ShadowBox: adventures with intricate alphas...

Hi There,

This is my first post on this forum - I use ZBrush at work in a school as part of a learning environment - occasionally I get a chance to play and here are some of the results. I'm not an expert sculpter by any means - but I do have a good grounding in the 3D industry, usage of modelling packages and high end rendering engines etc which I think gives me a head start with the package. Anyway, I've found that by combining quite intricate alphas in ShadowBox, amazing semi-organic shapes can be found, here are some examples Energy Capsule ![space-capsule.jpg|1120x787](upload://3BRvnVSaQtT5Muvfu9Ryhjehm5M.jpeg)

All images were rendered using BPR, passes were exported for diffuse, Ambient Occlusion and Depth and composited in Photoshop. All were rendered using customised MatCaps, rendered out using Maxwell Render and imported into ZBrush. The Bio-Pod image uses Ralf Stumpf’s ‘RS_Skymetal’ MatCap from his first collection which I purchased from The Gnomon Workshop.

The relief detail on Energy Capsule and Bio Pod are custom alpha maps.

Thanks for viewing my work

Take care







1 Like

Absolutely loving that…beautiful images and renders. Not all Zbrush is about making monsters. Unique - top row for me…

Love them experiments - keep goin’ :+1:

These are great!, if there were ever something that should be run through a 3D printer these are it, great work and now I have an intense desire to have another stab at learning how to use ShadowBox.
Thank you!


Love it :+1:

Now that’s what I call creative!:+1:

Keep us posted.


Very cool experiments. The results are awesome. Well done! :slight_smile:

Hey everyone

Thanks for the nice comments - it’s much appreciated…

J :smiley:


Exported the ‘Energy Capsule’ out of ZBrush via the Decimation Master plug-in - original mesh was 6.8M polygons, decimated down to 450,000 polygons with no discernable loss in quality.

The exported 'OBJ was only 22MB in size

The display ‘plinth’ was also done with ShadowBox

The render was done in Maxwell Studio, lit with 2 emitters and a high-quality studio HDRI image in the reflection and refraction channel.

Not the best quality render as I only gave it 1 hour and 15 minutes to cook - so as you can see, some noise is still evident - but I think it certainly shows off the sheer quality of the geometry that ZBrush can spit out.

The BSDF shaders are all custom made,the blue powder paint/ rust shader uses displacement, if you look carefully you can see this where the paint coat and rust meet.

In the next couple of weeks a will be adding to this thread as and when other renders are completed - thanks for viewing :

re-uploaded a slightly larger version with minor changes

‘Energy Capsule’ studio render using Maxwell Render

i think your thread should be a dedicated one to this kind of stuff.

I was doing a few of these a while back , but never took it as far as yours…

Luv this “organic” stuff…

Another couple of images, this time of the Pulse Engine thing, one with a ‘SteamPunk’ theme, the other with a painted metallly look - all using custom Maxwell rendered Matcaps :




…is not necessary in this case of mecanic renders :wink:

very good, well done :+1:small_orange_diamond:+1:small_orange_diamond:+1:

DOF is depth of field? Thats the blurriness right?
Im guessing that like me you want to see the whole thing as clearly as possible.
I love these models!


Very inspiring work indeed.

Great use of Shadowbox.


Again, thanks for the nice comments - it’s great to see that i am doing something people like…

FrenchyPilou : Thank you for the comment about the ShadowBox objects, but I completely disagree with your comment regarding Depth Of Field. I feel that 'shallow' DOF does have a place in this type of subject matter, in this case - technical/mechanical objects. Have a look here : [http://www.maxwellrender.com/gallery/index.php?album=product-design&page=3](http://www.maxwellrender.com/gallery/index.php?album=product-design&page=3) To me, a 'photo-real' render should do what it says on the tin and that is to be as close to it's photographic counterpart as possible i.e. emualting a shot from a camera... Even the human eye uses an organic physical camera paradigm - or, maybe that only works when looking at non machanical objects ;)

But hey, everything is subjective - and perhaps I did overdo the amount of de-focus…

Regards J

I think but I could be wrong that he may have been kidding about that


It would be awesome if you could share a step-by-step (or video) about how you create these. Your settings and process would really help a lot of people get into ShadowBox!

A couple of new ShadowBox images - this time using unusual alpha styles for a very different result.

I imagine box-modelling these would be a nightmare…

thanks for viewing… :smiley:





Such exciting images, make my soul dance :+1: