Adam Fisher making of Priestess

For this making of article, I want to concentrate on how I used the texturing XYZ maps in my workflow for the Priestess character. In this project I used the Female Face 20s FullFace #01 for the displacement textures and the Female Face 20 FullFace #07 for the base of my skin texture.

After I’ve done my initial head sculpt, I imported the mesh into Maya to set up the UVs, before sending the mesh to Mari.

Mari Projection

Before I start projecting my displacement maps in Mari, I need to set up the texturing XYZ maps in Photoshop. I combined the Displace, Tertiary and Micro maps into the RGB channels of one PSD document and then saved out a cropped version of the Face, Forehead and Nose. Check out Gael Kerchenbaums’ tutorial ( maps) for a more detailed step by step tutorial on this process.

In Mari, I started projecting the displacement textures. It’s important to keep in mind the scale and directionality of the wrinkles and skin pores during this process. I like to concentrate on the main facial landmarks first, like the eyes, nose, lips, brows and cheeks and then work on creating a seamless blend between them. To check how each individual channel is looking, select one of the RGB channels from the Component tab.

I used the Copy Channel Adjustment Layer to export out each channel individually. This allows for more control over the details in Zbrush. Make sure to flip the exported maps vertically before applying them in Zbrush.

Zbrush Displacement

In Zbrush I created a layer for the each of the maps and stored a morph target, before applying the displacement maps.

To apply the displacement maps, I loaded the maps into the Displacement Map input slot and adjusted the Intensity until I found the result I wanted and hit Apply DispMap. Having each of the displacement maps applied on different layers allowed me to then adjust the intensity of each of the layers to control how they looked together. There were some areas of the skin, where the bumps were a little more intense than I wanted, so I used the morph brush to soften some of the more severe bumps.

To finalise the model, I created another layer to sculpt in some more details and clean up any areas of the projection that needed it.

Skin Painting

I decided that I wanted to do the majority of skin painting in Substance Painter, but first I did a quick projection pass in Mari using the Female Face 20 FullFace #07 maps to get a base to work with. After importing that base projection into Painter I was ready to start painting. I like to work with fill layers and paint in the layer mask because it allows me to easily adjust the color as I go.

Substance Painter has a powerful procedural system that can help to speed up the painting process by layering a few procedural textures on top on one another. After I’ve painting the base skin tones, I then start adding details like skin blemishes.

When painting the skin I like to use some custom scatter brushes with various alphas. In Photoshop I extracted a few areas from the Female Face 20 FullFace #07 maps and created some black and white alphas from them. These alphas were then used in the previously mentioned scatter bush to add a subtle realistic looking effect to the skin texture.


I spent quite a bit of time doing test renders, experimenting with the lighting, textures and materials to get them to a point I was happy with them. I used Vray for the renderer and ended up using the alSurface Shader for the skin. After the renders were done, there was a bit of post processing done in Photoshop to get the final mood of the image.


We would like to thank Adam for his helpful contribution.
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