Ina OrtegaMy name is Cristina Ortega and I’m a 3D modeller artist from Spain. Here is the Zbrush Breakdown of how I created “Virel” from the original concept art by David Colomer and Marc Moreno. Special thanks to them for letting me convert their artwork into 3D.


For me, it’s always easier to begin the creative process from a 2D design and then find references from the real world to mix both into a realistic sculpt. The connection between the concept artist and the modeller is crucial because sometimes we keep on modelling and we forget the 2D essence of the original design. David Colomer and Marc Moreno helped keep things in perspective with their suggestions in this instance.



The aim of this project was to create a sculpt based on the concept art, but focused on realistic details.

Firstly, I blocked out the main shape in ZBrush by using Dynamesh. In the beginning, I used a T-Pose and then I posed the model using the ‘T-Pose Master’. I continued sculpting asymmetrically to get my pose as accurate as possible (ignoring all the details at the beginning)

When the proportions were correct, I started refining the anatomy and added some basic shapes for the cloth and other accessories to check the weight of the model and silhouette.



When I finished the blocking, I ZRemeshed the sculpt to achieve a better topology distribution for detailing. The topology is the foundation in which we build details, so I always spend a good portion of time refining it to get the best poly distribution that would allow me to sculpt as much detail as I want.

One of the most challenging parts to sculpt was the mask since it was based on a bird skull but with stylised and sharpened shapes, mixed with a different and distinctive anatomy. I did not get the right model shape on my first try; it took me several tries of starting over until I found the correct proportions that would fit the design (extensive research on bird skulls was decisive to finally achieve this).


Detailing is always my favourite stage because it allows me to go crazy with alphas and small brushes without caring much about proportions or anatomy (since it’s already set). Most of the time I combine alphas and hand sculpting 50/50.

Related link: Why this workbench stands out from the rest

Hard Surface

I used Maya to create the hard surface pieces since I find this software quicker and more accurate for this type of modelling.



I made the feathers base in Maya using an image plane to help to create the basic silhouette. I exported this mesh to zBrush and then, I added a cylinder and scaled it to create the rach.

The details and the rough silhouette were achieved by the use of the Move, Dam, Standard, Rake and Slash brushes and finally I used curve tube to add some random barbs in the lower part.

I created four variations from the first feather and then converted all into one Dynamesh mesh. Every feather was placed individually and then adapted and twisted by the use of the Bend and sBend modifiers + the move brush.



The clothing was created in Marvelous Designer and then exported to zBrush to refine the wrinkles and sculpt the final details. The bandages were modelled creating masks over a zRemeshed version of the body with spotless geometry.

Then I used extract (Subtool tab) + a small thickness to create this new geometry over which I sculpted the wrinkles. By assigning a different thickness to every piece of the bandages, you can create the overlapping effect.



The rendering process was very simple and it was done in Keyshot. Since I just wanted to focus on the modelling, I chose a simple clay material and a three-point soft light as illumination.


Zbrush VirelFinally, I would like to thank The Rookies team for this opportunity to show my workflow and also my school CICE for helping me to grow during the past year.

I hope you will find this tutorial useful and I would be very happy if you could get some inspiration from it. Probably the most important advice that I could give you would be “Keep on doing”. 

The software is challenging and the learning process is hard and sometimes slow but if you keep on working you can achieve any of your goals. One of my favourite quotes is the one from Samuel Beckett that says: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”.

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