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armored beasts

sculpting organic and non-organic forms in zbrush


Lizard by Bruno Camara - Page 04


bear by Borislav Kechashki - Page 20


Chicken by Jose Alves da Silva - Page 26


Gorilla by Miro Petrov - Page 46


rhino by Jose Alves da Silva - Page 52


Cat by Christopher Brndstrm - Page 64

Lizard by Bruno Camara

Armored Beasts Chapter 01 | Lizard

Chapter 01: Lizard
Software used: ZBrush 4.0
Hi, my name is Bruno Cmara and over the next
few pages Ill be explaining the process I used
to create my lizard character. I hope you like it!

The Idea
The main idea for this tutorial was to come up
with an armored creature of some kind, so I
decided to create a reptilian beast that lived a
long time ago, in a fantasy kind of era where
there were few resources and constant conflict.
The beast wasnt very intelligent and basically
lived by fighting for food. He was always one of
the first on the battlefield and his armor wasnt
particularly strong or thick because of the lack
of resources and the fact that the lizards cant
forge metal. It was basically made of things he
found or collected from dead enemies.
With this idea in my head I started to sketch
some rough ideas (Fig.01). I created some
messy silhouettes and then the character began
to form out of these.
Generally the first sketches you make are
the most clich ones. The more options and
variations you sketch, the more interesting and
original they become. In Fig.02 you can see the
option I chose as the concept for my character,
which I then developed into the final concept
shown in Fig.03.


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Chapter 01 | Lizard

Armored Beasts

It is here that I defined everything. You dont

need to do a detailed sketch or concept for your
images, but getting some ideas down on paper
may help. It helps me a great deal when I start
the sculpting, as I already know what I plan to
do and have things like scale and pose decided
in advance. I always gather references at this
point as well, as it helps sell the image and
make it more accurate.

Then it was time to start the hard work. For the
modeling I separated the character into three
main parts: the head, body and props. Before
anything else though, I started on the main base

Sculpting the Head

1. Create a ZSphere and hit Edit

using ZSpheres (Fig. 04).

On this mesh I had already defined the shapes

2. In Tool > Rigging, click Select Mesh

of the head, but I hadnt detailed it yet so I did a

3. Select the mesh you will use to create the

After building the structure I converted it to

simple retopology to have a better base to start

a mesh (Tool > Make PolyMesh 3D). I then

from (Fig.06).

4. Go to Tool > Topology > Edit Topology

started to define the proportions and general

shape of the muscles (Fig.05).

new topology
5. Turn Symmetry on (if needed) and click on

To make the retopology of any mesh, do the


the model to begin creating new geometry

6. Press A to see the new mesh
7. When you are done, press Tool > Make
PolyMesh 3D.
Thats the process I used to make the new mesh
for the head. This new mesh had some basic
edge loops for a better flow and easy detailing
in the future. Once the new topology was done
I started to detail the head using a reference of
a blue-tongued lizard and a Komodo dragon to
help me.
The first one stands out among all other lizards
because of his nice body texture and weird
tongue. Since my armored lizard was going


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Chapter 01

Armored Beasts Chapter 01 | Lizard

to be huge, at three or four times the size of a
human, his skin would be more like a Komodo
dragons or a dinosaurs than a little lizard. Other
references were used too, like iguanas and
other lizards.
After gathering several references, I also
downloaded several alphas related to lizard
skin. You can find great alphas on Pixologics
I started defining the main muscles on the head
and neck and the folds of skin. I then moved on
to the gums and tongue (Fig.07). The eyes were
a simple Sphere3D object and the tongue was
made from ZSpheres.
To make the teeth I masked the position of the
teeth on the gums and used Extract to create a
new subtool. Then using the Inflat tool and the
Pinch brushes, I pulled and shaped each tooth
(Fig.08). Like the tongue, the drool was also
made from ZSpheres (Fig.09).


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Armored Beasts

Finally I detailed the scales around the mouth

and eyes manually. Basically I masked the
mouth region where the scales would be,
inverted the mask and used a combination of
the Standard brush and Inflat brush to highlight
the scales (Fig.10). I used this process for the
major scales; the others I did with skin alphas
I didnt spend much time on the shoulders as
they were going to be hidden behind the leather
clothes. In Fig.12 you can see the completed

Detailing the Body

The lizards body demanded a mixture of human
and lizard anatomy. To tackle this I collected as
many references of human muscles and lizards
as possible. I tried to create a strong body that
looked balanced enough to carry the weight of
the armor.
As I had already modeled a base for the body,
I used it to begin to define the muscles of the


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Chapter 01

Armored Beasts Chapter 01 | Lizard

limbs, but before I did that I deleted all of the

head geometry as it was no longer necessary.
I started with the arms and hands, and defined
the muscles and veins (Fig.13). I then moved on
to the legs (Fig.14), and finally the torso and tail
(Fig.15). Some parts were not detailed as they
were going to be covered by cloth and armor.
For the scales I used the same process as I did
for the head. I manually modeled the main parts
like the elbow and joints. For the rest I used a lot
of alphas and adjusted any problems that arose.
The final body can be seen in Fig.16. At this
point I had seven subtools: the head, body,

Ctrl key pressed, I masked the rags of leather

bit with the Move brush, to make them fall on the

eyes, tongue, drool, upper teeth and lower teeth.

that I wanted to extract (Fig.17).

body, simulating gravity. I created three different

rags of leather for the torso (Fig.18).

Modeling the Props

Once they were masked I clicked Extract. I

There are several props on this character. I

set the parameters for Edge Smoothness to 0,

divided them into five different parts and created

Surface Smoothness to 0 and Thickness to 0.3.

them in this order: cloth, armor, shield, leather

Depending on the model you make these values

straps and weapons. For both parts of cloth I

may vary. After extracting them I softened the

used Extract (Tools > Subtool > Extract). Extract

edges of the extracted model manually, so I

is just great and really speeds up the workflow.

could have a better range of smoothness. It was

At the lowest level of subdivision and with the

necessary to separate the cloth from the body a


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Armored Beasts

For the lower clothes I had to extract a base

geometry and mask over it to make out the final
cloth. I created two rags (Fig.19).

The Armor
I thought this metal armor would be useful as
the lizard would have to defend against frontal
attacks. It would be very old and worn, with
pieces of chains and wires around. The fastest
way to create it was with ZBrushs ShadowBox.
This is the quickest way to model using
1. Create a Sphere (Sphered3D primitive)
and tap the T key to edit
2. Click Tool > Make PolyMesh3D to
transform it from a primitive to polymesh
3. Now click Tool > Subtool > ShadowBox
4. Hold Ctrl and click and drag on the canvas
to clear the mask and erase the sphere
5. Now you have what you need to start
working in ShadowBox.
With a resolution of 300 for ShadowBox
(ReMesh Resolution parameter) and the X
axis symmetry turned on, I drew the mask to
generate the armors base (Fig.20).
to improve the curvature. Then with the Slash1

After this I used some metal alphas for minor

Its even better to build props like this to the

and Slash2 brushes I made marks all over it as

details, such as rust and wear and tear (Fig.22).

correct scale (Fig.21). Simple as that! Now the

if it had been involved in plenty of wars. Another

base of the armor was ready to be detailed. I

great tool I used was the Polish brush, which

With the armature complete, I moved on to

started bending the armor with the Move brush

allowed me to flatten some areas.

modeling the wires and chains hanging from it.


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Armored Beasts Chapter 01 | Lizard

For the wires I used ZSpheres, which I patiently


rolled one by one until I had the correct

For the lizard I created three different shields.

thickness. For the chains I used a Ring3D

One of them is the medusa shield. I started in

primitive. I modified it until I had the shape of

ShadowBox by creating the basic shape (Fig.

a chains ring and multiplied it until I had the

25). After the mesh was generated I used the

length I required for my chain. Using the Subtool

MatchMaker brush to get the contours of the

Master plugin I merged the rings to create a

cylinder. This new brush is perfect when making

single object (Fig.23).

one surface conform to the contours of another.

Using Transpose to move and rotate, I

To use the MatchMaker brush do the following:

positioned the chains just like the concept and,

1. Tool > Subtool (this should already

using the Move brush, I bent them to give them

contain the object you want to deform)

a sense of movement. You can see the finished

click Append and choose the object to use

piece of armor in Fig.24.

as the contour

2. Now you have two subtools: the main one

and the reference for the contour
3. Position the reference object below the
object to be deformed
4. With the main one selected, choose the
MatchMaker brush in the brush palette
5. Click the center of the object and drag;
now the object will deform in accordance
with the object underneath.
After getting the contour of the cylinder I
subdivided the shield a couple of times,
turned on Symmetry and started sculpting the
Medusas face. For the snakes I masked their
shape on the mesh and used the Inflat brush
to pull them out. For the ornaments I used the
Stitch brush with a round alpha and modeled
some screws around the border. Finally I
destroyed the shield using the ClayTubes and
Slash1 brushes.


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To create another shield I used the same

metal with screws and creases, and made them

process as I did on the previous one, only I

old and broken (Fig.27).

Armored Beasts

changed the format and used a sphere as the

contour (Fig.26).

I then placed the shields and created more wires

with ZSpheres to tie them to the body (Fig.28).

For the third shield I basically used Extract to

create each of the pieces. From a cylinder I

Leather Straps

created a disk and subdivided it to be the wood

I modeled the leather straps using Extract to

part. Then one by one I masked the edge,

match the concept. I masked around the body

center and arrow-shape, and used the Extract

and limbs, but erased a small piece where I

(Tool > Subtool > Extract) to create the metal

could connect the loop with a Ring3D primitive

parts. I then detailed the piece of wood and



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Chapter 01

Armored Beasts Chapter 01 | Lizard

I repeated this a few times until I had this

There are many weapons on this character,
consisting of the secondary ones that hang
on him and the main one he uses to attack.
The secondaries are the remains of weapons,
swords and broken spears of past battles.
For the swords I made one complete sword
and from it created some variations. I used
ShadowBox to create the base mesh (Fig.31)
and used Symmetry to create them. Once they
were made I used the Move and Polish brushes
to detail them. I created variations using clipping
brushes to break them into different parts.
To cut any object in ZBrush using Clipping
brushes, do the following:
1. With your object on the screen and in Edit
mode (T key) hold Ctrl + Shift.
2. The Brush and Stroke palettes have now
changed. Choose a Clipping brush like
ClipCurv and a stroke, like Curve.
3. Still holding Ctrl + Shift, click and drag to
start drawing the cut.
4. To make a curve just tap the Alt key. When
you have finished, release Ctrl + Shift to
cut the mesh.
I used the same method for the spear (Fig.32).
There is also a broken axe, which again I
created by using the same method as before.

The blade and the handle are the same mesh.

Texturing and Posing

The Polish brush was essential here to make

With the hard work done it was time to put some

the details really sharp. I also used rusty metal

color on the character. As the head and body

alphas to make it look worn (Fig.33).

were different subtools, I focused on finishing

the texture of the head to give the final look


The other main weapons are a machete and a

for the body. I started by filling the head of the

cleaver. These were all created in the same way

lizard with a yellow tone, which also complied

(Fig.34 35).

with the main reference of the blue-tongued

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Armored Beasts

lizard. I then used a lighter tone for areas like

under his chin and chest. I like to use an alpha
for the transition of tones to match the texture of
the skin (Fig.36). In this case I chose to use a
scales alpha.
With the Standard brush and FreeHand stroke
I added some dark stripes at the beginning of
the back, as they were on the reference. I also
polypainted some more random scales of the
same color on the stripes. For the tongue and

teeth I used several references of human teeth

Before proceeding with the texture I broke the

and the mouths of some lizards like the Komodo

symmetry and posed the character. For the


pose I tried to follow the concept, but with some

differences in the pose of the limbs to create a

For the eyes I used the DragRect stroke. I

better silhouette. I deleted hard objects such as

projected a picture of a chameleons eye as I

the armor and shields, and used the Transpose

found them much more expressive than other

Master to pose him (Fig.39).

lizards. For the drool I used a reference image

of a Komodo dragon, which has very thick and

Once I was happy with the silhouette, I started

white drool. After the head was ready and the

to place the props and used the Transpose

final look was okay, I painted the body in the

Masters to make it all work together. This part

same style. The final body can be see in Fig.37.

took some time because of the large amount of

props. I also had to be careful to make sure no

For the cloth I used different images and leather

parts intersected with each other.

tones that had been treated in Photoshop. Using


the DragRect stroke and Alpha 01 I projected

With the pose ready, I continued to finish the

the images onto the sculpt (Fig.38).

texturing. I used the same texture for the leather

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Chapter 01

Armored Beasts Chapter 01 | Lizard

straps, varying the tones between them, and I

face and the rusted gray metal for the rest.

also applied some metal textures to the rings

I didnt use a texture here. For the wooden


shield I applied the worn silver matcap for the

metal part, and a wood texture for the middle.

The next step was to polypaint the armor and

Finally for the round shield I modified the deep

wires. I searched for textures such as rusted

bronze matcap (Material > Modifiers) to a darker

metal and rope wires, and applied them with the

version and applied it.

DragRect stroke tool. For both I used a darker

version of the textures to vary the tone in some



For the secondary weapons on his back I used

a single material. Maybe I should have used

For the shields I basically just used metal

some variation of hue to achieve a better look.

matcaps, which are freely available on the

Again the deep bronze matcap was changed to

Pixologic website (http://www.pixologic.com/

a grayer version, like steel. This matcap is great

zbrush/downloadcenter/library/). On the

because it creates a sense of texture. It darkens

website, under the option MATCAP METAL, I

the cavities and highlights the bumps so the

downloaded Deep Bronze, Rusted Gray and

weapons have a very old look (Fig.42).

Worn Silver Metals (Fig.41).

For the main weapons I also used a modified
The only texture I used was for the wooden

matcap for the metal parts. I used the

part of the shield. For Medusas shield I used

SketchShaded2 matcap for the wood, along with

two matcaps: the deep bronze for the Medusas

a few textures (Fig.43).

And thats it. The texturing process was now

finished and it was time for my PC to work on
the render passes.

For the final image I wanted a very dark mood,
with low light, as if he were in a cave. Nine
render passes were used: Color Pass, Ambient


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Armored Beasts

Occlusion, Main Light, Specular, Right Rim

Light, Left Rim Light, Depth of Field, Mask and a
SSS pass (Fig. 44).
Before rendering all the passes I saved a
view using ZAppLink (Document > ZAppLink
Properties). This was to ensure that all the
passes would be rendered at the same angle.
I also applied a black background to all the
passes and increased the FocalAngle to 140
(Draw > FocalAngle) to give more depth to the

Color Pass
The first pass I exported was the Color pass,
which is where all the colors were. To do this I
simply applied the Flat Color Standard material
to the entire scene. By just using this material,
I would have lost the metal shaders, so I kept
the matcaps of the weapons and all metal parts
by going to Color > Fill Object, with only the M
(Material Channel) button on (Fig.45).

Ambient Occlusion
For the Ambient Occlusion I also used the Flat
Color Standard material, but with all the textures

hold Shift and click on the brush-shaped

I only put the AOcclusion button on and in

and polypaints off. To turn off the materials and

icon. Now you can use any color or matcap.

Render > BPR AO, I used the following values:

textures of all the subtools, go to Tool > Subtool,

Regarding the parameters in the Render palette,

- Strength:1
- Rays: 100
- Res: 4000
- Angle: 360
- Blur: 2
- VDepth: 0
- LDepth: -1
- Gamma: 3
And thats it. The resulting image is in Fig.46.
Then in Photoshop I used Levels to highlight a
few details.


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Armored Beasts Chapter 01 | Lizard

Main Light
The Main Light pass was a simple sun light
coming from the right. I used a white light so
I could change the color in Photoshop at will.
I set Intensity to 0.7, Ambient to 0 and the
BasicMaterial as a matcap.
I turned Shadows on in the Render palette and
the BPR Shadows option and set them like this:
- Strength: 1
- Rays: 100
- Res: 4000
- Angle: 20
- Blur: 6
- VDepth: 0
- LDepth: -1
I clicked the BPR button and made the Main
Light pass (Fig.47).
difference is that the light source was behind the

Mask at the same time if you want it to. I used

object. To do this I simply double-clicked on the

the same parameters for the Fog tab as I did in

For the Specular pass I used the ReflectedMap

point of light in the Light palette. I also increased

the Depth of Field tab (Depth Cue). This way

matcap and in Material > Modifiers I set Ambient

Intensity to 2, because it gets weaker when its

I could see in real-time how the depth of field

and Diffuse to 0 and also adjusted the specular

behind the object. I made some adjustments

would blur the final image.

curve based on references. For the light I used

in Photoshop to highlight these rim lights even

the same position and the same parameters as

more (Fig.49).

Specular Pass

Id used for the Main Light pass, and hit BPR


Left and Right Rim


The Depth Cue parameters were as follows:

Depth of Field and

These two passes were created simultaneously

- Intensity: 100
- Softness: 4
- Depth 1: -0.22
- Depth 2: 0.16

using the Create Maps button (Render > Create

For these two passes I used the same

Maps). This can generate the main image,

With the Create Maps button enabled, I clicked

parameters as the Main Light pass. The

Depth of Field, Shadow, Ambient Occlusion and

BPR and created these two passes (Fig.50).


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Armored Beasts


the render passes in Photoshop. Fig.52 shows

mode. These fitted perfectly, but I duplicated

For Subsurface Scattering I used the

all the passes in order of assembly. I started

the right rim light layer to highlight some areas a

DoubleShade1 matcap. In Material > Modifiers,

by opening the Color pass of the character and

little more.

for both the S1 and S2 slots, I set Specular to

applied the Occlusion pass using it in Multiply

0. In Tool > Subtool I hid all the objects except

layer mode.

Finally there was the SSS pass over all the

the head, body and drool and I turned off the

layers in Screen mode. A lot of this layer was

brush-shaped icon to disable the polypainted

I then applied the Main Light pass, which was

erased leaving it in some parts, like the mouth,

textures. I chose a reddish color as the main

given a yellow tint in Photoshop using Hue and

hands and tail.

color and in the Light palette double-clicked on

Saturation. This was applied using the Soft Light

the point of light to put it behind the character. I

layer option.

After I had assembled this I flattened the image

then set Intensity to 2, Ambient to 0 and turned

and started a new one. In this second version

on SSS. Finally, in the Render palette, I also

The Specular pass was then added in Screen

I applied the background using the Mask pass.

enabled Shadows and SSS. I pressed the BPR

mode. In this pass I deleted some areas such

Then I highlighted the center of the scene,

button and the SSS pass was ready (Fig.51). I

as on the pieces of leather and on some metals

darkened the edges of the image and used

adjusted this slightly with Levels in Photoshop.

because it doesnt make sense to have specular

the Depth of Field pass in the Lens Blur filter


to achieve the blur effect. Thats it! Finally the

Final Composition

armored lizard was done (Fig.53).

Finally we have reached the last part of this

Immediately on top of the Specular pass I

tutorial. Now all I needed to do was assemble all

applied the Rim Light passes using Screen layer


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Armored Beasts Chapter 01 | Lizard

At the end of a project like this you learn a lot as
theres always room for improvement. If I went
back in time and started again I would change
several things to make it better. I think that
everyone should leave their comfort zone from
time to time to learn and evolve further. I cant
wait to start an even bigger project.
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. For me it was
an honor to write for 3DCreative and if you have
any questions or feedback feel free to contact

Bruno Camara
For more from this artist please visit:
Or contact him at:


page 19

Chapter 01

bear by Borislav Kechashki

Armored Beasts Chapter 02 | Bear

Chapter 02 - Bear
Software used: ZBrush
I was really excited about the idea of making an
armored bear, so from the very start I had plenty
of ideas in my head. I began by collecting all
kinds of reference that could be useful at some
point. I knew I was going with a polar bear so
I started gathering images of real polar bears,
plus different types of armor I found interesting.
I also looked for different types of artwork, both
2D and 3D, that could serve as an inspiration.
As it is a creature living in a cold and unfriendly
environment I thought it would be cool if the
armor is like the protection used by hockey
players, so I was inspired by Casey Jones and
Jason Voorhees. So that was my starting point
and the main inspiration for the armor. I began
by doing some fast sketches just to focus the
idea before going to ZBrush, although I try not
to spend too much time working in 2D because
Im not that good at it .So this is what I came up
with (Fig.01).
I tried not to go into the details at all, playing

real polar bear photos I tried to capture all the

When I was happy with the concept I moved

mainly with a large Move brush on a very

distinct features of the animal, like the profile of

into ZBrush to continue concepting directly in

large scale, just trying to make the forms and

the head, their unique eyes, bulky paws and the

3D using ZSpheres and DynaMesh. At this point

silhouette more interesting. By looking at a lot of

overall body proportions (Fig.02).


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Chapter 02

Chapter 02 | Bear Armored Beasts

Its good to know from the very start what the

final pose will be and the feeling you want to
achieve as this will help you plan your modeling
and posing more efficiently. I also did some
really fast mock-ups of the main armor plates
to see how they change the overall silhouette.
I did that by masking where the plate would be,
extracting it, adding some more loops and then
polishing it (Fig.03 04). As always, I worked
from larger to smaller forms.
When all the main forms were there and I
was happy with how they worked together, I
decimated all the different elements and moved
to 3ds Max to retopologize. Although this step
is not really necessary I prefer working with
better topology and polygon distribution. It will
be a lot easier when making UVs if you use
this approach. I still find 3ds Max a lot easier
and more precise for making hard surface
models, so I made the armor plates there. I
started with a clean and simple retopology over
the decimated meshes from ZBrush using the
Graphite tools and then, using the Shell modifier
with a spline for the profile, made the separation
of the different elements more precise (Fig.05).
For some of the plates I made very fast UVs,
just separating the elements which were made
from different materials so I could polygroup


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Chapter 02

Armored Beasts Chapter 02 | Bear

them by UV later in ZBrush (Fig.06). I also
retopologized the bear itself (Fig.07).
When I was done with that I brought all the
newly created meshes into ZBrush and
projected the details on them before I continued
sculpting. At this point I pretty much knew
what the final pose would be so I transposed
the model, because posing it later on with all
the fine elements and hard rigid parts would
eventually lead to stretching and unwanted
overlapping. Its important when transposing a
model with hard surface elements to keep them
from deforming. This is easily done by isolating
them before or after the topological masking
(Ctrl + drag over the model) and by Ctrl +
clicking on the canvas to mask or unmask them
fully (Fig.08).

When I was designing and detailing it I tried

to keep in mind that the armor should look
believable and functional, and to think about
how the different parts attached to one another
and the bear. Another thing for better realism
was to change the fur behavior around the
armor to make it look like it is actually being
affected by its pressure. For all the straps I used
extracts from the bears mesh, using the same
method as described earlier.
At this point I polymodeled all the weapons,
cords and tiny elements that make the armor
look more functional. The cords are just splines
with thickness made over the decimated
model as a guide. For the dog tags chain I
used a spline and a sphere, which was path
constrained to it, and then played with the
snapshot tool until I had the amount of balls I
wanted on it (Fig.09).


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Chapter 02

Chapter 02 | Bear Armored Beasts

I mainly used the Dam Standard brush to make

a final pass and to add all the scratches and
damage on the armor. I also used it with the
SnakeHook brush to make the clusters of fur
on the bears body. To keep all the holes on
the plate the same I made two alphas, starting

For the texturing I first quickly mapped the

Cavity parameters and the specular curve, just

with a plane in ZBrush, then used the radial

body using the UV Master so I could adjust

to enhance the hairs a bit more. The texturing

symmetry to sculpt the detail I wanted. I then

the texture in Photoshop later if needed. I

itself was quite simple. I just worked from larger

grabbed the alpha and placed it using DragDot

began by filling the bear with a slightly modified

to smaller details and used a lot of Cavity masks


SketchShaded2 material. I only changed the

with a brush using spray stroke and different

alphas to add a bit of variety.
At some point I opened the texture in Photoshop
for some color correction then moved it back to
ZBrush to polypaint from the texture. Texturing
the plates was really simple, I just masked the
cavities, inverted them and then painted some
dirt in the cracks. The UV splitting of some of
the plates came in really handy here because I
easily polygrouped them by UV and then very
precisely and easily isolated the half I wanted
to paint on. I also made a couple of dirt alphas
from photos to add some more variety and noise
to the textures.
The first thing I always do before beginning the
rendering of the different passes is save my final
view on a file (under the ZAppLink properties),
so if ZBrush crashes I can always return to the
exact view I began my rendering on. I began by
rendering a BPR render with all the armor filled
with the mah_modeling_01 matcap and the bear
with my modified sketchshaded2 material with
no shadows or AO (I prefer to have them on a
separate pass so I can have more control over
the intensity and color) (Fig.11).
I rendered the whole model with flat color and
with Diffuse on, which I multiplied later over the
BPR render. Because I needed very precise
masking for the different elements for my


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Chapter 02

compositing I did some render passes that I

used later on for selections (Fig.12).
Using a flat color material and with inactive
subtool dimming put down to 0.1, I rendered all
the masks for the armor, all the straps, the bear
itself and the snow base. I created three new
lights in ZBrush: two rim lights and one fill light,
which I rendered on a basic material filled with
a black color with a slightly modified specular
intensity and curve.
From this point on in Photoshop everything was
just about experimenting with blending modes
and adjustment layers, using the masks created
earlier to have greater control over the different
passes. At the end I added some photo effects
like vignetting, noise and chromatic aberration
to make the image look a little less CG (Fig.13).
And thats it. I really hope you found my tutorial

Borislav Kechashki
For more from this artist visit:
Or contact him at: b.kechashki@gmail.com

Chicken by Jose Alves da Silva

Armored Beasts Chapter 03 | Chicken

Chapter 03 - Chicken

As ZBrush will be used for the materials and

Software used: ZBrush

render, the good news is that we wont need to

As part of this series dedicated to the creation of
armored animals in ZBrush, I have been given

set UVs and we will have zillions of polygons to

work with! Prepare your hard drive for some big

the task of creating an armored chicken! I have

The Chicken

always been a fan of humor, so I am sure I will

My first step was to sketch my subject the

have great fun developing this.

chicken. We all think that we know how a

chicken looks until we try to draw one. Suddenly

In this tutorial, we will be using ZBrush 4 for the

questions start to rise, like how many fingers

whole project with the exception of compositing,

does a chicken have? What is the shape of the

which will be handled in Photoshop. ZBrush

beak? What is the position of the eyes in relation

4 brought us the tools that were missing in

to the head? All of these are easily answered

previous versions to handle non-organic models

with an internet search for chicken images.

and angular shapes. Even though ZBrush works

Drawing is a great exercise because early on

very differently from other 3D packages, which

you are forced to answer all your doubts about

provide greater precision and a lot more tools

chicken anatomy (Fig.01a b).

to edit polygons, the capability of exploring a

concept is ZBrushs greatest advantage. Make

Armor for the Chicken

sure that you have installed the Subtool Master

What armor is most appropriate for a chicken?

and Transpose Master plugins, which are free to

I thought that Roman armor would suit her

download from Pixologics website.

perfectly. The idea came from the chickens

comb, which works really well as part of a

Roman helmet, replacing the traditional feathers
on top. To test the concept I sketched the armor
on top of my first chicken sketch.
Even though I plan to make a more cartoony
chicken than the one in the sketch, I will leave
the decisions on the proportions for later as
ZBrush allows me to study and modify the form
with ease. The strategy I used to design some
of the armor pieces was to create a very simple
chicken shape and build the armor on top of
it. Also as we will be using ZBrush to apply
different materials I prefer to separate some of
the chickens parts. If you look at Fig.02 you can
see my chicken butchering strategy!


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Chapter 03

Chapter 03 | Chicken Armored Beasts

Basic Form

between the chest and the rear to create the

while using the Clay Buildup brush carves the

Start ZBrush, choose ZSphere from the Tool

belly. Also, create two ZSpheres originating at

orbits of the eyes. Press Shift while using the

palette and drag it onto the center of screen

the tip of the neck to define the head form, and a

brush to smooth the area after adding volume.

to create it (press Shift while dragging to

smaller ZSphere at the rear where the tail will be

With the same brush, make the thighs rounder

keep the ZSphere horizontal). Press Edit (or

placed. To finalize the base, create a ZSphere

and distinct from the main body. Also mark the

T on keyboard) to enter Edit mode. Activate

for the eyes and another originating at the belly

back of the chicken and the base of the neck

Symmetry by pressing X.

to create the thighs (Fig.03).


While in Draw mode, drag on a ZSphere surface

In the Tool menu, under Adaptive Skin, press


and a new, connected ZSphere will be created.

Make Adaptive Skin. A new tool will be created

Select a Standard brush. While pressing Ctrl,

If you drag at the symmetry line, a single

with the prefix Skin_. Choose the Skin_ tool and

paint a mask on the body marking a very simple

ZSphere will be created; if you drag on any other

continue working on this tool as we wont be

wing shape. In the Tool menu, under Subtool

point of the ZSphere then two new, symmetrical

needing the ZSpheres anymore.

near the Extract button, set the E Smt (Edge

ZSpheres will be created. Use the Move and

Smoothness) value to 41 and the Thick value

Scale modes to position the ZSpheres. If you

Turn on Symmetry (X). Select the Move brush

to 0.67. Press the Extract button. A new subtool

click the chain between two ZSpheres while in

from the Brush menu and make the chickens

will be created with the rough form of the wings

Draw mode, a new ZSphere is created at that

body rounder. Push the eyes inward so that they



lie on the same plane as the head (Fig.04).

Select the wings subtool. Deselect the mask on

To create the form of the body, assume that the

In the Tool menu, under Geometry, press the

the wings by pressing Ctrl and dragging on the

first ZSphere is the chest and create a new one

Divide button twice to subdivide the model two

background. Select the Move Elastic brush and

to define the neck, and another to set the length

levels. Use the Clay Buildup brush to mark the

reshape the wings. Also, make sure to move the

of the body. Create a new, larger ZSphere

eyebrows and cheeks on the head. Pressing Alt

tips of the wings away from the body.


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Chapter 03

Armored Beasts Chapter 03 | Chicken

Choose the Clay Buildup brush. In the Auto
Masking submenu in the Brush menu, enable
BackfaceMask in order for your strokes not to
influence the other side of the surface on thin
surfaces. Isolate the wings layer by pressing the
Solo button. Smooth the edges on the inside of
the wings by pressing Shift while sculpting, and
fill the inside of the wings to make them thicker
Subdivide the wings subtool once. Work on the
exterior of the wings using the Smooth brush
extensively along the edges to make them
rounder. Alternate the Clay Buildup and Smooth
brushes to add volume to the wings, especially
at the shoulder area. Make sure that you end up
with a nice soft surface (a simplified version of a
wing) (Fig.08).

To create the base of the beak, click on
Append in the Subtool submenu and choose
the ZSphere. Select the ZSphere subtool and
activate the Transp button so that you can
see the ZSphere inside the chickens body.
Activate Symmetry (X). Move and scale the
ZSphere to place it at the mouth area of the
head. Extend one ZSphere to the inside of the
head and another to the outside, scaling it down
to form the tip of the beak. Add two ZSpheres
along the beak and move them to set the curve
of the beak. In the Adaptive Skin submenu,
press Make Adaptive Skin. A new tool named
Skin_ZSphere1 will be created. In the Subtool
submenu click on Append and choose the Skin_
ZSphere1 tool. Now you have the beak model
as a subtool of the chicken tool. You can delete
the ZSphere subtool (Fig.09).
Activate Symmetry (X). Select the Move brush,
change the form of the beak so that it adapts
to the head and subdivide it twice. Choose the
Dam Standard brush (you can find it by opening
Lightbox and choosing the Brush folder) and
create a cut that separates the upper and lower
parts of the beak. Using the Clay Buildup brush,
carve the nostrils.


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Chapter 03

Chapter 03 | Chicken Armored Beasts

To create the spheres for the eyes, click on

Choose the eyes subtool and click on Duplicate.

projection on the front wall with a front view of

Append and choose the PM3D_Sphere3D tool.

A new subtool with a copy of the eyes will be

the comb. You will notice that a volume resulting

The sphere will be added to your subtools.

created. Click on the Shadowbox button in the

from the two projections has formed. Click on

Move and scale the sphere to position it on the

Subtool submenu. A cube with three walls is

Shadowbox and the volume will be converted to

right eye orbit. In the ZPlugin menu choose

created with a mask painted on each wall, which

geometry that you can sculpt. Using the Move

Subtool Master (free plugin downloadable from

corresponds to the projection of our subtool

brush, adjust the form and thickness of the

Pixologics website). Pick Mirror. Activate the

object. Press the Trans button to keep the object

comb (Fig.11).

Merge into one Subtool option and press OK.

transparent and have a clear view of the cubes

Now you will have two mirrored spheres placed

walls. Also make sure that the Ghost option for


on the eye orbits. Activate Symmetry (X) on this

transparency is enabled.

We will be using Shadowbox again for this part.

subtool (Fig.10).

Duplicate the comb subtool, press Shadowbox

Choose the Standard brush. Press Ctrl and

and clear the cubes wall masks. Paint the

drag on the background to clear the masks on

wattles mask on the side and front views. The

The comb will be created with Shadowbox.

the cube. On a side view, while pressing Ctrl,

back part of the wattles (which are actually

This technique requires you to already have

mask the form of the comb on the side wall of

the chickens earlobes) will be inside the head

a subtool in order to initialize it, so we will

the cube, keeping the chicken model visible as

volume. Press Shadowbox to create the mesh.

duplicate the eyes subtool and start from there.

a guide. Change to the front view and mask the

With the Move tool, move the earlobes out of


the head volume. Using the Move and Smooth

brushes, make the wattles thinner and concave

ZSpheres are great for modeling bony legs.
Press Append and choose ZSphere. Scale
and position it at the lowest point of the thighs.


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Chapter 03

Armored Beasts Chapter 03 | Chicken

Extend one ZSphere up into the thigh and
extend another one down to create the bone
of the leg. Add two ZSpheres along the bone
to make it thinner at the central part and
thicker at the ends. Extend one ZSphere and
scale it up a bit to make the palm. Grow three
fingers from the palm and another from the
heel. Add ZSpheres along the fingers to create
their curvature. Finally, create some smaller
ZSpheres at the tip of each finger to create
the nails. Go to Adaptive Skin and press Make
Adaptive Skin. A new tool with the prefix Skin_
will be created. Append it to your tool and delete
the ZSpheres subtool. Using the Subtool master
from the ZPlugins, mirror the leg into the same
subtool and activate Symmetry (X) (Fig.13).
subdivision level so that we can edit them

value to 1, so that we can preview the geometry

together and then apply those changes to each

accurately without any smoothing. In the

As we have created each part of the chicken

of the subtools individually. In order to have

Topology submenu enable Edit Topology and

separately it might be necessary to make some

more detail to work with on the body, select the

activate Symmetry (X). Now when you click on

adjustments because this is the first time we see

body subtool, go to subdivision level three and

the chickens surface, a new vertex is created.

all the elements together. Also I want to give the

press Del Lower. Now we have a lot more detail

Each time you create polygons with three or

chicken some more exaggerated proportions. In

at the first level, which is the one to be exported

four sides they are closed. By Ctrl + clicking

order to work on the proportions of all elements

to the Transpose Master.

on a vertex you define that you want to create


a new edge originating at that vertex. Alt +

at the same time we will be using the Transpose

Master plugin (free plugin downloadable from

From the ZPlugin menu, choose Transpose

clicking on a vertex deletes it. If you want to

Pixologics website).

Master. Press TposeMesh. Using the Move

move the vertexes, change from Draw mode to

brush, rework the proportions. Each subtool

Move mode. However, bear in mind that when

When using the Transpose Master, ZBrush will

is identified with a different polygroup so you

you move them they are no longer sticking to

temporarily merge all the subtools at their lowest

can easily hide/mask parts of the model. I have

the surface! Every time you need to see the

enlarged the breast area and marked more

geometry press A to toggle between wire and

clearly some of the changes of direction in the


silhouette. Ive also made the neck a bit longer

and reduced the length of the beak. When you

Start by clicking at the center of the chest where

are satisfied with the overall proportions, press

the neck ends (a small green circle should show

Tpose > SubT from the Transpose Master

up indicating that you are at the symmetry line)

menu. All the changes will then be transferred to

and create a loop of quads that passes over

the original model (Fig.14).

the shoulder and meets at the back. Create

Chest Armor

new quads at the front covering the chest and

ending at the waist line. Create quads at the

With the chickens base complete we will use it

back covering the back up to the waist line.

as a mold for the chest armor. We will use the

Hide the wings and create quads connecting

Topology tool to create new geometry that sticks

the waist line, leaving a hole for the shoulder to

to the surface.

pass through. Create a new tight loop of quads

around the shoulder area. Create one tight loop


Append a new ZSphere tool. Under the

of quads at the neck line and another at the

Adaptive Skin submenu, lower the Density

waist line (Fig.15).

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Chapter 03

Chapter 03 | Chicken Armored Beasts

Under Topology, increase the Skin Thickness
value to 0.025. Now, as you press A to see
the Adaptive skin you will notice that it has a
thickness. Change from Draw mode to Move
mode. Some areas (due to the fact that they
stick to the surface) will need to be adjusted.
For example, the part of the armor behind
the neck is concave and it should be convex.
Now you can move the vertexes freely. I have
repositioned the vertexes around the shoulder
to let the wing pass with less intersections and
adjusted the back of the armor to be convex.
Under Topology, raise the PreSubdiv value to
three to add subdivisions to the mesh result.
Press A to check if you like the result. Press
Make Adaptive Skin and a new tool with Skin_

the comb. Extend the quads along the comb.

Also create an edge at the frontier between

prefix is added to the tools. Append it to your

Create polygons surrounding the eye area and

the back of the helmet and the neck protection.

chicken tool. You can discard the topology

covering the back of the head. Below the eye,

Check Fig.17 to follow the modeling sequence.

subtool. Use the Move brush to rectify any

extend the quads to create the lateral face

intersections. I have also adjusted the curve of

protection. Extend the polygons at the back to

Under Topology, set PreSubdiv to 3 and Skin

the waist line, lowering it on the area between

create the neck protection.

Thickness to 0.02. Press Make Adaptive Skin. A

the legs (Fig.16).


new tool with Skin_ prefix is added to the Tools.

As the polygons are sticking to the surface we

Append it to your chicken tool. You can discard

need to change to Move mode to lift the neck

the topology subtool (Fig.18).

The helmet base will also be made using the

and lateral face protections. In order to preserve

Topology tools, following the design of the initial

some of the sharp angles of the helmet we need

Shoulder Pads

sketch. Repeat the procedure for the chest

to create some edge loops. In Draw mode, click

Once again, the Topology method will be used.

armor, appending the ZSphere and using the

on the edges to create a new vertex at that

Append a ZSphere and activate Symmetry.

same settings. With Symmetry on, create a

point. Create an edge loop starting at the border

Turn on Edit Topology and create a loop of

quad starting at the beak in the area in front of

of the nose protection and surrounding the eye.

quads at the limit of the shoulders, where they

meet the existing chest armor. Create another
loop inside the first one and then fill the area
between the loop to close the shoulder pad. At
the edge, create some separate quads that will
work as feather tips. With a PreSubdiv value of
3 and a Skin Thickness of 0.02, make Adaptive
Skin. Append the Skin_ subtool and delete the
topology base. With the Move brush adjust the


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Chapter 03

Armored Beasts Chapter 03 | Chicken

shape in order for the shoulder pad to overlap
the chest armor a bit. Create some space
between the pad and the wing. I have also made
the tips of the feathers rounder (Fig.19).

Leg Protection
ZBrush has got some very powerful parametric
primitives. We will use them to create the leg
protection. From the Tool menu choose the
Cylinder3D. Under Initialize you can adjust all
the cylinders parameters. Set the X and Y Size
to 30. Set Inner Radius to 76, Hdivide to 10 and
Vdivide to 20. We have created a tube divided
in squares.
Select the chicken tool and append the cylinder
you have created. It will be automatically
converted to Polymesh3D. Using the Move
tool, rotate and scale this to position it on the
tube on the lower leg. In Draw mode, using the
Move brush, shape the tube as a shin protector
(larger at the top and bottom). Using the Subtool
Master plugin, mirror the leg armor to the other
leg keeping it in the same subtool. Activate
Symmetry (Fig.20).

Detailing the Armor

The base is completely set and now we
can start detailing each of the armor parts.
Choose the chest armor and subdivide it twice.
Select the Clay Buildup brush and enable
BackfaceMask under Auto Masking. Start by
marking the pectorals at the center and add
volume to make them rounder. Then add the rib
cage below, followed by the abs. Then use the
Smooth brush to achieve a more polished look.
Repeat the procedure on the back, creating
some muscle structures, and then smooth the
result (Fig.21).
Subdivide the chest armor twice more. Select
the Dam Standard brush. In the Stroke menu
increase the LazyRadius to 30. Mark a thin
line near the edge of every opening. Select
the Magnify brush and stroke at the edges of
the armor to make them rounder; also, use the
Smooth brush to even them out.


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Chapter 03

Chapter 03 | Chicken Armored Beasts

For the decorative elements I created two
chicken motifs (egg and wings). With the Clay
buildup brush I sketched the egg and wings.
Then I added another subdivision level and
refined the motifs with the Clay Buildup and
Smooth brushes. Above the sternum I created
an indent with the Move brush to break the line
of the neck (Fig.22).
For the detail on the shoulder pads, subdivide
the model twice, pick the Clay Buildup brush
and roughly mark the layout of the feather
structure. Also, using the Smooth brush, try
to tighten the detail as much as possible at
this resolution. Subdivide twice more. With the
mPolish brush polish the edges of the feathers
to remove the roughness. Subdivide once more,
finalize the edges with the Clay Buildup and
use the Smooth Stronger brush to smooth the
central area of the feathers. Using the Standard
brush with a Brush Modifier value of 54 and
LazyStep of 0.05, mark the central division of
the feathers (Fig.23).
To connect the shoulder pads with the chest
armor we will create a leather strap nailed to
the chest piece. Using the topology technique
described previously, create a strap of quads
at the shoulder area of the chest armor. Create
a new edge splitting the strap horizontally. In
Move mode pull the lower vertexes so that they
are placed under the shoulder pads. Create an
additional edge loop at both ends. Lower the
Adaptive Skin Density to 1. Under Topology,
set PreSubdiv to 3 and Skin Thickness to 0.02.
Make Adaptive Skin and append the Skin_
tool. Delete the topology. Turn on Symmetry.
Subdivide the leather strap four times. With the
Clay Buildup brush, create some folds. Using
the Dam Standard brush, create a line at the
edge of the strap. With the Standard brush set
to DragRect and Alpha 06, create the nail heads
To detail the leg protectors, subdivide once and,
with the Move brush, raise the back and lower
the front. This seems to be more ergonomic


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Chapter 03

Armored Beasts Chapter 03 | Chicken

for a chicken as this articulation bends in the
opposite direction of the human knee. Also
extend the lower part back and forward to cover
a bit of the chickens feet. Subdivide twice and
create a thicker border with the Clay Buildup
brush. I have also decided to extend the border
thickness down to create a decorative element
on the shin. Subdivide twice more. Use the
mPolish brush to accent the edges of the border
elements. Working with the Clay Buildup and
Smooth brushes, create some feather elements
on the shin protectors (Fig.25).
Select the helmet and subdivide it four times.
Use the Slash2 brush with Lazy Mouse on to
create a plane difference around the eye area.

on the Tool menu for all metal pieces. I have

As the Slash2 brush is actually raising one half

tweaked the Strength, Noise Scale and Noise

of the brush and lowering the other half, you

curve to achieve a pleasantly worn look on

will have to use the Smooth brush to remove

each. In the image you can check the values

the marks on each side of the cut. To add some

and noise curve for each piece. It is important to

decorative nail heads, select the Standard brush

tweak the values with a metal MatCap applied,

and set the stroke to DragDot. Then choose

because the values are very subtle and will

brush Alpha 06, set the correct brush size and

look different with other materials. I have used

intensity, and place some evenly spaced nail

the Zeoyn_Gold MatCap, which I have created

heads. As in the previous armor pieces, I have

and can be downloaded for free at my website

used the Clay Buildup brush to create some

(www.artofjose.com under Goodies/ZBrush).

feathers on the cheek protection. The same

Detailing the Body

brush was used to dig a hole for the nostrils

For the straps, which are made of leather, Ive

Back to the chicken body, subdivide it four


used the Standard brush in DragRect mode

times. Using the Move and Clay buildup

(loading the Leathery Skin 15 alpha from the

brushes, adjust the volumes of the head and

To add some textural detail to the armor surface

ZAlpha folder of the ZBrush installation) to add a

detail the connection with the beak. Mark the

Ive activated the Noise option under Surface

bit of leather texture (Fig.27).

eyebrow, cheekbones and eyelids. I have used

some strokes that overlap the beak and wattles
to give the idea that the head is covered with
small feathers.
Subdivided the beak five times. With the Dam
Standard brush, define the beak opening. Use
the Clay Buildup brush to define the nostril and
draw some subtle strokes along the length of
the beak to suggest its structure.
Subdivide the comb and wattles four times.
Using the Standard brush in DragRect mode,
load the Leathery Skin 15 alpha from the ZAlpha
folder of the ZBrush installation. While pressing
Alt (to subtract), drag over parts of the model


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Chapter 03

Chapter 03 | Chicken Armored Beasts

to add the leathery texture to the surface. With

in DragRect mode, select Alpha 48. Set the

the Dam Standard brush, add a few cuts at the

Z Intensity to 75 and Focal Shift to -54. Drag,

borders (Fig.28).

starting at the pole of the sphere, to create the

recessed iris. Change the alpha to Alpha 14 and

We will now create the iris of the eyes. Rotate

drag from the pole to create the pupil (Fig.29).

the spheres so that the topology is coincident

with the iris and the pupil is placed at one of

To start working on the body feathers, use the

the spheres poles. With the Standard brush

Clay buildup brush. I started by marking the flow

of the feathers with soft strokes to guide myself.
I also added a bit more volume at the tail to
suggest some raised feathers. Then using the
Clay Buildup brush, I sculpted all the feathers
roughly, starting by marking the outline of the
feathers, filling the inside and then smoothing
the result. I only created the feathers on the
areas that are not covered by armor and on the
wings (Fig.30).
Then I subdivided the body twice more. Always
using the Clay Buildup brush, I refined the head
feathers and detailed the orbit area. To create
the fleshy texture around the eye, a Standard
brush in DragRect mode with Alpha 24 was


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Chapter 03

Armored Beasts Chapter 03 | Chicken

A highly painstaking technique was used to
add detail to the feathers. With the Clay buildup
brush, every single feather was detailed by
stroking the center of the feather followed by
strokes that represented the fur of the feather
If you dont need so much control over each
individual feather (or are not feeling like a
glutton for punishment) I suggest a more
practical technique. Start by selecting the
Plane3D tool. Press Make PolyMesh3D. In the
Geometry submenu, disable the Smt button
and press Divide a couple of times. Sculpt a
single feather on the plane. Make sure that the
part of the feather connecting with the body is
at a lower height than the tip of the feather (to

Subdivide more and sculpt the scales covering

create a ramp). From a front view, with the plane

the top of the fingers and the leg in the areas

covering the full view, press GrabDoc from the

that are not covered by the armor.

Alpha menu. You have captured an alpha with

the depth of the feather. Choose the Layer

To model a single feather, which will be used to

brush, set the stroke to DragRect and pick the

create the tail, use the Shadowbox technique

feather as an alpha. Save the brush for future

described previously. Mark the center of the


feather, as well as the fur, with the Clay Buildup

brush. Use the Move brush to adjust the global

The center of the visible selection is now the

The Layer brush has a very useful characteristic.

shape and the ClipCurve to cut little spaces

pivot. Unhide the rest of the feather. Under the

If you store a Morph Target (press Store MT)

between the fur to add more detail (Fig.33).

Deformation submenu move the Sbend slider

the height of the applied strokes is relative to the

to bend the feather in various axis, creating

surface stored as Morph Target. This allows you

Duplicate the feather, create variations and

a variation of the original feather. Under

to create feathers under other feathers (Fig.32)!

place the feathers on the tail. Start by pressing

Transform press C.Pivot (Clear Pivot point).

Duplicate to create a copy of the feather. To

Move the feather and place it on the tail among

To detail the legs, subdivide and use the Clay

set a pivot point for the deformations we will

the sculpted feathers. Keep duplicating the

Buildup brush once again. Start by defining the

apply, select the central part of the feather,

original feather and creating variations until you

border between the nails and fingers. Sculpt

making the rest hidden. In the Transform menu

have a nice tail. The model is now complete

around the fingers to simulate the fleshier areas.

press the S.Pivot (Set Pivot Point) button.



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Chapter 03

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When starting painting and applying custom
materials it is good to start saving your project
instead of just your tool. The project file will hold
all the information regarding camera views,
lights and materials. Go to the File menu and
choose the Save As option to save as a project.
Start by applying a white color to the full model.
To do this quickly go to the Subtool Master
(under ZPlugins) and choose the Fill option,
then select Color. It will fill all the visible subtools
with the selected color.
Download the Zeoyn_Gold MatCap from my
website (www.artofjose.com under Goodies/

subdivided it twice, because the color is stored

The beak was straightforward. I filled it with

ZBrush). In the Material menu choose Load to

at each vertex and this way I could paint more

pale yellow, painted it unevenly with spray and

load the material. Make sure that only the metal

detail. Then I painted the iris in red and the pupil

marked the mouth and nostrils with dark brown.

armor pieces are visible. In Subtool Master,

in black. To finalize it, I used a lighter orange

choose Fill and then Material. The golden

at the lower iris and marked the outline of the

For the feathers, I started by filling the body,

material will now have been applied to all the

iris with a darker red. The white of the eye was

wings and feathers with a light gray. Then I

armored pieces.

painted with a reddish gray color (Fig.35).

made a Cavity mask, inverted it and painted

the borders of the feathers with a darker gray.

Choose SkinShade4 from the Material palette,

For the wattles and comb I used a dark red as a

With the same red color as the comb, I carefully

so the rest of the model is displayed with this

base. Then I changed the paint mode to Spray

painted the area around the eyes to make a

material. SkinShade4 is a white material with a

and the alpha to Alpha 07, and painted the

good transition between the feathers and the

bit of specular and is great for polypainting.

wattles with a lighter value of red to make the

bare skin. Some black strokes were used to

color uneven. Under Masking I chose Mask by

enhance the cavities around the eye (Fig.36).

To paint, choose the Standard brush, enable

Cavity to create a mask for all the cracks on the

RGB and disable Zadd so that it doesnt sculpt

skin, then inverted it and painted with a darker

I picked a caramel brown and painted around

while you paint. I started with the eye. First, I

red to enhance the cracks.

the feathers loosely, trying to create a gradient

from the white head to the brown body. Then I
used a darker brown to cover the whole body,
leaving a darker color around the feathers. The
tail and the individual feathers were left with a
lighter color to make some contrast with the rest
of the body.
The legs started with a pale yellow base. Then
I have sprayed them with a slightly darker color
and painted the nails in a lighter yellow. A cavity
mask was used to paint the skin details with a
darker color.
The shoulder straps were painted with a dark
brown. Some strokes in a darker brown were


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Chapter 03

Armored Beasts Chapter 03 | Chicken

painted to make it uneven. As I wanted to give

With the big breast and the shiny armor the

the nails a different material, I started by filling

chicken has got a really cocky look, so I thought

the strap with the SkinShade4 material, then

that it would be funny to put her in a situation

I disabled the RGB button and enabled the M

where she was surprised and broke that

button, which paints the material on the surface.


Then I chose the Zeoyn_Gold material and

painted the chickens nails to make them golden

For posing a full body made of several subtools,


the Transpose Master is the way to go. Select


TposeMesh and a new tool with all the subtools

mode, by placing the Transpose tool at the joints

at its lowest subdivision level are created.

and rotating, as if using a temporary bone.

So far we have been busy creating the character

Remember that each subtool will have a

in a neutral pose, mainly to take advantage of

different polygroup, which will make it easy to

I started by masking the right leg up to the

symmetrical editing. The pose will give us more

hide parts while making the masks/selections.

thigh and rotated the rest of the body to put

information about the characters personality.

All the posing can be made using the Rotate

all the weight on the right leg. Then I masked

everything except the left leg and rotated it
forward to use the foot as protection. The left
fingers were masked one by one and posed to
give more expression. I masked everything from
the neck up and inverted the mask, then rotated
the neck to make it vertical and counterbalance
the weight. Keeping the same mask, I rotated
the neck to the chickens left. Then I left only
the head and all the elements that connect with
it unmasked, and rotated the head further left.
The planting foot was posed as if the chicken
was standing on its toes. To finalize, I tilted the
head forward as if the chicken was looking at
the ground.
In the Transpose Master choose Tpose >
SubT and your original model will be posed
(Fig.38). Then you will need to start fixing
any intersection problems you might have with
the Move brush. In my case I had the wattles
intersecting the neck and the leg intersecting the
shin armor.
To give the chicken a more desperate look I
gave a bit of variation to the curvature of the
comb. I selected the comb subtool and masked
the parts that were supposed to stay in place,
then used the Rotate mode and the Transpose
tool to bend the comb. With the Move brush I
lifted the eyebrows for a surprised look. I also
rotated the eyes in the direction of the lifted foot


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Chapter 03

Chapter 03 | Chicken Armored Beasts

To surprise the chicken I chose an earthworm
jumping out of a hole. A shouting/laughing
worm came to my mind, even though the
chicken might have the last laugh. The worm
was made using techniques that have already
been described here. I started with a ZSphere
chain and then sculpted it with the Clay Buildup
brush, adding detail with each subdivision. For
the tongue, the Shadowbox was used to create
the basic form and then it was sculpted with the
Clay Buildup brush. Everything was polypainted
and the SkinShade4 material was used (Fig.40).

The tutorial is about a chicken and its armor so
I opted for a very simple scene. I appended a
Sphere3D to the tool and scaled it up as if it was
a hill under the chickens feet. Then I deleted

To add some texture to the ground I used

Standard brush in Spray mode using alpha

the bottom part of the sphere and subdivided it.

the FractureB brush that you can find in the

Alpha08 and varied tones of brown. A Cavity

With the Clay Buildup tool I sculpted a hole in

programs directories (load it with Lightbox in

mask was also used to emphasize the details

the ground from which the worm is jumping.

the Brush dir). The painting was made with the

with darker colors (Fig.41).


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Chapter 03

Armored Beasts Chapter 03 | Chicken


To store the camera position, in the Movie

highlights separately, they can also be layered

All the elements are complete, so it is time

menu under Timeline, press Show. The timeline

using the Add mode, allowing us to control their

to frame the image. In the Document menu,

is displayed. If you click on the timeline a key

brightness and color.

disable the Pro (proportional) button and set

frame is created with the current view position.

Width to 1000 and Height to 1500 (this will

If you change your view, every time you click

The strategy is to create a material without

be the render resolution, so set it to the final

on that key frame you go back to the camera

specular highlights for the base and three

resolution youd like). Choose Resize. Press

position you have set. You can keep several

different specular settings (broad, medium,

Ctrl and N to clear the screen and drag on the

points of view by creating other key frames on

sharp) that can be composited in Photoshop

background for the model to show up. Activate

the timeline. To delete a key frame, press Alt

using the Layer Dodge (Add) blending mode.

Edit mode.

and drag the key out of the timeline (Fig.42).

I will just explain the theory behind each material

Set the background color to black by choosing


black on the color picker and then pressing the

Light is additive. What this means is that if

I started all the materials from the SkinShade4

Back button in the Document menu. If you have

you render three separate images, each with

material. Start by copying and pasting the

a background gradient, also set the Range slider

a different light source, and put them together

SkinShade4 material to another slot (using the

to 0 to remove it.

using Add mode, you get the same result

Copy Mat and Paste Mat buttons in the Material

as rendering a single image with the three

menu). After preparing each material do not

Having the final image in mind, frame the

lights turned on. Why is this so important?

forget to save it (Material > Save) as the project

characters inside the document area and

Because you can place each light source in

file will only keep the materials that are applied.

position the view. Enabling the Persp button so

a different image layer (with Add blending

For the base material I have set the Ambient

you can have a camera view. The camera field

mode) and manipulate its intensity (opacity)

to 0, the Diffuse to 100 and the Specular to 0

of view can be set in the Draw menu with the

as well as its color, allowing you to light the

(under Material > Modifiers). This eliminates

Focal Angle slider.

scene interactively. If you render the specular

the specular highlights and the Ambient light,


as all the settings can be found in the images.

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Chapter 03

Chapter 03 | Chicken Armored Beasts

only keeping the diffuse color. I saved it as
Then I created three specular materials, each
with different glossiness. It is important that the
material is fully black with a white specular. To
make it black, reduce the Diffuse and Ambient
to 0. To make the specular white, go to the color
swatches at the bottom and change the Spec
swatch to white. To create different glossiness,
manipulate the specular curve of each one.
I saved them as Specular_broad, Specular_
medium and Specular_sharp (Fig.43).

I have set up the light scheme with a key light
from the front and two rim lights. To create the

In the Render menu, enable Shadows. Under

Save it (press Gab Doc under the Texture menu

key light, go to the Light menu and enable the

Bpr Shadow options set Strength to 1, so that

and then choose Export). The render settings

first light bulb. The point on top of the sphere

there is no ambient light that would interfere

of the Bpr shadow will be the same for the rim

sets the direction from which the light comes;

with the compositing. Increase the Angle to 5


place it at the top right region. Set the color to

for some nice area shadows. Increase the Res

white and the intensity to 0.85. Enable Shadow

value to around 4000 and set the Blur to 2. Hit

To set the rim light from the left, in the Light

and set the type to Sun.

the BPR button to render the key light pass.

menu disable the first light bulb and enable


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Chapter 03

Armored Beasts Chapter 03 | Chicken

the second. Place the light point on the sphere

materials you have created and apply them to

and Outer Blend values to 1. In the Shader

on the lower left corner. Press Alt and click on

all the subtools (use Subtool Master > Fill for

Mixer options, set the SSS value to 100 and S

the point so that it is moved to the back of the

this). Make a render of each with the shadows

Exp to 6.5. Apply the material to all subtools.

sphere in order to have a light coming from the

turned on.

back. Set the color to white and the intensity to

In the Light menu, enable SSS on the light that

0.85. Enable Shadow and set the type to Sun.

Place the specular renders as layers on top of

you want to generate the SSS. In the Render

Render with the BPR and save it.

the lights renders using Linear Dodge (Add

menu, enable SSS. Under Bpr SSS enable SSS

blending mode). Use the Fill value of the layer

Across Subtools, set the Angle to 360, increase

For the second rim light, disable light bulb

to balance the layers strength. Erase/Mask the

Res to 600. Render with BPR. Save the image.

number 2 and enable 3. Place the light at the

specular layers so that the specular glossiness

The SSS image can be composited with a layer

top right and press Alt to place it behind the

matches the objects (the worm should be

in Linear Dodge (Add) blending mode. Use a

sphere. Set the color to white and the intensity

shinier; the feathers have a broader specular

low Fill value as the effect should be subtle.

to 0.85. Enable Shadow and set the type to Sun.

etc) (Fig.44).

Render it with BPR and save it. Then save the


To create masks that will help you with


selections, apply a Flat Color material to all

As we have thin, soft bodies like the comb,

subtools. Then apply a color to each subtool

You can composite the three images in

wattles, feet and the earthworm, as well as

in order to easily select them in Photoshop

Photoshop by placing each in a layer with in

back lights, subsurface scattering should be


Linear Dodge (Add) blending mode. At the

noticeable. To create a SSS pass, choose the

bottom put a black layer.

Fresnel Overlay material. In the Material menu,

For a material that emulates the reflection of the

under Modifiers, change the Inner Blend color

sky go to my website and download the Zeoyn_

Enable the first light bulb and disable the others

swatch to a medium red and the Outer Blend

SkyReflect1 MatCap from the Goodies/ZBrush

in the Light menu. Load each of the specular

color swatch to a bright red. Set the Inner Blend

section. Apply it to all the subtools.


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Chapter 03

Chapter 03 | Chicken Armored Beasts

To generate several useful passes together
with the sky reflection, enable Create Maps in
the Render menu. In the render settings disable
Shadows and enable Aocclusion. Under Bpr Ao
increase the rays to 40, set the Res slider to the
maximum, Blur to 3 and Gamma to 3.25. Press
BPR to render. Go to the Render menu and
notice that under the Create Maps option you
now have four images. Click on each of them to
save the image of the reflected sky, the ZDepth,
Ambient Occlusion and Alpha.
Use the Ambient Occlusion in a layer with
Multiply blending mode set. Place the layer
under the specular layers in order not to darken
the specular highlights. The sky reflection can
be added with the Linear Dodge (Add) blending
mode and erased/masked to your liking. The
ZDepth can be used to create a fog effect or as
a mask for a depth of field effect. Use the alpha
image to cut the objects from the background if
you want to add a background image (Fig.46).
I have set a diagram showing all the BPR render
passes I have used to put the image together.
Each thumbnail shows the render pass after
masking and color correction. Ive also indicated
the blending mode used on each pass. You will
notice that I had the need to add a few more
passes, like a fill light to lighten the shadows,
and some effects using some default MatCaps,
like Outline and Framer1. It is so easy to create
new passes so feel free to experiment and add
your own, creating your own style (Fig.47).
I hope you have enjoyed the tutorial!

Jose Alves da Silva

For more from this artist visit:
Or contact him at:


page 44

Chapter 03

gorilla by Miro Petrov

Armored Beasts Chapter 04 | Gorilla

Chapter 04 Gorilla
Software used: ZBrush
When I took on this task, for some reason I
was thinking about the polar bear from The
Golden Compass movie. For that reason I
thought I could use golden armor on the gray
gorilla to make it pop-out and shine a bit more.
I also thought that I would use the armor of the
Mayans and Aztecs to add to the jungle feeling.
A lot of 3D artists might struggle to create their
own 2D concepts, so what I have done is to
demonstrate a technique that I find helpful in
Fig.01. You can gather photos of your subject
matter and paint over them in Photoshop to
design your armor. It helps to start looking at
references at the start of a project anyway.
To create these concepts I painted simple
shapes using flat color over the photo. Once I
had done this I added a little detail and shading
by painting over the shape of the armor using
the Burn and Dodge tools, making sure I
maintained sharp edges. The final touch was to
add some of the red crystals and other details.

When I was satisfied with the concept I decided

dimensions. It was then just a case of adding

to move on to the next stage and began working

detail using the Clay Buildup brush (Fig.02).

in 3D. My process from this point was very


common and is used as standard by many

I like working with this brush because you can

ZBrush artists. I began by using ZSpheres

achieve a variety of details using it, from rough

to create the basic structure and proportions

and big forms to smaller details. After making

of the gorilla. After I had done this I applied

the basic forms I started modeling the hair with

DynaMesh, which meant that I had a base

the Weave 1 brush, with which I was able to

model consisting of polygons of equal sides and

play with the direction of the hairs flow (Fig.03).

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Chapter 04

Chapter 04 | Gorilla Armored Beasts

After piling on the detail, I started to think about

the final model. I knew there would be some
parts where you wouldnt be able to see the
gorilla because of the armor and therefore these
parts wouldnt require as much detail (Fig.04).
The next step was to create and add the armor
to the gorilla. I did this by creating simple
subtools by masking and extracting sections
from the gorilla model (Fig.05). I started by
looking for flat areas on the gorillas body
that would be suitable to extract from. I then
masked the area by pressing Ctrl and drawing
on the model. After I had done this I went to the
Subtool menu and chose Extract. This helped
to extrude the geometry, but at this point it was
all wavy and not how I wanted it. To turn these
areas into a flat hard surface I used brushes
like the sPolish brush. After I had done this I
used the ClipCurve brush, pressed Ctrl + Shift
to activate it and started stretching the lines and
forms to make the armor more precise.
When I was happy with how things were turning
out I started detailing the armor using a mask.
To create the groove detail I created masks and
used the Inflate option with a negative value to
create a dip in the armors surface. The final
step was to add some scratches and areas
where the armor had been dented and damaged
in battle. I did this using the DamStandard and
the TrimDynamic brushes.
After finishing the model of the gorilla I started
choosing and applying materials to separate the
armor pieces from one another. I used standard
materials in ZBrush. You can see which
materials are attached to which parts in Fig.06.


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Chapter 04

Armored Beasts Chapter 04 | Gorilla

After organizing the materials I decided to add

flat color to the model, as I didnt want to make
any textures at this moment. It was something
that I was going to do in the final image.
In Fig.07 you can see how I painted the details
on the armor by using masks. I used the cavity
masking option in the Masks menu to help with
this. I started by adding the main color, which
was pretty close to the color in my concept. I
then inverted my mask and added the color for
the tarnished metal. To do this I used a gray-like
color. Using this same technique I added color
to the rest of the image.
At this stage I was happy with how things were
going with the color and the materials, so the
next step was to put the gorilla in a pose that
would look good in the final image. This model
is made from a lot of different subtools, which
can make posing difficult. I used the Transpose
Master to put the gorilla in the pose I wanted.
This way I was able to move the model into
position when all the subtools were in their
lowest subdivision level. After I was finished with
the posing I went to Transpose Master > TPose
> SubT to see the model with all of its subtools.
When I was happy with everything I started to
think of a good viewpoint and angle to view
the model from for my final image (Fig.08). It


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Chapter 04

Chapter 04 | Gorilla Armored Beasts

helped to visualize what I wanted at this point,

black shadows to be cast because of the strong

as I could then work out all of my future steps.

light, but I knew I could achieve this by playing

I noticed that I needed to make the gorillas

with opacities later on in Photoshop (Fig.10). I

weapon and so did that using the same process

also used one bright red/pink front light, with and

I described earlier (Fig.09).

without shadow, and one green side light just to

use it as bouncing light that reflects the colors

At this point, I had decided on the camera angle

of the jungle. In Fig.10 you can also see all of

and what would be in the background of my

these layers and lights mixed in Photoshop.

image. I knew that I wanted him standing on a

rock in front of a dense forest. I also wanted the

In Fig.11 you can see the rest of the work I did

sun to be setting in the background to make the

in Photoshop. I added the background in three

environment look more dramatic. With this in

steps. In the first step I added some of the

mind I could start to work on the final render.

background color using some of the colors that I

had used in the lights to tie everything together.

I used one standard light and wax rendering

To do this I used soft brushes.

with the BPR and Shadow on. I wanted sharp

The next step was to turn my attention to the

gorilla by adding to his fur and making him
look a little more realistic. To do this I used
a Smudge brush made of lots of dots to look
like individual hairs. I also added a few more
specular highlights to the armor using a brush in
Dodge mode. In the foreground I added some
leaves and foliage to add more depth, and used
some photos to start to create the background.
The final step was to add some clouds and
mountains to the background to demonstrate the
type of environment these gorillas would live in. I
added a little glow to the crystals on the gorillas
armor and darkened the rock that he is standing
on to turn the viewers attention to the character
more than its environment.
For the final image I decided to draw the
viewers attention to the main character by
decreasing detail in certain areas. I added some
texture overlays to the rock in the foreground
and added some subtle, thin clouds to the space
between the gorilla and the trees. The final step
was a few color adjustments to make the image
a little warmer and then it was done.

Miro Petrov
For more from this artist visit:
Or contact him at:


page 50

Chapter 04

Armored Beasts Chapter 04 | Gorilla


page 51

Chapter 04

rhino by Jose Alves da Silva

Armored Beasts Chapter 05 | Rhino

Chapter 05 Rhino

The quality of the image doesnt matter too

the sphere and then press the Edit button to

Software used: ZBrush

much as the aim at this stage is to set a goal

be able to start sculpting. In the Tool menu

and an objective that we want to aim for. You

under Geometry, enable DynaMesh. A pop-up

can see the concept for my image in Fig.01.

window will ask you if you would like to freeze

This tutorial will focus on the creation of an

subdivision levels; you should choose No. The

armored rhino. During the creation process I will

You will notice that a lot of things are already

sphere has now been converted to a DynaMesh,

make extensive use of the tools that were made

suggested in the sketch. The pose is set, the

which is made up of regular quads projected

available in ZBrush 4R2. Some of the features

scenario is defined, the light direction is shown

from the X, Y and Z axis.

in this version of ZBrush make it possible to

but, most importantly, the characters attitude

unleash the artists creativity and makes it

and personality is set. So with the concept in

Press X to enable Symmetry. We will start by

possible to do more with the lighting system. We

place it is time to start.

blocking the shape of the head (Fig.02). Choose

will be taking advantage of all these goodies.

Body Base

the Move brush with a large draw size (press

S and adjust the slider) and pull the front of

As a starting point I think its important to have a

Open ZBrush, then select the Tool directory

the sphere to create an elongated snout. Also

character sketch, or at least a scribbled idea, as

in Lightbox and double-click the PolySphere.

push the lateral sides inwards to make the head

this keeps the process ordered and structured.

ZTL option. Drag on the document to create

Using the SnakeHook brush, pull up the
geometry to create a horn in the appropriate
place. Dont pull the whole horn at once; pull a
bit at a time. By making the Polyframe visible
(Shift + F), you can confirm that the geometry
has undergone extreme stretching and the
resulting surface is not good for sculpting. As we
are in DynaMesh mode, press Ctrl and drag on
the background. All the stretched areas will be
recomputed with a uniform polygon distribution
of the same density as the rest of the model.
You can repeat this procedure as many times as
you need. Just take into account that every time
you Remesh, some details that are smaller than
the grid might get lost/attenuated. DynaMesh
is not intended to be the final surface for the
finer details; it is, in fact, a very powerful way
to build your sculpting base, which can then be
subdivided and sculpted the same as any other
ZBrush model.


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Chapter 05 | Rhino Armored Beasts

In my opinion, the best brush for concept
sculpting is the Clay Buildup brush. Its strokes
create a rough look that is adequate at this point
and helps you focus on the masses and planes
rather than the details. By pressing Alt when
applying the strokes it carves the surface. For
Smoothing use the Shift key.
Start sculpting your model using the Clay
Buildup brush. In the Brush menu, under Auto
Masking, enable BackfaceMask. This means
that the strokes do not to affect the opposite
side of thin surfaces. In Fig.03 you can see my
sculpting sequence.
Start by carving the eye area, then add some
volume to where the eyebrows would be and
give more shape to the forehead. Continue to
refine all of the facial details in this way.
At this point the basic form of the head should
be established, so start to add some fleshy
masses to the cheeks, lip corners, under lip and
below the nostrils. Then start to add some ears.
Remesh the model by pressing Ctrl and
dragging on the background. Notice how the
surface gets smoother and the brush details are
smoothed out and lost. This is not the right time
to start sculpting tiny details, even if the sculpt
is looking nice and smooth. Once this is done
spend more time refining the ears and pulling
them out further.
You can see how I added the body mass in
Fig.04. Select the InsertSphere brush and
click and drag at the base of the neck at the
symmetry line. Make sure to create a big
sphere, which will cover the head. With the
Move brush, shape the sphere into a blob
that connects with the head at the neck and
suggests a belly at the front.
Using the Clay brush, start defining the muscle
groups on the body (Fig.05). You should use
references if you need help doing this. Create
the pectorals by stroking from the center of the


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Chapter 05

Armored Beasts Chapter 05 | Rhino

chest to the shoulder area. Always apply brush

In the Tool menu, under Subtool, choose

clear the mask, then again to remesh, fusing the

strokes in the direction of the muscle fibers.

Append and pick the Sphere3D tool. Turn on

pelvis with the legs.

Symmetry by pressing X and Move it to place it

To create the arms, select the Curve Tube

under the waistline. With the Move tool, stretch

With the Clay Buildup brush I sculpted the

brush (Fig.06). In front view, apply a brush

the sphere to create a diaper shape. Enable

muscles roughly on the legs so I knew where to

stroke the length of the arm, starting at the

DynaMesh, choose the CurveTube brush and

place the armor (Fig.08).

armpit and moving away at a 45 degree angle.

create a tube starting at the hip with a curve at

Bear in mind that the thickness of the tube is

the knee area. Use the Move brush to shape the

Armor Base

determined by the size of the brush. Using the

legs to roughly define the thighs, lower legs and

To create the base of the leg armor, choose the

Move brush, shape the tube into the form of a

feet. Press Ctrl and drag on the background to

Curve Surface brush. This brush allows you to

basic arm in which the arm, forearm and hand

are distinguishable.
With the Move brush, pull a thumb and two
fingers out of the hand, and press Ctrl and drag
to remesh the model. Choose the Clay Buildup
brush and create a height difference between
the fingers and nails. Carve the palm of the
hand and sculpt the larger volumes to make the
surface more believable. On the top of the hand
define two knuckles and a flat back of the hand.
It is now time to create a base for the lower body
(Fig.07). As this body part will be covered in
armor I opted to create it as a separate subtool.


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Chapter 05 | Rhino Armored Beasts

create several curves, which will be connected

armor parts and create vertical curves around

has a lot of horizontal subdivisions compared to

by a surface. Select the brush and, in the Stroke

the knee, keeping them short at the sides of

vertical subdivisions. To fix this reduce the Max

menu, enable Snap mode so that the curves

the knee and long at the center of the knee.

Points to 4 and simply adjust any of the curves

stick to the surface when they are drawn. The

Unhide the leg armor and turn off Snap mode to

and the number of curve points will be reduced.

Draw Size of the brush will define the thickness

manipulate the curves and make them cleaner,

Also, if you reduce your brush size while you are

of the surface and the CurveStep in the Stroke

and so that the surface covers the shin and leg

not over a curve (when the cursor is red), when

menu defines the distance between points in a

armor pieces. Also create an aggressive spike

you click on a curve the thickness of the surface


at the top of the knee armor.

is changed to match the brush size.

The remaining leg armor will be created using

For the belly protection start by hiding everything

At this point I felt that the arms and head

the same procedure. Select the legs subtool and

except the upper and lower body subtools.

proportions were not matching the concept

create vertical curves around the shin area with

The Curve Surface brush doesnt allow you to

(Fig.12). To remedy this select the upper body,

the Curve Surface brush (Fig.09).

create a single curve starting at the center that

turn on Symmetry and mask everything except

is symmetrical on both sides. Choose the upper

the arms. In Scale mode place one end of the

To create the knee armor (Fig.10), turn on Snap

body subtool, disable Symmetry by pressing X

transpose tool at the shoulder joint and the other

mode for the Curve Surface brush. Hide the leg

and enable Snap mode. Once you have done

along the length of the arm, and scale the arms

that draw the first curve to the right of the center

to make them bigger. Next adjust the head size,

of the body. Then keep drawing curves around

masking it and scaling it to a smaller size.

the belly until you reach the other side.

Once again using the Curve Surface brush,


To adjust the belly armor curves disable Snap

create the forearm protectors by drawing strokes

and move each curve point to make each

perpendicular to the arm length with Snap on.

section perfectly round (Fig.11). You may notice

Adjust the curves with Snap turned off and use

that I used too many points for each curve,

GroupsSplit. Use the Move brush to pull the

which might be a problem later as the surface

edges around the arm.

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Chapter 05

Armored Beasts Chapter 05 | Rhino

To create the straps that hold the forearm
armor, select the Curve Tube Snap brush
(Fig.13). Change the Brush Modifier value to
4 (this defines the number of vertexes on the
cylinder section). Draw a curve at the forearm.
Adjust the curve with the Move brush so that
the strap comes from under the armor. Change
to Move mode and drag, starting at the strap,
to create a transpose tool. Press Ctrl while
dragging the inner center circle of the transpose
tool to duplicate the strap. Reposition and scale
the new strap to fit the wrist. Use the Move
brush to finalize the adjustment.
The head protection will be created with a
different process (Fig.14). Select the upper body
subtool and using the Standard brush, press Ctrl
while painting on the model to create a mask.

the inner faces and edge faces. Press Ctrl and

slot under Texture Map, but dont forget to clear

Mask the protection area, leaving the face and

click the interior surface of the hood to isolate

it afterwards.

the ears uncovered. In the Subtool menu go to

this polygroup. Press Ctrl, Shift and drag on the

the Tool menu, set the Thick value to 0.015 and

background to invert the visibility. In the Tool

The creation of the base for the shoulder armor

press Extract. A new subtool will be created for

menu, under Polygroups, click Group Visible.

repeats the Curve Surface technique (Fig.15).

the hood and if you select it you will notice that

The exterior and edges of the hood are now

Select the upper body subtool and hide the rest.

everything is masked except the borders. Use

part of the same polygroup. Press Ctrl, Shift and

Disable the symmetry because there is a single

the Smooth brush at the borders to make them

click the background to unhide the interior.

shoulder pad. Select the Curve Surface brush

round. Clear the mask (Ctrl and drag) and using

with Snap enabled. Draw the first curve at the

the Clay Buildup brush with the Backface Mask

In the Plugins menu open the UVMaster. Enable

shoulder near the neck, bearing in mind that this

option enabled, create some folds around the

Polygroups and press Unwrap to generate UVs

curve will be lifted to make the vertical protection

hood. Smooth them with the Smooth brush.

for the hood. By pressing Flatten you can check

(as you can see in the concept sketch). The

the layout of the UVs. Press Unflatten to leave.

second curve will be the line that creates the

When you extract a mesh from a mask, ZBrush

If you wish to see a texture applied to check the

edge between the vertical and horizontal areas.

automatically creates different polygroups for

distortion, pick a checker pattern in the image

Keep drawing smaller curves in the direction

of the arm to make a point at the end of the
shoulder pad.
Disable Snap, make sure Bend is on and lift the
vertical protection curve. Manipulate the curves


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to match the concept shape. Press GroupsSplit.

Clear the mask. With the Move brush, adjust the

With the Move brush, adjust the overall form.

deformations near the tip. Use the Polish brush

Armor Detail

to even the surface.

Select the horizontal part of the shoulder

Using the Curve Pinch brush, create some

protection, hiding the vertical portion. In the

decorative lines along the border of the pad.

Geometry submenu (in the Tool menu) press

Press Alt while creating the curve to create a

Crease. You will notice that the harder edges

pinch inwards. To flatten the hard edges use the

now have an inner dotted line, which means that

Trim Dynamic brush.

these edges will not smooth while subdividing

to distortions that will have to be fixed and

the geometry. Press Crease again to define the

Load the Slash2 brush from the Brush > Slash

also because it will help to break the models

hard edges on the vertical part. Press Divide

directory in the Lightbox. In the Alpha menu

symmetry. Do not forget to save before you start

four times.

increase Blur to 15 and enable LazyMouse.

the posing process.

With this brush, draw some decorative lines

The hard edges hold the form while subdividing,

to simulate extra metal layers on the shoulder

We will use Transpose Master to pose the

which creates the effect we want; however,

pad. To add a few decorative nails choose the

character. However the thin elements that make

next time we subdivide it we dont want it to do

Standard brush, set it to DragDot mode and pick

up the armor might suffer some distortions when

this, so press Shift and the Uncrease button to

Alpha 06. Adjust the Draw Size to set the size

re-importing the pose back to our model. To

clean all the crease marks. Divide it once more.

and place them along the edge of the panels.

reduce the chances of that happening I would

You will notice that the edges between the two

planes are now smoother (Fig.16).

advise that you select each armor subtool, go

The techniques used to create the shoulder

to subdivision level 3 and press DelLower to

pad can also be used to create the other armor

discard lower subdivisions.

Mask the central area of the shoulder pad,

parts, which is detailed in the 3DTotal Publishing

excluding the tips. Invert the mask and blur

book ZBrush Character Sculpting: Volume 1

In the Plugins menu (Fig.18) select Transpose

it (press BlurMask in the Masking submenu).


Master and choose TposeMesh. ZBrush

Select the Curve Pinch brush and draw a curve

creates a new tool in which all elements are

along the center of the shoulder pad. A crease


is created at the center of the shoulder pad,

I prefer to pose the character before detailing

as part of the same subtool so that they can be

while the mask prevents the tips from deforming.

it any further because the posing will lead

manipulated together.


represented at their lowest subdivision level and

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Chapter 05

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The process of posing consists of masking
parts of the model that stay in place while using
the Transpose tool to Move, Rotate and Scale
the unmasked area. When dealing with armor
bear in mind that the metal pieces should not
be distorted, unlike the flesh and cloth where
it is desirable. So the armor elements should
always be completely masked or unmasked, not
including any gradients.
Lets pose the character in a seated position.
Turn on Symmetry X. Unmask the whole leg
and all its armor pieces, and rotate it forward
in a side view. Change to a bottom view and
rotate the legs outwards using the same mask.
Then unmask everything from half of the belly
down and rotate the lower body to the front
so that the characters back can lie against
the chair. Unmask only the belly protector and
rotate it upwards to avoid intersecting the thighs.
Unmask the legs again and rotate the thighs
further forward. Unmask the lower leg, including
the knee protection, and rotate it to make a 90
degree angle with the thigh. Unmask the feet
and their armor, and rotate them forward in
order for them to lie flat on the floor.
The rest of the pose will not be symmetrical, so
send the changes to the main model to check if
everything went as planned. In the Transpose
Master menu choose Tpose > SubT. The model
should be posed and some intersections might
happen between the fleshy elements and armor,

left arm. Unmask the head and rotate it further

left lower leg and rotate it to the front. Rotate

which can be easily fixed with the Move brush.

left and a bit up. Unmask the left arm and raise

the foot to make it more parallel to the ground.

If you have projection problems with any of the

it (expect the worst deformations to happen

In the Transpose Master menu choose Tpose >

armor elements, just open the tool you saved,

while placing the arm in this position). Unmask

SubT to transfer the pose to your model.

select the part that needs to be replaced and

the left forearm and bend it inwards from the

append it to the posed model. Then move and

elbow. Unmask the hand and bend it further

The next step is to correct the deformations that

rotate the piece to put it in place and delete

inward to create the joint at the wrist. Unmask

resulted from the posing process (Fig.20). Use

the deformed one. As the armor pieces are not

the right forearm (starting at half of the forearm

the Move brush to reposition volumes and the

deformed this is easy to do.

and blurring the mask) and twist it together with

Clay Buildup brush to reshape the muscles and

the forearm protectors. Unmask the entire right

cloth. The deformations in your model might be

Initiate the Transpose Master again (Fig.19).

forearm and bend it from the elbow to make it

very different from the ones in mine.

Now we will take care of the asymmetrical parts

at 90 degrees with the arm. Unmask the right

of the pose. Unmask everything from half the

arm and rotate it to bring it closer to the body.

The left hand will be holding a chalice, so lets

belly up and tilt the upper body to his right. From

Unmask the right lower leg in front view and

position the fingers accordingly. Unmask the

a top view, rotate the body to face towards his

rotate it inside to a relaxed position. Unmask the

lower finger and rotate it towards the palm.


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Chapter 05

Chapter 05 | Rhino Armored Beasts

Unmask half of the finger and rotate it some

the tightness of the strap. Now you can start to

breakdown of how the props were created can

more towards the palm. Unmask the thumb and

work on the wrinkles on the head (Fig.24).

be found in the 3DTotal Publishing book ZBrush

rotate it out so it can help grip the object.

Character Sculpting: Volume 1.

I then created the props such as the skull, cups,


Now the character is posed it is a good time to

axe and chair using many of the tools that I

The model was polypainted using only the

add the straps that hold the shoulder and belly

mentioned earlier (Fig.25 27). A detailed

Standard brush and a series of alphas. To do

protectors (Fig.21).
To create the eyes choose Append from Tool
> Subtool and pick Sphere3D (Fig.22). Select
the sphere subtool and scale it down. Move it
to the eye location. To duplicate the eye, press
Ctrl and drag the center of the transpose tool in
Move mode. Place it at the other eye location.
Select the hood subtool and subdivide it twice.
Using the Clay Buildup brush, detail the folds
and dont be afraid to exaggerate them as the
chain mail texture we are about to apply will
reduce their impact.
In the Tool menu, under Surface, click on Noise.
The Noise Maker interface will open. There is
a small sphere icon on the lower left corner of
the model view. Click on it and load the alpha
image of the tileable chain mail (downloadable
from Pixologics website in the Alpha library
under Patterns). Enable UV so that the pattern
is applied according to the UVs we have set
before. Reduce the Scale to 0.048. Set Strength
to -0.47 and ColorBlend to 0.8. Set the color of
the right color palette to black and press OK.
One important detail is the way that the straps
interact with the body flesh (Fig.23). With the
Clay Buildup brush, carve the area in which the
strap and body make contact. Then sculpt the
borders of the flesh to make them bulge from


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Armored Beasts Chapter 05 | Rhino

this you simply need to enable RGB and disable

Select the upper body subtool. Start by choosing

the eyes, nails, nostrils, lips and nipples. Also

Zadd so the brush paints rather than sculpts. In

a beige color in the color picker and choose Fill

darken the color slightly around the muscle

my opinion the best base materials for painting

Object from the Color menu. Change to Spray

forms. Use DragRect mode and a dark brown,

are SkinShade4 and MatCap White01, so

mode, with a dark brown color, and pick Alpha

and choose some armor damage alphas

alternate between the two while painting as the

08. Paint randomly over the surface with low

(download them from the Pixologic website,

specularity of Skin_Shade4 might interfere a bit

intensity to create some color variation. With a

under Alphas > Effects). Drag them over the

with your perception while painting.

higher intensity, paint the darkest spots around

skin to add stains.

To enhance the sculpted wrinkles, in Tool >
Masking choose Mask by Cavity and invert
the mask. Press Ctrl + H to make the mask
invisible while you paint. Use a dark color with
low intensity and a large brush to paint over the
model to reveal the detail. Use the Standard
brush with Alpha 58 to paint the fibers along the
horn and nails (Fig.28).
This same technique was used for all the
different parts of the model.

Create a new project and in the Document
menu, set the document size to 1200 x 1500
(Fig.29). Choose pure black on the color swatch
and choose the Back swatch in the Document
menu to make the background black. Also set
the Range slider to 0 to eliminate the gradient.
Load the rhino tool into the document, press
Edit and turn on Perspective. In the Draw
menu set the Angle of View to 30. Set the view
of the model to what you think is best. In the
Movie menu enable Show under Timeline for
the camera timeline to show at the top of the
screen. Click anywhere on the timeline to create
a key frame that will store the current view. This
way you can go back to this exact view every
time you click on the key frame in case you
need to change the view for editing.
Remember that from this moment on you should
save your project (File > Save) and not just your
tool, otherwise you will lose all your work.

Lights and Materials

The lights and materials should be developed at
the same time and tested as often as possible


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Chapter 05 | Rhino Armored Beasts

to make sure they work well together. For a
detailed breakdown of the lighting and materials
setup, take a look at the 3DTotal Publishing
book ZBrush Character Sculpting: Volume 1.

When the model and material were ready it was
time to make the final render (Fig.30). In the
Render menu, in Render Properties, enable
AOcclusion. Under Bpr Ao increase the number
of Rays to 20, set Angle to 160, Res to the max
and Blur to 2 in order for the ambient occlusion
to have higher quality.
In Render Properties, raise the Details value to
3 and set the Materials Blend-Radius to 1 so
that ZBrush slightly blurs the frontier between

Final touches

painted on another layer to enhance the mood.

different materials.

After saving the image you can do a few final

To finalize the image, use some smoke photos

touches in Photoshop (Fig.31). Adjust the

from a texture site and set them to Screen

Press BPR to render the image. After the image

Levels to make the image brighter and increase

blending mode to create the smoky fog and the

is rendered, the different render passes show

Saturation to make the colors more vivid. Blend

steam coming out of the chalice.

under BPR RenderPass. You can click on

the horizon with the background color. Paint

each of the image icons to save the Shaded

some subtle light beams coming from the top-

Fig.32 shows the final image. I hope you found

render, the ZDepth buffer, the isolated shadows,

right corner with a soft brush and blending mode

the tutorial interesting and enjoy using some of

Ambient Occlusion pass and the mask (alpha).

set to Screen. Some dust particles can also be

the features of ZBrush 4R2.


page 62

Chapter 05

Jose Alves da Silva

For more from this artist visit:
Or contact him at:

cat by Christopher Brndstrm

Armored Beasts Chapter 06 | Cat

Chapter 06 Cat

and see where it takes me. Sometimes it might

Software used: ZBrush

look like the most awesome thing ever, and

software into ZBrush, do a ReMesh All and

sometimes it might look like terrible.

project the old geometry for a more accurate

My name is Christopher Brndstrm and Im

Import a rough mesh from the other


a freelance character/creature artist in the

Usually when sculpting, I start off with a model

movie, commercial and gaming industry. What I

from my library. If youre creating concepts

software into ZBrush and use ZBrush

want to show in this tutorial is a very basic, but

youre not trying to show your skills as a lighting

Topology to create a new topology, vertex

effective, workflow covering how to do a basic

artist, modeler or texture artist. Youre trying to

concept process in ZBrush and composition in

show off an image as a whole picture. So why

Photoshop. Im going to give some pointers on

waste time creating something from scratch?

Import a rough mesh from the other

by vertex.
Create something from scratch using

what to think about and what to avoid, and look

at using some additional software, to make a

When creating this armored cat-animal, I

Now with DynaMesh, you can just start working

nice-looking final concept image.

thought Id show how easy it is to create

off of a sphere. Stretch and pull it however you

something from scratch using ZBrush R3b,

like, run DynaMesh and continue working with a

rather than using models from my library.

nice, clean and even topology. Also, make sure

Usually when I start working on a concept I

need to have a general idea about what I want

to check the Projection button, so you can keep

to create. The wonderful thing with concepts is

Before the DynaMesh function in ZBrush, you

that during your creation process, you are most

had more or less four options to get started with

likely going to stumble upon something that

a fairly even topology:

might change your image radically; something

that you initially didnt think of. This happens to

the detailed work when DynaMeshing.

Important: Make sure your mesh has the
proper scale. If the scale is too big, you might

Create a mesh with an even topology in

end up with millions of polygons on the lowest

me almost every time and I just simply go with it

software like Maya and import to ZBrush

DynaMesh resolution, which makes it hard for


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Chapter 06

Chapter 06 | Cat Armored Beasts

you to work. Always check this before you start
working (Fig.01).
At this point Ive gone through a couple of head
designs using DynaMesh; starting off with one
head, duplicating it, creating another and so
on. Usually I use layers when creating different
shapes from a single mesh, to keep the scenes
small and easy to use. Since DynaMesh creates
a new topology every time you use it, the layer
function wont work and youll have to duplicate
the mesh instead.
After looking through the designs I choose to go
with the first, more alien-looking head. My idea
at this point is to make the armor natural, made
out of the skeleton of the creature. I use the Clay
Buildup, Insert Cylinder, Polish and ClipCurve
brushes to achieve this result (Fig.02).
Im still using DynaMesh quite heavily when
creating the body. I have the head as a separate
subtool and the body was initially just a sphere
like the head was.
Before DynaMesh, I didnt use the SnakeHook
brush as heavily as I do now. It has a tendency
to create really cool, flowing shapes, but it
always messed up the topology because of that.
Now thats no longer a problem with DynaMesh.
As I did with the holes in the head, I use the
Insert Cylinder brush with a negative option,
which means instead of adding a cylinder when
using DynaMesh it creates a Boolean, a hole,
instead. I do this by holding down Alt when

inserting the cylinder and then using DynaMesh

I continue to work on the body, using the Polish


brush more heavily now, to create harder edges

and combining the organic feel with the Clay

Ive now started adding more detail to the body.

Buildup brush.

Im still leaving the head as it is, since I dont


really want to add any more detail at this point. I

When adding the muscles I start to see the

may have already added too much, considering

model as a whole and it gives me doubts about

Im still not sure which direction it is heading.

whether Im actually going in the right direction.

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Chapter 06

Armored Beasts Chapter 06 | Cat

Its definitely alien, but is it really an alien cat or

the Transpose tool to work more on the rotation

an alien something else (Fig.04)?

of the body. Now it feels more like a cat/panther,

but the head is a bit out of place, as Ive

So I decide to remove most of the features on

removed all of the hard-skeleton features on the

the body, because its started to feel more like

body, using the ClipCurve brush. So I take off

an alien dinosaur than an alien cat. I know that

the head and replace it with one of the previous

I will be adding fur later on, but that doesnt

ones Ive made.

mean it will look any more cat-like. So I go back

a couple of steps and start to look at the overall

To get the armor on the back, I simply take the

features again, but I still keep the head. I use

head, duplicate it, use the ClipCurve brush quite

extensively on it and finalize it with DynaMesh
and the ClayPolish feature, to enhance the
harder edges a bit. This keeps the feel of the
head armor flowing to the armor on the body,
with a few alterations, of course (Fig.05).
After duplicating the body armor pieces a couple
of times and moving it around on the body, Im
starting to feel more satisfied with the shape.
At this point Im starting to think more about
what the final image will look like, so I tilt the
head up a little to make the creature look a bit
more aggressive and present. I also start having
fun with the tail using the SnakeHook brush,
trying to get a long, swirly and interesting shape
Since this is a cat-like animal, it needs fur. Of
course, there are cats that dont have fur and
maybe I can make a concept like that too, but
for this tutorial I want to make it a bit more
obvious that it is a cat-like animal over anything
else. Also, this will give me the opportunity to
have some fun and try out ZBrushs FiberMesh
feature that came with the R2b update.
I will not go into any real detail to what settings
Im using in FiberMesh, but like most things in
ZBrush, FiberMesh uses the scale and polygon
density of the model, so your settings might
change from model to model. Basically what I
do is focus, once again, on the overall shape
of the fur and not every single little detail, since
that can easily be changed with a few simple
brush strokes on the final image. This gives me
the option to use the ZBrush fur (which can be


page 67

Chapter 06

Chapter 06 | Cat Armored Beasts

exported as proper geometry) in the final image
or simply use it as a reference (Fig.07).
Alright, so now with the model done, I want to
start looking more into the composition and
look of the final image. For that I usually use
modo because of the extremely simple realtime
rendering and pre-made materials. I know a
lot of people who use ZBrush, V-Ray, Maya or
KeyShot for this. As I wrote at the beginning of
this tutorial, what Im trying to do is to create
a concept, not to show off how good I am at
tweaking material sliders or sculpting wrinkles
that will never be visible anyway (unless, that is
specifically what Im aiming to show).
I import the model into modo and start moving it
around, along with a camera and other models,
to find an interesting composition (Fig.08).
When I finally have the composition that Im
most pleased with, I start adding materials to the
different models and also start creating a render
layer. They will help me separate the materials,
and add depth, mask, etc., when compositing it
later on in Photoshop (Fig.09).
So this is what the final image looks like, after
having worked on it in Photoshop (Fig.10).
What you need to keep in mind when doing a
concept for a client or for your own personal
portfolio, is time and what is it that you really
want to show. You could spend weeks on
completing a concept (this might be fine on rare
occasions); I prefer to spend a maximum of 1-2
days on a concept, like this one. So the reason
I didnt start painting textures in ZBrush, was

client wants something a different color, the skin

heads I did, than spend a week or two on an

because I was creating a concept image, not a

to have a different type of texture etc.

image that might be dismissed in 10 seconds

and then not have anything more to show.

turntable or animation, just an image.

If I take this image I just made for example,
By doing this I can spend more time working

the client might feel that its too detailed and

on an overall rough shape and do the really

too final for him/her to give any feedback on.


intricate detailing in 2D instead of 3D, but still

Therefore its very important to spend the right

For more from this artist visit:

be able to use the lighting, shadows and some

amount of time on the right type of image. Id


colors from the 3D models. This makes it easier

rather create 4-5 images in a week that give the

Or contact him at:

for me to change something, in cases where the

client a lot of options, like the different types of



page 68

Chapter 06

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Original Author: 3DTotal.com Ltd | Platform: 3DS Max & ZBrush | Format: DOWNLOAD ONLY PDF | Pages: 52

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