Folds and creases
It's a good idea to store this noise on a layer so you can change the intensity of detail if needed. I used the same technique on other elements as well, like his underpants. Speaking of which, I barely used any reference for the main piece, just a couple of pictures to get an idea what direction the folds would go.
The front piece had a different approach to it, however. I actually took a picture of myself holding a kitchen towel with my fingers pressing where the belt would press on the model. I rarely do something like this and it would've been easier to just simulate the cloth in 3ds Max, but it feels better when you do all this work yourself without using any cheats.
Using noise to create pleats and folds in the fabric on the model
The animal parts on the armor were started with a sphere. The lion on the shoulder pad was the trickiest of all to make. It was a very stylized version of a lion head, based on an image I found online.
The problem was that after making the asset, it felt out of place on the gladiator's shoulder. The silhouette was very awkward-looking and I couldn't balance that out by simply making a bigger leg greave on his opposite side. What I did instead, was squash the lion piece quite a bit in 3ds Max using an FFD Box modifier and aligning it to the counters of the shoulder pad. Even though the head lost its aggressive look, the silhouette of the model as a whole improved quite a bit and so I left it at that.
The various animal head sculptures to decorate the gladiator armor
When all the bigger pieces of armor were in place and I was happy with the way everything looked, I moved on to creating the smaller pieces. I wanted this gladiator to look like a champion, an emperor's favorite, so I decided to add a bunch of ornamental elements to make the armor look elite in a way. Those animal pieces on his armor were created for the same reason.
This is the technique I used to wrap the ornaments around his armor:
1) Using GoZ, bring an object into 3ds Max (star); place it close to the surface you want it to align with.
2) Select the surface (half sphere), make a copy of it and add the Morpher modifier to the original. In Morpher pick the copy the surface in your scene and make the duplicated surface completely flat.
3) In Morpher, bring the intensity all the way up to 100.
4) Move the imported object and the surface closer to each other if needed.
5) Select the object and add the Skin Wrap modifier to it. The parameters are added to the original surface, so select it and in Morpher, bring the intensity settings back to 0. If the result is messy, you might need to play with the Distance Inf. settings in the Skin Wrap modifier. Use GoZ to bring the object back to ZBrush.
The technique doesn't always work one hundred percent of the time, so sometimes I will tweak the shape in ZBrush if needed. For the smaller pieces of armor, like bolts and ropes, I used Path Deform Modifier to put them in the right positions all over the model.
Steps involved in wrapping the ornaments around the gladiator's armor
Originally there wasn't supposed to be a shield (I had a different idea for the scene), but I decided to make a sword and the shield at the very end of the modeling process. I didn't want to overload the model with detail and a crazy amount of elements, so I chose a very simple design for the sword, and created it entirely in 3ds Max.
I used NoiseMaker (no custom patterns, just the standard one) to add an old and worn layer, and ClayBuildup with Standard brush to create the damage on the shield.
The shield modeled entirely in 3ds Max
Adjustments to the model
When all the accessories and armor were done, I brought the model back into ZBrush to tweak the proportions of the body a little bit and improve the skin folding where the belts would press against the body.
Final tweaks on the proportion of the model
Preparing for texturing
As I mentioned earlier, I used UV Layout and UV Master to unwrap the model. A very common technique for me is to bring an object to UV Layout, cut it the way I want, bring it back into ZBrush and turn on Use Existing UV Seams in UV Master.
The UVs created after unwrapping the model