Model a stylized 3D orc in ZBrush
In this tutorial you will learn how to create a stylized character based on a concept art. From the sculpting (ZBrush) to the Polypaint (Substance Painter), grooming (Xgen), lighting / shading / render (Maya – Arnold).
Create your own stylized character
From a ZBrush Sphere to first shapes
Start from a Sphere in ZBrush, Do a blocking of the main shapes (head, nose, neck, and ears), make sure that you follow the concept and the anatomy shapes. I used the standard brushes in ZBrush like ClayBuildup, DamStandard, TrimDynamic, and Move.
First sculpted shapes
Creating details and adding elements
Once we have the first shapes, we have to pay attention to detail. Now we have to break the mirror pose, polish the shapes, and define the edges of them to get a stylized look. Add some wrinkles and the extra element like earrings, teeth, and a temporary hair and beard.
Final sculpting - details
Retopology in Maya
Do a Decimation Master to all the elements in ZBrush and use GoZ to send them to Maya. Once you are in Maya, apply the Snap Live Surface function and using the Quad Draw tool to add polygons following the shapes.
Retopology in Maya
Create the UVs
Once the retopology of all elements is done, I apply a planner mapping to each one of them. I select the edges where the UVs will be cut and split. Try to select the most hidden edges to avoid Seams problems, for example the edges that will be covered by the hair, inside the mouth, and so on. Then Unwrap them and keep the island UVs with a good texel density.
Create Displacement maps and normal maps in ZBrush
Now that you have a good retopology with UVs, let’s re-import them to ZBrush using GoZ. We are going to project the details of the sculpting into your retopologized model. Use the tool project on each subdivision until you are happy with the result. Use the Multi Map Exporter plug-in to create the displacement and normal maps.
Displacement and Normal maps
Texturing in Substance Painter
Import the mesh into Substance Painter and apply the normal map that you created in ZBrush. Now you can bake the other maps. Let’s paint the model based on the concept and create details such as skin pores, scars, wrinkles. I use procedural maps as much as I can (for example for pores or veins), then I manually paint the rest (lips, nose details). Make sure that you are happy with the results in the color, roughness, specular, and high (Normal map). Once you finish, export them.
Textures in Substance Painter
Lighting in Maya (Arnold)
Open your character in Maya. I always use an aiStandardSurface by default to create my lighting set. The lights that I use are a HDRI light (you can find a lot of great HDRI in HDRI Haven) to get the reflections, then I use 3 area lights (main, rim, and fill), and now I have nice volumes, shadows, and highlights.
Grooming with Xgen
Select the Polygons where the hair will be, and duplicate them to create the scalp geo. Create a new UV for the scalp and start putting the hair guides to get some nice general shapes. Use Modifiers like Clumping, Cut, Coil, and Noise to achieve the attributes of hair and avoid it to look very digital and fake.
Grooming with XGen
Shading in Maya (Arnold)
Now you can connect the different meshes with the materials and then with the maps that you created in Substance Painter. Set the values of the SSS, specular, coat, and colors until you are happy with the result. And render the different passes. I always render the Albedo, Specular, Coat, AO, ZDepth, SSS, Object ID and Shadows.
Shading in Maya
Compositing in Photoshop
Open your render passes in Photoshop to get the final result that you are looking for.