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ZBrush insights from Nacho Riesco

By 3dtotal staff

Web: http://nachoriesco.daportfolio.com/ (will open in new window)

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Date Added: 19th April 2017

ZBrush teacher and jewelry designer, Nacho Riesco shares his sketchbook and advice on how to become a 3D sketching master...



When we talk about sketching, any tool that allows us to bring our ideas to life will be the best tool of expression, regardless of whether it's a pencil, a piece of pastel, or a brush; on a piece of paper, board, wood, or a wall.

For me, I think that 3D sculpting software gives the right workflow. I love doodling and sketching in 3D as I can expand my creativity in a 3D space with incredible freedom.

Unlike drawing or painting, sculpting gives you the possibility to use all the views, and focus your creativity on creating a variety of different shapes and anatomy. Having all of that information in real time effectively speeds up your creative process.

As you can see in my sketchbook, I love to create monsters and aliens. Without the anatomy restrictions that human beings and animals have, it allows you to achieve the necessary knowledge about the software to make more complex works. Sometimes though, I think it's important to cultivate your anatomical knowledge and sculpt the natural human form, in order to improve as an artist.

I hope that you enjoy this sample of my work. I've tried to gather a broad range of images that show different styles and themes.

Nacho made this practice piece to enhance his sculpting skills and explore alien shapes to create a stylized anatomy

Here, Nacho further explores alien shapes concentrating on eyes. He claims that eyes are always one of the most important parts of the character as they show so much of its personality

Inspiration and ideas

For an artist, the real world will always be the first place of inspiration. Nature gives us all the necessary information we need to start creating.

Nowadays, we have the virtual world on the internet, and for me it's an endless mass of inspiration and ideas. The net is usually my first source for inspiring images, with websites like 3DTotal, which is an amazing place to constantly discover new artists and images.

Movies are another important source of inspiration. Today, movie art departments are pushing creativity to new levels of skill and imagination, which constantly motivates artists to reach that bar.

I come from a traditional art background, and so for me the world of 3D is still a very recent discovery. If I have to talk about my main inspirations though, I can say that it comes from the world of comic and illustration, and from artists like Frank Frazetta, Simon Bisley, Brom and Oscar Chichoni.

More Dynamesh practices. This is the main process Nacho uses with this tool

This was a commission Nacho created as a mascot. The client wanted a cartoon chameleon with a real element, so he played around with the anatomy and gave a more realistic skin texture


ZBrush is the software I use to make my 3D creations. I discovered it six years ago and I totally fell in love with it when I saw its possibilities. It allows you to start creating right from the start – the slogan says it all: "Created by artists for artists”.

Nacho designed this character as a mascot for a water sports school. The client wanted a dynamic character that could be posed in different sports such as surfing or paddle-surfing

This is one of Nacho's first DynaMesh attempts, which helped him realize the brilliance of ZBrush

This sketch is a result of Nacho practicing his cartoon character sculpting skills. It's also one of his early practices with the IMM Brushes

Sketching workflow

For artists like myself that hated the polygonal restrictions, DynaMesh is a fantastic way to improve the sculpting workflow. So when I start sketching in ZBrush, I always use DynaMesh.

When starting a project, I use a low resolution (32 or 64 is okay) and block-out the main forms by sculpting the mesh with the Move brush – working from big to small.

Using a bust as an example, I would then use the Move brush to pull down and create the form of the upper body, chest, back and shoulders. Next, after decreasing the brush size, I would start adjusting the head and neck, and creating the smaller details such as the nose, ears and eyebrows.

Once the main anatomy is created, I turn off DynaMesh and re-mesh the model using QRemesher or the latest ZRemesher, and then start creating the necessary subdivision levels to sculpt and add detail to the model. Finally, I use the Transpose Master plug-in to pose the model and break the symmetry.

Nacho says that lips allow us to add realism to a character. Good research can give a wide range of lips and mouths to incorporate in modeling

Nacho sculpted this as part of a zipper puller for a collection of leather jackets. The bat is the image of the fashion company and was printed and prototyped by a jewelry company

Related links

Check out Nacho's website
Grab a copy of Sculpting from the Imagination in ZBrush


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