Model a sporty & fashionable female in ZBrush & Maya


Hello, my name is Nabil Chequeiq and I’m originally from Morocco and I love 3D character art. For someone like me coming from Africa it was hard to specialize in character art, especially as there's no one to learn directly from, so I spent the last couple of years developing myself before getting the chance to move to the USA, because I wanted to learn more. I will share with you the process for my latest character.

Step 01: References

The first stage of the work was the idea, and my idea was to create a crazy sporty girl with a little bit of a fashionable edge to her. After that I looked for as many references as I could find from other artists, photographs, and real models, to develop a base of what I needed to model and look for.

Step 02: Blockout General Shapes

Next was the part where you start blocking all the elements and general forms with the basics shapes like spheres and cubes. I always work with the insert low-poly sphere, and from one SubTool I duplicated most of my forms, from the head to the legs and the hands. I found it was good to block them with cubes at first, and the moment I felt happy with the general shapes I dynameshed my model.

Step 03: Refining Shapes

After dynameshing any model I like to keep the polygroups in case I want to pose the model or make a quick mask, or hide something easily. Here, I then began the refining of the shapes along with blocking the head.

Step 04: Keep Refining and Blocking Elements

In this stage I added the hands and did a quick topology for the body using zremesher to control the mesh easily, along with the hair and some clothes. For the hair I used a sphere with the Snakehook brush, and for the clothes I extracted them from the body. The sunglasses were done with the Zmodeler brush, and the shoes were done in Maya.

Step 05: Further Refining

Here I added some details to the shirt and pants, with some adjustments to shapes here and there, along with polypaint to see how it would look with colors. I like to have a preview of things sometimes with painted models to give me new ideas about the model or the story I want to tell.

Step 06: Pose Research

Now I felt like I needed to pose the character to see if the shapes and proportions were good to work with, because I'm not the type of person who draws, so if I wanted to test something I’d do it directly in ZBrush. In order to pose my model freely and to do multiple poses, I had to work with Transpose Master (Zsphere Rig) and create a new layer per SubTool. After the first pose, I exported everything to Maya then I did a quick render test to get a general idea about everything.

Step 07: Posing

I noticed that with the first pose I had to change the arms and the hands along with the foot size. It’s good to give yourself feedback, and ask your friends too. After the modifications I did another pose while I was still looking for the right pose, because with every pose I found that I had to change something in the shapes.

Further Posing

Step 08: Exporting

After multiple tests I finally ended up with the one that I liked. If I hadn't have worked with the Zsphere Rig I would not have had the freedom to play with my character. After I was happy with my pose I exported all the elements to Maya using GOZ, and start replacing the geometric hair with the XGen version. I used the Splines and I placed each one manually.

Step 09: Materials and Render Setting

Recently I’ve used Arnold for most of my renders: I found it faster and you can do whatever you want with it quickly. So in order to benefit from it, I worked only with The Standard Surface shader in materials and textures, and Arnold lighting. For the render settings I didn't go crazy with them because I was planning to use the AOVs in Arnold, used for the compositing in Photoshop.


Step 10: Final Render

After rendering all the passes it was time for Photoshop to enter the game for compositing all the AOVs I recently rendered from Maya.

Final render

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