Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush

By Rakesh Sandhu

Web: http://www.rsandhu.net

Email: tuddel@gmail.com

Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush

I was looking for a character to do for my reel and so I started looking around on the Internet. Normally I have no idea what I want, so I just visit flickr or other photo sites to find good images.

I found the image of Roney, which was taken by carf, HERE. I really liked it as an image and thought it would allow me to show my skills as a 3D artist if I recreate the image in 3D. So I searched for more images of Roney, including side views which I knew would help me with the modelling.


For this stage tried to make a basic kid’s face for him. And I tried to establish his silhouette as well. After achieving this, I brought the image into ZBrush to fill in the details. I use ZBrush a lot because it’s less push and pull of points and it’s less technical because you don’t have to think about line flow. You can also easily check if you’ve pushed or pulled it too much by importing the model back into Maya. This was something I did a lot, mainly using the clay brush and pinch brush in ZBrush until I was happy with the face (Fig.01 & Fig.02).

Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 01
Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 02


The image I’d got was quite hi-res and so I removed the shadow and highlights from it and made it as clean as possible, using Photoshop’s shadow/highlight. I then projected the image onto my model of the child’s face. And this was my initial result (Fig.03).

Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 03

After this I rebuilt the image by using different images. Since the skin of the kid was quite irregular, I used concrete maps and dirt maps to give it variation. And this is the result I got (Fig.04). Â

Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 04

For the jacket and pendant, I did the same. I used the image I’d gotten from the photograph and rebuilt it. This might be cheating for others, but I do rebuild all of it. The initial projection is used to see where the scars and small things line up.

I didn’t use textures for the eyes; I just used a ramp with a marble fractal for the veins. Since I don’t really see it, this way works. And it’s easy to manipulate the ramp (Fig.05).

Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 05

After getting the texture for the face, I brought it back into Photoshop to make a bump map. I used a high pass for this and then I brought it into ZBrush to see where the scars lined up. Then I saved the big scars and rebuilt the pores, fixing the scars along the way. I did this in ZBrush using the bump viewer material as this is faster for me than subdividing when I want to get the details (Fig.06).

Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 06


In my opinion, this is the most important stage in the creation process; I suppose because it brings life to the image. For this image, I compared it to the one I’d edited in Photoshop by removing the shadow and highlights. This way I was able to see the different images with and without light.

Then I used an area light to make my sunlight. Next I made bounce lights for the red light, bouncing off the back wall. I then added fill lights as well (Fig.07 & Fig.08).

Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 07
Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 08

Skin Shader

My skin shader probably doesn’t match exactly what real skin looks like, but I didn’t want to get too technical with it and so I just experimented until I found something I felt looked good (Fig.09 – Fig.11).

Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 09
Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 10
Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 11


For the post stage, I added an occlusion pass and brighten the chain. The final image can be seen in Fig.12.

Making of 'Kid' in Zbrush
Fig. 12


The most important thing for me is looking for references. Since I don’t really have an artistic background, I rely a lot on reality. Next would be scaling the objects properly and doing the light based on how light actually works in real world – like using CIE and blackbody for Maya to get the right temperature.

If you have questions you can email me at . Thanks and have a nice day!

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