Dryad – Final Sculpt

Despite problems with previous files, I managed to complete my sculpt! I am honestly really proud of how this project has turned out, considering that at the start of the semester I had never touched ZBrush or any other sculpting software before!


I sculpted her completely in ZBrush after realising how arduous a process it would have been modelling a base in Maya first and then transferring to ZBrush. Although starting this new program was daunting to say the least, I found that it was relatively easy to understand the UI and get the tools to behave themselves. ZRemesher really turned out to be a life saver because though I originally tried to redraw the topology myself, I could not figure out what the edge flow and topology should look like for the helmet. Although I lose a lot of detail in the helmet by using the ZRemesher, I am still very happy with the results.


As well as this, ZBrush has the option to paint textures directly on to your sculpt and this was a feature which I found to be a lot of fun! I think that the painted texture really helps with how my sculpt reads and over all I am very happy with it’s likeness to my original concept.

In the future I would love to go back and add more detail back in to the helmet as well as adding moss to it to make it clearer that it is meant to be made out of wood. If I do, I’ll make an updated post about it!


Progression of my Final Sculpt

After going back and rewatching tutorials and speed sculpts by industry professionals, I found I was much more prepared to start over on my dryad sculpt.

I was able to block out the shape I want for the head fairly easily using a default wax sphere, and then create the neck for my sculpt by inserting a cylinder and using the move tool. After doing some research to help me better understand Danny Mac’s tutorials, I was able to figure out how to use the subtool menu to separate my geometry as prevent them affecting each other. This came in incredibly handy throughout the process. After I got the neck somewhere I was happy with, I went back to reshape the face, making her jaw less pointed as I felt it would make my sculpt seem more balanced.

I then began to block out the features on the face, carving out where the eye sockets would be and adding cheekbones to get a rough idea of what her bone structure is like beneath her muscles and skin. I then began to work on her nose, figuring out the proportions of this in relation to the rest of her face and where her eyes would be.

Then I went on to add more details to the nose and begin working on the lips. This was the part of the sculpt which I found the most difficult. Lips to me are one of the most difficult aspects of drawing a character normally, and this only became more challenging in 3D. i found it difficult to create the detail needed in the lips without it affecting the nose or chin.

After getting to a point I was happy with with the lips and nose, I felt that the face shape needed to be adjusted slightly to accommodate for the newly added features. I then went on to add more detail to the neck area, adding slight collar bones and hinting at the sternocleidomastoid muscle. I think that adding these subtle feature to the neck really helped to make it more believable.

I then went on to try and sculpt the eyes. On the left you can see where I tried to follow Danny Mac’s method with the eyelids, but unfortunately this wasn’t working well with my the mesh, and so I decided to manipulate the face mesh to create eyelides instead. This method definitely had smoother results for my model but it did mean that I had a hard time creating detail in the crease of the lid without the brow bone losing definition.

The next step was to model ears for my dryad. For this I focused mainly on the side view of sculpt and then rotated it after so that they were visible from the front. I found sculpting the ears to be much easier than it was last year when I was modelling them in Maya. This process was actually one of the most enjoyable parts of the sculpt for me!

I then went back and redid the eyes for my sculpt to try and make them more detailed. I think that helped to make her more believable anatomically as before her eyes were angled strangely on her face.

After I was finally happy with the head/ face of my sculpt I began the part I was most excited for; the helmet. For the helmet I inserted a basic sphere mesh and moved it so that it fit around the skull. I then began to pull out parts of the mesh to create the ridge details I wanted to use to show that it was wooden. The last two images above are of one of my favourite points in the sculpt, I think that the helmet although simplistic looked really nice at this point; however, it did not look like it was wooden and so I began to work more on this.

The first step I took towards making the helmet look more wooden was to add the branch horns to it, I found this bit quite difficult because I love how it looks from the front, but from the side the model looks slightly unbalanced – it feels as though the horns should be further forward on the head. This was the point where I first got feedback on my sculpt. I was advised by friends to add more detail to the front of the helmet around the bridge of the nose and to repostition the nose and mouth.

I took on board the advice I had gotten from Lorna and Erinn and added more details, however I think at this point the helmet began to look a little too busy, so I asked for feedback once again. My friends suggested making the helmet slightly less symmetrical because it looks too perfectly formed to be seen as being wooden.

I moved about some of the topology in order to get a more asymmetrical look and was really happy with how this turned out. Although I am really happy with the detail and look of this sculpt I know it is way too high poly to animate with and so will need to be re-topologised.

Sculpt Feedback

After having gotten my sculpt to a place where I was happy with it, I decided it would be best to ask some friends who had never seen her before for their thoughts. Fresh eyes so to speak. So, I showed them these screenshots and asked them what they thought!


Erinn: Maybe add another bit to the forehead or bring the ridges closer together? Maybe not something big but the bridge of the nose looks a bit too empty? The symmetry otherwise looks well. Its just that middle seems a bit off. So, maybe bringing it down at the front would be good.

Lorna: The only thing I see is that the gap between the nose and mouth is quite big, I would lover the nose a little and bring the mouth up the finest bit. If needs be, move the bottom of her face and neck up so them it fits better, but I do like that face the it is long as it seems more mythical or something.

I made these amendments and then asked some friends outside the course for their opinions.


Laura: There seems to be what looks like a knot in the wood on the left one, even if you made that more pronounced or a lil more irregular? It’s nice uniform too, but if thats the effect you want from it!

Beth: yeah totally, also initially i thought the right horn was slightly more curled, and i really like the idea of a more irregular/asymmetrical look!


I was able to make these changes fairly easily to achieve a result I am happy with! Now I need to retopologise it!

Learning by Watching

After my first attempts at sculpting my dryad didn’t quite go to plan I decided it would be best to go back to reference videos and pay more attention to them.

I found Danny Mac’s tutorial on how to sculpt a stylized head incredibly helpful for blocking out the basics of my mesh, it really forced me to get a better understanding of the tools and how they work, as he presumes that you know this already. Seeing how he blocked out the skull before going in to add details and muscle mass to the face really showed me the importance of underlying forms when you are working on a sculpt.

Nick DuPree’s approach to sculpting a head is so different to Danny’s it’s insane. This tutorial has been incredibly helpful for the mouth and eye area of my sculpt; the method Danny used for the eyelids was incredibly effective however my mesh is different to his and so I was having a hard time working with it in the same way as him, so far I’ve found Nick’s method seems to be working much better for me.

When researching for this project I came across this series of tutorials on Digital Tutors. This goes in to great detail on how to sculpt a very high poly, very detailed ent like creature. Although the workflow for this sculpt seems much more difficult than those of the previous tutorials I watched, I found the section on creating moss using fibremesh made it seem much less daunting – maybe I will be able to add this to mine?

Problems with my Sculpt


Unfortunately when I opened my sculpt to continue working on it, there was a static ghost of the model on screen, and this was also the case with previous versions of the file I had saved. I couldn’t find out anywhere how to rectify this, and so I decided it would be easiest to start over.


Sculpt Progress

Coming back to my sculpt with fresh eyes, I decided that it needed a little reshaping. Thankfully the transpose tool and move topological tool made this fairly easy to do. After fixing the shape of the face, i began to work on the neck. I did thins by masking off the face and pulling out the  bottom of the skull out to form the basic shape of the neck.

After doing this, I decided I wasn’t happy with the shapes of the eyes and so began to fill the holes where they had been and block them out again. The proportions of her face seem to be  a little off when I add the eyes, and I’m not sure how to correct this. Hopefully as I work on it more and get closer to the end result this will begin to rectify itself.


Where to start?

Starting my sculpt has been an incredibly daunting experience because although I am excited about the possibilities of ZBrush, learning a new program is intimidating! I thought it would be best to start off in Maya as this is a work flow I am more familiar with and beginning to sculpt my dryad in this wouldn’t be much different to my head model last year?


I quickly began to remember how long my head model took last year, and found this more difficult because it was abnormal anatomy and scrapped this, deciding that no matter how scary ZBrush seems, it must be better than this.

In ZBrush I was able to block out the shape I wanted for my model fairly quickly and then moved on to adding details, I am really happy with how the nose looks and the lips are also progressing nicely!

After working more on the lips I began to think about the eyes and where to place them. I don’t know how to add another mesh for the eyeballs yet, so I am still guessing where they should be placed and hoping that they’ll look okay!