Freelance ZBrush artist and digital concept sculptor Maarten Verhoeven gives us some pro tips for texturing with ZBrush.
When applying skin colour, keep in mind the colour zones on a human body and face. During the overall colour fill of bigger areas on a character remember that there are subtle colour changes throughout the skin. When you look at a head you’ll notice that the top of the head is more yellow; around the nose, eyes and cheeks is more red; and the chin is bluer. These rules also apply for the rest of the body.
To break up your surface colour when you are Polypainting with alphas, load up some alphas like alpha 22 or a black-and-white image that resembles veins. These images, in combination with a very bright red or blue colour, a low RGB value and with your stroke settings set on spray, will result in a nice subsurface effect of blood vessels underneath the skin.
Use Polypaint like an artist would use an airbrush. It’s always handy to reference the real world as a guideline for your digital work. Start by placing a dark, flat colour on your object and build up in layers with different alphas and opacities, working from dark to light colour while painting on your digital sculpture..
Use a cavity or an ambient occlusion mask to accentuate all your sculpted shapes and details with colour. By applying a mask you can easily accentuate the deeper details like wrinkles and pores. Or, try inverting your mask and applying little highlights with sharper colours. Apply the colours with the FillObject button in ZBrush – you can use this in combination with the RGB Intensity slider to gradually add subtle colour details.
Respect your sculpture and enhance it with colour. When painting your model, make the deeper areas of your sculpt darker and the raised volumes a bit brighter – this way you can make your model ‘pop’ and accentuate all the hard sculpting work you’ve put into it. A good sculpture can be destroyed by a bad paint job and get uglier with worse lighting. .
When Polypainting try to focus on the final product and switch out your brush strokes and sprays. Don’t paint in unnecessary details – your volumes will tell the story if your sculpture is good. When you feel the flair of realism missing in your texture, apply some textures you can load up with ‘spotlight’ but make sure to blend them in with opacities and painting by hand.
These tips originally appeared in issue 112 of 3D Artist. Subscribe today and never miss an issue!