follow Gavin Goulden on Twitter
Discover more free tutorials!
Learn how to define seams with Polygroups

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