Elfquest Sculpting Odyssee

The last week I spent on finding a way to merge the head object into the neck object. Gave me many worries, but after the help of many people from this warm forum that is ZCentral finally the solution was found here!


So it’s on for the body… Time to try a full ZSphere body for the very first time. The proportions of Pini-elves are different from us humans, so it’s gonna be tricky. And fun!

edit: Wow! I passed my 1000th post! Time for a drink. :slight_smile:

Excellent work Plakkie, you really mastered that technique.
Your threads are a thing to learn from.

:+1: :+1: :+1:
Ps. Congratz on your 1,001st

Thanks Bimm! Learning is what it’s all about. I would be nowhere without books, tut’s, vids and ZCentral.

Looking Great Plakkie! Just work on that hair and it should be going places. I still suggest making strands in (for example) maya and detailing them in Zbrush. That gives so much better control. Looking forward to the body (and pose!)

Keep it up. I’ve been absent for the last week, but it’s bubbling under the surface so I should be back on track soon.


You’re right Maxim, the hair needs a different setup. I’m a Lightwave user myself, and I’ve never done hair or strands in LW. I’ve never done a body ór pose either, so it’s all equally challenging. I would like to keep this model pure Zbrush, but if other using LW for some bits works quicker or easier, I’ll do it.
I haven’t really thought about a pose really… I suppose now is the time to think about that!
Thanks for making me work harder Maxim, looking forward to the updates from your project. :+1:

Another evening of focused ZBrushing. It’s amazing to see some of those quick session products of the wonderful artists around here. Doing full characters in a few hours must require só much practise… :o


I tried some things with the hair, but making strands and more modeling didn’t work out that well. I’m not happy with the shown version, too lumpy. I think I like the more stylized and simpler version I showed earlier more… Still that one needs more detail as well. Luckily I can do many other things before I have to look at the hair again: there’s a body to make. I want to do as much in Zbrush as I can, so I grabbed some ZSpheres and tried a body. Shoulders and hands are a big problem, I’ll have to look at some of the tut’s around here. I did a retopo on the ZSphere result and ran into some trouble at the armpits. Just to see how it would work out I did a ‘quick’ (1 hour) reshaping of the topo-result to see how the proto-body would look. With the model I got I thought I saw a glimpse of how he could become after many more hours of work.
I used reference images from Wendy Pini, and found out Cutter’s chest is incredibly big! I toned it down in this image, I’ll check if it really is that big; it looked quite unnatural.

A bit of a long story :confused: , but maybe the account of my struggles will inspire other starters to begin modeling their dreams.

Hello Pllakie,

Coming along realy good. I’ll be watching this thread and your amasing topology thread. I learned a lot from you and Rastaman’s threads so thank you. Keep up the good work.


Thanks Fatmiri! Glad we could be of help. Your current thread is a source of inspiration as well. :slight_smile:

Hey Plakkie, you are giving me inspiration! I haven’t got ZB3 yet and from what you said your background was regarding art and stuff, I’m right there with you. Seeing what you have done already is making me not dread the arrival of the program as much as when I bought it. I was worried I was gonna be diving off into the bottomless part of the pool! I have read Elfquest and I will admit that Skywise was my favorite male and Kahvi was my favorite female. Regarding your early images, I want to say maybe make his face a little longer?

Nosiferret: that’s great to hear! Once you get your head around Zbrush’s interface, it seems there’s nothing the program can’t do. At least I never thought I would once sculpt something. :sunglasses: Best of luck to you! :+1:

Alright, I’ve spend a few bucks at Gnomonology on the anatomy tutorials by Zack Petroc. Simply amazing and very humbling. Shows what you can do with real study and knowledge of anatomy. I hope to learn a few things from them for when I’m sculpting Cutter’s body.
I’ve studied ZSphere’s as well, and have concluded I should build the main body again to get a clean result on which I can sculpt. As the main problems of my old mesh lay at the hands I decided tot make a seperate study of them first. I stumbled on François Rimasson’s ZSphere setup form his fabulous “Birth” project. Tried it out, and it works great.


Before I make the final body I would love to hear your crits on this handstudy. I’m mainly concerned with the proportions and main shape of the hand and fingers. Detailing isn’t finished, neither is the wrist area. As Pini’s elves have have four fingers it’s a bit different form the books and tut’s I’ve read, so it’s hard to make it look natural.

Any thoughts?

It’s looking good ! I have most trouble with hands as well and that technique does seem to do the trick. :+1:

Long time, no post.

Had to get up the nerve of modeling again with my beloved smoothbrush altered in 3.1. I spend the these past weeks collecting more Elfquest books, so I’ve got loads of reference pictures now. I’m still charmed by the story in the first 20 albums, and it’s characters. My will to finish this is stronger then ever.
I’m brushing up on anatomy, and I’ve bought Zac Petroc’s vids to see a master at work. I find those vids a bit over my head just yet, but it shows what can be done IF you have an artistic knowledge of anatomy.
I made a workable body object, this time with arms attached. :rolleyes: Surrounded by books, images and training DVD’s I’ve finally started to sculpt it. Following Petroc’s lead I’m starting with the torso “from which the gesture will be flowing”. :wink:


Still to early for comments maybe, but my proportions might be way of as far as I know. I just discovered the arms (lower part) are way to short, aren’t they?
I’m just posting this for those people out there wrestling with all these techniques and the blurred images in their heads. Se me doodling: you are not alone! :smiley:
I’m using smooth very little now, and very carefully. In stead I’m undo-ing a lot, and trying to get the stroke right the first time. Maybe this is a good tip: don’t give your base mesh too fat limbs. Apart from adding flesh I’m also having to chizzle away the geometry, which is much harder then adding I find.
Slooowly going forward again,

I always love working surrounded by books and work from people way better then me. Best way to learn in my humble opinion. Go, Plakkie!

Now for the proportions, I’d say his waist is a bit too slim even for cartoon proportions. And the muscles on his legs come out a bit too much. But it’s a fine start and I know you’re still working on it. No need to be nervous, just sculpt away and it can only get better, right.

Keep going, you’re onto something!


Thanks Maxim!
About the waist en legs: I sculpted this profile right from the drawings by Wendy Pini. Cutter really has a very small waste, and a large and broad chest. My artistic goal (if any) is to stay close to the comic style look, not so much to the realism, although I will try to lay the muscles as realistic as I can. Right now I don’t dare to deviate from Wendy’s directions. Maybe later when I’m more confidend I’ll ease op the silhouette a bit for a more natural feeling in 3D.

It’s awesome how these deep and subtle questions come up during any creative progress, no matter how amateuristic or professional. Never seizes to amaze me… :+1:

I could afford some sculpting time today, so I was glad to continue on Cutter.


The model uses one of Ralf Stumps mega-materials. :+1: The crappy title was the result of fooling around with PS. :roll_eyes:

I tried to define the ribcage, back and buttocks. Please note that I’m trying to make a blend between anatomical correctness, and the way he’s drawn in the comics. The belly needs more work. Right now I would value every opinion on problem area’s as the shoulder blades, back muscles and pelvis. Other comments are always welcome! (are the arms long enough?)

eager for the next session,

HAH! Excellent! I was totally into Elfquest when I was younger aswell. In fact, I think Wendy’s drawings are what inspired me to really take up drawing myself!

This is really starting to look sweet, but there are a couple of things. I know making a 3d character based on a 2d cartoon is difficult and prone to very subjective interpretation, but I thought I’d chime in anyway. Seeing that you’re still working on the body (which is coming along nicely) I just want to comment on some of his facial features, judging from your last head update.
Here’s a little bit of suggestion as how fix some of the proportions of his face, as I interpret Cutter:

Hi Pixelranger! Thanks for the comments; indeed there are some very subjective choices going on when doing such a thing. Funny thing is, the longer I work on him, and study the pictures I have, the clearer does my mental image of him become. (never had such a clear mental picture before)
It’s great to see your interpretation. On the neck I totally agree. The mouth and chin area is still a problem, the lips are sticking out too much it seems, and seeing your alterations, I really think that’s the case. I’ll certainly try your alterations in that area to see what it will bring. The ears of your version are more like the Cutter in the earliest albums. Later on the ears tend to get longer and more pointy, and shorter again in the latest albums. As I’m aiming at the Cutter from the middle period I’ll keep 'm longer. They are not finished yet however. The nose is an interesting alteration. Currently my version matches direct to a side drawing I have by Wendy. I’m happy with it, but it really is a very small nose in 3D.

So: much appreciated; gives me something to think about when I will be returning to the head (after ‘finishing’ the body). Feel free to chime in again if you have other views and options about our hero. :smiley:

p.s. How does one make those 3 frame animations? They are cool and quite instructive!

Sure, like you said, getting feedback and critisism is allways good, even though you don’t agree. And it’s a character converted from 2d, so I’m no more “right” that you are. Very much looking forward to the next update!! :slight_smile:

To make these gif animations you just make an image in PS with one layer for each frame. Then, using the animation palette (window -> animation palette), just add frames and as you select each frame, just modify the respective layer.
You can also set a time delay (duration) per frame using the animation palette.
To save the animation, you go to file -> save for web, and the gif - optimization is pretty straigthforward.

Another update! Worked on the belly and legs:


I never thought doing this would be so much fun and relaxing… Never new our legs were such complex contraptions. I always thought of them as two straight pillars with some handy hinging points. Now for the first time I’m noticing they’re not straight at all! And all those muscles to turn and twist those legs… amazing!
Right now Gottfried Bammes “Die Gestalt des Menschen” (The shape of men) is my bible which I found in the library. Have to see if I can buy it somewhere; it’s been a great help so far.
Still much to do on the whole body, but if you notice things that are off, or in any way strange, please tell me so. I’d appreciate it.

Pixelranger: thanks for the explanation. What version of PS is that? I don’t seem to have such an animation window…