I have always been fascinated by Sci Fi and creatures. I wanted to create something from scratch, trying to learn the new ZBrush 3.5 features at the same time. For this character I was inspired by the artwork of Mass Effect. I love all the concept art you can find about the game – it has such deep characters and history – and I wanted to make something with the inspiration that it passed to me. I also looked at references of reptiles and mammals to create my creature's look.
The history I imagined for this character is that he is from a race of great warriors; you could imagine him on a huge battlefield in the first line of fire. He can be a nice combat mate, but he's brutal too. He has a deep sense of honour and respect for the enemy, but he can kick ass if he wants to.
ZSpheres, ZSketch and Retopology
The base mesh for the character was done with the help of a few ZSpheres, created to be the skeleton of the character. I wanted to learn the new ZSphere 2 features that you can find in the new ZBrush 3.5. Pixologic's ZClassroom site is a good place to start to learn it.
With the ZSketch tool you can apply ZSpheres to the ZSpheres skeleton, trying to brush it out while respecting the basic anatomy workflow. This technique is tremendously effective and allows you to quickly establish shapes as close as possible to the initial idea, but this was my first attempt and so the final topology was not as good as it could have been. I then converted the ZSketch to a mesh with the Unified Skin tool and with that I started to sculpt a couple of levels of subdivision. I used this mesh to make some detail and make the initial shapes and muscles, but this mesh wasn't useful to make higher res details because the topology was not good enough. So I made a retopology from that so that I could start the sculpting process with a clean basemesh (Fig.01).
ZSpheres, ZSketch and the retopology process can be seen in Fig.02.
Modeling and Sculpting
I used the Clay and Move brushes to start the sculpting process. The Clay brush helps to make the first anatomy strokes and volumes and the Move brush to refine the shapes and keep the anatomy right. Then I imported the model into 3ds Max to create the spines, eyes and teeth, which I then exported as a subtool. At this time I also used Max to create the UVs of the basemesh and I exported it to replace the ZBrush mesh without UVs (Fig.03).