Create emotive images
My name is Cézar Brandão, and in this article I will show you how I created my work Pure.
The base mesh
First, I always start with my own base mesh in ZBrush. I think all 3D artists should have their own base to start projects with, because sometimes we don't have a lot of time to work on things and depending on our deadline we have to be pretty fast. Having your own base mesh helps you start a model quickly.
For me, it's also something that I feel comfortable working with. I already know everything about the base – all the proportions I like to use are there, and it already has my own personal style too. It feels better working with something that's comfortable.
Blocking shapes and silhouetting
This is the most important step when sculpting. I like to be on subdivision 1 and 2, maybe 3. I always work on a low subdivision level – if my character isn't working on a low subdivision level, it won't work on a higher subdivision either.
This is the point when I sculpt and block the silhouettes of the shapes. I generally use a higher subdivision level just to finish the work, smooth things out, and add details, rather than to actually sculpt, because there are so many polygons that the work will look bobble-y and not clean.
After blocking the primary shapes and seeing my character coming to life, I just go with the flow from here. I always listen to music to get inspiration, so with the music and emotions I'm feeling I try out poses and expressions and see where the character wants to go. I think it's good to allow this kind of freedom when creating a personal piece of art, as this is where your character will develop a soul rather than just show an empty, dead look without emotion.
Try to free yourself from rules about anatomy and composition – forget about rules for a moment and try to come up with something special, different. People don't want to see something they see every day, they want to see something different that shows your own style and how you see things in life – they want to see your vision. That's how your work will get people's attention.
After that, I try to see what's working and what's not working. I experiment with flowers, accessories, feathers, etc., trying to add elements to the scene to see what works.
Don't be afraid to try a lot of different things. I always try a lot of things, and though there are a lot of times when I make mistakes, they are happy mistakes that often lead to something cool that really adds to my piece.
I can't stress this enough – experiment with things and don't be afraid of trying different things in your works. They might be weird things, I don't know, but try to come up with something unique!
Now I start putting simple colors on my work. I always follow the same workflow, using red, yellow, and then a layer of my default skin color. I make layers of colors on my sculptures and then clean with the default skin color – this is a simple approach but very effective and straight to the point. That's what I am looking for here, because I want to finish in Photoshop and make it look like a painting and not 3D.
Painting the eyes is an important step, as eyes are the windows to our souls, and people will usually make a connection with the work through the eyes of the character. The character will tell their story through their eyes and expression, so I always spend a lot of time here, just getting the right feeling on the expression and eyes.
Rendering the image
To render, I resize the document in ZBrush to get a higher resolution image, and just export the document. That's all I need. If I actually render the image I will get a 3D look and I don't want that here; I want to make it look like a painting, so I don't put any light in or render the sculpt.
This is where I will continue experimenting. I play with the layers, trying Overlay, Screen, Exposure, etc., adding one image on top of another and playing with the different presets Photoshop has, to see what comes up.
When I have something that I think is cool, I start to adjust the colors and try to put everything in harmony.
Cropping the final image
I always crop the image to look like a photographer took a picture and didn't get everything. This is where you should consider the overall image and what you think looks better. Most of the time, when I have a large image, I crop it to make it look better in a composition. Finally, I always play with the exposure to fix the lighting and saturation.
Top tip: Making eyelashes
First, I use a Standard brush to mask some dots, and then invert the mask and use the Move brush to pull out the eyelashes. Then I apply the style I want with the Move brush.