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Justin Goby Fields

Concept Artist & Owner, Ironklad Studios



Example Creature

Thanks for joining me in this class! Here is the example creature I made in the videos.

First thing's first — before you even open up any kind of design software, you should make a point to gather reference images from real-life creatures. Here is the "Insects" Pinterest Board I used for my character — feel free to pull from there for inspiration, or find images of your own.




Next, you're going to start with a simple ball of digital clay.




Start pushing and pulling the clay around, much like you would do in real-life sculpture (except your hands will be way less messy). 

Ideally at this stage, you want to start imagining the general shape of your creature's head.




If you know a thing or two about anatomy, that always helps as you design your creature. For example here I added some "structure" to support this guy's neck. 

For parts like this, you can simply look in the mirror and find ways to "humanize" your character, which will relate to your audience on a subconscious level.




From here, the process is pretty organic. There is no "one size fits all" set of steps in designing creatures. Just roll with your imagination, try different things, and eventually you'll land on something cool-looking.

Keep your reference images in mind throughout — you can use the "See Through Window" feature in ZBrush so that you can constantly refer back to these images.




If you need to add some more "meat" onto your creature (e.g. shoulders, back, ears, plates), insert a new SubTool and "Transpose" it onto your existing model.




Adding facial features and textures can be addicting — once you get into it, you may find yourself spending a couple hours just going crazy with the small details. Have fun with it!





Once you've got your creature in a good place, where you feel it's 80-90% of the way there, try dropping in some color while you're still in ZBrush. 




Coloring your creature within ZBrush (rather than pulling into Photoshop early) will allow you more surface control and ensure you are applying the color onto a 3D space, rather than a 2D layer atop your image.




This is the point where we can bring back some of those bug patterns we found in the reference images. Start playing around with making the skin surface of your creature more interesting to look at, and more true to nature.




Once you've got your creature in solid shape, "pose" it and then render it out so you can bring it into Photoshop for the finishing touches.

NOTE: This last step isn't 100% crucial if you just want to practice your ZBrush skills, but I personally like to do it in order to make my creatures presentation-ready for clients.




Play around with the different render layers + try adding shadows and highlights to give your creature a realistic pop.

Also keep in mind where the blood may pool up in certain areas — this often comes into play when you're designing for videogames (you have to design the character's weakness).




Tweak the opacity of your various color layers until you're happy with the result.

Here's my final creature — looking forward to seeing yours!




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