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Create a Stylized Strawberry Character with ZBrush and Keyshot

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In this tutorial you'll learn how to sculpt a stylized strawberry character from scratch using ZBrush and how to render with Keyshot. Topics include modeling with Shadowbox, using radial symmetry to sculpt and position objects, working with subtools, posing with the Transpose tool, retopologizing meshes with Qremesher, as well as working with various brush types and masking techniques in ZBrush. You'll then learn how to export the completed character to Keyshot, and bring him to life with textures and materials.

After completing the project here on Cgtuts+, head over to Psdtuts+ to learn how to create a print ad using this character and Photoshop in:

Create a Delicious Print Ad Using Photo Manipulation Techniques in Photoshop.


chocolate_dipped_strawberry_final_render

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.


1. Creating the Strawberry Shape

Step 1

Select the Sphere 3D from the Tools Menu, and convert it into a Polymesh by clicking on the Make Polymesh button. Now go to the Deformation Submenu under the Tool Menu, and adjust the Perspective slider as shown, to a quantity of 100 on the Z-axis.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_the_shape_Step_1

Increase the resolution of the mesh by pressing Control+D, divide it in until you have 4 subdivisions levels.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_the_shape_Step_1b

Step 2

Now go to the Transform Menu and activate Symmetry, by clicking on the Activate Symmetry button. Turn on Radial mode (R) for the Z-axis as shown, and set the value of the RadialCount field to 18.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_the_shape_Step_2

In the Brush Menu, select the Standard Brush, with Alpha 35 and the Drag Dot stroke configured. Now, with Zsub mode active, start sculpting the seed's cavities as shown. Adjust the Brush Size and Z Intensity to a logical size, and alternate the cavities as shown. On the narrower parts, such as the tip and the bottom, start decreasing the RadialCount value to 16, 14 and 12.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_the_shape_Step_2b

Step 3

Next, go to the Masking Submenu and activate the Mask By Cavity option, this will mask all the cavities. Then press the Blur Mask button to blur the mask edges a bit.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_the_shape_Step_3

We get the following result.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_the_shape_Step_3b

Step 4

Finally, go back to the Deformation Submenu, and enter a quantity of 12 in the Inflate Balloon slider on all axes (X,Y and Z).

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_the_shape_Step_4

We get the strawberry shape already.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_the_shape_Step_4b

2. Sculpting the Seeds

Step 1

Once again, start with a Sphere 3D, and modify its shape applying the following Perspective and Size adjustments in the Deformation Submenu. Notice the corresponding axis where the deformation will be applied.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_seeds_Step_1

We will get the following seed shape, in this case it will not be necessary to increase the mesh subdivision level. As they are going to be a very small part of the model, we can leave it at 1.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_seeds_Step_1b

Step 2

Place the seed on the canvas in a frontal view, as shown in the previous step. Then open the Brush menu, and at the bottom, convert it to an insert mesh brush by clicking on the Create InsertMesh button.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_seeds_Step_2

First, duplicate the strawberry tool and delete all of its subdivisions levels to allow us to use the insert brush.With the just created insert brush selected, again activate Radial Symmetry on the Z-axis with the same Radial Count numbers we use for the strawberry. And start placing the seeds in the corresponding cavities. In the Brush menu, adjust the Depth of the brush to a 0 Imbed amount.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_seeds_Step_2b

Step 3

Activate Move Mode and while holding down the Control key, drag on the strawberry surface to create a mask of the whole body. Once done, Invert the mask to mask all the seeds.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_seeds_Step_3

Now in the Visibility Submenu press the HidePt button. This will hide all the unmasked geometry. Next go to Geometry > Modify Topology and press the DelHidden button, to delete the duplicated strawberry shape.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_seeds_Step_3b

Finally we will have two subtools. One of the shape, and one of the seeds.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_seeds_Step_3c

3. Sculpting the Leaves

Step 1

For the leaves we are going to use a ShadowBox technique, open the Lightbox browser, and in the Tools Folder there is the ShadowBox128 Ztl. Double click on it to select it, and then drag and drop it onto the canvas. In the Transformation Menu, set the following Symmetry settings.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_leafs_Step_1

Start painting the leaf mask, holding the Control/Command key. As we have a RadialCount of 8 for the symmetry, we'll get eight leaves. Once the mask is painted, in the Geometry Submenu, turn off the ShadowBox button to generate the mesh.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_leafs_Step_1b

Step 2

Now go to the Deformation Submenu and adjust the Size slider, with only the Z-axis activated, to get the right thickness for the leaves.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_leafs_Step_2

Step 3

Start sculpting the leaves. Use the Move Brush to create the irregular edges, and use the Dam Standard Brush to sculpt the nerves and folds.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_leafs_Step_3

Step 4

Once the sculpting process is finished, append the new leaves tool to the strawberry as a new subtool. Re-size it if necessary

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_leafs_Step_4

4. Sculpting the Face

Step 1

First of all, as we will sculpt two different faces, duplicate the strawberry tool. I prefer to do it this way instead of creating layers, to have less restrictions.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_face_Step_1

With the Smooth Brush, remove all necessary seed cavities to create the space needed for the face. Next, with Symmetry activated on the X-axis, paint a mask for the ocular cavities as shown.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_face_Step_1b

Step 2

Here, there are several ways to achieve this result using different brushes or deformation adjustments. I used the Move Brush to push in the surface to create the cavities. Once you have them created, smooth them a bit with the Smooth Brush.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_face_Step_2

Step 3

For the mouth, draw a mask and invert it (Control+Left Click on the Canvas.) Then in the Deformation Submenu, use the Inflate slider, to apply a negative inflation on the Y-axis to create a cavity.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_face_Step_3

Step 4

To sculpt the corner of the lips, start masking the lower lip, and then with the Move Brush, bring the upper lip down.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_face_Step_4

Step 5

To sculpt the lips, follow the previous techniques to create masks to isolate each one. With the Inflate Brush, create the volumes, following with the Move Brush to create the shapes. Use the Dam_Standard Brush with Zadd mode activated, to sculpt crisp edges, and use the Pinch Brush to close them on the extremes.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_the_face_Step_5

5. Replacing the Seeds

Step 1

Once the face is sculpted it will be necessary to relocate and delete the necessary seeds. To delete the unwanted seeds (those that are in the ocular cavities), activate Move or Rotate Mode and a Transpose Line will appear. Then while pressing the Control/Command key and dragging on the desired seed, start masking all the seeds one by one.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_replace_the_seeds_Step_1

Step 2

Using the technique we used before to delete the selected seeds, hide and delete the unmasked seeds.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_replace_the_seeds_Step_2

Step 3

Now, it will be necessary to sculpt the cavities again (which we remove when sculpting the face.) Again select the Seed Tool we created before, and place in on the canvas facing its front view. Then go to Alpha > Transfer > GrabDoc. With this we will grab the depth information of the seed and use it as an Alpha. Select the Standard Brush and the Drag Rectangle, and set the Seed as the Alpha. Then sculpt the cavities again, but this time place them following the face forms.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_replace_the_seeds_Step_3

Step 4

Use Move or Rotate Mode with the Transpose Line, to relocate each seed to its cavity.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_replace_the_seeds_Step_4

Step 5

Finally using the Inflate Brush, adapt the cavities to the seeds and to the face forms.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_replace_the_seeds_Step_5

6. Sculpting the Chocolate Hat

Step 1

On the strawberry Tool, draw a mask over the upper part and extract the geometry using the Extract button in the Subtool Menu, with the following settings (shown below). Before extracting, first select the lowest subdivision level to get a lower poly count mesh that's easier to handle.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_chocolate_hat_Step_1

Step 2

Now in the Geometry Submenu, use the Qremesher option to create a more homogeneous mesh of the hat's extraction.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_chocolate_hat_Step_2

Step 3

Subdivide some more levels the mesh, and then activate Radial Symmetry on the Z-axis. A Radial Count of 8 will be enough. Use the Form Soft Brush to create the volumes of the chocolate swirls.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_chocolate_hat_Step_3

Step 4

To create the swirl shape, go to the Deformation Submenu and adjust the Twist slider with only the Z-axis activated.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_chocolate_hat_Step_4

Step 5

Finally, using masks and the Move and Inflate Brushes, sculpt the mesh creating folds and forms.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_chocolate_hat_Step_5

7. Adding the Eyes and Eyelids

Step 1

Append a 3D Sphere to the Subtool Menu, and by using the Deformation Submenu, re-size it with the Size slider. Then using the Transpose Line in Move Mode, position it in the ocular cavity. Once in place, hit the Duplicate button to create the other eye, now go back to the Deformation Subpalette and Mirror it on the X-axis. Finally Subdivide each mesh a bit to have a smoother surface

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_eyes_and_eyelids_Step_1

Step 2

To create the eyelid, mask a portion of the 3D Sphere we created before, and hit the Extract button with the following settings (shown below). Don't forget to press the Accept button to create the new geometry.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_eyes_and_eyelids_Step_2

Step 3

Now the eyelid is created and appended to the Subtool Menu. Use the Transpose Line in Move Mode to push it a bit forward, now change to Rotate Mode and tilt it up a bit.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_eyes_and_eyelids_Step_3

Again, Duplicate and Mirror it to create and place the other eyelid.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_eyes_and_eyelids_Step_3b

Step 4

Finally we will create the cornea of the eye. For it, Duplicate the eye 3D Sphere and in the Deformation Submenu, apply a value of -8 to the Inflate slider. Use Transparent Mode, from the Transform Menu, to see the result better. You will see two spheres, an outer and an inner one. Finally Subdivide each mesh a bit to have a smoother surface.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_sculpting_eyes_and_eyelids_Step_4

8. Refining the Expression

Step 1

Getting to this stage, I thought that eyebrows would enhance the overall expression. To create them, use the Extract technique we saw in the previous steps - painting a mask, extracting new geometry, and positioning it with the Transpose Line.

Tip: Once the new mesh has been extracted, use the Polish slider in the Deformation Submenu to clean up the mesh and make it more homogeneous.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_refining_the_expression_Step_1

Step 2

With the Move and Inflate Brushes, refine the expression, marking the cheeks, and adjusting the eye contours.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_refining_the_expression_Step_2

9. Posing the Leaves

Step 1

Now it's time to pose the leaves in an irregular manner. Change to Rotate Mode, then while holding the Control/Command key, create a topological mask on the desired leaf. This means that the mask will follow the polygonal distribution, helping us to place it better. Once the mask is in place, use the Transpose Line to rotate the unmasked area. It will be necessary to do this one by one, and rotate more than one portion of each leaf

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_posing_the_leafs_Step_1

Step 2

Now, with Move (or the Move Topological Brush), create some irregularities to give the leaves a more realistic finish.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_posing_the_leafs_Step_2

10. Merging and Exporting

Step 1

All the parts are now sculpted, detailed and in place, but to import to Keyshot it will be better to have all of them together. In the Plugin Menu, you will find the Subtool Master plugin, press the Merge button and select the Merge Only option. Before you do this, check that all the subtools are on their highest subdivision level.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_merging_and_exporting_step_1

Step 2

Finally to export the resulting merged subtool, go to Tool > Export, and save the Obj file on your hard-disk.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_merging_and_exporting_step_2

Here is the final ZBrush model, and the optional frightened strawberry. To sculpt that one, just create the cavity of the mouth like we did the ocular cavities, remove the eyelids, transform the position of the leaves to give him a scared expression, and sculpt different forms on the chocolate hat.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_zbrush_finalA
chocolate_dipped_strawberry_zbrush_finalB

11. Keyshot Rendering

Step 1

Run Keyshot and Open the strawberry Obj file that we export from ZBrush. First, you will get the following window. Under the Advanced menu, check on Keep Individual Parts, and choose Group by Materials.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_1

Step 2

The model will appear on the screen, but in the wrong orientation. To correct this, place the cursor on the model, right-click and select the Move Object option.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_2

On the bottom of the screen a small menu will appear. Select the Rotate option, and then using the giro controller, rotate the model.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_2b

Next select the Translate option, and then using the arrows, translate the model to place it on the ground.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_2c

Step 3

Now, let's start to assign materials. First it will be necessary to unlink each part of the model so we'll be able to assign a different material to each one. Place the cursor over the desired part and with the right mouse button, select Unlink Material, do this over each part.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_3

Step 4

Attaching materials in Keyshot is quite easy. Open the Library Menu, and select the Materials tab, then just drag over the selected material to the desired part. For the strawberry's body, we can select the Paint material: Paint - gloss red.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_4

To give to the surface a more rough finish, double left-click on the part that has the material assigned, and the Project Menu will appear. In the Material Tab > Texture Tab, check the Bump texture box and a browser will pop up to select the texture. The Cast_Iron_Bump will work for our purposes.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_4b

Step 5

Repeat the same operation again, to assign the material to the seeds. This time the Wood material: Light Oak will work.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_5

Step 6

Same process for the chocolate hat and eyebrows, the Paint - gloss deep red material will do.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_6

Double click on the part, and in the Material Tab > Properties, apply the following amount of Roughness 0.060, this will give us a less shiny chocolate surface.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_6b

Step 7

For the leaves, the Paint - matte green will work.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_7

Open the Project Menu again and in the Material Tab > Texture, check the Color box. Then browse and select the leaves texture provided in the tutorial assets. Select the Box Map option to apply it to the mesh. It will be necessary to adjust it a bit by activating the Mapping Tool button.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_7b

Step 8

As we have two spheres for the eyes, it will be necessary to hide the cornea first to assign the material to the eye. Place the cursor on the part, then right mouse click and select Hide Part.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_8

Apply the Paint - gloss cream material to the eyeballs.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_8b

Now go to the Material Tab, in the Project Menu and in the Labels tab, check the Label box. Browse and select the Eye texture provided with the tutorial assets. Adjust the Scale value as shown, and click on the Position button to place the texture in the right place. Once placed, deactivate the Position tool option and repeat the same operation for the other eye.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_8c

Step 9

To make the cornea visible again, right mouse click and select Show All Parts.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_9

Now apply the Glass basic white material to the cornea.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_9b

Step 10

Here I decided to move the eyelids a bit to open the eyes more. Place the cursor over the eyelid, right mouse click and select Move Part, then use the Translate and Rotate options to reposition them.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_10

Step 11

Open the Library Menu and go to the Environments Tab, and choose the Hdri Forest by double clicking on it.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_11

Now in the Project Menu (spacebar), hide the image and replace it with a background color. Then apply the following settings to the Environment controls.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_11b

Step 12

Finally to prepare the image for the output render. Go to Render > Render Settings and in the Output menu, set the file and resolution, and things such as the output file format.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_12

In the Quality section, you will find all the relative controls for the final render quality. Go to Help > Online Manual to learn more about how each one works.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_keyshot_rendering_step_12b

Conclusion

We are now finished and our character is complete! Remember to head over to Psdtuts+ to learn how to create a print ad using this character!

Create a Delicious Print Ad Using Photo Manipulation Techniques in Photoshop.

chocolate_dipped_strawberry_final_render
chocolate_dipped_strawberry_final_renderB

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