Personal Project – Sculpting -Modelling and Re-Topology

A few words for my sponsors……..

I just want to take this as an opportunity to say that I will be doing everything from scratch. Mainly because, I am treating it as clay first and software last, meaning that I want to start from the ground up.

Another thing is, this will be an ongoing project. I will only have the high res and re-toped version for marking. Sadly due to time constraints, I will not have it all done. Although, it will be before semester 2 is fully underway, hopefully….

Anyways, enjoy the workflow. Cause I sure as hell did. ZBrush is hella fun to work on.


So I began creating the skull of the model, trying to find the landmarks, taking heed from FlippedNormals.

I wanted to make sure that I got it right, so I took a few references for this. Courtesy of Natasha Henry.

I previously talked about how I used her as reference within the conceptualisation phase.

Show, what i did here.

Once I got this close enough to a skull and to the concept, I moved on to test placement of the horns and the ears.



Related image

So what I noticed after doing this, I moved onto fix the chin, fix the nose, add in eye placement and where the horns would lie.




The Ear:

I farted around with different objects like a cube and a sphere to try and get the ear. But after I looked at Gabriel Garcia’s model, I had an idea.

So I used a cylinder and used a mix between, Standard, Dam Standard and claytube brushes to give me my form.

Fauno_003 copy.jpg

Gabriel Garcia’s “Pans Labyrinth” Model. (Acquired:

Speaking of Gabriel’s work, he has an interesting workflow on CBrush Central, wherein he goes through all of the stages of modelling the character within ZBrush.


The Horns:

Following the tutorial, I moved on to create my own horn.

I based it off of a cone, and played around with the deformation sliders in the side menu.


I used the transpose tool to stretch it out. Now. What I did, that you will see in the next few screenshots, is over shoot the stretch.

Over shooting the stretch to begin with did not seem like a bad idea, making it longer could add to her age, but I wanted it to stay close to my concept of Nymphedora.

At the time I did not notice the length, I was busy focusing on the deformation slider settings and farting about with those.



This screenshot was taken after I saw the mistake. As you can see, the spike/ end of the horn was waaaaaaaaay to long. It would look cool if I wasn’t sticking to a concept, so I changed it.

I appended another cone, then stretched it a little bit and I tested the bending, tapering and twist on the new one and it was the right size.

The screenshot below showcases this little test.


The screenshot below, showcases the new cone coming into shape now. Before this I played around with it, until I got it to the shape I wanted. The curve from the head seemed to be close to my concept. So, I tapered and twisted some more until….


BOOM! I got it…

This was so close to the concept that I was able to just leave it there and move on to the other features.

What I did next was mirror the horns along the X axis and moved it into the socket that I had created.





At the end of making the horn I pressed the ‘V’ key. Now what this does is just change the colour of the model or light. I am not 100% sure. But I used this a lot throughout the project. It is very hand to make sure to have a clear silhouette to make sure it reads as a head.

I took images from one of the games I used as inspiration “Dragon Age: Inquisition” and I took photos of different facial options for a Qunari character.

I am playing through it again and thought, why not use the character customisation menu as a chance to get really good references.

I used these to better my neck and head.

Making the Hair:

I took inspiration from this video and other sculptures.

Making the hair was a little difficult than I thought it would be.


I downloaded a free hair brush pack from gumroad, but they did not do what I wanted to do. So because of this I decided to look back to previous references to see how they did the hair.


So, for the hair ended up just going with the sculpting method. I used the claybuildup brush, with a high draw size and I kept following along to my original design.

Withing the turn around of the character, you can see that I followed the method of creating the hair just like a sculptor would. I like this approach though.

This is how I would create the hair of I was to do a moquette. I would mark out where the hair falls on the head and then build the bigger shapes and then smaller to give the illusion of layers within the hair. To me it makes it a little more realistic, albeit still a bit cartoony.

I fixed the hair a little by removing the sides of it. Giving it more of a shaved look around the sides and back of the head. As you can see within the above images.

I used the DamStandard Brush to add the “strands”. I basically just wanted to create the illusions that they are there.

I also did the squint test and although it is not perfect you could still make out what it was and where the shadows fell.

Old hair.

Detailing the Ears:

So for the ears I wanted them to look less “samey”. They where too symmetrical, so I decided to play with the ears a little bit.

I really SUCK at remembering to capture my progress.

So, I cut the ears and saved both an uncut and cut version of the file. Then I had this idea to make a poll on instagram to see what my audience and friends think of it there.

I then waited until people voted before I continue with the ears.

Below is how the vote went.


I used the Move brush to create an interesting pose to both of the ears. Below is the finished product.




For the eyebrows, I moved on to try two ways of creating the eyebrows. I tried polysphere and squashed it to fit the space where the eyebrows fall.

The polyshpere did not really turn out the way I wanted it too.



It does not conform to the face which I did not like.

Feedback I got from the class was that they look a little strange and they stray away too much from my design. Which I must admit they do. To me they also look like baguettes.

So I decided to try the other way, which is how I created the hair. But the extraction will be low, so the hair is not thick. Which in my design it isn’t.


So. I tried to do the extraction with the eyebrows here and this is what it looked like. The dam standard brush was not allowing me to detail them they way they did the hair, so I went back to the old eye brows.


I moved them around until I was satisfied with them.

I took some of the mesh away to continue the battle worn look.

Detailing the Horns:

So the horns where a wee bit difficult but fun to complete.

So what I did was gather references, like I did at the start but this time focusing on detail first before anything else.

personal project_horn_moodboard

So I blocked in where the harshes edges go on the horns, giving it a bone like structure to it.


I then went in to refine it by using the ‘DamStandardBrush’.



I believe, I have captured the essence of a rams horn, although it needs more work, maybe later on I will do it but for now I will leave it the way they are.



Adding Eyelashes:

I used a Danny Mac 3D tutorial. He has interesting 60 second tutorials that explain a lot throughout the videos.


I started off with a cube and then I moved it into a flat piece just like this.

I then used deformation and used the taper and sbend slider to bend the cube into a eyelash shape.


I then followed the tutorial and made 3 variants and merged the three by using subtools – merge down.




Finishing touches:


I defined the area where to horn comes out of, to make it look more natural.

I also added more definition within the scar/ cut beside it as well.

Below is a final look at the finished sculpt.



Retopology Research

So, now’s the time to retoplogise….. Great…..

Okay, full transparency, the last time I did re-top was in first year and I just wasnt having a good time because I just did not understand what the hell was going on. So, I crap myself when someone says that you have to re-top something.

But now, I have a better grasp of re-topping for models because of Diving Dave, I learnt the different techniques for quads in order

FlippedNormals had a great video of the different little short-cuts to speed up re-topping within Maya.

What I might make a lot of use of in this video, would be the tool to straiten the lines that is on the model. With the smooth tool. (Shift key)

Focus on the big shapes. By doing this, it will make it easier to change topology and add to it. General to specific as they would say.

Hold the Tab key then click on an edge to bring it out.

Use Tab and Middle Mouse Button.

Decimation Master in ZBrush:

They also mentioned that their character was decimated before importing it into Maya. So I did a little digging around.

Decimating a model is a great way to get really nice renders instead of having to do the method of splitting it into different channels and putting into Photoshop or what have you. I know there is a plugin, but I would rather use Maya, that does it all for you, all you need to do is set up a camera, light and render.

A few things I took away from the video is:

  • Use the paint method for the masking tool to completely preserve wrinkles or other indents/ details
  • ZPlugin – Decimation Master
  • Pre current – will process subtools which are selected
  • Pre process all – will process all visible subtools
  • Clone All the Subtools – Will decimate one and keep and original
  • Preference – Deformation Master – Uniform Mesh – Keep this on
  • Click the save preferences under this, they are not linked to the UI in ZBrush
  • Export the Subtools from the Decimation Master menu

I might not use this yet, but this was an interesting find. A good way to lower the the polycount/ subdiv level within ZBrush.

There is also Zremesher and Re-topology brushes within ZBrush as well.

Danny Mac 3D did a 60 second tutorial on how to create nice renders of your model.

I am going to use a video series by Maya Learning Channel showing how you can create a head of a character with the proper topology.

Within this series they create topology that would be fit for animation. Which is, from now on, how I am going to approach modelling.

I already knew this from my modelling and rig that I created, but felt it necessary to write down here.

When doing the topology around the main areas of the face, it is important that they go around them and not to connect them like a primitive.

Another way I could bring it into Maya would be through making it into a GPU cache and importing it into Maya. Within this video, Alex Cheparev explains how to do this early on in the video.

I should save ZBrush files as OBJ files and import them into Maya.

He also shows how we can save the original as a tool, then bring the re-topped on back in. Overlay the two, and project the tool version onto the retopped, after sub dividing the retopped one. This should give it some of the details again.

Seems interesting in all honesty.

I am going to take these different techniques of re-topping and preparing final renders.

Retopologising my model

So I started with the main aspects of the face, the eyes and mouth. The forehead is also a main structural point but for now I will not focus on it.

I just want to say now, I may not have all of my models re-topped for the deadline. But this does not mean that I will stop doing it. This will be a continuous process. I simply just ran out of time, but I am not abandoning it.


I then added in some references to base my re-top off of and I continued to input them in.

I am trying to add in where the face wrinkles at the nose and the topology changes at the side of the face, and forehead.


So during a conversation with fellow classmate, Sudipta Patra. I came to the realisation that the mouth and eye did not need to be completely retopped. I didn’t realise it but it finally sunk in.

Texturing Tests

So I created some texturing tests of the model to see what it might look like.

I wanted to texture it like Roman sculptures. However, this is a place holder for what I want to do in the future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s