Creating a Feather with ShadowBox on ZBrush

Step by step on how I made the simplified feather on ZBrush and Photoshop

  1. Open the LightBox. Under Tool, there is a document labeled as SBRef_PSD, double-click it.


2. This will appear under Texture. Press Export.


3. Save the export as a file.


4. Open this file in Photoshop an place your reference image in the back. If you have a side view, you can use the right. However, since the feather is so small for a side view it is really not needed.  Save your texture.


5. In LightBox, click on the Shadowbox. Go to Texture and import the texture that was edited in Photoshop. Next, go to Texture Map and click on the image (select the newly uploaded texture).


6. There are multiple ways to mask the feather. In this case, I used the mask brush and filled in the parts that I preferred to keep. Remember, just press Alt to delete the parts that you don’t want.


7. For the side, I just used the MaskRec tool to make the feather skinny.


8. To add the stem of the feather. Go to Subtools, then Append to add the Cylinder tool.


9. Under Geometry, there is a Size category in which you can define the size of your object. I made the height (y) taller than the width (x) and depth (z). The width (x) and depth (z) I made the same.


9. Use the Move (W) tool to adjust the location and the Scale (E) to adjust the size by eye if needed.


10. Use the Move tool to adjust the stem. If you want to have the reference photo on the side, use Spotlight. Up at the top, go to Texture, import the image, and press the Add button. The Spotlight should appear. Turn off the Spotlight by hitting Z. To make the image disappear hit Shift and Z.


11. First, I used the Standard and Inflate brushes to make the slight wave look. Also, I use both the SnakeHook and Move brushes to make small fly away groups of strands. If you want to have more strands, I would use these brushes.


12. Next, I went back to the stem and adjusted the size with Move and Inflate (more like Deflate since you used the Alt or Zsub on the Inflate tool).


13. Then I used the Dam_Standard brush to add the grooves in.


14. Use the Rake brush to make the individual strands. Also for this I used the Lazy Mouse tool which is under Stroke. It is easier to get more precise long strokes.


15. For Painting, there are multiple ways to do it. For this, I chose to just paint by hand, looking at the colors on the reference photo on Photoshop, taking the Eyedropper to get an accurate color RGB, and inputting the RGB numbers with the Color Tool at the top. I mainly used the Rake and Standard brushes for painting. Remember to paint turn off Zadd or Zsub and make sure RGB is on (Intensity as desired).


Overall, a simplified feather. At one point my ZBrush did not want to paint on the feather. So, I just re-saved the feather as an OBJ, re-imported it, and that did the trick.

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