This illustration was the result of various tests to fine tune the process of creating feathers with NanoMesh. The final image has a fare amount of details, but the 3D model is in fact, very simple. I used a combination of FiberMesh and Nanomesh to create the feather coat and custom insert brushes for additional details, like the feathers on her hair and bracelet.
The sculpting was all done in ZBrush, including the low-poly feathers that I used as insert meshes (link to the tutorial about this topic, below). once the model was ready, I render various passes for compositing in Photoshop. Since the feathers are low-poly, I also tried some of the comic materials for a more stylized version of this work.
Here is a quick overview of the composting process of this image in photoshop. (this is a loop, but it starts with the flat background)
These are all the ZBrush BPR passes I rendered to create the image. some of them are use in a very subtle way.
The lighting, shading and the SSS effects are the result of combining passes, layer blending modes and masking. So, probably the most useful pass, is the “ID pass” to quickly mask out areas or select specific parts of the model to apply the effects.
Some passes are simple MatCap renders to enhance particular effects. For instance, I used “red pass” (bottom left corner in the image below) as a base for the skin.