Brain Clay's Sketchbook


Hello all. My Name is Jesse Irvin. I’m a long time lurker, artist and all around fan of Z-Brush and digital sculpting as a scene. I am a full time Instructor at Vancouver Film School and have been teaching Digital sculpting there via Z-brush for many years. In my journey as an instructor I have gotten to begin many various projects throughout the years. One assignment I have run with my students for quite some time has been to sculpt a portrait. I often choose various celebrities to tackle for my in class demo’s. I usually only have a limited time to work on the within the class blocks.

Recently I have taken the time to refine a few of my studies down to a more complete state to begin building a proper portfolio of finished work.

Having gone on a bit of a Brooklyn 99 binge and being fan Andre Braugher’s Character on the show it was an easy choice for me to choose him as the subject of one of my in class demonstrations. I initially blocked the sculpt for my students in class and enjoyed it enough to polish it up after. I am posting it now as one of the first pieces I’ve actually found the time to finish in quite a while. Started from a sphere and sculpted primarily in Z-Brush I used a combination of alphas, scanned displacement detail maps, Substance Source and Substance Painter for the range of detail work. Finally the model is rendered in Maya with Arnold Render. It’s been great to finally find time to finish some work and I hope you enjoy it as I have.

Please feel free to check out my portfolio on artstation at or like this project directly at

Here’s the work!

There will be more to come shortly.


Saul Goodman

One of the first full character assets I tackled was Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad. After that Series came to an end I quickly fell in love with Vince Gilligan and AMC’s Follow up Better Call Saul. It seemed only natural that I attempt his portrait as well. Initially sculpted as a live demo for my students I re-approached this and cleaned it up for a finished portfolio piece.
Saul01.jpgsaul02.jpgsaul03.jpgSaul01.jpgSaul02.jpgSaul03.jpgSaulUnposed3-4.jpgSaulUnposedSide.jpgSaulUnposedFront.jpgSaulUnposedclose3-4.jpgI hope you like it!


Final one for a bit here. Been such a great feeling to finally finish and post some work! This software and community is just too awesome! So here’s my likeness Study of Linus Sebastian. Unlike Saul or Holt this piece is one of the first where I added a bit of my texturing xyz displacements into the mix. As I don’t have access to my personal alpha library in class some of the other alphas I use are still present too. Linus’ fun approach to technology reviews and commentary has made his programs a regular watch for my and my girlfriend for quite some time. Like My other likeness studies this started from a sphere and was sculpted primarily in Z-Brush. I used a combination of alphas, scanned displacement detail maps, Substance Source and Substance Painter for the range of detail work. Finally the model is rendered in Maya with Arnold Render.


A warm up asset built as a prop for a character currently in progress. This asset gave me an opportunity to explore my Zbrush Hard surface workflow in depth as well as dig into Game rez asset creation. The high rez geo was built entirely within zbrush over the course of a few days and the game rez was topologized in Maya. Texturing was done in substance with hand built materials and masks. This was an exciting experience that allowed me to learn a lot about the process I look forward to applying what I have learned to the larger character project.
Check out the sketchfab uploads at and


Heres the sketchfab (assuming I can get it to embed :smiley:

Beretta Pose Laid Out by BrainClay on Sketchfab

Lowpoly Beretta by BrainClay on Sketchfab


Something a little different. I wouldn’t consider this something so complete as me previous posts but I wanted to share it with you all anyway. My term 3 digital sculpting classes include a likeness study as part of the assignment. each term I get to demo a bit of that process in the limited time I have in class. This term I took a stab at Doug Jones and managed to get a history recording out at the end of the class. I have a bunch of time-lapses for older models as well. These models don’t all get the treatment of the ones I posted above but I figured I’d post this one as it is my most recent. I also a will include below a turntable and a few stills from the refined sculpt. There’s no real detailing here and it all represents maybe 3-4 hours of work in total but if I get time to make a bit more progress maybe I will add an update.

Hope you like it :o

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This post seem to be lost after the ZBC Update so I am reposting it.

After some refinement I’m ready to put this one down and take what I’ve learned and apply it to my next model. This model is built from my most recent likeness study and was started as a demonstration for class. Built from scratch from a sphere, the development of the sculpt was partially documented and can be found in the previous posts.

All sculpting work was done in Z-brush using a combination of hand sculpting, Texturing xyz brushes and a few of the skin brushes from Zbrushguides which I acquired late into the project. Retopo was done in Maya. The hair was built with fibermesh then transferred to xgen

As part of another in class demo I was able to build up the base texture and with that it developed into this piece. The texturing was done by hand in substance painter

The final images are rendered in Arnold