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Creating dramatic 3D artwork - Mangbetu Woman

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Date Added: 7th August 2014
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Martin Nikolov explains the workflow he used when re-imagining a vintage photograph using ZBrush and Photoshop to create his striking Mangbetu Woman...



This was a personal work, made for fun. I saw this picture of a Mangbetu Woman from Citroen's expedition to the Congo in 1925 and I just loved it, so I needed to model it.

This photograph taken by Leon Poirier and George Specht in 1925 is the original inspiration behind this model ©National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution

The base mesh

Usually I start directly in ZBrush with DynaMesh because I have more freedom to experiment with the shape and form, but in this case, I wanted to stick as close as I could to the silhouette in the picture.

I started to define the profile using an existing base mesh, which I adjusted according the picture. The head gear was modeled in MODO, using simple box modeling ? nothing fancy here. I also used the Edge Extend tool for the hair and apron base meshes, the Tube tool for the rope accessories, and lots of Bevel for that cone-shaped headgear.

Using an existing base mesh to create the main figure and modeling the rest in MODO


When I was happy with the base mesh, I was ready to start sculpting. I imported the model into ZBrush and split it in different Polygroups to make it easier when separating the different parts.

Importing the model into ZBrush to split it into Polygroups


My favorite brushes, and those that I use the most often are: Move, Clay and DamStandard with lots of smoothing. For the torn apron, I used the SnakeHook brush with Alpha 23. This part was a good exercise in anatomy and cloth. The finer details were made with custom alphas I downloaded from ZBrush Central.


continued on next page >

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