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Making of 'Female Zombie'

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
Software used:
This making of shouldn't be seen as a step-by-step as I'll only gloss over some of the processes used.  The steps below are only an outline of the some of the techniques used in the creation of this piece:

  • Conceptualising
  • Modelling and Unwrapping
  • Texturing
  • Hair (modelling and texturing)
  • Sculpting
  • Morph Targets and Rigging
  • Base
  • Lighting
  • Rendering


As far as creating an initial concept for this character goes, I started off with a basic idea in my head.  I never actually made any rough drawings or anything like that; the idea I had was reasonably clear so I decided to leave it at that.
I ultimately wanted to create a creepy character, sort of along the lines of that spooky girl from The Ring, except of course gorier and less ghost like.  I also wanted her to still be relatively attractive and fresh and not too decayed and old.

I started out with a normal female character model that I textured in a very clean and alive state, and then set out building the zombie over her.  I did this to create the person she used to be.

Fig. 01

Modelling and Unwrapping

I first set out creating a low poly quad base mesh in 3D Studio Max which I could later import into ZBrush.  Whilst doing this I got the basic anatomy and proportions of the figure down and also captured any basic likeness to the references I was using.  The next step was then to unwrap and texture her so that when imported I could use the texture I created as a guide to model with.

Her nightdress was also done separately in the same fashion as her body.  I took digital photos of one of my wife's nightdresses to be used as the base texture.

For both the body and nightdress, I first unwrapped each mesh then projected the actual base photo reference onto the mesh, instead of trying to fit the UVs to the texture.


As stated above, I started off by projecting the actual photo reference onto the mesh and then baked the textures out onto the UV layout I initially created.  This way I had way more control over how the texture fitted to the unwrap, instead of trying to get the UVs to awkwardly fit to the texture.  The actual texture might look a bit stretched in some areas but on the model it looks perfect!

Once I'd created my base nude texture (by projection mapping my photo reference onto my UV layout), I began cleaning up any messy areas and changing areas that I didn't like.

Once the cleanup was basically done I could start "zombifying" the texture.  First I started by building up the dead skin - this I usually do by discolouring the base skin to give it more of a dead feel.  I then started to build up layers of hand-painted veins.  I then started applying subtle layers of colour to create the effect of bruising.

Fig. 02

On top of all this I slowly added the hand-painted blood, sores, scratches...

Fig. 03

...and bruises.

Fig. 04

I then opened up the normal maps that I created in ZBrush (there'll be more on creating these in the Sculpting section).  The base normal maps were quite flat as I chose not to create the fine porous detail in ZBrush, for I took my base skin texture and desaturated it and then adjusted the brightness and contrast levels till I was happy (some areas might need to be fixed by hand!).  I then applied the NVidia NormalMapFilter in Photoshop to create a normal map of the fine porous detail of the skin.  This normal layer was then placed over the base normal map which I then set to Overlay mode so that the normal map below was made visible.  In a similar fashion I brought across any additional details, like the blood and veins, from the diffuse and applied the NormalMapFilter to them.  If I find that the details are perhaps too strong I simply adjust the opacity of the layers, as needed.

I then created the specular map from a greyscale image of the diffuse skin.  Here, again, I adjusted the brightness and contrast considerably and painted in any other detail I needed.  I also sharpened the specular considerably so that the porous detail was emphasised.  I then brought across any additional details, like the blood, and made that considerably whiter than the skin (which is almost black in comparison) as it has more gloss and shine to it.

The nightdress was done in a similar way to the above examples.

Once I had finished texturing everything (body, hair, nightdress, eyes, etc.) I could bake all the separate textures onto one final 2048 x 2048 texture map.

Optimisation note: Once I've finished modelling and texturing the character I optimise certain areas, like under the nightdress for example; I remove most of her mid-section as this area wouldn't be visible at all!

Hair (Modelling and Texturing)

I started out by creating the geometry for the base clump of hair that would be used to cover the back half and front sides of the head.  This was used as the underlying layer of hair that would fill in most of the hair and hide any of the optimised areas of the head that were deleted.

Fig. 05

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Ivica Poetricevic on Mon, 27 February 2012 9:41pm
Divni ste! Pozdrav Ivica Petricevic en: Excellent you! Greetings Ivica Petricevic
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