The beautiful monster by Naghi Hamidi

by CGAfrica in Tutorials,

on May 11th, 2018

This post is part of series called Making of The beautiful monster

In this making of, I'm going to explain the process of sculpting and rendering my female sea creature. I will use ZBrush, keyshot and photoshop for the project. I have to say that I used ZBrush R7 and R8 but recently Pixologic has released a very cool and powerful version which makes sculpting much easier and faster.

Topics in this series

Step 1: Gathering the References

At first, I did some sketches from my imagination. And then started to search and gather references. I was inspired by many good artists such as Dominic Qwek.and here I`d like to thank him for his great artworks. I used various references for sculpting and texturing such as insects, animals, fishes, birds, artworks and so on.

since the character was a female, I used female genital references but I'm not sharing those here of course.

step 1: Gathering the references


Step 2: Blocking out the bust

Unfortunately, I don't have the early steps of the work, that's because of low hard drive space. this project was made in ZBrush R7 and R8 but in the 2018 version, you can do these actions more I started with a sphere dynameshed it, pushed and pulled the clay to reach something acceptable. It’s much better to have an exact concept at this stage. But since I didn't have one I played much around the bust. I do it in a symmetric way and then will make it asymmetrical for finalization.

I use the move, clay buildup, standard, dam standard and smooth brushes. the tongues and teeth are made with curvature brush and antennas with snake not re-topologize it until you are completely sure and satisfied with the design. If your model isn`t for production and the topology isn`t important, the ZRemesher is the best did I.but make a duplicate of the model if needed, so you can project the details on the new mesh.

Step 2: Blocking out the bust

Step 3: Working on details

I`ve got a simple laptop so I couldn`t divide more to do finer details. But it's not bad at all. For this stage I used my references again. All the details are hand-sculpted and used the mentioned brushes, nothing fancy. But I made some custom brushes. here I show you how to make it for the tongue and skin I made 2 is a simple brush with an alpha, the other one is a chisel3D brush which is featured in ZBrush make that, select a plane mesh or go to the lightbox, project genomics folder and open one of the templates. Turn off smooth and divide the plane to get more resolution. before sculpting, mask the edge of the plane because we don't want to manipulate the edges.

Sculpt the shape you want. it's better to clone a standard brush to make sure that you don't replace the default brushes. then go to the brush menu and click on from mesh button. now you have a vector displacement brush and can make that shape wherever you like just by clicking and dragging.


Step 4: Texturing in Zbrush

For texturing, I prefer to use poly-painting in ZBrush.because this character was a concept sculpt and I didn't have time to make UVs and painting in substance painter does have some problems with UV borders and Udim UV maps. before start texturing, I imported my references from the texture menu and made a spotlight from them. for materials I selected skinshade4 and flat colour, these are great for skin shading and texturing. I used paint brush with some default alphas, the smooth brush can be used too but tun off "zadd”. Masking option is so handy and useful to paint faster and more accurate. Mask by cavity and mask by smoothness works well.

Step 4: Texturing in ZBrush_a

Step 4: Texturing in ZBrush_b

Step 4: Texturing in ZBrush_c

Step 5: Rendering and compositing

Before rendering I rotated and posed the head and made some changes to make it asymmetrical. Use transpose master plugin, clicking Those Mesh button merges your visible sub-tools in a clone so there you can pose and make changes then press Tpose, Submit button will return the changes to the original meshes. decimating by decimation master plugin will reduce polygons without losing too much quality.

Activate keyshot button from render menu and send your model directly to keyshot by using BPR button.

use the new features of keyshot7 such as model sets, environment studios,multi-material and some new great updates. I wish I could explain more about these updates and what they do but it would take hours of talking for the lights on her antennas and tongues, I used the emissive material.

Test and play with materials and environments to see which one works better for you, then define a good one as a base material and base environment. After that use other materials and HDRIs to catch things like reflection, rim light, and compose them in photoshop or other software.

for finalizing I used some dust and lens flare images which I found in google or you can buy them from websites.

This was a brief process of my work. I hope it would be useful.

Step 5: Rendering and compositing


Thanks for your time of reading.


About Naghi Hamidi

I'm a 3d character and 3d environment artist and I sometimes do graphic design and cartoons. I'm currently working in an animation studio which makes animation movies.

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8th Dec, 2018 6:30AM

Very useful information Thank You