Freelance 3D character creator Vahid Ahmadi shows how he used ZBrush to create his female character...
I am freelance digital sculptor and 3D character modeler, and have created characters for various game studios, included PlayStation and Bluepoint games. This is the making of my character "Idol."
Step 1: Composition
Before doing anything special I set my scene with some very basic shapes to see where I want to place all the parts, and I think ahead about possible problems. For the hands, I used ZSpheres and for the body ZBrush IMM body parts. For fabrics I used standard ZBrush planes and some mesh extractions with ZRemeshing to get everything ready and in place. For everything else I used ZModeler.
Step 2: Making the bow
I added a plane as a null, as it is shown in the picture, to begin modeling. I started in symmetry with small parts and then I merged each SubTool; then after doing all the parts separately, I merged them all and used mirror and weld before moving them into place with the help of the guide object that I had already placed.
Step 3: Making the cloth folds
For cloth folds I suggest studying and seeing different kinds of folds like zigzag, spiral, deadfolds, flying folds, half lock, diaper folds, and so on. You can use references to study and copy those folds within ZBrush, which isn't too difficult, but you should clean your mesh using ZRemeshing, and project back at least two or three times to get the best results, in my opinion. I used a standard brush with alpha 38 and 39, and high roll distance with combination of Move, Pinch, Inflate, and a low amount of gravity.
Step 4: Making of the hair
The IMM hair that I used is available for free download from gumroad. I began with a basic mesh using dynamesh, then started to add hair strands and play around with them to add more motion to them. I also used move topological to add strands because there are hair polygroups in the IMM brush that you can use, and the key thing with hair is making enough duplicates and playing around with them, going back and forth to get the best possible results.
Step 5: Getting ready to render
I started painting the model inside of ZBrush using the standard brush with low RGB intensity, and using color spray with ZBrush default alphas to paint this character and also spotlight projections. I used ZBrush double shade material, basic materials, and skin shades to make gold, leather, skin, and fabric material very easily, playing around with the spec, diffuse, and reflectivity values. There is a more in-depth article about making materials inside of ZBrush that you can read here.
Step 6: Rendering with BPR in ZBrush
ZBrush BPR render is a really quick tool for nice renders. I firstly did some test renders with low resolutions to see the flaws, and then I cranked up the values to high and started rendering with rays around 90 and blue to 9, and then I set my light to rim light to render some with back lights, and also some renders for reflections. I also did one for the ID pass in order to make selections inside of Photoshop.
Step 7: Mixing ZBrush passes
Well, I started composing different passes inside of Photoshop, making selections and choosing different parts and cleaning extra parts that I didn't need. I mixed a shadow pass, AO pass, paint pass, and others. For further improvement, I changed layers betweem linear dodge, multiply, screen, overlay, and so on... it was only a matter of experimenting back and forth between them.