Burai Fighter Tribute

3Dartist, Gregory Stoffel, shares the ZBrush workflow for his tribute to Burai Fighter

Burai Fighter was one of the first games I bought with the first Game Boy some 26 years ago. I have always loved the cover of this game and it was about time to make a tribute of this game. My idea was to create a clean and simple look for the rendering as they were toys with some very bright colors. I used ZBrush for most of the sculpting/modeling (except the gun which was made with 3ds Max) and KeyShot for rendering, with some adjustment done in Photoshop.

You can find a 2 parts time-lapse of the creation of this image here.

Gathering references

The first step is to gather references and put them together on a reference board. I made 2 different reference boards, one for the space marine and one for the dragon. The main reference for this image was the game cover.

<h5>Gathering references and creates reference boards</h5>

Gathering references and creates reference boards

Character proxy and scene layout

For this image, I wanted to setup the scene as close to the cover image – in term of camera angle and the pose for the character and the dragon – as possible. I started using the Man basemesh that comes with ZBrush, and posed him quickly by masking and using the Transpose tool. This man is only used to setup the scene; I will use a new one later to create the final character.

<h5>Posing the character proxy and setup camera angle</h5>

Posing the character proxy and setup camera angle

The dragon

I then quickly created the dragon basemesh with ZSpheres.

<h5>Create and pose the dragon basemesh</h5>

Create and pose the dragon basemesh

After the main shape of the dragon had been created, I started smoothing the body and sculpting the dragon with DynaMesh. To make it easier to work on the head and be able to use the symmetry, I detached it from the body.

<h5>Sculpting the dragon with DynaMesh</h5>

Sculpting the dragon with DynaMesh

I sculpted the big front teeth and put them into place. For the other teeth, I simply copied the front teeth and modify their shape and size with the Move brush and put them in place with the Transpose tool. For the horns, I used the CurveTube brush with the Size button on in the Stroke menu > Curve Modifiers.

<h5>Creating teeth and horns</h5>

Creating teeth and horns

I created the tongue with ZSphere and then shaped it with simple brushes such as the Move, Clay buildup, and Standard brushes.

<h5>Creating the tongue with ZSphere</h5>

Creating the tongue with ZSphere


To create the scales, I first made different polygroup on the body of the dragon then I applied the scale mesh to one of the polygroup with NanoMesh and play with the parameters. The nice thing with NanoMesh is that I could still modify the shape of the scale after being applied to the dragon's body. I used the Transpose tool to move some of the scales that weren't placed correctly.

<h5>Making and placing bottom scales with NanoMesh</h5>

Making and placing bottom scales with NanoMesh

I used the same technique to create the scales on the side and top of the body. Modifying their shape and placing them on a different polygroup on the dragon's body using NanoMesh.

<h5>Making and placing side scales with NanoMesh</h5>

Making and placing side scales with NanoMesh

<h5>Making and placing top scales with NanoMesh</h5>

Making and placing top scales with NanoMesh

I thought it needed a few smaller scales to go in between the big ones on the top, so I created a range of scales in the middles and on the sides to give a more detailed look.

Making and placing smaller scales

Making and placing smaller scales

With the body and scales done it was time to start adding details to the dragon. I mostly used the DamStandard brushes and a combination of different alphas to add details such as scratches, cuts, and bumps to the dragon's skin.

<h5>Detailing the dragon</h5>

Detailing the dragon

The space marine

Once the dragon was done, I started working on the marine. I used the same basemesh that I used for the proxy (and that comes with ZBrush) but kept it in its T-pose to be able to use the symmetry and make it easier to sculpt, add armor and different equipment before posing him.

<h5>Sculpting the space marine</h5>

Sculpting the space marine

To create the armor, I mostly used the masking and extract technique, then DynaMeshed the new meshes created to make the different pieces of armor. I used the HPolish brush and Trim Curve to make the pieces clean and sharp. My goal for the armor was not to have exactly the same as the original but to still keep it looking retro.

<h5>Sculpting the armor</h5>

Sculpting the armor

When the space marine was almost complete (basically when I felt I wouldn't need the symmetry anymore), I posed him using Transpose master in the ZPlugin menu.

Posing the space marine

Posing the space marine

I exported the very basic gun I created in ZBrush and added details to it in 3ds Max.

Modeling the gun in 3ds Max

Modeling the gun in 3ds Max

Shader and lighting in KeyShot

Now was the time to export everything to KeyShot for rendering. Prior to exporting, I lowered the poly count of all the objects using Decimation master. I tested a few of the HDRi for the lighting before going back to the default one which gave me the look I was looking for. The shaders I used are simply the ones you can find in KeyShot with just a few changes (Solar Eclipse and Iguana Run).

Shading and lighting in KeyShot

Shading and lighting in KeyShot

Rendering and compositing

I rendered just a few passes in KeyShot, the beauty pass, ambient occlusion and a simple clown pass, and then exported these passes in to Photoshop to composite the final image.

<h5>Rendering passes in KeyShot and making adjustment in Photoshop</h5>

Rendering passes in KeyShot and making adjustment in Photoshop

The final image

The final image

Related links

Have a look at more of Gregory's work on his website
Check out more of our free ZBrush tutorials
Check out the special offers we have in the 3dtotal shop