3D character artist Arik Newman takes us through the ZBrush, KeyShot and Photoshop process for his "Evil Advisor" character, based on a Javier Burgos concept...
This project was created in my spare time and it was based on a Javier Burgos concept. I was so inspired by his work and decided to challenge myself and model his complex Evil Advisor. I learned a lot from this project and I enjoyed it!
Step 1: Blocking the model
The first thing I do is analyze my concept and sometimes if I find it hard to pose them, I break it down and draw orthographic views, but not in this case. I recently started to block my models with simple primitives similar to drawing. Using Spheres, Cylinders , cones and for more complex shapes, I use the Move tool in ZBrush to achieve the desired shapes.
Step 2: Define and refine the model
After blocking the base figure I start to merge using Dynamesh; first the limbs, then legs, hands and finally the head and torso. The head looks at first sight very complex in terms of shapes so I decided to break down the face into different areas for better control. Finally, I started to add more details to my character, mostly as placeholder to see the right proportion of the whole figure.
Step 3: Add details and accessories
This stage is so critical because all other elements that I'm going to add will be based on this final shape. I knew the blouse should be perfect in terms of shapes because so many decorations would be on top of that blouse, which would make a huge impact on the audience. I also knew that those decorations would need my full attention in order to make them look crisp and clean.
Step 4: Decorating the blouse
The blouse was definitely a big part of the model and it took me a lot of work. For the decoration I use IMM hair number 04. I make sure in the brush pallet to press the depth tab and move the circle of the brush placement up in order to draw on top of the surface. I also make sure under the stroke pallet to use the Curve tab and press snap to object. Then I can start drawing the decorations on the blouse.
I drew them in the way that I wanted using manual manipulation and placing the "roots" on top of each other. I export the sphere and the "Roots" to Maya to merge the vertices and make sure to add more loops to the model, and use edge flow to make the right space from each loop on that "Root."
Import back the final mesh and smooth it out. Done !
Step 5: Clothes detailing
For the clothes I wanted to use surface noise, but then I realized that UVs are essential to have the best control of the flow of the fabric, and where the seam will be located.
1. Send the model to Maya
2. Unwrap the model with smart decision about where the seam will be
3. Find the texture of fabric on CGtexture.com and place it as it is to test the look of the fabric on the model
4. Send the model back to ZBrush with the UVs and subdivide the model for maximum resolution
5. Add the texture to the texture pallet and flip it vertically, then do Fill Object
6. Then go to the Masking tab and press Masking by Intensity and then inverse the mask
7. Use the inflate slider under the Deformation tab and see the result (I use 8)
8. Clear the mask and that's it! Sometimes the results are not that good and you have lots of pixels, so I go back and give one more subdivision or use the smooth slider for a softer look
This is what I did for all my clothes! It's a really efficient way, and you can see the number of options at the same time.
Step 6: Texturing the face
I will try to break down my steps for texturing into a few steps. The first step will be the face and how I approach texturing him.
1. I used the first skin tone by sampling from the original image (pale green)
2. I started to add another major skin tone which is pale purple
3. I added some saturated green to deep areas or hidden places (under the nose, creases)
4. Added more variation to the major skin tones and try to add more purple/green
5. I started to accentuate the area with deep creases and paint then with darker purple/green
6. Finally I started to add more reds and pinks, and more warm colors to the nose, chicks, ears and chin
Step 7: Detailing the face
For this step I usually use both manual poly painting with different strokes and alphas, and the second way is by images which I found very easy, and can create a lot of variation in my models. I will show you how I create complex and interesting skin tones in no time.
First I find on the web some good images with a lot of variation, then I load them into the texture pallet, change my brush to Standard (uncheck Zadd or Zsub) using DragRect with Alpha01, and one of the textures I like, and start to drag those textures on my model.
Green/blue texture variation was placed on the green area and more red/pink/yellow on the warm area, with a combination of Polypaint mode you can reach easily to more than 30 different variations with 5-6 textures.
Step 8: Texture the clothes
For the clothes, I didn't try to make something too complicated. I think after I did the hard work in the previous steps and detailed my clothes with all the different patterns of clothes, it was time to pick colors and add them to the specific parts based on the concept art.
I show here how I texture my clothes most of the times, in this example I take the socks.
1. Sample the original color from the concept and give the socks the relevant color
2. Pick two darker colors based on the original colors and paint around the edges
3. Pick two brighter colors and paint in the middle to make a cool gradient
4. I start to explore the texture and try to break the symmetry and use some alphas to make the texture more interesting
5. Finally I use Mask by Cavity, pick one color from the center and use fill object (I rather use a low value such as 15 and press twice or three times) to get the desired look
6. In this step you can clearly see how dominant the transition is between the dark purple and the bright purple
7. After using the fill object a couple times, I reach something more delightful
8. Final render with KeyShot
Step 9: KeyShot lighting setup
I used KeyShot for almost two years and I got a lot of comments about how my render looks. At first it takes me time but then I realize how easy to set good lighting will try to explain that here. The first thing I do when finishing my sculpt is to send a high version of my model to KeyShot and try to find good composition and nice lighting!
I like to make one dominant Key light and one Rim light (sometimes it can reach 3 Rim lights) depends on the model and the silhouette I want to capture in the final image. One of the things that I use a lot is HDRI map to illuminate my model from all angles and as replacement for fill light. I try many kinds of HDRI maps until I find one that gives a nice feel to my model. Usually I use one with yellow highlights (warm color) and then try to create contrast with light blue rim light for dramatic effect.
Step 10: KeyShot material and final presentation
Good materials will take your model to the next step, in line with good lighting. This part is not something that I rush. Sometimes I can spend hours and sometimes days to find something that looks great. One major thing is the eyes; a lot of the time I try to find good HDRI in the right direction that reflect on the eyes and give them life. And then I incorporate everything else according to the nice looks I give my character including manually moving the lights I created and materials. It's time consuming until you find a good balance between them.