Zbrush Tutorial : Making OF Cleopatra
Zbrush Tutorial – Cleopatra
Artist Name – Fredo Bernardo
Artist FaceBook Page
CLEOPATRA: Zbrush Tutorial By: Fredo Bernardo This project was inspired by the 1963 classic movie “Cleopatra.”
I decided to do this project because it features a combination of Elizabeth Taylor’s classic beauty and the very interesting
and intricate design of her headdress.
Doing research and gathering a lot of references on the subject, whether it’s a creature or a character, is the first thing
I do before I even start doing stuff in Zbrush. I try to collect and study a lot of images of my subject from various angles.
I do this not only in the beginning of the projectbut as I progress through the entire creation process, especially when
a particular design issue or question needs to be resolved.
My Basic Brushes
For all my Zbrush projects I always use these: Standard brush, Dam standard brush, Clay Tubes, Flatten, Move
Topology Brush,MoveElastic Brush, Inflate Brush, Pinch Brush, and in some occasions Smooth Peaks and Smooth Valley.
Creating the base mesh
I needed to get a general overview of the entire model first, so I created a low resolution model for the general shape of the
character and for each major part of her costume. This helped me establish the overall proportions and how each piece
connects to and/or affects each other so I can compare them more easily to my reference right away. This initial step also
helped me evaluate which parts of this highlydetailed model I need to prioritize, how much work I should do for each and
how I would layer the intricate details on top of each other.
To create the base mesh, I started with a sphere or a cube, reshaped it accordingly then used Dynamesh with a very low
resolutionvalue. Once I’m happy with the basic shape I would use Zremesher, with a low Target Polygon Count.
Although this will not be used in a productionsetting, having some proper and even topology flow in my mesh will help
a lot in the sculpting process, especially on the face.
Sculpting the face.
I tried to make sure that the overall shape of the head is as close as my reference before I proceeded with placing the
facial features. Just like in drawing you start with the basic shapes first before you do the details. Next was establishing
the planes of the face and the facial features to get a feel of my reference. When I’m satisfied with the initial structure
and features of the face, I would proceed to sculpting some major parts her costume and will come back again to the face
to refine the individual facial features some. In this way, I could keep a fresh eye during the entire sculpting process and
wouldn’t get stuck with just detailing an area of the model. I believe I can accomplish more this way.
Creating The Costume
Cleopatra is wearing a very detailed headdress and gown, but somehow if we are going to break down her props,
this seemingly intricate costume is just made up of a few pieces that have been duplicated many times and organized
in a certain way to frame the beautiful face of the actress. The best strategy to make her costume is to use the Insert
Mesh Functionality of Zbrush.
Creating Insert Mesh Brushes for Cleopatra
I created eight Insert Mesh (IM) brushes for this project and each piece presented different sculpting challenges.
For some props, like the leavesand feathers a straightforward sculpting approach (using Standard, Dam and Move)
was enough, while for the rest it took a few more extratechniques to make them.
In creating the twisted hair-‐like accessories of the headdress. I started with a cube stretched and flattened it. After that,
I used Zremesher to quickly fix the topology, then I increased the subdivision level to up to 5. Double check if the
subtool is still in the center of the floor grid before going to the next step. To twist the elongated flat surface, I used
the Deformation>Twist function, activated the Y axis and kept moving the slider to the positive side several times
until I got the kind of look I wanted. I added a little Deformation>Inflate to addsome volume to the twisted model,
because I don’t want it to be paper thin at the edges. Then I used the Inflate brush and Dam Standard at the tip to
make it look like it was sealed with a knot.
To get a quick texture on the hair beads, I used the Surface>Noise function, selected the Noise01.ZNM file from the
Lightbox. To make adjustments, I clicked on the Edit button to open the Noise edit window and increased the Scale
slider hit OK then Apply to Geometry. Although the geometry didn’t capture all the details, I am happy with how it
turned out. I just needed some surface texture that will catch some highlights when I render. I used the same technique
for making the hem of the neckline and at the sides of her cape.
After creating each IM object, I used Decimation Master to lower down the polygon count to a level that will still
capture the details I intended for each object. This is important to keep the file size manageable once these IM
objects gets instanced several times to create the costume.
Now I made them into an IM brush then I turned ON the Curve mode in the Stroke Menu. Sometimes I would adjust
Curve Step to define the spacing in between the instanced geometry . Don’t forget to save the new IM brush.
Tip: Make sure that you orient the model on the canvass according to how you want it to behave as an IM brush
before hitting the Create InsertMesh. This requires some trial and error.
Putting it all together Now I applied the IM brushes onto the base models I prepared at the start of this project.
In some cases, like in creating her gown, I used the IM brush with the Curve mode OFF, so I can individually
place each prop to areas that needed to be covered.
Once I’m done laying the pieces down, I would break up the symmetry and patterns a bit to make it look random and
more dynamic. I used the Move Topological and Move Elastic for this. To make the folds on the cape and make it look
like it was draping on her, I used the Standard and Move Elastic brushes to achieve that effect.
Creating the Snake Crown
The Radial Symmetry with Y mode ON and with 16 Radial Count helped me to create the circle of cobras on
her crown. I had to this at the center of the grid and then I used the Transpose tools to move, scale or rotate them in place.
*TIP* Since this is a complex and heavy model, activating the Transform> Solo Dynamic mode when moving my
model was very helpful.
This sped up the process of moving my model in the canvass and when I needed to work on a certain piece of geometry I
click the Solo Button ON.
Render Passes: A Quick Overview
My main focus on this project is to create a good sculpture of Cleopatra, so I just needed a simple render setup to
enhance the presentation of my sculpture.
For the most part I just used the basic materials with their default settings in Zbrush.
Basic material pass for her face
Metal 01 material pass for her costume
Specular Pass: Toy plastic with the color set to black … Hair material: to give an extra kick to the
highlights of the twisted hair-‐like accessories, I turned off the Ambient, Diffuse and increased the
Specular attribute to 100 percent.
Color Mask: Flat Material applying different colors to specific groups of subtools to separate the
Ambient Occlusion Pass Shadow Pass
Basic Render Settings
Overview of the Photoshop Composite
Using the command Scripts>Load Files Into Stack, Photoshop will open all project render passes and will
automatically stack theminto layers.
AO and Shadow layers were set to Multiply then grouped under Shadow
Various Specular layers were set to Screen and grouped under Specular
To add the glitters effect on the crown I used a dust texture map and set the Blend mode to Color
I also created some layers to enhance/correct some areas of the image. Like adding more shadow in the eye area,
and painting overthe eyelashes which was not rendered properly in Zbrush. To control the behavior of specific layers,
I used adjustment layers like Levels and Brightness and Contrast. To even enhance more my level of control, I utilized
the masking component of each adjustment layer.
After I did all my adjustments, I collapsed all layers into a copy, using the hotkey Cmd+Alt+Shift+E or
CTRL+Alt+Shift+E. I then used the Auto Tone command on this merged image to make a quick
adjustment of the overall contrast of the image. Then I duplicated this image and applied a High Pass
filter (Filer>Other>High Pass) on it, and changed the blend mode to Overlay. This will give an extra punch to
the overall image and make the details crisper. If the effect is too strong I would tone down the Opacity and
Fill and I could go even further by masking out the High pass effect, like on the lips and some few areas of the costume.
HIGH PASS SETTING
HIGH PASS OFF
HIGH PASS ON
To tie the entire image together, I put some light atmospheric effect on top of the image. I duplicated this layer and
applied some noise on the first one. Tone down their Opacity and Fill to make the effect subtle. I also used another
noise layer (with low Opacity and Fill) all over the image to add a subtle effect of imperfections on the image and to
further help unify all the layers and effects I made. Lastly, I would apply costumea Depth of Field effect to help bring
more the focus to her face and blur the sharp edges created by the high pass Layer.
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