View Full Version : the balrog
Design based on the illustration of John Howe and realized on the big screen by the talented people down under at the WETA Workshop and WETA Digital, this is my Zbrush interpretation of the creature from the Fellowship of the Ring.
I tried to keep it in Zbrush as much as possible, including the fire and smoke but had to bring it into photoshop to correct and sharpen my textures which kept sliding on me while in texturemaster and to soften the edges between materials such as the skin and the molten cracks between.
Caliban Tiresias Darklock
05-06-02, 09:08 PM
Thats just too damn coo :) unbelievable awesome!! I love everything about this peice.
Just one question; how the heck did you manage that perfect fire look?
Wow! This is very much what I pictured these creatures to look like when I read the trilogy, as well. I haven't seen the "big screen" movie, so this is like a snapshot right out of my nightmares. Fantastic.
05-06-02, 09:54 PM
wowzer ...man o man this is awesome ...the best of your work so far ...keep these kinda images coming..
:b4: Valaraukar! :b4:
That is an absolutely incredible depiction of the Balrog! Pure, 24 karat wowzers! If this doesn't show the world that ZBrush means business, nothing will! :)
05-06-02, 10:23 PM
hall of fame stuff. absolutely wonderful, jelee!
Oooow! The Balrog!
I was speaking to a couple of guys from the Production of LOTR's last week and they were telling me all about the Balrog and the making of the Balrog sceane. It was one of the last sceanes that was made for the movie and it was started about eight weeks before the movie was due for release! Well, that's not 100% true, ... there was a special flame generation software made for the Balrog creature, but the problem was that it was just TOO real, and when the Balrog jumped up out of the flames all the fire went out as it would in real life! They spent thousands on this amazing fire creation software and had to render the fire with Maya in the end!
I heard stories that they were working around the clock to get this sceane finished. Someone had to get sent out to buy fresh underwear for the animators!
Anyway that's enough gossip! Great likeness! Keep up the good work!
05-06-02, 11:50 PM
Cool job !!! Perfect !!!
:tu: :tu: :tu: :tu:
05-07-02, 12:12 AM
that's a fantastic molten person effect. I am interessted about the "sliding" of the textures. It has been driving me totally crazy and I couldn't work out what I'm doing wrong. So this is just how texturemsaster is eh? It can't be used ford razor sharp textures without post production sharpening.
Wow! This is now my all time favorite Zbrush Artwork ! amazing work Jelee :tu:
Awesome!! I love it this is great... :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:
Wow, that is really incredible work jelee!
That flaming whip is just awe-inspiring. :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:
05-07-02, 04:48 AM
Wowsers! :eek: :eek: :eek: Fantastic! Amazing! Did you use a glow material by chance for the whip? Could you be persuaded to share with us the technique used in creating this marvelous figure? Hmmm? Pretty please with sugar on top? :) As far as the "sliding" goes on the texture while using TextureMaster that happens because the texture is being mapped to the mesh when you pick the object. If the mesh (polygons) are greatly distorted (you slid them around a lot when you pushed, pulled, etc) then the texture will distort as it is fitted to the mesh geometry. One way to help with this problem is to smooth the object out before adding additional detail...add detail....smooth...add detail...smooth...etc. It will help to more evenly distribute the mesh and cut down on the "sliding". Dividing the mesh will also help. Ultimately though the way I fix this is to do about 50% of my texturing with TextureMaster and then finish after I have dropped the object to the workspace. You will not have the sliding problem then.
05-07-02, 05:00 AM
Great work Jelee! :eek: :tu:
:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:
Incredible work on every detail.
Sharp, clear, concise, FABULOUS POV, deadon flamage, I'm awestruck.
:tu: X 10000000000000000000 :eek: :tu:
05-07-02, 05:05 AM
GO AWAY YOU FOOLS!
what I found strange about this one (and the movie) is that the beast is quite what I imagined when I was reading the book back when I was 12.
05-07-02, 06:03 AM
LOL Christos for a second I thought you were talking to us! I don't have the book in front of me right now but isn't the actual line "Flee you fools!"?
05-07-02, 07:39 AM
well, i must say, this is one of the most amazing pics i've seen on ZBC yet. i love the glowing cracks in the skin and the fire rules. incredibly cool...i'm dumbfounded.
Thank you. I feel I should give credit where credit is due as far as scripts that help make my Zbrush experience more enjoyable.
If you haven't gone there already, you really have to check out Ken B's common tools. I load this up everytime I start something. Here's the link to where you can find it.
From time to time he shares other cool scripts that can be added to the common tool script or any other script. Because Ken's one of the forum's more intense modelers and texturers, his script tools are usually worth checking out.
Another script that was helpful was one created by Digits that allows you to select a material that is under your cursor at the moment. This was very useful because I had about three different glow materials in the scene, some with transparency settings and some with higher glow settings. It definitely made things easier. You can find it in this thread along with Ken B's color picker.
Also used was a version of EZ's Trace-IT script. I took the liberty of assigning it a keyboard shortcut and is very useful for such things like the balrog's whip which took multiple passes of the HighlighterBrush tool. Thanks EZ.
Caliban, you asked about the fire on the balrog and I have to say that you should take a look at Zoid's most rescent posting about the clonerbrush. The script resulted in something that had a really nice firey effect.
I my self wanted to use the cloner brush on this piece but it crashed my zbrush for some reason, consistently. I don't know if I had too much going on or what. So my work around was to use the FiberBrush with glow material applied. I am posting a picture to demonstrate and show the settings I used.
These are not the exact settings I used but pretty close. The FiberBrush stroke on the bottom is the stroke before Best Render and the top is the same stroke after Best Render.
You can then bake it to set the glow for further manipulation.
This is the base for the blaze on the balrog.
I can explain more later if you like.
Mentat7, thank you for relating your texturemaster experience. I promise I'll be back to break the process down into pieces a bit more for you. To be honest, I used the mood and lighting of the scene to hide a lot. More on that later.
I'm looking forward to the next version of Z!
The FiberBrush with the Glow Material :cool: Absolutely brilliant. Sorry for the bad pun, thanks for the great tip :tu: Such an amazing image!
05-07-02, 11:12 AM
A wonderful painting, clear information, and generosity in sharing...
Thanx, J! A great contribution to this Forum!!
:tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :cool: :)
05-07-02, 11:20 AM
Marvelous Jelee,"Masterpiece" !!! :eek: :tu:
looks good i like that lava material :tu: :tu:
Fibre/Glow............ :rolleyes: :D FABULOUS!
Goodbye Photoshop/EyeCandy! FINALLY an answer to the flamage in ZBrush!
Thanks for sharing the secret...... ;) :tu: :tu:
I gotta go set something on fire via this method............ :cool:
Hey, thanks for that info on how you did the fire! I thought that the Fiber Brush was involved, but the Colorized Glow material was a complete surprise. VERY effective, though!
And although I don't have a copy of the book here (which is going to drive me crazy, since I know I bought it back when), I could swear that the quote is "Fly, you fools!" or simply, "Fly, fools!" :p
05-07-02, 12:09 PM
I think you're right Aurick! I have the books at home on my nightstand. I will check it out.
Book II, Chapter 5 The Bridge of Khazad-Dum
"Fly, you Fools!", he cried. And was gone.
Very dynamic image work, cheers for the tips too. :tu: :cool: :tu:
05-07-02, 07:00 PM
Sooo Cool...that its HOT
Amazing Jelee! Thanks for the inside info on the fire.
Cheers. :eek: :eek:
05-07-02, 08:53 PM
I find this captivating. I'm usually not drawn to evil creatures ;) but this really has my attention . . . the texturing is superb, great pov . . . he is terror incarnate !!!
Fantastic work,a very high standard. :) :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu:
Thanks again for everyones replies. As promised, here is more on the making of the balrog piece. I had started to post last night and had everything uploaded when I lost my internet connection. "Doh!" So this will not be too long but hopefully hit the highlights that might be useful.
Before I got started in Zbrush, I actually did small sketches of what I was hoping for in the composition. This helps me sort things out and figure out how many parts or pieces I have to model for the scene. Then I try to hunt for any reference material I can get my hands on whether it's off the internet or from pictures from magazines and books. This helps me, at least in my experience, set up a visual goal for what I want to achieve with the image.
Once I have what I want to do in mind, I began modeling parts with 3D Tools in Z. At the same time I am also hunting for different material settings and testing them on spheres to see what effects might be useful in the scene. Sometimes I keep a notepad by the computer and write down slider settings or material numbers that could be useful for for a project. Maybe not
this project but another one down the road. One of the materials that was used for the balrog skin was Material Pack #004. I saved it as a potential balrog skin candidate and went back to model the body parts.
Once the body parts were all modeled, they were each brought into texturemaster where all the skin cracks were added. The RGB mode was only used as I found that I get better results adding the glow material near the end when I tested on spheres. The picture below shows the material settings, the texturemaster texture at the bottom and the final skin combined of
the two above it.
Before each of the individual parts were saved with the textures imbedded, I went to the object preview window in the tool palette and move the red pivot cross to the outer extremity of the part where it will join with the part already in the scene. So for the head, I moved the pivot cross to the back of the neck. That way when it's placed on the torso which would already be in the scene, it will scale away from the pivot making for it to be positioned into place hopefully faster. Here's a visual to also better explain:
The floor was made using a 3d plane tool with the H/VDivide of around 200 set in the initialize section of the Tool palette. An alpha of stone pavers was made into a stencil and brushed over with
Zadd set to 01 intensity. To better see the results of your stencil, turn off the Show button under the Stencil palette or hit 'Ctrl-H' to toggle the stencil on/off. Make sure the stencil is scaled in a little because the perspective deformation found on the second page of the palette will be applied on all three axis'. After this, we'll rotate the floor in the object preview so the width of the floor is running along the Z-axis. It's here that the SBend deformation was applied just slightly to the Z axis of the now perspective plane. This helps give the illusion of a longer distance because the curve appears to foreshorten the stone pavers faster than they really are. Once a material is found with an appropriate amount of noise and bump, the floor is the first object set in the scene.
After the floor was scaled, rotated and moved into place, the balrog was assembled and posed. The leg was the first piece in the scene and I moved the pivot to bottom of the foot. Now when the leg is aligned on the surface of the floor plane, it will scale up away from the floor. The torso was then placed next, scaling off the leg and moved into position. You can also assemble a model using the multimarkers but I didn't use it this time.
Next was to create a billow of smoke that surrounded the balrogs midsection and feet like in the movie, oh and hide the fact that he has no waist. This was created from the 3D terrain tool and shaped into a cloud shape. It was then mapped with a texture that was MRGBZ grabbed from a baked fiberbrush/glow material creation. The material used was BasicMaterialB. I was hoping to use it for it's unique transparency settings but I ended up not using it like I thought but I stayed with the material anyway. The smoke was given it's own layer. If I do smoke again,
I think I'll try to use the clonerbrush as it has a nice blending effect as seen in Zoids recent script. I just need more practice with it.
The firey mane of the balrog was created similar to the smoke except glow material was applied with transparency settings to where the black area was clear. This means the transparency slider is usually set to -100 and the transcurve ramps up to the left corner with one point in the middle of the graph anchored to the bottom with the right point. This same texture would also be added to the fog alpha which I will get to shortly. Like the smoke, the fire got it's own layer where it was scaled and moved into place.
The whip was painted in a layer filled with black and had the transparent glow material selected at the time. The layer was brought forward using the z displace located in the layer palette under modifiers. With Zadd/Zsub/Zcut off, the whip was enhanced with the highlighterbrush tool and smudge tool. It would later be discovered that when I do a best render, I would need to use the erase tool to eliminate any material and black around the whip that was behind the other transparent objects in the scene. It just didn't get along with the other transparent layers. That is what accounts for the irregular shape when you see it below.
The fog alpha was painted earlier for R&D purposes yet it conveniently fit the composition with little modifications. This was added to help give the balrog a smoldering effect. The firey mane was layered into the fog through photoshop and scaled a little wider than the actual fire model in the scene. This was to help the fire look like it would be blending even more into the scene. This was saved as a texture and loaded into the fog alpha slot located in the render palette under modifiers.
There were four lights in the scene. One sun light was used located over the balrogs back and three point lights. One point was placed directly on the back, one was in the mouth and one on the floor directly under the lowest curve of the whip. As far as final touches go, the body parts of the balrog were blended with smudege tool in RGB mode and Zadd/Zsub on a low setting. This is something I picked up from Picsas, another talented Zbrush artist, that inpired me to try to take a crack at a larger figure.
Two more glow materials were used as well. One with an intense glow used for the eyes, mouth, back and larger cracks in the skin. The other glow was a more subdued glow used to give a molten effect used on all the other cracks in the skin. The skin cracks were applied with Zsub ON to give a recessed look. Since the texture already had the color, only material was applied.
Wow, I feel I still went on too long. Just one more thing about transparencies and layers. They can get funny sometimes so when you render, of course make sure you have the Flatten Layers button turned off under Render/modifiers, but you may have to select another layer with Best Render still activated to get the results you were hoping for. Once the render passes are
finished, just click on the layer next to it and see if the finished render is better or worse that previously. Mentat7 had to brief me on that tip.
I hope that this has at least given you ideas for some of your own projects and if you come up with something cool, I know ZbrushCentral would love to see it.
Keep the dream alive,
05-09-02, 10:58 AM
Awesome! Absolutely awesome! Magnificent execution! Your ability really shines through on this! A technical marvel! This is the kind of information that makes a piece like this invaluable! Fantastic Job!!! Bravo!!! You should submit it and a link to this thread to Pixologic for their gallery pages.
Fantastic! :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu:
Fantastic step by step :tu: :tu: :tu:
Many thanks for sharing your technique and tips with the members of this community ;)
Oh man! Nice step by step! Thanks!
05-09-02, 12:54 PM
Now, THAT'S a Tutorial!!!!
Way to go, J! I especially like the use you make of Sweep Profile for the limbs...I will defintely have to get into that method for organics...
:tu: (Dimensionally folded through HyperSpace!)
That is a Tutorial I sink my teeth into.
Your talent screams throughout the whole process. :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu:
05-09-02, 01:27 PM
praise! first glimpse at this tut: GREAT! and then, taking the first steps it goes http://www.pixolator.com/ubb/icons/icon3.gif http://www.pixolator.com/ubb/icons/icon3.gif http://www.pixolator.com/ubb/icons/icon3.gif http://www .pixolator.com/ubb/icons/icon3.gif http://www.pixolator.com/ubb/icons/icon3.gif http://www.pixolator.com/ubb/icons/icon3.gif
:D + kudoskudoskudos!
Thanks for sharing your methods, especially the examples of the possibilities for modelling with the sweep profile.
:tu: :cool: :tu: :cool:
Viral Blue Box
05-09-02, 02:01 PM
Incredibly useful info - thanks for sharing it with us. Particularly the way you used sweep profiles for the limbs.
Thank you for the terrific tutorial!
s o u t h e r n
05-09-02, 03:25 PM
Amazing JL. Really inspiring. It is such a great help to us all when an artist takes time out to explain the process step by step. I just learnt a whole load of stuff. Many thanks.
05-09-02, 05:38 PM
Tons of useful, helpful information, thanks so much! Things I never would have thought to try (moving the cross point for alignment) or wouldn't know how to approach-
Absolutly Great tutorial and image!
Jelee, your walkthrough was a real eye opener, so many great tips. I like the way you do fire and smoke, and when you mentioned the ClonerBrush again I thought of a little test image I did recently. I hope you don't mind if I post it here.
With the help of the ClonerBrush I was able to get the wisps of clouds to wrap around the spaceship. I really like your idea of making a material transparent in the dark areas though. It's obviously very effective. I just had to look at your Balrog again after reading the explanation and I just noticed your sig. embossed in one of the bricks. Very :cool: Thanks for the inspiration!
05-09-02, 08:35 PM
Thank You so much for this wonderful image and this amazing tutorial. You have taken the time to intelligently work through problems and come up with brilliantly innovative solutions. The fact that you are willing to share this wealth of knowledge with us is awe inspiring and humbling. It will take several read throughs to absorb all the imformation. You have enriched this forum and the results will be forthcoming from all corners in time. Now that's Good Karma! Cheers. :eek: :eek: :tu: :tu:
05-09-02, 09:48 PM
U lifted us all up, 2 a new place and thats Invaluable ,thankyou !
Uzzzzzzzz Somekinda DUDE !!!
05-09-02, 11:55 PM
Good work and tutorial Jelee!! Fantastic !!!
:tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu: :tu:
05-10-02, 09:48 AM
This is just fantastic work. Your tutorial is invaluable information. Great job!
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