Making of 'Scarecrow' by Christopher Tackett
When I first started this project, I was going to do the final rendering in LightWave after modelling and texturing the elements in ZBrush. Then, as I was making some test renders, which were turning out better than I expected, I decided to just render the whole scene in ZBrush.
I started with a simple concept sketch (Fig.01) then coloured it up in Photoshop to get a good idea of what I wanted in terms of colour palette and feel. Sometimes I stretch and warp the sketch with the Liquify filter in Photoshop to add more character to the pose or face.
I got right into the project, starting with the Scarecrow. Each part of the scarecrow model was created as a low poly model then imported into ZBrush as SubTools for detailing (Fig.02).
Using a burlap alpha texture (Fig.03), I sculpted the fabric detail onto the vest, shirt, scarf, pants, and face sections. For the hat, I used a weave alpha texture I created (Fig.04). Fig.05 shows the finished sculpted detail of the scarecrow.
I coloured the scarecrow (Fig.06) using ZBrush's painting tools, along with the cavity masking options which help to create the effect of dirt collecting in the sculpted detail areas, like the burlap sculpted fabric pattern. I also used two fabric patterns from the 3DTotal Texture collection to texture the scarf and vest (Fig.07 - 08). Once the main colouring was done, I added another layer of dirt to certain areas, using a couple of other 3DTotal dirt textures.
Next, I started with the pumpkin model. Using the ZSphere tool in ZBrush, I created a pumpkin with a stem base model to sculpt from, and added plenty of detail to it. Again, I coloured it using the cavity mask function at times, along with 3DTotal's dirt textures (Fig.09 - 11).
I decided something else was needed as well - sunflowers (Fig.12). I created the centre section of the sunflower and then subdivided it in ZBrush to a high level. I used a noise texture as a mask over the whole model and then used the Inflate function in ZBrush to push out the detail. I smoothed it a bit so it wasn't so harsh looking, and then sculpted a single flower petal, duplicating it around the edges to form the final sunflower model. Colour texture was applied quickly, as I knew it was going to be blurred a bit anyway. One leaf was sculpted and quickly coloured as well.
It was then time to start putting it all together. I created a simple ground plane, texturing it with another 3DTotal ground texture, and placed it onto the ZBrush canvas. Creating another layer in ZBrush, I added the scarecrow model and rotated him into position using ZBrush's Gyro tool (Fig. 13). I then added the pumpkin model and duplicated it several times, rotating each one again using the Gyro tool (Fig.14).
The grass was added a little differently: I used ZBrush's scatter brush stroke function to "paint" the grass onto the ground plane in a separate layer (Fig. 15). In the scatter settings you can adjust the colour jitter to get some colour differentiation in the grass, making it a bit less monochromatic. I used the same effect to add some hay popping out of some of the areas of his clothes.
Next I added the sunflowers on another layer and placed them back further in space on the ZBrush canvas, as well as adding the extra one onto his hat.
The last thing to add was the straw hair. I used a simple strip of polys and curved it a bit. Then, just using the Gyro tool, I put each strip into place and snapshot the object to the canvas (Shift + S) and moved onto the next (Fig.16). I did the same thing for the shoulders and glove straw.
Once all this was done, I placed several lights and rendered each light pass out separately (Fig.17). I did this because it was easier for me to control how the lights affected each other in Photoshop, since I could erase areas where I didn't want the lighting to affect an object.
Then the last thing I did in ZBrush was to take a screen grab of the alpha depth of the canvas (Fig.18) which I could use with the Lens Blur filter in Photoshop to create a slight depth of field effect.
For the background, I used 3DTotal Textures of a sky and trees (Fig.19), along with a separate corn field image which I blurred quite a lot.
After compositing all the lighting passes and background together in Photoshop, I merged all the layers together (Fig.20). At this point I thought I could use still more dirt on some areas, so I used the 3DTotal dirt textures on another separate layer in Photoshop to create some lighter dirty areas (Fig.21 - 22). I then did some colour correction and used the smear tool to create the frayed straw effect on the hat. A quick but slight darkening of the areas around the edges helped to add a bit of focus to the centre of the image (Fig.23).
I've got to say that, after this was finished, I was extremely impressed with the capability of ZBrush for creating illustrations. And it was done without using UVs, which can save a lot of valuable time. I'm pleased to share my technique with you all and I hope you can use some of the information presented in this article to create some great art in ZBrush!