You are on page 1of 77

ZBrush Character Creation eBook series

chapter 01
Page 3 | Bird-Man

chapter 02

Page 14 | Mammal-Man

chapter 03

Page 22 | Aquatic-Man

chapter 04

Page 36 | Amphibian Man

chapter 05

Page 46 | Insect-Man

chapter 06

Page 58 | Reptilian-Man

- Free MatCap
- Free Movies
- Free Base Mesh

You can find all the relevant

resource files in the resources
folder that accompanies this pdf.

chapter 1

Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 01: Bird-Man

Created In:
ZBrush, 3ds Max & Photoshop

Im going to kick this brand new Manimal
series off this chapter by sculpting and texturing
a bird-man. I will need to sculpt a creature
with some aspects of both a bird and a man,
and then texture it to complete the tutorial. Ill
walk you through my creative process and my
workflow, discuss those things that are most
important, and explain some tips and tricks that I
use when creating characters in ZBrush. So lets
get started!

One of the most common mistakes that I see
people make is starting to work without first
thinking about what it is theyre doing they just
open ZBrush and start to sculpt. When I start
a new project, I like to do some research for
references, information, inspiration, or simply
look for something that will help me to find an
interesting idea based on my theme or brief.
This way, I can start my sculpting work with
more objectivity.
So with this I mind, I begin this project by
searching for some photographic references of
different types of birds some even in action
(flying, eating, etc.) just to work out bird
features and gestures to help me with my initial
ideas. I choose certain bird features, such as
a beak, thin skin, the gesture of an infant bird,
and the humpback feature found in some birds,

to mix with human anatomy. With some of this

After starting to block in the model, I get an idea

information I can start the next step. If you want

for the final pose, and so I decide to sculpt with

to, it can be pretty interesting to sketch some

the arm bent to help with the pose later on. To

ideas down at this stage of the process, but as

make these changes I simply use the Transpose

I have an idea in mind about what Im looking

tool, with masks on areas that I dont want to

for Im going to go ahead without any reference

make changes to (using Rotate (hotkey R) and


Move (hotkey W)). I also use this simple base

Blocking In

mesh to block the beak onto, just to help me in

this initial stage (Fig.02).

The first thing that I do with the base mesh

provided for this project (Fig.01 the base

I will now export my base mesh to 3ds Max to

mesh is free for download with this tutorial)

add some edges and fix any possible errors/

is remove one of the fingers I think that a

make any necessary adjustments in order to

chickens foot will best describe what I have in

prevent potential problems further down the line


(Fig.03). For this character, adding edges

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Chapter 01

Chapter 01: Bird-Man Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook

will not be very important, so I simply put some
edges in to increase the amount of polygons
in these areas when subdividing the model in
ZBrush, therefore avoiding any problems with
low resolution in areas that need more definition.
Its very important to verify whether the model
will have perfect symmetry, whether the pivot
is in the centre of the object, and if the model
is in the centre of the absolute world (just
right-click, select and move to access Move
Transform Type-In, as seen in Fig-04). These
adjustments are very important in order to make
good symmetry in ZBrush, and to make safe use
of some of the features Ill be discussing later.


levels), and with the Move, Standard and Clay

brushes I start to block in some of the main
muscles (with Clay and Standard), and adjust

Now that I have made adjustments to the mesh,

some of the basic proportions (Move tool).

I increase the level of subdivision (two more

At this stage I dont worry about details; the

is simply
to find some good shapes with desirable
features (Fig.05). I sculpt in some fake
eyes too, just for a rapid guide its easier
to make adjustments to the entire sculpt
without many SubTools. Later on, I will use
some spheres as eyes.
I like to isolate some parts and work with
pieces of my model (such as the head) when
necessary. I sketch in some details to give the
head a better overall look, whilst still keeping
the details rough (Fig.06). This block-in step is
one of the most important; I spend a lot of time
experimenting and testing some things out at
this stage. I also often change the materials as

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Chapter 01

Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 01: Bird-Man

I work in order to see my model better at the

different stages.
Im happier with the overall proportions now,
and so I subdivide a few more times and start
to apply the medium level details, like muscle
definition, cartilage, and skin creases and folds,
using the Standard brush with some alphas, like
Alpha 35, 36, 37, 38, and 39. This, combined
with a bit of the Inflat tool, can make a fleshier
and more believable model, but I still need to
check some of the proportions and make some
much needed changes before Im fully happy
For the hands, I always sculpt one isolated
hand and then project all details onto the other
hand. To do this, I create a mask over the newly
sculpted hand, go to Tools > Deformation, and
press Smart ReSym (Fig.08).
This tool will recreate a mix of projection on
both hands, but my intention is to preserve the
sculpted hand, so with the mask any details will
not be lost, and the other hand will be given the
same details (Fig.09).

I make use of a mask for the nails, too. I draw a mask in the desired
form for the nails and then invert it. I use the Move and Standard brush
to pull off all the nails, and with the Smooth brush I soften the shape
before inverting the mask again. With the Inflat brush I can then work on
achieving some great volume (Fig.10).

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Chapter 01: Bird-Man Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook

Im using Smart ReSym again now, but this

before you perform this kind of task on your

with alphas (Alpha 01, for example). To make

time Im working with more details. I always

model (Fig.11).

the final details I start to use more skin alphas

start using Smart ReSym at the lowest levels of

(human skin, reptile, pores, etc.) over the entire

subdivision and will use it again for each level

For the final details, I use the Standard brush

sculpt but not as a sculpting tool; I use masks

of subdivision ahead, but its important to be

with a thin alpha (like Alpha 39), sometimes with

over some parts (Fig.12) and I can then sculpt

careful because its very common for crashes

Lazy Mouse turned on, for laying down some

over with different intensities and brushes

and errors to happen. So always save your work

wrinkles, as well as the Inflat and Clay brushes

(Standard for all details, and then a little bit of

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Chapter 01

Chapter 01: Bird-Man Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook

Inflat in some areas to get a more natural look).
This workflow is a very nice way of controlling
skin details, and for finding what Im looking for

I usually use MatCap White to begin my texture
work, starting my texturing job with Polypainting.
I make a rough base colour over the entire
sculpt (Menu > Colour > Fill Object) and define
some warm tones (like the ears, and thin skin,
and so on) (Fig.14).
I then paint some tonal variation onto the model
using the Spray brush with Alpha 07 (always
using a low intensity), mixing the colours
For the nails, I paint a mask in order to texture
the nails only (Fig.16). For the final details I use
DragRect stroke with some alphas, like Alpha 22
for veins and Alpha 08 for small skin details.
On the beak I use a photo edited in Photoshop,

and apply it using DragRect. In this case I use

a single texture from the Total Textures DVD
collection ( (Fig.17).

Posing & Final

I decide to keep the post for this character very
simple; I use the Transpose Master for the main
deformations, and then use the Move brush for
some adjustments with Transpose, too. I try to
keep the pose simple because my intention is
only to break up the symmetry a little in order to
get something more dynamic (Fig.18).

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Chapter 01: Bird-Man Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook

Rendering &
I use GW_Skincore as the main final shader
(which can be downloaded at www.pixologic.
com, thanks to Grant Warwick), two Toy
Plastic shaders (with some adjustments made
in Material > Modifiers to show only specular,
and in SpecularCurve), one for a more open
specular, and another for a thin specular, as
shown in the example (Fig.19a), a Reflected
Mat Material for fake reflections, and a custom
shader for SSS (Sub Surface Scattering)
For the lighting settings I make some shadow
adjustments to get a harder shadow (keep the

With Photoshop I blend all layers using some

intensity of each layer; for example, to control

Aperture around 50-70 and Length about 250),

blending modes like Multiply, Overlay, Soft

the specular intensity in regions that dont need

and I change the position of the light (go to

Light, and Lighten. To be honest, this part is

too much specular (Fig.21).

Light menu > Shadow) (Fig.20a). For the render

very intuitive; I dont use the same blending

settings I simply adjust the Super Sample to

mode for every work as a general rule, as I

And here is the final result after some correction

2 (Render menu), as shown in the example

prefer to make many tests to get what I want for

work done in Photoshop (Fig.22).


each layer. I also use some masks to control the

Well, I have tried to show my workflow,
especially in the ZBrush sculpting stage. It
has been lots of fun working on this bird-man
creature; I hope youve found the tutorial useful
and youre pleased with the final image after
seeing the work in progress. Please feel free
to contact me by email should you have any
questions. Thanks for reading!

Bruno Melo
For more from this artist please his website:
or contact him at:

page 12

Chapter 01

Note from the Editor: Grant Warwick has

kindly provided us with the GW_Skincore
MatCap that Bruno Melo has used, which you
can find along with the base mesh in the Free
Resources folder.

chapter 2

Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 02: Mammal-Man

Created In: ZBrush

When I was asked to create something for this
Manimal series of tutorials, I snatched up the
Mammal-Man option and thought I had a really
nice opportunity to design and create something
really cool. But when I started thinking about
which kind of mammal to base it from, I was
really torn. I mean all I have to do is create
a human body and stick on some random
mammals head and call it a day, right? Wrong!
I have to think about the expression, the pose,
the character itself There has to be a reason
why I choose with a certain kind. So I decided
the best bet would be to create something that
isnt anything specific at all, and so Im going
with the idea of doing a hybrid. Deer and cows
came to mind as my foundation because I know
that they get spooked, or get caught in the
headlights which may lend to a fun pose of
being spooked and recoiling!

Starting off, I do my usual setup of Polygroups.
To do this, press Shift + Ctrl, and click and drag
to isolate the polys you want included in a group
(i.e. the head and neck). To hide any polys
directly, you can Shift + Ctrl-click and drag,
and then let go of Shift. It sounds complicated
but once your fingers remember the pattern,
its really simple. Youre basically toggling that
Shift key after you click and drag. Once you
have the intended polys isolated, you can group

them by going down to the Tools > Polygroups

brushes. The Move brush is good for literally

rollout and click on Group Visible. Auto Groups

transforming polys around based on the brush

will group your model by separate elements so

size and Focal Shift. I like to turn up my Focal

thats handy too. So after this I continue on by

Shift to get a higher falloff. Its great for getting

blocking out major forms of muscle groups. I

your low-poly base mesh in the right forms

need to establish the design of the head of the

early on. The Clay brush is a good brush for

character early on. I pull out the ears, enlarge

slowly building up forms, which is what I do in

the eyes, and draw the snout out in order to

the first 2-3 levels of subdivision before moving

make it look a bit more like a deer type animal

to fancier details or wrinkles/folds. Its nice


because it has a nice built in falloff thats real

soft on the edges, but flat in the centre. Clay

I thought itd be fun to give him some hooves

Tubes brush is similar to Clay, but its a bit more

on his hands, but only to replace a couple of his

rough and excellent for setting up muscle flow.

fingers. I dont want to get too literal or realistic

I like to change the alpha to a circular one with

with it, though. At this stage Im just using

a tight falloff and turn up the Focal Shift a bit so

Move, Clay, Clay Tubes, and occasionally Inflat

its not so harsh. For both Clay and Clay Tubes

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brushes, I change the BrushMod. This basically

increases the effect of the brush so you can lay
in forms quicker. I usually only raise up to 30-40,
but Ive gone a little higher in the example so
you can see the difference (Fig.02). I dock the
main button to my interface so that I dont have
to dig for it its in the Brush menu next to Mesh
Insert. And to drag the button somewhere, just
go to the Preferences menu, click on Customize
UI, and then click Enable Customize. Then you
can Ctrl-click and drag buttons anywhere on the
interface from menus or wherever else. Also,
keep in mind that when you work in ZBrush,
its commonly known to work your way up the
subdivisions and nail your forms down first.
Foundation is important (Fig.03).
Once I get to the point where Im happy with
the model, and before detailing it with textural
alphas and wrinkles, I go ahead and pose the
character. To do this click on Move, Rotate,
or Scale and mask off areas you dont want
effected on your model. If you click and drag
up on an area like an arm, the masking will

move from that position. So it is actually good

realistically rotate. I like to get the pose at about

follow your stroke. You can also Ctrl-click on

for tweaking the position of the arm after doing

90% and I leave myself the freedom to change it

a Polygroup and it will mask everything else.

the rotation. I then rotate the spine, head, and

later on if it isnt perfect (Fig.04).

Very handy! So for the actual posing, I start off

upper arms in the same way. At this point Im

by rotating the lower arms by using Rotate and

nailing down the general action line to try and

I fiddle with the expression on the face a bit

click-and-dragging the gizmo from the elbow

get a nice silhouette as well as strengthen the

here. I do most of this work on the face with

joint to the wrist. This way youre simulating an

expression on the characters face. Then its

the Move brush to keep the forms intact, and

accurate rotation. I dont use Move too much

about tweaking the arm rotation and span (by

go through a lot of different emotions in the

because it stretches the geometry if you click on

span I mean how close they are to the sides

eyebrows until I find a nice spooked look.

the end circles of the gizmo. If you click on the

of the torso). Then its a matter of rotating the

On one side Im going for a wide eye showing

middle circle, itll keep the polys intact but will

wrists, but only to the point where they can

the whites with the iris being close to being

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Chapter 02

Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 02: Mammal-Man

completely exposed; the other eye squinting

and SW_Wrinkles_02.psd from the Pixologic

To start with, I go to the Tool menu and open

and wincing in anticipation. The eyebrows are

alpha library (

the Texture rollout. I turn on Colorize. Now I can

pulled up with a worried feel; the mouth corners

downloadcenter/alpha) (Fig.06).

paint on my colours using any of the sculpting

turned down; the nostrils slightly flared out from

brushes. When youre doing this, just be sure

breathing in sharply. Later on, the detail I add

To do the hair, I use the SnakeHook brush with

to turn off ZAdd; its also usually a good idea

will be to support the pose of the face: wrinkles

a pores alpha, a large brush size, and at full

to work at a low RGB level, but thatll depend

above the eyebrow, bulging around the corner

RGB intensity I methodically lay the hair effects

on what youre doing. I like to tear off the Color

of the mouth, folds for ear connections, and so

in (Fig.07 08).

menu and dock it to the right so I can pick

on (Fig.05).


colours easily as I go. You can either select

colour by dragging into the colour picker area,

After getting the basic look for the face sorted, I

For texturing, I do it entirely by Polypainting,

clicking on the modifiers tab and having a lot

go back to sculpting the rest of the body. Since

with no texture maps. To set up for Polypainting,

of different kinds of swatches, or by clicking

Ive posed out the character, I can no longer run

your model needs to be at the highest

on the main colour square and dragging

regular symmetry, so I have to turn on Poseable

subdivision because it will be assigning an RGB

anywhere on the screen to pick a

Symmetry. Ill turn it off every now and then to

value for every poly the more polys, the better

colour. Also remember that you can

do some asymmetrical work in areas that need

the resolution of your painting. For this tutorial,

use the Shift key to

independent attention because of the pose. So I

I could subdivide my model one more time,

blend and blur your

continue to define out the forms and cut in areas

but this would put me at 5 million polys and


to express the nature of the muscles, bones,

my laptop gets a little shaky at this kind of poly


tendons and skin, now that I have a set pose. I

count. So for the sake of my sanity doing this

also add some skin texture effects by using the

tutorial, Im working with the 1.25 million poly

The first thing

Standard brush, DragRect, ZIntensity 10-20,

model and painting that.

I want to paint

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Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook

is the eyes. I know I want a big iris, but I need

to keep enough white area to get across the
expression of fear. So I paint the iris in a really
dark brown, almost black, and paint the white
areas a pale yellow, since they arent really
white in real life. I add some reddish tones in the
corners of the eyeballs and apply some veins
with a very small brush size. If I mess up an
area and want to erase it, I just click on the main
colour square and drag onto a nearby colour,
and then repaint the colour back over the error
in a few strokes to blend it away (Fig.10).
For the body, Im taking an approach that Ive
learned from the great Scott Spencer, more
specifically from one of his mini-tutorials on
traditional airbrush painting. Ill admit that Ive
never airbrushed anything in real life, but the

really loose and liberally covering lots of area as

these colours a bit and make some variations on

principles seem to be easy to understand

quickly as possible. It doesnt have to be perfect,

the primary colours to make some purples and

once you get going. Basically, you first start by

and you want to be sure not to completely


spraying colours to simulate whats going on

saturate any areas besides the real hot zones.

underneath the epidermis layer.

I like to take a yellow and spray across areas

The next step is to take a white, or a slightly

where bone is really close to the surface, such

off-white, and start the noodling phase. This

Application wise, I grab a nice red colour and

as collarbones, the sternum, forehead, cranium,

brings a really nice effect to the subdermal work

use Colorized Spray with the Color Mod turned

elbows, tendons, the bridge of the nose, etc. I

were doing here. So either using DragRect

down to 0 (in the Stroke menu), an alpha mask

also think its handy for some fatty areas like the

and Alpha 22, or by doing it freehand, noodle

like Alpha 07, and RGB intensity set to 100

belly to be a bit more orange in colour. I take

in with a small brush size some white squiggles

(Fig.11). I continue by just spraying across all

some purples and blues and hit the recessed

everywhere. I like the effect of doing it freehand

areas of where there are muscles or heavy

areas, such as around the eyes and the jaw line/

but its a lot of area to cover so feel free to use

blood flow, like the ears, nose, etc. Im keeping it

beard area. I also find it nice to blend some of

both methods. Also be sure to keep this really

loose, because its only going to be slightly
visible later on (Fig.12).
Once the noodling is done, I throw on a skin
shader I like to use MatCap_Skin01. Then,
using a Spray application with a very low
RGB level between 4 and 10, and a neutral
skin colour, I start to lay in colour over the
subdermal work. Dont completely cover it
up though. Just use the colour to blend
it altogether and youll start to see the
effect its meant to create (Fig.13).
Ill admit that this technique results in
a lot of work to do all this subdermal
painting only to go and cover it all up
afterwards. But once youre done, try

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Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 02: Mammal-Man

as a comparison filling the whole character with
a neutral skin colour and youll clearly see the
difference! Plus, although the noodling effect is
pretty subtle, its also very powerful. Its okay
to go back over some areas and enhance the
intended colour by using a low RGB level again.
So thats what I do in the recessed areas and
around the eyes, etc. By keeping the colour
level low, youre able to keep the intended effect
but change the hue of certain areas. Of course,
if you keep going over areas many times, youll
eventually flatten it out with that colour, so watch
out for that.
Lastly, I colour in the fingernails, hooves,
nipples, veins, and dot in some freckles here
and there. And for the hairy areas, I use a
Standard brush, Colorized Spray, Color Mod at
0.7, and flow at 1.0 (Stroke menu) and Alpha
67. Then, with a medium brown and RGB at
100, I start to spray on the hair by stroking top to
bottom (Fig.14).
The hair follows the flow of the stripes in the
alpha. After applying the hair effect to all areas
(dont forget the fingers), I use a light tan grey
and spray some striped effects on the bridge of
the nose, the

arms and down

the back, just to
break up all that
brown and black

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Ive also thrown together a ZBrush render

composite in Photoshop to show you the final
results after rendering in ZBrush (Fig.16a
16c). Its pretty fun but not quite as powerful as
a Max/Mental Ray render (Fig.17).
So there you have it: modelling and texturing
a Mammal-Man in a nutshell! I hope the
breakdown of this character creation has helped
you. If you have any questions about what Ive
done, feel free to contact me via email.
Note from the Editor: Jesse Sandifer has kindly
provided us with 8 movies to accompany
this tutorial, which you can find in the Free
Resources folder. Jesse is also currently
considering doing some private one-on-one
ZBrush tutoring to the beginner or amateur
artist, so if you are interested please feel free
to contact him via email for further details and

Jesse Sandifer
For more from this artist visit
or contact

page 20

Chapter 02

chapter 3

Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 03: Aquatic-Man

Software Used: ZBrush

I was asked to create a character for this tutorial
article under the heading of Aquatic-Man,
to show how ZBrush can be utilized to sculpt
and texture such an extraordinary creature,
thought up from the depths of my imagination by
crossing human elements with those of aquatic
beings. Heres how well go about creating such
an amalgamation in this second part of the
Manimal tutorial series.

Base Mesh
I decide to work straight from the offset by
sculpting directly in ZBrush from the base mesh
provided (Fig.01 02 you can download the
same base mesh with this tutorial look out
for the Free Resources logo), without creating
a concept before starting. I find ZBrush is a
pretty cool tool that enables you to figure out
good designs directly in 3D, without the need for
preliminary drawings on every occasion.

Sculpting in ZBrush
So to start, I choose a material for the base
mesh that I think most suitable and that will
help in this initial sculpting stage. You can try
different materials by clicking on the sphere
on the left-hand side of the screen. Using
Transpose I manipulate the character into a
pose closer to what I imagine the final character
will be in something like that of a creature
moving through the current of water (Fig.03
05). To use Transpose, youll see at the top of

the screen the Move, Scale and Rotate buttons in this case Im using
the Rotate function. To make a mask in order to move individual elements
of the model, you simply hold down Ctrl and drag your cursor over the
model. You then simply need to draw a line from the rotation point to the
point that you need in order to successfully move your model.
Im trying out this pose to illustrate a swimming creature. Unfortunately
the base mesh has not been provided with any legs so I cant use the
bottom part of his body to work into the concept, so instead Im using his

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Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook

arms pulled backwards to give a sense of this

creature gliding through water. Im using fresh
water fish as my references, rather than salt
water fish, because I want to work with aquatic
references with fewer colors going on I think
sea creatures could be too colored for this
Before I start the sculpting work, I like to
subdivide my base mesh as much as possible,
but Ill reduce all those subdivisions again
before starting the modeling. I do this because
sometimes youll subdivide the mesh with some
hidden parts, and only unhidden parts will be
subdivided. When using Transpose I like to work
in the second or third level of subdivision. I do
this because the mask function doesnt work
very well on the first level of subdivision, and
its much harder to get smooth results on higher
levels. So from experience I recommend using
levels two or three at this stage.
I dont have too much of an idea about how my
characters head will look at this stage, so Im
simply playing around with form and shape to
find a good design for his face and head (Fig.06
07). Im using the Standard brush and working
in the third level of subdivision here.

As I work I keep checking the silhouette as often as I can, as it helps in

finding a good design. To create a silhouette of your model, simply find the
Flat Color material on the Material palette, again by clicking on the sphere
on the left-hand side of the screen. With the head design established first,
it will be much easier to create the body afterwards.
I decide to add some skin plates and scales to the character to give him
a fishy look, also pulling the jaw out quite a lot as you can see in some
deep sea fish creatures all the while checking the silhouette is working
and the design is strong (Fig.08 11). Im still working in the third level of

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Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 03: Aquatic-Man

subdivision here, using the Standard and Move
brushes. Ill sometimes also load in Alpha 39
into my Alpha palette in order to achieve some
stronger lines.
Because Im still unsure about how the body
will be, in terms of its design, I decide to block
in some simply human anatomy first to give
me a starting ground from which to build upon,
isolating parts individually and working on them
separately (Fig.12 16). Im now working in
the fourth level of subdivision, still using the
Standard Brush to find the shapes. To hide parts
of your model you simply need to press and
hold Ctrl and Shift on your keyboard, and draw
a green mask over the model. If you need a

different type of mask you can always hit Lasso

on the right-hand side of the screen, or you can
use the shortcut, Ctrl + Shift + M.
The beauty at this stage is that I can work on
just one side of the body, and then, using the
SmartResym tool, simply copy the work done to
the other side of the model (Fig.17). To do this,
you simply create a mask again by pressing
and holding Ctrl and clicking and dragging your
left mouse button where youve being working,
leaving the untouched part of the model outside
of the masked zone. Go to Tool > Deformation
> SmartResym, and you will see work copied
across to the unmasked area.
Moving on from the torso and arms now, I start
work on the hands, working with each finger
separately (remember: to hide parts of your
model you simply need to press and hold Ctrl
and Shift on your keyboard, and draw a green

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mask over the model). Its difficult to work on

the inner parts of the hand when you have all
fingers in the viewport, which is why I prefer to
work with them individually, using the Clay brush
to give some volume to the skin at the joints
where the skin creases and folds, and using the
Standard brush to add lines and wrinkles to the
skin (Fig.18 24).
The entire block-in stage of the work has been
done in subdivision levels four to six. The finer
details are then added in the seventh level.
Finishing work on the hand, when happy with
the detailing gone into it, I can then make the
gesture of the hand much more interesting and
realistic looking using Transpose (Fig.25). As
before, Im using Transpose to manipulate the
model to get the desired pose, in the same way
as we did earlier.
Here I add a fin-like element to his arm in
order to give more detail to the silhouette, just
using the Move tool at this stage to achieve the
needed results (Fig.26). Using SmartResym
again, I add the deformation to the other arm,
too, balancing out the design to both sides of
the body, as before (Fig.27).
At this point, Im starting to add some more skin
plates, scales, and fins to the body by drawing

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freely with the Standard brush, not worrying too

much about the small details, simply trying to
respect the natural flow of muscles in human
anatomy (Fig.28 31). I also find the Clay brush
useful to use here it gives a more organic
effect and its a great brush to work on the skins
surface with.
Remember to regularly check your designs
in silhouette by using the Flat Shader, as
explained earlier (Fig.32).
Continuing work now, I add even more skin
plates and detail to the spine (Fig.33 37), still
working with the Standard brush and Alpha 39.
Im not using any direct references to sculpt; Im
simply trying to follow the flow of the anatomy
and adding features that wed generally
recognize from fish.
To carry on the detailing work I add similar
details as just given to the body, onto his arms,

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in the same way as before but this time

sectioning off just the one arm to work on it
separately (Fig.38 41).
With the design nearly complete at this stage,
its a good time to check on the silhouette
again to see if the concept is still strong before
finalizing it (Fig.42). For me, design is a very
complex thing. There are some techniques you
can follow, but to me it is more about a feeling.
You have to practice lots and youll learn to
know when to keep going and when you need to
stop its all about building up experience and
experimenting. I like to keep my silhouette very
detailed, but its also interesting to allow the eye
to rest in some areas, too, as too much detail
can be as big a problem as too little! I think the
best training you can do is to observe and copy
the work of great artists, as well as use real life
as a reference. Try to take notice of when the
greats exaggerate details, and when they dont.
A good understanding of anatomy is a musthave, as well as drawing skills drawing is a
very powerful tool! I havent drawn anything in
this case, but it is a skill worth developing, even
in 3D.
I feel the design is missing something here to
be honest, so what Im going to do is to add
some more detail to the neck area to improve
the concept (Fig.43). Im creating the new detail
using the Standard and Clay brushes. This
detail might seem useless, but it helps the eye
to stop reading at this point. Its very important
that the eye takes some moments to pause
when reading artwork, and so I always aim to

add some accents throughout my models

now at some points and add some final detail to

designs in order to achieve this.

finish up work on the head (Fig.44 48). You

can activate or deactivate Symmetry using the

Because organic creatures are not perfectly

X shortcut key. Again, Im using the Clay brush

symmetrical, Im going to break up the symmetry

to give the skins surface a nice organic feel,

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at this stage working in the seventh level of

I do the same for the arms and the body,
breaking up the symmetry further still to make
the creature all in all more believable (Fig.49
To start giving some relief and impression to the
skin and get more realistic results, when working
on a creature such as this its often useful to use
the alpha from animal photographs. I can use it
by simply dragging and applying it, following the
objects surface and the flow of anatomy (Fig.52
55). To make an alpha youll need to do this in
Photoshop by opening up a photo that you like.
Convert it to grayscale and make a soft round

border turning to black. Save this as a PSD and

youre done. You can then import this new alpha
into your Alpha palette in ZBrush and to use it,
simply change the stroke to DragRect and youll
be able to drag the alpha over the surface of
your model.

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As for the pores, I use the Spray stroke and

Alpha 07 to give the skin its ability to breathe
and lose it plasticity, making it more believable
to the viewer (Fig.56 57).

Texturing in ZBrush
Right then, its time to start texturing in ZBrush
now. I always use a fast shader for textures
and avoid using colored shaders for this part of
the process. So simply change the color to one
that you prefer and fill the object (Fig.58 59).
Simply choose the material from the Material
palette (remember its the sphere on the lefthand side of the screen), and then go to Color >
Fill Object.
Photographic references are extremely helpful
at this stage of texturing. For my own character
Im going to use a photo of a cold water fish,
painting some areas with a lighter color as
you can see on some fish and using an alpha
from an animal skin with my brush (Fig.60
63). Again, to create a new custom alpha you

can simply take your photo into Photoshop and

I can also use the DragRect stroke to apply

follow the afore-mentioned procedure. After

some color, remembering to turn off ZAdd for

youve imported it into your Alpha palette you

this part of the texturing process (Fig.64 66).

can then paint using the Alpha as a brush.

If you change the stroke to DragRect, youll be

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able to drag the alpha over the surface. If you
leave ZAdd turned on, it will apply deformation
on the mesh, and at this point we just want the
colors, so make sure that RGB is turned on.
This technique is good to help you get a better
blend from one color to another. Remember to
check with the flat shader all the time, though,
and sometimes the shadows on the model can
start to confuse you when apply texture!
Here I am starting to introduce a third color to
the model by painting some of his body with a
bluish gray, using the FreeHand stroke and an
imported alpha from Photoshop of animal skin
(Fig.67 68).
Working with the Cavity Mask can be used as
a great trick to better and more realistic results.
Try to use flat color when youre doing this;
you can edit the curve and the value of the
cavity from 100 to -100 (Fig.69 72). Cavity
Mask allows us to paint only into or around the
depressions of our mesh. The values 100 and
-100 are the setting to paint just inside and
outside the cavity, but you can also edit the
curve to get different results. Try playing around
with the settings of this powerful tool to better
understand how it works.

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With the head and torso pretty much sorted

color wise now, I continue by painting the
interior of the mouth (Fig.73), and then move
across the body simulating shadows through a
new range of blue tones (Fig.74 75). These
shadows are sort of an occlusion. Try to
simulate some soft shadows on the contact
areas not actually a dark shadow from a point
of light, but something soft.
Moving onto the arms now, I want to give them
some more interesting colors particularly to
the forearm. I go in with a mix of hot and cold
colors (Fig.76).
The teeth need some attention now, and I paint
them using a yellow tone with a hint of brown to
give them a dirtier, aged look (Fig.77).
Nearly finished now! Im just applying some
veins using DragRect and Alpha 22, trying out
a variation of green, blue and red veins on the
skin (Fig.78 79).
Finally, to finish up the texturing of my model,
as Im pretty happy with what Ive achieved until
now, Im simply taking an overall look at the
character and then going into areas to add more

detail with the Cavity Mask, to really finish things

off (Fig.80 81). At this stage you have to make
sure that there arent any details missing we
have to try not to let our earlier hard work not go
to waste in this last stage!
And here is the final model, complete with
textures (Final.01 04).

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When youre happy with the coloring of your
ZBrush creation you can then go on and render
it. You can find lots of great MatCaps at the
ZBrush Download Center:
zbrush/downloadcenter. Theres plenty of good
stuff there, including some nice plugins and
videos which are always very helpful.
Pretty much any default material in ZBrush
is affected by light, as well as lots of other
MatCaps, too. But if you play around with
lighting and some different MatCaps, youll
soon realize that not all of them are affected by
the lighting scenario, so do be careful and pay
attention when using new MatCaps.
Before you render youll need to set up your
lights first of all. So go to Menu > Light there
youll be able to play with your light settings; you
can change the direction of the lights by using
your cursor and rotating the sphere. You can
any increase the number of lights if you need
more by simply clicking on the small light icons.
Below the lights you can change the light color
and intensity of them. And if you open up the
Shadow option on the bottom of the Light menu,
you can change the shadow intensity by playing
with the Aperture and Length settings. Its very
important to make some quick tests, just playing

around with all the different light settings, in

fog using the sliders. As usual, play around with

order to better understand what each is used for

the settings to increase your understanding of

and what it can achieve.

what they do. When ready, click on the Best

button to render.

With your lighting setup ready to go, you need

to render. So go to Menu > Render there youll

To create a final image of my character I render

find the render options. You can turn on the Fog

out the following render passes in ZBrush:

and Depth Cue functions, and youll also find a

slider to change the intensity and range of the

Lighting a fast shader with no textures

depth of field. If you open up the Fog menu (you

Mask using Flat Color will allow us to

can find it right below in the Depth Cue menu)

you can change the color of the first and forth

separate the character from the background

Constant Diffuse using Flat Color with

quads to a darker color (I usually use a very

textures you can get back some of the

dark gray and a dark bluish gray). Once again,

texture detail lost after rendering, as well as

you can change the intensity and range of the

getting better contrast over the final image

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Depth this is really helpful to get the

correct camera depth of field. I create this
pass using Flat Color with no textures,
playing with the Fog settings (to find Fog go
to Render > Fog)
Occlusion using a MatCap called MatCap
White01, with no textures, I pull the color
towards blue
SSS I use a MatCap called RS_SkinBase
with textures
Specular 1 I use the MatCap called Bonus
02, which is a regular specular for skin
Specular 2 I use the ToyPlastic MatCap
with the black color to get a wet-look
appearance and to break up the specular,
bringing the look closer to something wed
recognize on real fish
With all my render passes done, I take them
into Photoshop, relax, and then have some fun
playing around with the layer blending modes,
Brightness/Contrast values, Hue/Saturation
settings, and the Blur filter. Here is the final
result after some post-production in Photoshop

I found the workflow that I employed for
this piece quite successful, although I do
recommend that you come up with a more
exact idea of what you want to model before
you start a new character design, as Im sure I
could have come up with a much better design
for this creature, in hindsight, if I had done
some preliminary sketches at the beginning.
Another nice process that can improve character
creation is to retopologize your model, make a
UVW map and export the maps (displacement,
normal and diffuse) in order to then render your
image in other 3D software for better results.
This is particularly a good, quick workflow for
animation production.
I hope youve found this tutorial helpful, Id like
to thank the 3DTotal team for the opportunity to
create this tutorial for you all, it has been really
fun to work on thank you for reading!

Diego Maia
For more from this artist visit
or contact

chapter 4

Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Part 4 - Amphibian Man

Amphibian Man
Software Used: ZBrush & Photoshop

This chapter Im going to be sculpting and
texturing an amphibian-man, so I will need to
sculpt a mutant with aspects of both amphibians
and humans, and then proceed to texture it in
the final stages of this tutorial. Ill be taking you
through my creative process when creating
characters in ZBrush, guiding you through the
stages, enabling you to create your very own
amphibian-man. Youll hopefully pick up some
tips and tricks along the way as well, so lets
begin without further ado!


creatures, allowing me to work out in my mind

With the overall form established, Ive decided

the kind of features my guy is going to adopt.

to go for an open-mouthed character, as this

gives him much better expression. To do this,

Whenever I start a new project I begin by

Ive chosen to combine the characteristics of a

I subdivide again, to level 3 this time, and I

doing research on the brief that I have been

toad with that of the human, but I want to keep

rework the mouth area using the Standard,

given, looking for references, information, and

a lot of the male anatomy in my creature this

Move and Clay brushes (Standard is used for

inspiration anything that will help me to come

time and concentrate on adding the primary

the overall sculpting, the Move brush helps to

up with an interesting concept.

amphibious design to his head, focusing on the

move the geometry, and the Clay brush can

mouth, as well detailing the skin texture of the

achieve a better shape, for example on the lips).

whole design to give it that toad-like feel.

In this case, its better to rework the mouth area,

With this I mind, I begin my amphibian-man

project by searching for photographic references

because if I try to open up the mouth, using

of different types of amphibians mostly toads


and frogs to familiarize myself with some

Im looking for a more stylized creature with this

Ill end up with a low mesh resolution inside

classic characteristics of these amphibious

design: strong in build, perhaps with a crazy

the mouth, which can of course be a problem

expression going on to define a personality and

because with a low resolution mesh (to check

give him some character.

if you have a low number of polygons in areas,

something like Transpose or the Move brush,

turn on the Wireframe for a better view) I wont

So with the concept forming in my mind, the

have a good enough amount of polygons for

first thing I want to do is to start the model

the detail work in the last level of subdivision

off by taking the base mesh (free with this


tutorial click on the Free Resources icon to

download), turning the symmetry on (Transform


> Activate Symmetry), and blocking in the main

Satisfied with the basic form of my character

shapes and forms (subdivision levels 1-2) whilst

after the block-in, I continue work at subdivision

remembering that I want to build a tough guy

level 3 with the Standard, Clay and Inflat

with muscles and a strong body. I use the Clay

brushes. This time, I start by using the Inflat

and Standard brushes for this work these

brush to get nice muscle definition, and then

are great for building up the volumes, and then

continue to define the main muscles and

the Move brush is particularly useful when it

adjust the overall volumes (Fig.03). Im still not

comes to working out the correct proportions.

worrying about the details yet, as we should

Im working in the first level of subdivision here

remember that our goal is to work out good


shapes and volumes before detailing the

detailing comes later!

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To give the character some eyes, I first of all

select Sphere3D from the Tool palette and make
a Polymesh copy (hit the Make Polymesh3D
button). I append the sphere to my model and
using the Transpose function (Move and Scale)
I simply adjust the size and position of the
sphere as appropriate. And then the SubTool
Master Plugin comes in handy (www.pixologic.
com/zbrush/downloadcenter/zplugins) I just
click on Mirror to copy the eye across to the
other side (Fig.04).
I subdivide the model a few more times now (to
level 4 or 5), and start applying more details,
working on the muscle definition, cartilage, and
deformations, using the Standard (with alphas
like Alpha 01 and Alpha 35) and Inflat brushes.
The Inflat brush is awesome to use when
sculpting muscles because its brush properties
help to make the character more believable and
Happy with how things are looking I now want to
change and try out some different materials to
see how things are looking when other shaders
are applied (Fig.05).
When sculpting, I like to isolate some areas
and work with just sections of my model, such
as the head and the hands, when necessary.
This just makes it easier to work on the details
and gives me the chance to get a better look at
certain parts in this case the head (Fig.06).
Remember that were constantly searching for
good overall shape and volume in our models.
I also use the Standard brush (with Alpha
35 and 37) to start the skin detailing on the
eyebrows here later on Ill use the Spray
Stroke to get better skin detail, but only in the
final sculpting stage.
When working on hands in ZBrush, I always
sculpt just one isolated hand only, and then
simply project all the details onto the opposite
hand. To do this, I create a mask over the
hand to isolate it (Masking > HidePt) so that

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I can sculpt with more control (Fig.07). Im
not worrying about adding final details to the
hands yet, I just want to define them to get
better volume and some of the main details
With the one hand done, I reveal the rest of the
model that was hidden previously (Shift + Ctrl
and click off the model to show all), create a
mask over the sculpted hand, and go to Tools
> Deformation. I hit Smart ReSym which then
projects the details of the defined hand onto the
other (Fig.08).
Time for the teeth now, which are actually much
simpler than they look! I start off by creating a
mask over the lip area (just hold down Ctrl to
paint the mask), so I can sculpt without affecting
other parts of the model. I use the Standard
brush to sculpt, always with a low intensity,
the Move brush to help me to adjust the size
of them, and I also add the Pinch brush to my
tool belt this time to achieve a better connection
between each tooth and the flesh that it sits
in. Finally, I use the Inflat brush with a very low
value between each tooth to give more volume
to the gums (Fig.09).
Ive decided to go a little off-topic here and
create some accessories for my guy to beef

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up this character design. I thought this would

make an interesting addition when it comes
to compositing the character. Aiming for a
body-builder look to my final design, I build a
dumbbell which is actually very easy to make.
I use Cylinder3D, and with the Transpose
function I can manipulate the cylinder into all
the different cylinder shapes that build up a
classic dumbbell design. I can then append
each cylinder to form a single tool by going
to SubTool > Append (select each cylinder)
To get a good pose I of course use the
Transpose function, but first of all I need to
create a new layer to work on (Tool > Layers
> New) for the pose, and Ill explain why I

(just hold down Ctrl and click-and-hold on the

mask will follow the cursor). I can use Rotate for

do this later. Its also very important to step

model; the mask will be created following the

the deformations and then use the Move brush

back a number of subdivision levels to make

cursor direction. If you want to mask the entire

to make the final adjustments (Fig.11).

better deformation without too many wrong

model minus one finger, hold Ctrl and click-and-

deformations. With the Transpose Mask feature

hold on the hand, and then go to the finger the

Moving back to the head now, I need to add

a tongue, so I want to append a ZSphere
(Fig.12a). I turn off the perspective view and
start to create the new mesh. To make a
ZSphere turn into a mesh, go to Adaptive Skin
> Make Adaptive Skin. I can now subdivide
and start the sculpting work on the tongue,
using the Standard brush to define the model
and the Move brush for better adjustments and
placement in the mouth (Fig.12b).
For the final details I use the Standard brush
with a thin alpha, like Alpha 35-39, and the
Inflat brush. I also start to incorporate more skin
alphas of human skin, pores, and so on using
different strokes: Spray Stroke with low values
to get nice pores and a slight noise effect over

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the sculpt (especially on the tongue). A pore
alpha can help with this, or you can simple
use Alpha 07 instead. DragRect and DragDot
strokes with a more defined alpha, like alpha 22
or 59 for example, can give some nice details
with more control, without the randomized effect
of the Spray Stroke (Fig.13).
You can get many alpha packs on www., which will help you to build up
the characters credibility as a half human-half
And here is the final sculpt (Fig.14).

Moving onto the texturing work now, I make a
rough base color over the entire sculpt (Menu >
Color > Fill Object), and then define some of the
warmer tones, such as on the chest. To illustrate
the thin skin, for example, just change your
desired color and give it a lower RGB Intensity.
Using the Standard brush with FreeHand stroke
I can complete this initial stage without any
problems (Fig.15a).

I turn off the layer that I created for the pose

at this point, which I do because this way
I can turn the symmetry back on and save
some time texturing. I hide the other SubTools
now (SubTool > click on the eye to hide it, for
example) to concentrate on the main model
only. I apply some tonal variation onto the model
using the Spray Stroke (with Scale and Color
Intensity values kept low) with Alpha 07 (always
using a low intensity), mixing the colors as I go

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Getting onto the detailed texturing stage now, I

use Spray Stroke, DragRect and the Freehand
Stroke to apply the details (using some different
alphas like using Spray Stroke with Alpha 07 for
a nice noise effect, DragRect with Alpha 59,
and Alpha 22 to give detail with better size and
placement control (Fig.16).
A good quick trick to get more detail in ZBrush
is to use the cavity mask function (Mask > Mask
by Cavity) and paint with a darker color in a very
low intensity, or just go to Color > Fill Object
and use a dark color (such as a dark grey,
for example) with a very low RGB Intensity.
Observe that the pose layer is turned on again
here as we are now at the final detailing stage
and its very important to make give these
details without using symmetry, in order to bring
more life to the model (Fig.17).
And here is the final textured model (Fig.18).

Rendering &
I use this stage of the design process to make
my work pop, using passes, blending modes,

The second step is to configure the main

I want to make some adjustments now by going

and masks. I shall try now to talk you through

shader which will be used as the base shader.

to Materials > Modifiers these adjustments

my rendering and compositing workflow using

I use GW_Skincore by Grant Warwick as the

are different for each shader, and are made

ZBrush and Photoshop.

main final shader (which can be downloaded

according to the light (Fig.19b).

by clicking on the Free Resources icon, or by

The first step is to configure the light, which is

going to, but other shaders

The third step is to configure the shadows. For

basically just a case of positioning it however

can be used as well, such as MatCap Skin 04,

this character design I just make some simple

you require by clicking and moving the little

for example.

shadows adjustments to achieve a harder

orange highlighted box (Fig.19a).

shadow (see Fig.19a).

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In the Render menu now, I change the

Antialiasing to 2 to get a better render quality
when rendering my passes. The other shaders
used as passes for the final render composite in
Photoshop are as follows:
Specular passes I use a simple shader
the Toy Plastic shader, for example and
modifier to show only the specular. The
other specular passes use the same shader
but I change the Light direction and the
Specular Curve. ZBrush produces too much
specular over the entire model, so I use
masks to remove some specular in some
areas, and a low opacity (around 10-20%).
Layer blend mode: Lighten (Fig.20a)
Reflection pass This is just the
ReflectedMap material used to fake a
reflection pass. I use this pass with different
values for the body, the tongue and the

dumbbells. Layer blend mode: Lighten/Color

For this example I use Hue/Saturation to


make it more reddish, and use it to achieve

a nice skin tone on the chest. Layer blend

Color pass Flat Color Material With this

mode: Color/Lighten (Fig.20c)

pass I have more color control in Photoshop.

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Occlusion pass MatCap White pass

without any texture. Layer blend mode:
Multiply (around 40-60% Opacity) (Fig.20d)
Mask pass Flat Color Material again
but this time with a different color for each
SubTool (using Color > Fill Color) can be
used to pick masks in Photoshop (using
Select > Color Range in Photoshop). With
these masks I can control the passes
by element; for example, I duplicate the
Reflection pass and use one for the body
with a low opacity, and one with higher
opacity for the gym accessories (Fig.20e)
Main pass (Fig.20f)
I use other Photoshop adjustments, too, such as
Color Balance, Sharpen, Levels, Contrast It
may look like it took a lot of time to achieve the
final composite, but the entire compositing step
was done in around 30-50 minutes only.
And here the final result (Fig.21).

Hopefully I have succeeded in walking you
through my workflow, and have explained the
process in enough detail for you to now create
your very own half man-half creature mutant.
I hope youve found the tutorial useful. Please
feel free to contact me by email should you have
any questions.
Note from the Editor: Grant Warwick has
provided us with the GW_Skincore MatCap
that Bruno Melo has used in this tutorial, which
you can find in the Free Resources folder.
Remember that you can also find the base
mesh that Bruno used with this tutorial in the
same folder, too!

Bruno Melo
For more from this artist visit
or contact

page 44

Chapter 04

chapter 5

Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 05 - Insect Man

Software Used: ZBrush and 3ds Max

The idea of a hybrid mutation from human to
insect was really exciting to me right from the
beginning of this project. The possibilities,
design-wise, are immense, and because the
world of insects is so complex and varied it
forced me to do lots of research before starting,
since its not a subject I have had experience
with in the past.

I began with some research, and obviously the
first real problem to solve was how to mutate
an endoskeletal being into an exoskeletal
one. This was something that really worried
me, and at first I was stuck at this phase for
quite some time. I tried to get inspiration from
sculptures by great artists, and slowly started
to understand what I liked and didnt like, and
what was plausible and not so. There is a fine
line between what is plausible and what is
cool, and you have to be very careful where
this is concerned and aim to get a good balance
between the two; finding the right balance is
completely up to you though, depending on your

something like this, but at the same time

too much of the skull structure; I want to retain

own style and artistic intentions.

wanting to take some inspiration from it,

the idea that this creature was once actually a

what I imagined was an evolution where the

human. Im going to focus most on the mouth,

First of all, I had to see if something that blends

outer surface of the body is morphed into

since this area is crucial in my design concept,

an exoskeleton with an endoskeleton could

a net of fluid-filled cavities that hardens the

and will be really eye-catching. The top gums

actually really exist

outer structure. Not as rigid as a chitin based

and top lip will be fused into the insects labrum;

exoskeleton, but something that somehow can

the mandible will be cut at the front to become

Turtles have both endoskeleton and exoskeleton

adapt to movement with an internal pressure

the new mandible, and I will add an extra

characteristics, but I was looking for something

system. This concept was enough to give me an

structure, the maxilla, which is a newly formed

different: a mix of both, not coexistence. The

idea of the look of this mutation.

part from the mutation. The tongue and bottom

closest thing I have found is a hydrostatic

lip will also become the labium.

skeleton, which Wikipedia says is a structure

So with the concept in mind, I needed to think

found in many cold-blooded organisms and soft-

about which human features could best mutate

At this point I took advantage of the newly

bodied animals consisting of a fluid-filled cavity,

into insect characteristics. And so, keeping in

released plugin from Pixologic, PaintStop (www.

the coelom, surrounded by muscles.

mind the balance I mentioned before, I chose, to

to work with human limbs, because I felt these

rough out a concept to help me visualize the

would work best.

figure (Fig.01). PaintStop is really handy and

Hmm, interesting!

easy to use, and has a lot of potential. You dont

Without being too rigid and technical, since I

The facial structure is a particularly fun part

need to be a painter to use it, just draw and have

dont have the knowledge to fully understand

to work with, because I dont want to change


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Concept Refinement
Id like to just mention now something that
happened during the sculpting process.
Sometimes viewing things in 3D really shows
whats working and whats not working in your
design. Right in the middle of the sculpting
session I realized that what I was creating
was too similar to a suit, rather than a hybrid
creature. This really bothered me, I didnt like
it and I felt I had to find a solution to fix it. This
was perhaps the hardest part of the creation
process for me, because for the first time I
had to face the mutation phenomena in a very
different way: I started to think about what
mutation would mean for a human being; how
the character would feel about it. I had to think
about him, and not just about the design.
So whilst sculpting, I changed my initial concept

him that reveals his humanity, his feelings, and

or not I had to go on and focus on doing it right.

to something more repugnant, something which

allows you to get a little closer to the design.

Ill now take you through my ZBrush sculpting


would make you think about what is actually

going on in the image, rather than just looking

For this part of the concept I looked mainly for

at it and moving on. I introduced the human side

references concerning the molting (obviously

At level 0 it is really hard to find the right shapes;

of the creature to the concept, the portion of

I had to keep in mind that I was using a base

I push and pull vertices around to find the best

mesh, so I couldnt expect to be able to do

positions, mainly working on proportions using

something like actually perform molting on

the Move brush and the Transpose function

the model; it would need to be sculpted to


appear that way) and started to think about the

transition between the two stages

Transpose again to mask and adapt better the


Stepping up a subdivision level, I work with

silhouette to my concept, and use the Standard

The given base mesh was unfortunately not the

and Inflat brushes to sculpt the main volumes

easiest thing to adapt to my concept, but tricky

(Fig.03 04).

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Its really important to focus on the main
forms right now, zooming out a lot to see if
everything fits together, and not being afraid
to make drastic changes if unsatisfied. At this
stage were working on the foundation of our
sculpture; everything we will do later will be
affected by the choices we make right now (i.e.
in the lower subdivision levels). Later sculpting
details will rely heavily on the previously
sculpted surface, so basically you have to
visualize in your mind the details that are not yet
there, and sculpt the average version of them
a bit like a blurred image. As an example, think
about painting a tree you see at 1km distance:
its nothing more than a green irregular spot.
The nearer you get to the tree, the more detailed
information you get to paint (describe) it.
What I also do, is use the whole range of the
brushes Draw Size, not just the big and medium
ones; try to use a very small brush in the
beginning as well, to emphasize some smaller
details but remember: only from the distance!
Sometimes you can focus on close-up details
in your sculpting, perhaps because you need to
better see just one part of the model in order to
adjust everything else accordingly.
Another thing I like to do is to quickly pose some
parts, like the hands or arms, in a gesture that
helps me to better understand the volumes and
Once I get to subdivision level 3 or 4, I started

working with them; they help you to get rid of

For the eyes I temporarily place some ZBrush

using mostly the Clay Tubes and Clay brushes,

the bulginess from the lower levels, averaging

Sphere primitives to hold the shape (I will come

since I find myself being very comfortable

out forms and consolidating the major volumes

back to these later on).

(Fig.05 06).

Additional Objects

Once Ive imported the newly created .obj, Ive

got everything I need and I can start working on

At this stage I use 3ds Max to create some very

the object as a whole, trying to sculpt everything

simple geometry to use as base meshes for the

at the same level without leaving parts too

mandibles and maxillae. As you can see, they

roughly sculpted (Fig.08). This is important

are just standard cubes scaled and subdivided a

because you want to have a good general

few times, and just for the mandibles Ive made

understanding of what is going on in the model

an extrusion to better conform the shape I have

to be able to judge what is working the way you

in mind (Fig.07).

want it, and what needs adjustments.

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Moving on, I isolate the shell, and with the Clay

brush I sculpt some variations into the surface
(Fig.09 10).
As mentioned earlier, try to use your Draw
Size range, as this will help you to to create
believable variations and patterns in your
sculpting work (Fig.11).
With the shells main volumes roughed out, I
work on the junctions in the limbs next, trying to
recreate a net of underlying fibers and nerves,
tendons and cartilaginous structures, and
everything else that could fit to mimic what once
was human and still there, but is now morphed
into this new form (Fig.12).
Something very clear on insects is that their
shells tend to have borders; in most cases they
are jagged and have little spikes. To sculpt
these details into my model, I use a cloud-like
alpha with a Standard brush, with the Stroke set
to DragDot this is because I can get realtime
feedback of both the position and the altitude of
the brush, so I can very precisely place those
little spikes where I want them (Fig.13).

Adjusting the Sculpt for the New Concept

because your progress is very slow, but its very

As I mentioned earlier, during the sculpting

important to always remember the meaning of

process I changed my mind, deciding to break

what youre doing: you have very good reasons

up the insect mutation to reveal human portions

to go through this process and the result will be

to the character. Here is how:

much better than what you had previously. So,

put your favorite music on the playlist and relax!

I step back to the lowest subdivision level and

smooth and reconstruct from there the human

I focus on the anatomy being in the process

features I want to see (Fig.14).

of mutation, which is reflected in the sculpt on

the other side of the face/body, so everything

Im not afraid at all about erasing all of what Ive

we know from human anatomy will be more

previously done, because I am very confident

recognizable on this side of the character, giving

about the new concept. At first the work seems

the appearance that the process is already

massive, and its easy to get a bit stressed

taking place (Fig.15).

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Inner organs and structures would be stressed
by this mutation, so I start sculpting some hybrid
anatomy where parts are more human like;
others are blended, whilst some are a complete
mess all this is to show that something weird
is going on right now, making it difficult to fully
understand what this creature once was.
The sculpting process here is the same as
done for the earlier concept, using the Clay and
Clay Tubes brushes, sometimes also taking
advantage of the Standard brush to apply some
sharp details (veins, depressions) (Fig.16 17).
For the fine tendons you can see in the
examples, I used the Clay Tubes brush to rough
out the inner part of the elbow, or the human
side of the torso, crossing strokes until I got a
pattern that mimicked what I needed. Taking
the Standard brush, with a really low ZIntensity
and a small Draw Size, I started to slowly sculpt
patterns, crossing them together and finding
merging points. Looking at sculptures from
Masters such as Jordu Schell, or Steve Wang,
you can really understand how these patterns

In my case, I cant really get close to the shells

and the Stroke set to DragRect. Try to vary

work and be inspired by them!

appearance just with the sculpting alone, but

the scale and rotation of your projection to get

with some fine details I can describe the surface

a more organic and believable distribution of

much more and add an extra level of realism.

details. You can also use customized and more

When most of the work is done you need to

One way to do this is to use the projection

focused alphas, and place them where you

spend time working on the smaller details.

of alphas of random organic noise patterns,

need them. I used this method to simulate little

Dont be in a hurry, all the steps need time and

created freehand in Photoshop or using a

cracks of plastered effects; you might want to

hard work, and its really important to continue

section of a texture (I use the 3DTotal Texture

use this method also for veins or pores (Fig.18

working until you feel satisfied. Every step

DVDs, they have a huge amount of different

19). The other way is to sculpt what you need

needs the same level of attention.

surfaces to sample from), with a Standard brush

with custom alphas and use the Color Spray or

Final Sculpting Details

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Spray Stroke. You can use a very small jagged

circle to simulate little spikes, for example.
The insect eye was tricky to get it how I wanted
it. As I mentioned previously, I used ZBrushs
Sphere Primitive in the first instance as a
placeholder, but I realized that the poles of the
sphere tend to get jagged once subdivided and
sculpted, so I needed clean geometry to work
Using 3ds Max I create a simple primitive
sphere with spherical UV mapping; I export
the mesh as an .obj, import it into ZBrush, and
position it using Transpose (Fig.20).
I then use Photoshop to create a beehive-like
pattern that can mimic the insects divided eye
basically a black and white image with white

the imported sphere, and use it to mask the

So to fix the antennae problem, I create a

hexagonal cells separated by black (Fig.21).

geometry of the eye based on the textures

cylinder in Max with evenly spaced subdivisions,

intensity (Fig.22).

and then, using an FFD box modifier, I

proportionally scale down the top. To create the

Once I have the height map for the cells done,

I import it into ZBrush as a texture, apply it to

With the sphere masked, I the use the Inflat

repeated bulging effect I just use the scale tool

Deformation to pull out the cells and get the final

with an edge every once in a while to get the

divided eye (Fig.23).

recesses I need (Fig.25).

I had a few problems with antennae. I first

In order to make the antennae curved the way I

used ZSpheres to create a rough base mesh

want them to, I create a Spline with the desired

for them, appended them as a SubTool, and

curvature and then deform the cylinder using a

sculpted. I wasnt satisfied with this version

Path Deform (WSM) modifier, with the spline as

though; the antennae were too distracting for

the path (Fig.26).

me and I didnt like the shape too much (Fig.24).

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Once the sculpting is finished I want to pose the

character using Transpose Master. Something
to be aware of here is that sometimes this
amazing tool doesnt work properly; I dont
understand if its something Im doing wrong
or something related to this particular model,
but what happens is that when I use the tool to
pose the character how I want him, and once I
transfer the pose back to the subdivided mesh,
I lose all my subdivision levels. My solution
for this problem is to disable the UV for all my
SubTools. This works just fine, and finally I
have my happy ending with the results I want

Polypainting and
I collect all the references I can about insects
for this part of the process, as this is perhaps
the most important part of texturing its not just
about colors, but also being able to understand
and recreate how nature works as closely as
you can.
Ive found some really very interesting color
schemes in the insect world, but I also realized

that its very difficult to adapt bright colors to

Colorize from the Texture sub palette in the Tool

my concept, even though they are the most

menu, and have the RGB value set to 100) with

interesting ones. I think the main problem with

a bright green color this will be my base color

this is that they look too fake when painted.

for the insect half of the character (Fig.28).

The first thing I do to begin the Polypainting

To keep things looking interesting, I use mostly

process is to fill the object (remember to turn on

the Color Spray stroke to get some variations

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in luminosity, with different values for the Draw

Size and lots of different tones of green, red
and yellow. I then use the same process for the
human side of the model, just using skin tones
instead (Fig.29 30).
With the main variations painted, I decide to
create a texture just for the body (leaving other
SubTools, such as the antennae and eyes, for
the Polypainting technique) for two reasons: first
of all, I dont have enough polys to describe the
textures; and second, I need some other tools
that you can only access using the Projection
So first I create an 8K white texture (this might
be a bit large, but if you can handle these
large files its better to resize them down later
rather of realizing in the middle of the texturing

not only using the Standard brush, but also

process you dont have high enough resolution).

the ability to use all the Pixol tools, such as the

Then, with the body SubTool selected, I turn

Sharpen, Blur, Intensity and Contrast brushes,

off Colorize from the texture sub palette, go

and so on.

down to level zero in my geometry subdivisions,

set 100 for the RGB value, apply an AUV tiles

The first step is to enforce the depth of my

mapping, and finally hit the Col > Txr button to

texture by dimming the cavity areas and

transfer all my polypainted data onto the texture

lightening the elevated ones. To do this I mostly


use the Standard brush with falloff alphas like

So far so good!
Now I have a lot more possibilities painting wise;

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Alpha 01 or Alpha 37, to get a nice gradient

between the two tonal values, also with the help
of the Intensity brush (Fig.32).

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Sometimes when you use the Intensity brush
too much, you can get noisy results, but dont
worry because its easy to fix with the Blur brush
in no time at all!
Its OK to use custom alphas to break down the
color, using either the Spray or the DragRect
stroke. And its important not to cover your
sculpted data with a generic texture, but make
sure you always enforce or highlight what you
had previously described in your sculpt. For
example, if you have tiny spots all around the
sculpted surface, make sure to paint over them
with a different color to accentuate them, or if
you have a crack in the surface, just enforce it
by dimming the recess.
On the fleshy side I use the Standard brush with
a very small Draw Size to paint in some veins,
trying to change the Draw Size to get some
variations in the scale, using different colors,
from green to purple (Fig.33 34).
I use some cropped textures from the 3DTotal
Textures DVDs ( as
alphas to DragRect onto the surface to get some
sharper variations; you could use dirt, concrete,

Also experiment with the already mentioned

photo reference image you need as the texture,

organic-looking textures, or just patterns that fit

Pixol brushes (Intensity, Contrast etc.) with

and a basic circle with falloff as the alpha to

with your model and concept (Fig.35 36).

custom alphas. You can get some very nice

smooth out the corners. Make sure you have

effects with the right settings; just remember

ZAdd set to 0, and simply draw your plane on

that, while in Projection Master, youre basically

the canvas. You can then use the standard

painting as with a traditional 2D package, so

sculpting tools to deform it to make it better fit

take full advantage of it!

your model. This is a handy way to use photos

to texture your model thanks to Krishnamurti

Something to be aware of is that the RGB value

Costa for sharing his technique with the

tends to color a lot from the very lower settings:


working with a value like 2 or 4 was enough for

I got it was something like 18 on a range from 0

Rendering and

to 100.

Were now at the final stage of production of this

me for most of the painting session; the higher

You can project paint some photo references

if you need them, too. There is a great video

I first of all create a pass of the texture alone,

tutorial by Krishnamurti Costa (www.antropus.

with a flat material (Fig.37). I then fill all the

com/tutorials.htm) that explains this process

SubTools with a white color and use MatCaps

very well. Basically, once in Projection Master,

to render out different passes, with and without

you select a ZBrush Plane as a tool with the

shadows (I can then choose what I will or wont

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use). I use some human skin and insect photos

will be handy for a depth of field effect later on in

Material, and I adjust the specular curve as I

to create some custom MatCaps this process

Photoshop. To do this, go to the Alpha palette,

need to in order to get wet-looking highlights, or

is well explained in the ZBrush Documentation

press (at the very bottom) the GrabDoc button,

glossy specular (Fig.38a b).

you can already find online.

and export it.

In Photoshop youre free to experiment,

For the shadows and Ambient Occlusion, I use

Other custom materials are used for the

adjusting the Brightness/Contrast and/or the

a custom-made MatCap that mimics the effect.

specular: I fill all the SubTools with black

Color Balance, using masks to differentiate the

Im also sure to render out a ZDepth pass that

and use the Basic Material or the Toy Plastic

shading or even doing some paintover work

if you need to. For example, I have added a
bit of smoke to the bottom to better blend the
character with the background (Fig.39).

This was an extraordinary project, not only
because I was free to develop my own
interpretation of the subject but also because I
have learned so much about the insect world,
as well as about sculpting and texturing. Every
project needs you to find solutions to achieve
the desired results, and every time its a great
challenge. What I can suggest is for you to work
hard to get to where you want to be, and if you
cant get there, well youll have to work harder,
defeat the problems and find solutions; think in a
different way and enjoy what youre doing. This
is the fundamental point to all this!

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Chapter 05

I hope you have found this tutorial interesting

and the techniques offered will be useful to
you with your own projects. Good luck to you
all, please feel free to contact me with any

Federico Scarbini
For more from this artist visit
or contact

chapter 6

Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 06 - Reptilian-Man

Software Used: ZBrush and Photoshop

In this tutorial Ill try to teach you my workflow
while creating a reptilian-man from simple
base mesh in ZBrush. Ill aim to show
you through the whole process from the
basic development of proportions, through
retopologizing in ZBrush, to rendering, and
finally post-production in Photoshop.
I wont start out with any concept drawings
before starting this model in ZBrush when you
download the free movies with this tutorial youll
see that my reptilian concept is created during
the sculpting stage. This way of working is not
always a good idea its always better to know
what you want to do before you start, and if you
cant draw then you can at least look for some
good reference images on the internet to give
you an idea.

I start this new character in the same way as all
the other artists of this series have done before
me, with a simple human base mesh (which is
available for download with this tutorial).
Before I start sculpting, for easier selection I go
ahead and divide the mesh, whilst at the lowest
subdivision level, into Polygroups. I hide any
unnecessary parts of the model (press Ctrl +
Shift, and then release Shift) and use Group
Visible in the Tool > Polygroups menu.

the Ctrl key is still being held. To completely

model. You can then create a mask following

With the Polygroups created, I can then start

erase a mask drag on the empty canvas holding

your mesh topology.

to transform the base mesh by masking, using

Ctrl; Ctrl-clicking on the canvas will invert the

the Move brush, and the Move/Rotate/Scale

mask. You can also blur a mask (Ctrl-click on

Whilst still at the lowest level of subdivision (or

Transform tools (W/E/R) to change the overall

the masked part of your model) and sharpen it

in the second level at most), I begin to block

shapes and proportions to something less

(Ctrl + Alt-click). I like to hide my mask during

in the basic body shapes, generally using the

human-like in shape (Fig.01).

work to make the changes I create more visible

Standard and Clay Tubes brushes. Its a good

(Ctrl + H). There is also a very useful feature

idea also to lower the Smooth brushs ZIntensity

To create a mask, you simply press and hold

called Topological Masking which works with

here; standard settings make the smoothing

the Ctrl key when painting on the surface of your

the Move, Rotate or Scale Transform active

too destructive when working in low levels of

model. You can also erase unnecessary parts of

simply press and hold the Ctrl key whilst in one

subdivision (Fig.02).

mask by pressing and holding the Alt key, whilst

of these modes and click-and-drag over your

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When working on the overall shapes of a

character design, I try to not concentrate on just
one part of model. I jump from head to hands,
using masking and the Move tool to change
proportions. From time to time I also like to
change the material to a flat black color to check
how the silhouette is working (Fig.03). You
can create your own black silhouette viewing
material and save it in material menu out of
any of basic ZBrush basic materials (Fig.04).
When I have something looking more or less
satisfactory, I subdivide once or twice more

To create the eye sockets I choose to append

Next, skip to the Deformations palette and use

and then start working on the smaller forms of

an eyeball SubTool. This helps me to make

the Mirror button to mirror your cloned eyeball

the body, such as the eye sockets, fingers and

the eyelids correctly and helps me to avoid

tool to right side of the model.

muscles. Using mostly the Clay Tubes brush

problems later on when matching them to the

with a strong ZIntensity, I try to create natural

eyeballs (Fig.05).

Whilst working on my reptilian head Im using

some iguana reference photos that Ive found

looking shapes for the muscles. Its important

to always keep in mind at this stage of work the

To create an eyeball I use the Sphere3D tool

on Google Images. Im not trying to make a

bone structure, too. Muscles dont exist without

from the Tool menu. Draw it on the canvas and

perfect copy of a reptilian head, I just like to

an underlying bone structure, so it can be really

use the Make PolyMesh3D button in the Tool

use photos to follow and use them as a guide

helpful at this point to mark some of the bones

palette to enable sculpting. Next, switch to your

for the overall shapes. Ive chosen to make the

and joints in.

main tool, use the Append button in the SubTool

back of his head much bigger than what youd

palette and choose your Polymesh sphere.

expect of a reptile, as he should in theory have

From time to time I find it useful to look at

Switch to your eyeball SubTool in the SubTool

a bigger brain. Ive also decided to make his

anatomy reference images not completely

palette and use Move (W), Scale (E) and Rotate

mouth shorter.

trying to copy human muscles, just using them

(R) to place the eye in the right position. With

as a guide for my modeling work. I then use the

the eye SubTool selected, use the Clone button

With the overall forms defined, Im now going

Inflat brush to add some volume to the larger

in the Tool menu to create a copy of the eyeball.

to start to add the smaller details. Using the

muscles of the body.

Append the copied eyeball in SubTool palette.

Standard brush with Gravity set to around 30 in

the brush options, I sculpt in some skin folds,
and then use the Standard brush with Brush
Mod at 15-20 and a small alpha to sharpen
some of the edges, like the eyelids, nostrils and
smaller skin creases (Fig.06).

After playing with details and sharpening up
edges, Ive decided to retopologize my model.
It isnt absolutely necessary, but Ive noticed
some geometry stretching in the lower parts of
the body which could lead to problems in later
stages of sculpting especially as Ill be working
with scales.
To start the retopologizing process, I create
a ZSphere on my canvas. I go to the Tool >

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Rigging menu and use the Select Mesh button
to choose my model (Fig.07). With the mesh
selected I then go to Tool > Topology and
choose Edit Topology.
Before I start to create new topology, I like to
turn off the viewport shadows in the Render
> Preview Shadows menu this just makes
the visibility of the model better, especially in
areas like the bottom of the chin or armpits. I
then click on the canvas outside of the model to
avoid attaching the first topology point to a point
already existing inside the model.
Creating new topology in ZBrush is rather easy,
much like building a cage of quads on a models
surface. In this part of the work I switch from
graphics tablet to mouse to have better control
and avoid any random clicks. Keeping the brush
size small, I start creating new topology simply
by clicking on the model. When you create a
new topology point, its selected (a red circle
around the point), and the next click on the
models surface will create the point connected

without creating a new edge, press Ctrl and click

parts of model if necessary, just like when in

to it. If you want to create a new point without

on it. You can also delete unnecessary points

sculpting mode.

connecting it to the last one, click on the canvas

(Alt-click) or move them (W and Q back to

to deselect your last point. To select a new point

paint mode). You can also use Ctrl-Shift to hide

When creating new topology in ZBrush I try

to use the same rules as when sculpting or
painting. First I create big shapes (edge loops
around the muscles, eyes or mouth), and take
care of the details later (filling big edge loops
with smaller quads). I prefer to turn off the
symmetry when creating geometric points in
the center of the model, just to avoid errors with
doubled centered points. Its important to keep
all topology in quads if possible (ZBrush doesnt
like triangles!). Create denser topology in places
which need more detail, like the mouth, eyes or
ears. Use fewer, larger quads in less important
places (Fig.08).
When the new topology is ready, I use the
Preview button in the Adaptive Skin menu to
make it visible. I set the Density slider to 1,
turn on Polyframe view (Shift + F) and carefully
check for errors in the mesh (look out for
any unnecessary holes or doubled edges).

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If everything looks fine I then use the Make

Adaptive Skin button to create my 3D tool from
the topology (Fig.09).
Reprojecting Details onto New Topology
First I select my original model from the Tool
menu. I draw it onto the canvas and hit T to get
into Edit mode. Next I use the Append button in
the SubTool menu to append my new topology
object as a new SubTool. I set my old model to
the third or fourth subdivision level and switch to
the new topology SubTool.
For safety, I create a new Morph Target

tools and using this step-by-step technique, but I

(StoreMT in the Morph Target menu). With the

prefer this method it takes more time but helps

Morph Target stored I can use the Morph brush

to avoid errors.

to remove any projection errors, like exploding

vertices. I then hit the Project All button in

With the details projected onto my new model I

the SubTool menu. If everything looks good I

use a mask and rotate (R) to open my reptilian-

can switch to the first SubTool, go to a higher

mans mouth (Fig.11).

subdivision level, then go back to the new

topology tool, subdivide it and use Project All

I can now go back to Edit Topology, this time

again (Fig.10).

using the lowest subdivision level. Using the

same method as before I go into Edit Topology

Do the same for every subdivision level. In

mode and, holding Shift, I simply paint the

the case of problems use the Morph brush to

existing topology onto my model. All I have to do

erase projection errors. Of course, you can

is to patch the hole inside his mouth with new

use projection immediately on the highest

geometry (Fig.12 13).

subdivision level rather than skipping between

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Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 06 - Reptilian-Man

I repeat the same steps as before to project the
details onto the model with the patched mouth.
Finishing Details and Adding SubTools
With my new retopologized mesh I can now
work some more details over it, sharpening
some edges with the Pinch brush, and using the
Standard brush with Gravity and the Inflat brush
to give a more natural look to the skin folds and
muscles. For some of the smaller wrinkles I
use the Standard brush with a blurred Alpha 59
To make teeth for my model, give him spikes
on his back and tongue, as well as some
claws, I append a ZSphere SubTool. I model
some simple ZSphere teeth (Fig.15) and use
Adaptive Skin > Make Adaptive Skin to turn it
into geometry. I then use Tool > Clone, along
with Mirror in the Deformation menu, to make
the upper teeth.
I model just one ZSphere spike and use copies
of it for all the other spikes, and with a few small
changes I can use it for the claws as well (use
Clone just once and then append as many
copies as needed in the SubTool menu). I use
Transpose, Move, Scale and Rotate to place the

With all the spikes and claws in place Ive

which Ive found on the internet. You can find

spikes and claws into the right positions. And

decided Im going to make some scales now,

lots of free alphas at the Pixologic Download

finally, I use the SubTool Master plugin (http://

rather than just have a flat skin I want to

Center (

make my reptilian-man look less human and

downloadcenter/alpha/). You can also create

zplugins/) to merge all claws and spikes into one

more interesting! For small scales Im using the

your own alphas in Photoshop from photos

SubTool this makes the navigation between

Standard brush with low ZIntensity, DragRect

simply convert a photo to 8- or 16-bit grayscale.

SubTools much easier (Fig.16).

stroke, and a couple of reptile skin alphas

I actually prefer to paint my alphas by hand

though, as it gives me more control than using a
photo (Fig.17).
To avoid ugly intersections between individual
brushstrokes I make use of Radial Fade in the
Alpha menu, which makes the outer edges of
the alpha more transparent. I always try to follow
the natural flow of muscles and skin, placing my
brushstrokes carefully and trying to rotate the
alpha in the right direction (move your graphics
tablet or mouse holding the left button to rotate
or scale the alpha with the DragRect stroke)

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Chapter 06 - Reptilian-Man

Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook

The large scales on his head and fingers I have

made by hand. I start by painting the shape of
the scales using a mask (holding Ctrl). I then
invert the mask (Ctrl + I) and hide it for better
visibility (Ctrl + H). When sculpting scales, I use
the same technique as before, mostly using the
Clay Tubes brush along with the Standard and
Pinch brushes, and finally the Inflat brush comes
in handy to give volume. A couple of strokes
of a low intensity Flatten brush helps make the
scales look more angular (Fig.19).

To pose my character I use the Transpose
Master plugin (
downloadcenter/zplugins/) (Fig.20). Its simple
to use: just click the TPoseMesh button in the
plugin menu and it creates a low version of the
model with all SubTools merged together.
I use the usual masking and rotate technique
to make some pose changes here, and when
ready I press the TPose > SubTool button in the
Transpose Master menu to transfer changes

to the original model, including all SubTools.

reptile photos in my paint program and load

Finally, I use a couple of strokes of the Inflat and

them onto a ZBrush canvas using the Image

Standard brushes to make the posed muscles

Plane plugin (

look much more natural (Fig.21).

downloadcenter/zplugins/) (Fig.23). I can now


select colors from my palette just by clicking

on the ZBrush color selector and dragging it to

Before I start painting, I change the material to

the right color in my palette on the canvas. You

MatCap White. I also use a modified FastShader

could do the same thing with a photo rather than

(Fig.22) and Flat Color materials to check the

a palette, to sample real colors from it.

look of my texture from time to time.

Im now going to turn off ZAdd on my Standard

I dont like ZBrushs color selection too much,

brush, turn RGB on, and fill the model with a

so I prepare a couple of color palettes from

base color (Color > Fill Object). I add some color

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Chapter 06

Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 06 - Reptilian-Man

variation with the Color Spray stroke with a low

the Free Resources icon). Three versions of

RGB intensity, with a couple of different alphas.

basic materials are setup to show only specular

I continue painting with a very low RGB intensity

highlights with different specular curve settings

(around 3-6) with different color variations, trying

(Fig.26); white MatCap is used as an ambient

to make recessed parts of the model darker, and

occlusion pass for compositing; and I make a

adding small details with skin alphas and the

Flat Color render just to be safe (in case I need

DragRect stroke. Finally, I use cavity masking to

to make some color corrections later).

select cracks between the scales and I fill them

with a dark, almost black color (still using a low

I also use Alpha > Grab Doc to create a ZDepth

RGB intensity), just to make them more visible

pass, plus a flat color render with the various

(Fig.24 25).

SubTools filled with different colors to use as a


mask in Photoshop (Fig.27).

For the final render I use Grant Warwicks

I make some changes now to the standard light

GW_SkinCore material as the base shader (free

settings (Fig.28) where I set Super Sample to 2

to download with this tutorial simply click on

in the Render > Antialiasing menu. I then make

the final renders in double the resolution of the

final image, simply for better antialiasing.

And now its time for a little post-production
in Photoshop. The final refinement in your 2D
application of choice is one of most important
parts of creating a good image. My basic render
from ZBrush doesnt look too encouraging (Fig.
29), but then even the best Mental Ray renders
sometimes need some help from Photoshop!
So first of all I create a new Photoshop

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Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook

document with all my ZBrush render passes

in it (Fig.30). I use my Flat Color render as a
clipping mask for all the other layers, so I apply
it over the background and use the Create
Clipping Mask function (Alt + Ctrl + G) for all
layers over it.
Now, with the clipping mask active for higher
layers, I can work on my background. I use a
low opacity brush to make a smoky looking
effect, a couple of low intensity color gradients,
along with a little use of the Blur and Smudge
tools, and its ready!

I can now take care of the reptilian figure. I use

Hue/Saturation and Brightness/Contrast are also

some different layer compositing options and

particularly effective to help you get your desired

opacity values for my render passes: Color Burn

results (Fig.31).

for my flat color pass, Overlay for my ambient

occlusion one, and Screen and Lighten for

To finish the post-production work, Ive decided

different specular passes. I also use a Layer

to add a little drool effect to his mouth. I was a

Mask for some of the passes and make some

bit too lazy to paint all the tiny highlights in his

hand corrections to them. This part of the work

saliva by hand, so I simply use a new layer with

is mostly about experimentation with different

couple of blending options like Drop Shadow,

blending modes and opacity levels. I find that

Outer/Inner Glow, and Bevel and Emboss

using a couple of adjustment layers like Levels,

(Fig.32). With these blending effects set I can

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Manimal ZBrush Character Creation eBook Chapter 06 - Reptilian-Man

paint drops of saliva with a simple black color, and the layer effects do the
rest of work for me (Fig.33)! I use the Screen blending mode for this layer,
and after flattening the image I use the Dodge Tool to emphasize the
highlights in the drool.
And here is the final composition (Fig.34).

Im pretty happy with how my final image has turned out. It may not be
photo realistic, but I like the results and what Ive achieved. This was my
first work completely rendered in ZBrush (I normally use Mental Ray to

render) so I think it has come out pretty well for

a debut! I also had lots of fun working on it, so
I hope youve enjoyed this tutorial and that it
helps you to come up with something in ZBrush
that youre also proud of. Thanks for reading!

Tomasz Kwiecinski
For more from this artist contact them at:

page 67

Chapter 06


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In this series we will be working our way through the basic process of creating a creature bust, then taking
it to completion by the last chapter. We will be starting with a basic Zsphere base mesh that we will create
ourselves and well use this as our starting point for sculpturing and finally adding texture to. The tutorial series
is split into 7 chapters so that we can take it at a beginners pace and cover as much ground as possible for
people totally new to Zbrush. (Plus youll end up with a finished digital sculpt that will give you the confidence to
approach you own projects in a similar manner.)
Original Author: Ltd | Platform: ZBrush | Format: DOWNLOAD ONLY PDF | Pages: 52

Downloadable Tutorial EBook


The original character of the Swordmaster

was created by Seong-wha Jeong and we
had 3DTotals in-house 3d artist Richard
Tilbury, re-create the character in 3dsmax
as well as create the textures in Photoshop,
in our new precise, step-by-step tutorial for
highly polished, low polygon game character
with detailed texturing for real-time rendering. We have also converted the tutorials into
Cinema 4D, Maya, Lightwave and Softimage
platforms. Even if you are not a user of one of
them, the principles should be easily followed
in nearly all other 3D applications.
The Swordmaster tutorials is spread over 8
Chapters which outline, in detail, the process
for creating the Swordmaster below are the

image by Seong-wha Jeong

Chapter 1: Modelling the Head

Chapter 2: Modelling the Torso
Chapter 3: Modelling the Arms & Legs
Chapter 4: Modelling the Clothing & Hair
Chapter 5: Modelling the Armour
Chapter 6: Mapping & Unwrapping
Chapter 7: Texturing the Skin & Body
Chapter 8: Texturing the Armour & Clothing

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The series is split into 6 chapters and will endeavour to give you an insight into how a fully realised 3D scene
may be arrived at from beginning to end. The tutorials will attempt to address the key issues and techniques
appropriate in achieving this, from concept sketches through to building the 3D scene, mapping and
unwrapping, texturing and eventually to lighting and rendering, culminating in a final render. The emphasis over
the course of the series will be on the texturing and principally the aging and wear of materials.
Original Author: Ltd | Platform: 3ds max, Cinema 4d, LightWave, Maya and Softimage XSI
Format: DOWNLOAD ONLY PDF | Pages: 38+


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Zbrush Character Creation is a comprehensive look at the techniques and tools used to sculpt a variety of
physical characteristics specific to several character types. The lessons on offer show how to transform a
general base mesh into a definitive character class and explains the tools used to not only create the details
and unique facial features, but also how to manipulate the overall proportions and head shapes. There are
nine chapters in all, five of which cover the human condition and four of which cover creatures with human
characteristics including zombie, werewolf and Frankensteins monster.
Original Author: Ltd | Platform: ZBrush | Format: DOWNLOAD ONLY PDF | Pages: 091


Michel Rogers famous Joan of Arc

tutorial re-written for Maya by Taylor
Kingston, Cinema 4D by Giuseppe
Guglielmucci & Nikki Bartucci,
Lightwave by Vojislav Milanovich and
Softimage by Luciano Iurino and
If there has been one single tutorial
that has educated and inspired more
budding 3d artists than anything else,
this complete step by step project by
Michels must be it. The community
is in debt to him.

These 120 plus page, Downloadable PDFs are

designed for ease of use to help beginners and
intermediate level of artist alike in the creation
of a female character. The tutorial takes you
through the process of modelling, texturing and
mapping to finally adding bones.

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Image by Michel Roger

Chapter 1: Modeling of the Body

- Body
Chapter 2: Modeling of the Head
- Head, Ear & Assembly
Chapter 3: Modeling of the Accessories
- The Sword & Armour Legs
Chapter 4: Modeling of the Accessories
- Armour Bust, Hair & Glove
Chapter 5: Modeling of the Accessories
- Accessories & UVW Mapping
Chapter 6: UVW Mapping
- Sword, Clothing, Armour & Body
Chapter 7: Texturing & Hair
- Eyes, Skin & Hair
Chapter 8: Bones & Skinning
- Bases, Hierarchy & Skinning


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This e-book provides a detailed account of building, texturing and lighting the interior of a Gothic Church based
upon a concept painting. The ebook is available in five different platforms. Chapter two however is dedicated to
creating a gargoyle in Zbrush the focal point in our scene. Here the author will start by creating a rough body
form using ZSpheres and move through the numerous sculpting phases and modeling the details for each part
of the character, highlighting the various brushes and tools used throughout.
Original Author: Ltd | Platforms: 3ds max, Cinema 4d, LightWave, Maya and Modo.
Format: DOWNLOAD ONLY PDF | Pages: 47+


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The tutorial eBook will begin by creating and applying materials for the various parts of the car, such as glass,
chrome and tyres, as well as texturing some simple geometry that will make up a scene. It will then move onto
lighting where the focus will be on setting up a lighting rig and the various parameters connected to this. Finally
the series will culminate with a section on rendering, where the aim will be to finish with a polished image.
Original Author: Ltd | Platform: 3ds max, Cinema 4d, LightWave, Maya and Softimage XSI
Format: DOWNLOAD ONLY PDF | Pages: 44+


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This series of ZBrush tutorials orientates around speed and efficiency and how to achieve detailed sculpts
within a few hours. Each of the ten chapters focuses on a different character topic ranging from mythical
creatures such as the Minotaur and Cyclops to Pirates and monsters. With over seven hours of video
footage and covering ninety seven pages this e-book provides an insight into the working methods of eleven
professional artists. Each individual showcases their particular approach to the subject and treats us to an
exhibition of both their artistic and technical skills that form the backbone of their creative process.
Original Author: Ltd | Platforms: ZBrush | Format: DOWNLOAD ONLY PDF | Pages: 97