Destrachan – Sculpting is Finished

As Siggraph is this week, most companies in the industry have new exciting things to present or release.

And yesterday was definitely Christmas for me. I was like a kid in a candy store with all the new toys I got. ZBrush 3.1 (Outstanding update!), Vue 6.5 and LightWave 9.3. So I kept myself pretty busy checking out all new features and fixes.

Anyway, my Destrachan project is progressing. I have finished the sculpting of this little guy, so I thought it was about time I posted a few renders.

Destrachan - Work in Progress - Render1

Destrachan - Final Sculpt

Destrachan - Work in Progress - Render2

Destrachan - Final Sculpt - Side shot

Destrachan - Work in Progress - Render3

Destrachan - Final Sculpt - Anoter angle

I had a few adventures before I perfected my pipeline on how to bring my ZBrush sculpts into my other 3D applications in the best way possible. The above renders are all done in Modo. I will do the final renders in LightWave 3D, and I had thought I should do the above in LightWave as well. As LightWave doesn’t have micro polygon displacements I ran into trouble with all the details in this character. The new APS in LightWave helped a bit but I simply couldn’t get all the details I had sculpted to show up in LightWave without running out of memory. LightWave do have pretty poor memory management when dealing with high quality displacements at the moment. I really hope LightWave 9.5 will bring micro polygon displacements so these things will be fixed once and for all.

So I decided to give Softimage|XSI a spin instead. It’s a very nice 3D application in many ways, and I really enjoy how well everything is integrated, the history stack, the powerful node system and all those things. But when coming to displacements it turned out to be even worse than LightWave. Can you imagine? It takes forever even to initialize the renderer when increasing the displacement quality in XSI. Being used to the snappy workflow in LightWave I just couldn’t take it. No XSI for me at the moment.

So for the renders above I ended up using Modo. With Modo it just works and it simply rocks with displacements. Modo didn’t even stop to think for a second when I added my high resolution displacement map and cranked up the quality. Without any real time difference Modo just rendered this guy out with all the details like a breeze. Amazing. If Modo just would have had animation, volumetrics, hair and nodes I would definitely use it as the backbone of my pipeline.

Anyway, as Modo doesn’t have those things at the moment, I had to work out another solution for my current and future projects. And luckily ZBrush 3.1 was released yesterday, where among other things the missing Normal Map exporter was added again. And boy, did that fix everything for me. Combining a displacement and a normal map in LightWave from ZBrush just gives me excellent results, with a very low rendering time. So now my pipeline is complete again. And after all experimenting the last few days I have found a very efficient workflow now I hope. We’ll see shortly.

Alright, to end this post, here is some screenshots from ZBrush of some of the different stages from the sculpting phase.

Destrachan - Work in Progress - ZBrush

A few shots from different levels of sculpting in ZBrush

Well, I just started painting this guy tonight, and that shouldn’t take to long, so I will probably have him painted shortly in a new post. And I’ll probably end it this project before hitting the final render in a scene with adding a basic animation rig. I mean, this guy needs to breath some life as well. Until next time…

Music Tonight: Slayradio


  1. Christopher Hill 12 years ago

    Great stuff! The texture in the skin is very well done. There’s not too much, which you see way too often. The forms are quite rhythmic. Great work!

  2. Lumin8 12 years ago

    Fabulous sculpting work! Very pleased with where you took the concepts. Can’t wait to see the render(s).


  3. nice. that’s really an intense model. the details on the skin are crazy.

    hey, howcome you don’t just stay in Modo for the sculpting? Modo has sculpting tools too, right?

    I mean I guess in ZBrush it’s not “real” geometry, so it’s using a displacement map or normal map instead of super high poly mesh? Can’t the same be done in Modo though?

  4. Thanks.

    Well, about sculpting in Modo vs. ZBrush. Even though Modo has a sculpting toolset it does not by far compare to sculpting in ZBrush. ZBrush has so much more features and many many more tools, as well as that ZBrush can handle much denser meshes without any hickups.

    Modo would be fine for low to midres sculpting though, but for any kind of detailed hires work, ZBrush is king of the hill. For the moment anyway.

  5. Freederick 11 years ago

    The sculpting and modeling sure is suberb; but as far as the creature is concerned, the ears are wrong. The triple ears are a very important organ for the destrachan, and if you look at the original artwork at, there are three deep, funnel-like ear passages, leading into the skull. On your model, the ears are reduced to a flap of skin with swirly markings. Thus, while the model is great art, it is bad anatomy.

    • Hey,

      Thanks for the input, it’s much appreciated. And you are of course correct about the ears. It was some time since I made this sculpt and I’d probably pay more attention to such details today. More creature sculpts are on the way as soon as I get some more time updating the website. :)

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