Step 6: Adding textures using NoiseMaker
I wanted to take the surface detail of my cloth models further by adding a little bit of fabric texture to the folds. I decided to go with the NoiseMaker tool in ZBrush. The NoiseMaker tool allows you to create very nice 3D noise with a wide variety of settings and parameters. You can achieve very nice results quickly.
The Surface Noise tool can be activated with the press of a button, found under the surface tab in ZBrush. A library of predefined Noise Files can be accessed by pressing the Lightbox NoiseMaker button. I chose Noise07, which already had a cool fabric-looking alpha.
Back to the surface tab, I pressed Edit to open the Surface Noise preview window and edited the settings. I experimented with different scales and strengths. Once I was happy with those settings, I saved my new Noise file and applied it to the pants, the shirt and the suspenders. I applied it to the mesh by exiting the Surface Noise preview window and by clicking the Apply to Mesh button under the surface tab.
Using NoiseMaker to add a quick fabric textures to the sculpture
Step 7: Creating the shotgun
ZBrush has several very cool features specially designed for hard surface or mechanical sculpting. I first created the basic shape of the gun by combining many different primitives. I moved them around with the Move tool to get something as close as possible to the shape of a shotgun. I also used the Mesh Insert brush, which allows you to pick another mesh and just stick it to the surface of the model. Then I combined everything in one mesh with DynaMesh so I could start to sculpt and add details.
I used the Planar, Trim and Polish Brush, combined with frequent use of DynaMesh to define the shape to something that was very close to the general shapes. The Clip brushes turned out to be a great way to cut away areas and slice the borders. I extruded some panels by drawing a mask representing the region I wanted to extrude and then extruded them with Inflate in the Deformation sub palette.
I proceeded to create a topology that was lower and more efficient than my very dense DynaMesh, again using ZRemesher. I subdivided this new mesh up to level 4 and then used a lot of Standard Brushes with Lazy Mouse to define the edges, as well as the Polish and Trim brushes to get nice flat areas and polished surfaces.
Progression of the shotgun model and the final topology
Step 8: Posing the character
At that point, I had all the separate elements in place so I gave the character a pose to make the sculpture a little more dynamic, using the Transpose Master tool. This creates a low resolution mesh that combines all the SubTools that you can pose.
I isolated parts of my model and rotated them to the desired pose. For example, to rotate the right arm upward, I masked everything but the arm, moved from Draw mode to Rotate mode, drew a line with the Transpose bone from the shoulder to the elbow and then dragged the end of the line that was not the shoulder to rotate the arm. Then I went back to Draw mode, painted a mask from the elbow to the fingers and rotated that part up to position the hand so it could hold the gun.
I repeated that process for each finger and to the wrists. I rotated the shoulder and the spine to give the impression that the weight would be a little bit more on the left side. I also rotated the upper torso, the head and the arms slightly to the right to give an interesting gesture.
All those manipulations damaged some areas of the sculpt and collapsed some of the volumes of the arms, so I re-sculpted those places and added new skin folds and bigger wrinkles where new tension regions were created.
The development in posing the arms
Step 9: Lighting and rendering the sculpt
ZBrush offers a great solution to render your sculpture. However, I have been using V-Ray for a very long time now and I've become very comfortable with this rendering engine. Therefore, I exported my character out of ZBrush and imported him to 3ds Max for the final steps.
I had very nice topology with good UVs for all the objects, so it was easier to export the lower meshes and to render them with Displacement. I used the VRayDisplacementMod and the type was set to Subdivision. The scene was rendered using one planar V-Ray light as key and another planar V-Ray light placed behind the character as a rim light.
I first set up the renderer to low values to speed up the render times to allow quick experimentation with the light position and to play with the placement of the camera. I only used VRayPhysicalCamera here, and arranged the depth of field exactly as I wanted. For the final renders, I increased the samples for the image sampler, Light Cache, and Irradiance map. Everything was rendered as one pass straight from 3ds Max.
The final sculpt...
The V-Ray light setup in 3ds Max
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To see more by Mathieu Aerni, check out Digital Art Masters: Volume 8
and Digital Art Masters: Volume 9