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Creating dramatic 3D artwork - Mangbetu Woman

By Martin Nikolov
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 7th August 2014
Software used:
Photoshop, ZBrush
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Martin Nikolov explains the workflow he used when re-imagining a vintage photograph using ZBrush and Photoshop to create his striking Mangbetu Woman...


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Inspiration

This was a personal work, made for fun. I saw this picture of a Mangbetu Woman from Citroen's expedition to the Congo in 1925 and I just loved it, so I needed to model it.

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This photograph taken by Leon Poirier and George Specht in 1925 is the original inspiration behind this model ©National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution

The base mesh

Usually I start directly in ZBrush with DynaMesh because I have more freedom to experiment with the shape and form, but in this case, I wanted to stick as close as I could to the silhouette in the picture.

I started to define the profile using an existing base mesh, which I adjusted according the picture. The head gear was modeled in MODO, using simple box modeling – nothing fancy here. I also used the Edge Extend tool for the hair and apron base meshes, the Tube tool for the rope accessories, and lots of Bevel for that cone-shaped headgear.

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Using an existing base mesh to create the main figure and modeling the rest in MODO

Polygroups

When I was happy with the base mesh, I was ready to start sculpting. I imported the model into ZBrush and split it in different Polygroups to make it easier when separating the different parts.

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Importing the model into ZBrush to split it into Polygroups

Brushes

My favorite brushes, and those that I use the most often are: Move, Clay and DamStandard with lots of smoothing. For the torn apron, I used the SnakeHook brush with Alpha 23. This part was a good exercise in anatomy and cloth. The finer details were made with custom alphas I downloaded from ZBrush Central.

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