Making Of 'Scarecrow' by Gabriel Pereira

Character artist Gabriel Pereira shows us how he created his artwork 'Scarecrow', using ZBrush and Photoshop...

I wanted to do a cartoon model, so I talked to my great friend and concept artist Well Giardina if he could help me with a 2D concept. He delivered this amazing concept.

Well Giardina's concept

Well Giardina's concept

After that, I started to look at a lot of scarecrow references so I could improve the main idea and push it as far as possible when I created it in 3D. It is always important to look for good references, even if you have a concept to follow.

I started by doing a quick sketch in ZBrush, so I could study its main shapes and volumes. DynaMesh is a great feature in ZBrush. It is very easy to use it and it is great to work with. You only need to pay attention to the size of the tool you are working with to get the right resolution as you work on the sculpt, but all in all it is a fantastic tool.

The brushes that I used here were: Move, Clay Tubes, Clay Buildup, Dam Standard, Smooth and Trim Dynamic brushes.

The initial sculpt

The initial sculpt

With the main shapes defined, I usually do a quick paint over the model to get the initial feeling of its color palette. I don't create anything fancy or too complex, just use solid block color. I find this stage important because this is when I start to feel how it is going to be, and imagine which textures I could apply on various surfaces. With these ideas forming, I can move any image in the direction I want.

Then I started to clean up the meshes, so later I could put details on it and finalize the piece. To achieve this clean up, I use 2 approaches in ZBrush.

The first one is the traditional way of re-topologizing the model. I added a ZSphere in my SubTool palette and with the property Edit Topology, and then created a new mesh based on the sketch. I used this approach to do the hat, shoes and the stitches of the face.

Sculpting process for the hat

Sculpting process for the hat

The second approach is a new way to do re-topology in ZBrush, involving the QRemesher tool. Basically you create some guides, inform the program how many polys the new mesh will have and voila! You have the new mesh.

If you want to then transfer the details of the sketch; duplicate the mesh that will have the new topology, use the QRemesher tool on the duplicated one and then use the Projection tool to transfer the details of the original one. The head, suit and the pants were created with this approach.

Using QRemesher

Using QRemesher

After all the parts of the scarecrow were cleaned up, the fun began! I set about creating all the details for each part of the model and refining it.

The extra meshes like hair, hand-straw and suit-tail were made with the CurveQuadFill brush. For the rope in the hat I used an InsertMultiMesh that I found on the ZBrush channel website.

The brushes that I used here in this stage were Move, Clay, Clay Tubes, Dam Standard, Smooth, Standard, Trim Dynamic and Polish brushes.

Clean topology

Clean topology

To sculpt the little folds on the suit I used the Dam Standard and Standard brushes with the property Gravity, with the value around 30 or so. This property gave a sense of weight to my image and was perfect to help me achieve better results for draping the fabric. The gravity property is on the brush menu under depth.

Using the Gravity feature when sculpting

Using the Gravity feature when sculpting

Another important tip for doing folds and texture on clothes is to use layers. I used one layer to do the folds and another layer to sculpt the texture of the pattern. I created some basic UVs to sculpt the clothing texture.

There is a tool in ZBrush called UV Master, which is very easy to use. For example, in the suit, I created two polygroups – one for the leaves and another for the body – painted a line to attract the cut line and created some UVs on the suit.

Using UV Master

Using UV Master

Then I created the layer for the pattern sculpt. Finally I used the Noise modifier located in the surface palette to apply the pattern I wanted to sculpt.

Creating the pattern

Creating the pattern

The pattern of the face was sculpted after painting the first pass of color. I used the UV Master again to create some UVs on the face. Then, with spotlight and a cloth pattern I polypainted his face and exported this painting as a texture.

Applying texture to his face

Applying texture to his face

In Photoshop, I converted this texture to grayscale and saved a copy.

I transferred the grayscale texture to the polypaint of the face, then with a masking property called Mask by Intensity, I created a mask based on the texture I painted. Finally, using Inflate (under deformation) with very small values, I sculpted the pattern details on the mesh. After that, I transferred the color texture back to the face.

Creating a mask based on a texture

Creating a mask based on a texture

I could have turned the Zadd on when I was painting the original texture with spotlight, to paint and sculpt at the same time, but I found this process more suitable to control how much deformation I put on the mesh instead.

After all the details were done, I finalized the painting of the face and painted the rest of the model using basic polypaint techniques. After this, the model was finished. So it was time to start posing it and give it the final touches.

To do this, I used the Transpose Master plug-in in ZBrush, Masking, Transpose and the Move brush.

Adding final touches

Adding final touches

After I finished its pose, I created some lights in ZBrush to prepare the final piece for rendering. I usually render some different passes in ZBrush so I can composite them in Photoshop to get the final piece. Here are the passes I created for the scarecrow.

The render passed in ZBrush

The render passed in ZBrush

I had a lot a fun doing this personal project as I have wanted to do a model entirely in ZBrush for quite some time. I find ZBrush is an amazing piece of software and is very comprehensive if you want to create any kind of static image.

Related links
Check out Gabriel Pereira's website for more
This making of was originally featured in 3dcreative issue 95
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