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Peter Zoppi / DEVGRU head breakdown

Peter Zoppi is a senior Character Artist, working at Treyarch / Activision. He worked on big titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 1,2 and 3.

"      I created the DEVGRU character for a course I teach with CG Master Academy. The course covers high end character creation for cinematics and film.  The computer graphics industry has evolved considerably in recent years with better and better technology allowing the capture of various kinds of data from real world subjects.  Texturing XYZ has amazing source files captured from human skin, allowing for more realistic details in a shorter amount of time.  

      I used the Male Face 40s Full Face for this project.  Before getting into doing the texture painting, I made sure the images were processed and the UVs of my mesh were set up correctly. I knew this character would be wearing a helmet at all times so I optimized my UVs with that in mind.  

The top and sides of the head were given little UV space while the front of the face and neck were given high priority.  This could have also been achieved by using a multi uv tile layout, however, I felt laying the head out onto one texture would be sufficient. Below is an image of the UV layout.


      With the UVs setup I move onto the texture painting process.  I use Mudbox for my texture painting and have established a workflow for doing high frequency detail.   I bring my sculpt up to a level that doesn't include the high frequency details.  In the image below, you can see the head sculpt with the primary and secondary forms sculpted in.

      With the sculpt at this level and UVs setup, I can move forward with the detail work. I first need to prepare the Texturing XYZ maps before texture projection.  The resolution of the maps is extremely high and many applications can't deal with an extremely large image.  The image I'm using, the Male Face 40s Full Face, is 23000x17400. There are two options here, resize the image to a smaller resolution, or break it up into separate pieces.  

The maps also come with different levels of detail. 3 PSD files were supplied.

Displacement (this is the most broad map), Tertiary (think of this like a bump map, it is a tight, high frequency map) and micro (extreme high frequency map that simulate the skin’s microstructure)

      The great thing about having these details broken out into separate layers is that you can process them and use them in a variety of ways.  Feel free to experiment with combining the images in different ways to achieve different types of results.

      My workflow is to project the maps on as a Bump Map in Mudbox.  This allows me to see exactly what is happening on the mesh.  Once this projection process is completed, I can apply it onto the surface as a displacement.  This allows me to bridge between the sculpt and the bump map. It creates a nice transition from mesh, to displacement to bump map with all details in sync.  

      I knew with this character that I wasn't going to have any extreme, macro type close ups so I felt that I wouldn't need the microstructure detail incorporated into my process.  I chose to combine the supplied displacement image with the tertiary map to create one map I could project onto the mesh. I took the tertiary image into Photoshop and put it on top of the displacement image and set the blend mode to Overlay. This combines the two maps together so I can project it in one shot as a bump map. I also decided to resize the supplied image so the largest dimension was 16000 pixels.  This loaded up into Mudbox fine and was more than enough resolution for the projection process.

      With the maps prepared, I create a new paint layer in Mudbox with the settings below.  I'm painting at 8k which will work well for my renders.  If you find you need more than 8k, you can do a multi UV tile layout which Mudbox can support as well.  

      I navigate to the folder where I've saved out my images and set the desired image as a stencil.  Using the projection brush in Mudbox I can just paint the various parts of the source images directly onto the mesh.


      This process is pretty self explanatory and requires a little bit of time and attention to properly project the images onto the mesh, yet, it is far faster than doing things manually and yields extremely great results.  The image below shows the mesh with the bump map applied.  To me, it feels somewhat flat, it is essentially a smooth mesh underneath with a high frequency bump map on top and no detail to bridge between the two.


      With the initial bump projection painting done I save the file out of Mudbox and it is time to apply it as a displacement onto the surface to get a nicer transition from the mesh to the high frequency detail.  In Mudbox I go to "UVs & Maps" -> Sculpt Using Map -> New Operation. My settings are below.  I set a Mid Value of .5 because the applied maps have a mid value of 50% gray with details popping out being brighter values and details going in being darker values.  This keeps the mesh from getting too inflated and puffy.  

Once I run this operation, I get something that looks quite bad, as seen below.  

      The reason for this is because the operation applies the map as a displacement on a sculpt layer that is set to an opacity of 100.  I find that setting the opacity of this layer between 3 and 7 works well.  With this workflow I now have fine control over the opacity/intensity of the displacement along with the same control over the bump map.  I can balance them out with each other very easily.  Once I start doing test renders, it becomes very easy to come into Mudbox and adjust the displacement intensity or bump intensity, save out the new files and continue with my renders.  

Below is a final image of the head with the bump map and displacement applied.   The projected map contains all of the detail you’ll need while the displacement is only limited by how many polygons you have your mesh subdivided to. You could choose to render with all displacement and no bump map, or use a combination of displacement for the larger scale details and leverage the bump map for high frequency details. I like to use both displacement and bump map but it ultimately depends on the quality of the results you desire and personal preference.  

      After rendering in Vray for Maya with both displacement and bump map applied, I have some final images.  Overall, the Texturing XYZ maps have allowed me to get better results and more realistic details in a fraction of the time."

Salim Ljabli / One punch man head fanart

Salim Ljabli is a Senior 3D Artist, with a passion for cars, creatures and characters work. He started his career as a Vehicle Artist in 2006 and uses softwares such as 3ds Max in combination with Vray, Photoshop, Zbrush, Mudbox and Mari.

" Last year I’ve decided to do some hyper realistic portrait and to do all the details by hand to learn and push my skills to the next stage , and it was quite hard to get something believable and looks natural without using references, it has took me around a month of trials and errors to get the skin to looks and feel natural."

The overall look and feel of the skin and portrait looks good but if you really dig deep into the structure there are things that are placed a bit wrong and some details doesn’t look quite accurate but that’s also part of the limitation of doing things by hand.

Here came Jeremy Celeste with his magical solution with such high resolution and quality surface scan data, When I saw the first samples of the displacement maps from TexturingXYZ, I just couldn’t stop thinking about using them and experiment to get some decent result and very realistic skin.

On this Tutorial I’ll try to walk you through my processes on how I use the maps to get the tertiary details works, and blend naturally with the secondary forms and details I already sculpted .

After you sculpt a model to a certain point you have your likeness and the forms in place, make sure to either retopologize the model and have a proper Uvs, bring the model into Mari.

Once into Mari, make sure to maximize the use of your screen projection by making the Buffer Size to 4k or even 8k if you machine can handle that, but in most cases 4k is good enough. Also make sure your Color depth is set to 16 bit to get the depth and correct values from the disp maps.

For this head, I used the male 30s from the store.

I create a procedural color layer, with a saturated color so it can be easy to spot places where the projections fade or place where I don’t have projections on them .

Load the maps into the image manager then make sure the opacity is around 0.6 in the Tool properties => Preview Alpha just to make it easy for you to see where you’re projecting and what part you’re projecting, as you can see both the texture and your model.

Create a new Layer on top of the color one and start projecting the texture by clicking and dropping the texture from the image manager into the viewport and paint.

You can see the orange color in some area which mean the intensity of the projection there were low.

To fix this there are 3 ways :

  • 1st is to duplicate the projections .
  • 2nd is to create a layer with a skin patch “ pattern “ a repetitive pattern “ Tiled “which we can place above the color layer .
  • 3rd is to repaint on top of those areas.

When you get something you’re pretty happy with, it’s time to export the maps into psd format or tiff or even exr to keep the 16 bit depth in the disp map.

Time to take Saitama from "One punch man" to zbrush again to make his face detailed.

Import the texture we exported from Mari in Zbrush flip it vertically make an alpha from the texture, then you can apply it in different ways :

Before start, create a layer for every change or everything you add or do at this stage to keep control over every detail layer you add .

  • Use the Displacement Map : pick a good intensity and then apply the disp map “ apply DispMap”.
  • use Surface “ noise “ and load the map in there and pick a good intensity then apply.

use Masking, mask by alpha and use inflate from “Deformation“ and hit apply.

I’ve tuned down the Base projection layer to 0.5 just to show you..but what’s it’s missing at this stage is more secondary forms and imperfections on the skin surface.

Added 2 layers of variation to the surface one using noise “ surface “ and the 2nd one was by adding surface noise manually with a brush. I’ve added some directional wrinkles using a zbrush brushes too.

On this layer I’ve masked using alpha “ our exported map is the alpha “ and inflated only some areas where i want more bump and volume into the details. Added some forms and some volumes to some parts and some pores too. I’ve now turned on our first projection layer and added some eyes folding wrinkles and some wrinkles on the mouth and other regions.

You can also avoid the whole sculpting and detailing process using Zbrush if you use the secondary disp map from TexturingXYZ, you can get all the imperfections on the surface “ your initial sculpt “ and use the same techniques we used to project the tertiary map on our initial model, after that you can add more details or tune down the one from the map .

If you’re wondering how can you get the maps to align well, check out how to do that on their guide.

Now our Saitama “ One punch man “ head is finished, unless we decide to add more hand made details but that’s not necessary at this stage.


Hi resolution image can be found here.

Hope you found this tutorial useful, if you have further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us or use our facebook page.

Always keep in mind this is just one of the many ways on how to use these maps.

Make sure to check Salim's portfolio and Facebook page :

Jonas Skoog / Black guy making of / 3D Artist issue 89

Jonas Skoog is Lead Character Artist at Bläck Studios, working mostly with cinematics and game-trailers.

Creating tertiary details using highres displacement scans with Zbrush and Mari :

        Creating fine details on your models can be a tricky process. Which way should the different pores stretch and what types are there? Maybe you have a few alphas created from photo-reference or perhaps just paint them on using various brushes in your favourite sculpting app. These techniques can indeed yield good results but it takes alot of practice and understanding of the human skin to get there. What if you could just paint those details like you would an ordinary color map getting all the natural directions and types for free?

        In this tutorial I will cover how to quickly create tertiary details such as pores and fine wrinkles on a humanoid model using scanned displacement maps. The maps I use were created by a company called Texturingxyz.

        To start off I sculpt my mesh to a decent level of detail by blocking in the major forms of the head using the ”Move Brush” and ”Clay Tubes” to get all parts like nose, mouth and eyes into place. I then move on to secondary details such as big folds and crevices using ”Dam Standard” and the plain old ”Standard Brush” to push the model further into recemblance with what I have in mind.
Since I´ll be making a fictional character I don't have to worry about getting any likeness in place but rather flow with what feels good.

        When I am happy with the result I make sure the model has propper topology and UVs
(I usually project my sculpt onto a pre-excisting basemesh which holds good UVs to save precious time and make room for the fun stuff).
To do this I import my basemesh into Zbrush, align it to my sculpt using the ”Move Brush” so they match up in shape and subdivide it to roughly the same resolution as the sculpt.
A feature called ”ProjectAll” (found under the SubTool/Project menu) is then used to transfer the details over to the subdivided basemesh.

        This new model is then exported to Mari where I load up my displacement scans in the Image Manager and paint them on much like a Color Map using the Paint Through brush.
Be sure to check your UV size before painting away and change it to a resolution that can hold all the details you are about to paint. The bigger the res the more details it can hold!

        These Displacement Scans actually consist of ”three maps in one”, spread across all three channels R, G, B.
Combined all you see is just a mix of all three channels in a green/brownish tone but separated you get very different depths of detail.
This gives me the ability paint seconday details, tertiary details AND micro surface at the same time!

        Instead of painting weird green/brown maps and to see which channel is doing what in Mari you can easily switch between them in the RGB component display and finish the work in your preferred channel view.

        When you are happy with the results it is time to export out your new displacement map and separate the channels in photoshop to give you the three different maps you just painted (you can use the map ”as is” in zbrush even though it looks weird but you will loose the control to fine-tune) and when you are done just import them into zbrush.

        To apply the details onto your model I guess you can do this in a couple of different ways but this is how I do it.

        I have two workflows that I alternate between depending on the effect I want to achieve.
None is better than the other and they work best in combination with each other to give rich depth and detail to your skin.

        The first one is the simplest and most straight forward. Just load the map into the ”displacement map menu”, set the parameters to your liking and click appy. A low intensity number here is preferred, probably around 0.01-0.03 to not over-crank the result. Also make sure to tick ”mode” to see how the map displaces the mesh.

        The second workflow is a little trickier.
This time you load the disp map into the ”texture map menu” to set it as an albedo for your model.
Now you can ”mask” the details by clicking ”Masking/Mask by Color/Mask by Intensity”.
If you now apply ”Deformation/Inflate” the unmasked details will be pushed out to create a similar effect to the previous workflow. Just be sure not to over-do the inflate since it can easily bloat your mesh.

        Both techniques give roughly the same result. Pick the one you like or combine them like I did.
As long as you are satisfied with the result, how you get there, does not matter.

If everything has gone well you should now be on your way to a very realistic skin!

        One important thing to remember is to always work in layers to be able to step back if needed and this is especially important if you are working against a client giving you feedback or changing their mind about things.
You can also play with the results with ease if you make use of Morph-Targets along the sculpting process.
        Just save a Morph before you apply tricky details and shave off the unwanted ones using the Morph-Brush.

        Now that you have the techniques pinned down you can experiment with the different displacement maps to create that extra depth of realism to your models skin.
Use the ”Secondary Detail Disp” for larger details like pimples and uneven skin and the other two for the fine pores and wrinkles down to the finest micro-structure. Good luck!

Make sure to visit Jonas website :