Sculpt a zombie: ZBrush Character Creation ebook sneak peek


This chapter I’m back to sculpt a zombie character for you. As usual, before starting any sculpting work, I search for references on the Internet. After some time researching the subject, I came across a zombie image which inspired me to create the model you see here in this article.

Basic Shape

The first thing I do is extrude the polygons inside his mouth, because I’ve decided to go for an open mouthed character this time around. To extrude the mouth I open the base mesh in another 3D package (in my case I use Silo for this) and use the Extrude tool in the edges of his mouth (Fig.00a).

facial modelling


I then export the base mesh back to ZBrush to continue work. I also create a simple mesh for the teeth and his tongue (Fig.00b).

zbrush 3d exporting


To create this I simply created a box in another 3D package and extruded it a few times, pushing the extrusions backwards to create a horseshoe shape. I then exported the base mesh to ZBrush. Using the Move brush, I play around with the model, searching for a good look and shape for my zombie character.

For this character I’m specifically choosing not to work with symmetry, so I’m modelling each side of his face individually. To change his expression I use the Transpose function to open up his mouth. With the Move brush I can then make some necessary corrections to the expression (Fig.01).

3d facial structuring


With a good shape established, I choose to add one level of subdivision and continue to develop the basic shape, starting to sculpt in his bone structure and facial muscles with the Standard brush.

He’s a very thin character; he’s suffered a lot and so his face must show agony. But remember: at this stage we’re just working on the basic shape only – details are not necessary yet. The objective, as always, is to establish good shape and structure (Fig.02).

texturing 3d model face


Refining the Shape & Adding Major Facial Lines

Once I’m happy with the shape I’ve defined, I select the Clay brush and start refining the shape of his bones and muscles. He’s very thin, so it’s really important here to put all the muscles in the right places. For this, it is of course wise to work with references.

With the Standard brush I sculpt some skin folds below his chin; it’s the expression on his face that brings about this kind of facial deformation. I also add some large wrinkles/creases to his forehead to increase the expression in his face (Fig.03).

shaping a sculpting zombie face


Now it’s time to refine the individual shapes, like the nose and eyes, and add further wrinkles and facial lines. Here I use the Clay brush to improve the nose shape, later selecting the Standard brush to create wrinkles around his eyes (Fig.04).

zombie mouth and eyes


Here it’s very important to refine the shape of the body as well, to keep things in good balance. So, using the Clay brush, I sculpt the breastbone and the top of his rib cage. On his back I go for adding some distinction to his spine (Fig.05).

zombie body 3d model


Muscles, Rotting Skin, Teeth & Tongue

Now it’s time to detail the muscles in his face; for this I use the Clay brush to add volume and the Standard brush with Alpha 28 to add some wrinkles and cavities. I decide to go on and improve his suffering further by rotting part of his skin. For this I make a selection by pressing Ctrl and painting a mask; using the Clay brush I sculpt muscles that appear through the rotting flesh (Fig.06).

3d model of zombie face


For the teeth I select the Standard brush and start to draw the teeth one by one. With the same brush, but now with Alpha 38, I start to add some cavities and refine the divisions between each tooth (Fig.07).

zombie teeth 3d art


For the tongue I use the Transpose function to add good movement to it, and then select the Standard brush to detail the shape of the tongue. To give it some texture I select the Clay Tubes brush and modify the strokes to Color Spray. To finish up the tongue, I use the Standard brush with Alpha 38 to add some fine wrinkles (Fig.08).

zombie biting jaw model


Final Details

Using the Standard brush with Alpha 38, I refine the skin around the muscles. I do the same for the wrinkles inside his mouth, and on his neck and brow. It’s always really important to work with references, especially for this kind of detailing, because wrinkles have to flow in the right direction for each part of the face in order to achieve believable results.

I select the Clay brush and start to refine the transition between the skin and the muscles in his face, taking care to aim for a natural look to his rotten skin (Fig.09).

zombie facial modelling 3d texture


Selecting the Clay brush again, I sculpt some skin imperfections and add extra detail to his face. Using the Clay brush with Spray and Alpha 38, I create the little pores and holes in his face and neck; changing the brush to Standard I then add extra wrinkles around his eyes and neck (Fig.10).

clay brush zombie face


Here is the finished model – I hope you like it (Fig.11).

zombie profile zbrush clay model


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