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Making Of 'Horned Man'

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Date Added: 22nd June 2009
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The purpose of this making of is to outline the tools and techniques I used in the creation of my image, Hornedman. The image started as a sketch inside ZBrush and grew from there into the final image almost by accident. Sketching characters in ZBrush is a great way to concept ideas, mess around with forms and come up with cool new things. After the sketch I retopologised the head section of the model and from there used the polypaint tools in ZBrush to create the textures. Rendering was handled with Mental Ray in 3ds Max. I find Mental Ray to be the most accessible of the available rendering systems for Max, and the fact that Max already comes with it makes it great. Also, having used XSI for many years, the creation of shaders in Mental Ray has become second nature to me.


The starting point of many of my images, characters and dailies are done in ZBrush in the form of a sketch.  As my drawing skills aren't really worth writing home about, I find ZBrush to be a real lifesaver in terms of creating concepts. And the great thing is that you can visualise your concepts in 3D and even use the concept as a template to model over later on in the pipeline.
For this character I started with a basic human form mesh that I created in XSI some years ago and have been using in many projects since (Fig.01).

Fig. 01

Using this mesh at the lowest sub-division I pushed and pulled it around with the Move tool and Standard brush in ZBrush to find a base form and silhouette I liked. From there I worked my way up the subdivision levels adding progressively more detail using the Clay Tubes and Clay brushes only. An overview of the different sub-division levels can be seen in Fig.02 - 03.

Fig. 02

Fig. 03


For this model I decided to just retopologise the head as the loops on the body were adequate for my needs. The retopologising process was simple; I exported a mid-res .obj from ZBrush into 3ds Max and then used Polyboost's surface snapping tools to create a clean mesh over the old one. For the body I just exported the lowest subdivision out of ZBrush and joined that onto my new head. I then exported this new low-res .obj back into ZBrush, assigned it as a SubTool of the original sketch, subdivided it up to 4 million polys, and chose Project All to project my sculpted sketch onto my clean topology (Fig.04).

Fig. 04

As this was still indented to be a full character I also modelled some base gear and straps for him in 3ds Max


For the texturing stage I decided to use the polypaint feature in ZBrush. As the model still didn't have a set of UVs this was perfect for me to sketch on a try out some ideas for the skin. I used a technique outlined by Scott Spencer with his Stinger Head model to paint the texture. Firstly I chose a base colour for his skin, and then painted on sprays of red, blue and green in key places. Then I "noodled" the skin with white veins and finally sprayed over it all with my base colour at a low opacity. This is a very fast and effective technique for concepting skin tones and painting textures. As I still wasn't sure what to do with him at this stage, I left the texture rough (Fig.05 - 06).

Fig. 05

Fig. 06

continued on next page >

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