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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can see more of Fredo's work on his website
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