Making of 'Dracula & Vamp'

Freelance 3D character sculptor fluidcube shares how he made his amazing tribute to Boris Vallejo using ZBrush

This mini workflow tutorial aims to provide an overview of how I used the basic, but powerful, tools in ZBrush to create my Dracula & Vamp sculpture, it is based on a painting by the amazing Boris Vallejo. The main challenge for me was to conceptualize the face and costume details of the characters, I wanted to make sure that my design would complement, at least, the theme and feel of Vallejo's painting. My goals for this personal project are to demonstrate my current skill as a digital sculptor and also to teach myself the discipline required in bringing a personal project into a fine finish.

Blocking-out forms

Using Boris Vallejo's painting as a reference, I tried to quickly set up the scene with very simple shapes using default base meshes available in ZBrush, as well as the ZSpheres. I also used DynaMesh, in the lowest resolution I can manage, to establish these basic shapes. Working at low subdivision level gives me the advantage to just focus on the overall shapes and forms, and allows me to evaluate the composition of the entire piece at this very early stage. Aside from those factors, it also refrains me from jumping in too quickly with the detailing.

<h5>Boris' original painting</h5>

Boris' original painting

I used a default female base mesh in ZBrush to quickly visualize the pose of Vamp. I also used cube blocks (a) as a guide to help me maintain her proportions in this interesting pose.

<h5>Blocking out the female vampire</h5>

Blocking out the female vampire

Again, I used a male base mesh to get a feel for Dracula and his pose. To get the correct shapes and fluid movement of Dracula's cape the DynaMesh workflow is really helpful.

Modeling Dracula

Modeling Dracula

To construct the shoes, I used ZBrush retopology and the insert loops function of the ZModeler brush, until I achieved the low res base model.

Making the shoes

Making the shoes

For both characters, I used the default male head in ZBrush as a starting point. I used the Move, Dam Standard, Trim and Clay brushes to sculpt the faces and make the changes from male to female for the Vamp's face and head. Then I used a separate piece of geometry to make their hair.

Steps of adjusting the default male head into a female

Steps of adjusting the default male head into a female

Separate and simple geometry for the lady vampire's hair

Separate and simple geometry for the lady vampire's hair

  Blocking in Dracula's hair

Blocking in Dracula's hair

Detailing Dracula

During the detailing phase, I used ZBrush's layers functionality almost every step of the way. Layers give me a lot of control and flexibility in my work, it is non-destructive and allows me to fine tune the details I've sculpted to get the best effect. So from facial expressions, pores, wrinkles, veins, etc. and even in making big adjustments, I make use of layers.

I found the Inflate brush helped a lot to make Dracula's Victorian style cravat look soft and cloth-like.

Using the Inflate brush to make the cravat

Using the Inflate brush to make the cravat

<h5>The finished cravat</h5>

The finished cravat

When sculpting cloth folds and drapery, it is really important to establish first the form and stance of your character; also take note of the kind of fabric you are sculpting, that will be your guide in adding folds or wrinkles and how the fabric material will drape on or around your model.

Sculpting the drapes and folds of the cape

Sculpting the drapes and folds of the cape

Sculpting pants

Sculpting pants

I used the Dam_Standard brush to carve in the wrinkles and skin folds on the knuckles. For the finer wrinkles, I used the default ZBrush Alpha 58, and set my Standard brush to spray mode. However, before I added these fine details, I tried to make sure that the bony areas, tendons, and veins look and feel as natural and realistic as possible.

<h5>Adding details to the hands</h5>

Adding details to the hands

Using the separate geometry from step 1 as a basis for detailing the hair, I work out how I want the hair to fall and flow, by using a few strokes of the Dam_Standard and Move brushes. Once I have established the general direction of the hair flow, I applied Alpha 47 with H Tile set to 3, to Dam_Standard which allowed me to "comb-in" the illusion of hair strands.

<h5>Adding texture and movement to the hair</h5>

Adding texture and movement to the hair

The finished hair

The finished hair

Detailing the Vamp

Using the same techniques as described in Step 2, I was able to create the subtle details on the female vampire character as well. I find it important to keep in mind, the character's emotion and state of mind when sculpting. Here she is grasping towards Dracula in an act of desperation, so her hand is reaching out to him.

<h5>The vamp's hands</h5>

The vamp's hands

The female vampire is naked and therefore, I wanted to accurately portray her anatomy. Although this is a very small part of the final image, I took the time to establish the planes of the knee and make her feet appear natural.

Knee study – establishing the planes

Knee study – establishing the planes

<h5>Making realistic feet</h5>

Making realistic feet

Again when sculpting hair, establish the big shapes first, then determine the hair flow, and finally add in hair strands if needed. For the Vamp, I added some free-flowing clumps of hair, to add to the illusion of a windy environment and most importantly heighten her desperate and beseeching expression.

Detailing the female vampire's hair

Detailing the female vampire's hair

Finished hair

Finished hair

When sculpting the eyebrows, wrinkles, tears, vein, and bite-marks, I used a very low intensity setting in my Standard, Dam_Standard, Clay, Pinch and Inflate brushes. My brush strokes were very light and I took my time to really build up these very fine details.

Facial details

Facial details

Creating Vamp's necklace

I found a lot of reference images from the internet and used their design elements to help with the design of the Vamp's necklace.

Mixing beautiful design elements with my own ideas

Mixing beautiful design elements with my own ideas

I used ZSpheres and Insert Curve Mesh brushes to make the wire-type design details. I duplicated them many times and layered them on top of each other to make the overall design. Look complex but still classy.

<h5>Adding intricate details</h5>

Adding intricate details

The finished necklace

The finished necklace

Creating the Cliff

I used the same sculpting techniques and tools that I used sculpting the characters and props. However, for detailing the cliff I used some free rock and wood images from Texturepilot, which I then used to add surface textures to the rocks and dead tree trunk.

  Using ZSpheres to build the cliff

Using ZSpheres to build the cliff

  Lighting the cliff

Lighting the cliff

Putting it all together

Once all the elements were modeled and detailed, I worked on the final image. This is where my initial blocking came in handy because I had already worked out the final composition in Step 1; it was simply a matter of putting it all together.

<h5>The final image</h5>

The final image

Related links

You can see more of Fredo's work on his website
Looking to learn something new? Check out our eBooks for lots of helpful tutorials
Grab your copy of Anatomy for 3D Artists for some fantastic tutorials on sculpting accurate anatomy

Fetching comments...

Post a comment