Comic illustration with ZBrush

Stylised render with ZBrush

This guide is going to be a quick recap on the ZBrush comic style render. You might have already seen my free eBook about this topic already. If you are not familiar with it, it is basically a detailed guide about ZBrush matcaps and materials with a step by step walkthrough, on how to create a reusable material to render your 3D sculptures in a 2D comic style.

I published the ZBrush Comic style eBook a while ago, but there are a couple of good reasons why I’m bringing up this to the surface again. Fortunately, it is still relevant, but the main reason is that the awesome Michael Pavlovich, has gone through the entire eBook, step by step, and turned it into a series of very thorough videos where he explains each section of the PDF guide with a bunch of additional tips and tricks of his own.

Here are Mike’s videos – The ultimate companion to the PDF guide:

Check out his YouTube channel for more outstanding content.  

If you want to see some great examples of 2D comic style and illustrations based on 3D ZBrush sculpts, go to Pixologic’s ZBrush for illustrators page. Tony Leonard in particular, has some amazing concepts and he uses some of the techniques and matcaps from the Comic Style Render eBook to create his own resources. Here is a video on his ‘inking’ process… very fun to watch.

Here are some of the illustrations I did for the eBook with my Kepler character. Also, the ‘End of the journey’ (image below) is another illustration I did based on a 3D model rendered in ZBrush. For the environment and the rocks, I used the Rocks Advanced Brushes Pack and the comic technique to render the whole thing.

You can see more of the creation process of this image here, but in a nutshell, this video shows the steps involved:


As I mentioned in my post about the release of the new ZBrush 4R8, The booleans system is a game changer and makes the whole hard surface modeling process, much more enjoyable. Take a look at the live booleans in action using the comic render material:

And just for fun, I took one of the models I created during the BETA testing of 4R8 and turned into a black and white comic illustration:

A quick photoshop pass to enhance a few lines and add a bit of ‘linework imperfections’:

Having a 3D model as a base for your illustrations is very useful if you just want a different camera angle for another shot in your comic or a new illustration, simple rotate and render, that’s the real beauty.

Here is one more example of the same model but with a different treatment (still using the comic technique):

Finally, the other reasons why I wanted to share this post, are to show you some other examples of the comic render on hard surface models like the one above and also to share with you some of the new comic matcaps I made recently:

You can get these and more matcaps from the materials resources page.

Hope you find this useful, let me know how you go with the comic style and feel free to share your WIPs and comic renders in the comments below!

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