The final renders of my 3D crowmask plague doctor model. My process involved a lot of bouncing back and forth between Blender and zBrush. I did all of the textures in zBrush and dDo and rendered it using Blender Cycles (see my previous post about the crowmask model).
I recently felt inspired to make a crow-mask plague doctor type character. To complete this project, I used blender, photoshop, zBrush, and dDo. Of course, there’s much more work that could be done, but the focus of this project was the mask itself. I wanted to refresh my skills in porting texture from zBrush to Blender.
First I collected some of my sketches and references, such as the ASMR (the phenomenon when you hear sounds that make your neck/head tingle) youtube channel Ephemeral Rift and his character “Dr. Corvus”.
I loaded up zBrush and sculpted out the shape of the mask. I then took it to blender and cleaned up the resulting geometry because zBrush hardly ever makes geometry that is clean and neat for polygonal modeling techniques.
After cleaning it up, I UV unwrapped the model (UV unwrapping is the process of taking all the 3D “faces” and pointing them to a 2D “painting” for colors and textures). I sent it back into zBrush and got the resolution high enough for me to sculpt in the little details like metal embossing, leather wrinkles, and stitching. I used zBrush’s multimap exporter tools to “extract” the detail off the high resolution model to map it to the low resolution final model.
Next, I took my extracted “maps” into a photoshop plugin called dDo (the legacy version is free, if you want it, scroll to the bottom of their page for the download). dDo is a collection of filters and preset textures that you can apply procedurally to your model to give it dust, scratches, spots, and other dirtyness. It helps create believable textures without spending as much time (good for studio productions under time constraints).
With my finished mask, I roughly modeled up a hat and some clothes to pose for a final render, which you can see above. I used Blender’s cycles rendering engine. I intend to model out an entire character to the same quality as the mask.
I’ve been working on my character for too long it seems. I’m getting sick of working on this and I need to take a break but I don’t really feel like getting in to anything else. I also don’t want to forget to finish the character so it’s quite the dilemma.
What I’ve been doing:
I spent a lot of time learning how to make hair in Blender Cycles.
This was my first attempt. I think it looks like a fire aura. Someone else described it as “liquid gold”. Either way, it doesn’t work. The flatness of each hair clump is at the wrong angle on the top of the head, giving her “big Texas hair”
My second attempt yields better results, but the color is flat and boring. It is a good start, however.
To add variety, I added a texture that defines subtle differences in color for each hair, a color-ramp that makes the hairs get more “orange” at the roots to match the fur color, and a mixer to brighten and intensify the highlights. There was something about the hair around where the “widow’s peak” would be that bothered me, and the frizzy hairs along the side were too uniform.
After a lot of tweaking, researching, and obnoxiously long render times, I finally get something I’m pleased with. I have the displeasure of having lower-end computers to work with. I could either have a 12 hour render time, or have her look like she’s in the sparkle-verse. I can’t afford a $1500+ rig.
Next step is to do the fur. Considering how long it took to render the scalp-hair, I’m not too excited for this part. If you’re wondering why her tail is just a “stick” in the last image, it’s because I’m preparing it for the fur layer.
Can I take a break? I want to do some digital paintings of things that aren’t characters. We’ll see about that.
Showcase of various work I’ve done throughout the spring semester.
Top: “Big Tier Monster” from my game dev class group game “Cthulu Cop”
Middle: Marija Kasatova character sculpt (personal project)
Bottom: Annie L’Montreaux, aka “The Witchdoctor”, for my Computer Animation class.
I’ve learned a lot about zbrush in a short period of time. Too bad it is prohibitively expensive for someone like me to use it at home.