This model was inspired by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I got excited about the film and started a sketch. I tried to focus on the overall shape and the bronze shader, and forget about the deadlines of work. It was one study, without compromise, and working this way helps me to relax my routine and create something. I like to feel free to create an image, without boundaries.
First I started with a sphere in ZBrush and began to tweak the overall shape using DynaMesh. I think it's one of the best tools for artists to sketch some ideas in ZBrush, because it allows you to start from a simple shape and reach the final design you want with a balanced topology, which helps you a lot in higher subdivisions. At this stage I try to use every polygon the subdivison gives me, because lower subdivisions give me better feedback while I'm sculpting. It's faster and I have more control over the shape (Fig.01).
After that I started to think about details, so I went to higher subdivs and started to add some wrinkles and pores, and work on the beard, using basics brushes like Clay and Standard. For the pores I used some bump skin alphas.
People asked me about the hair and modeling pipeline. It wasn't a hard thing to do; I just started the base hair volume with the Claytubes or Clay Buildup brushes, which are great because they create some hard edges that look like real hair flow. After that I started using the Clay and Standard brushes to polish the hair, creating some fine details like smaller strands and cleaning the mesh. When I was happy with the result, I started to add the finest details. For this task I used the Standard brush with alphas 38 and 39 as it allowed me to create some thin hair (Fig.02).
Now that I was happy with the look of the hair and the overall shape, I added some pores to the skin. For this task I like to use some skin alphas with the Standard brush using the DragRect feature. Every alpha was designed for a specific part of the face, so I tried to test the alphas first to see which one would fit better on that area (Fig.03).