My name is Joe Lucchese, but I’m best known as the artist DopePope. I’ve been an illustrator since the early 90’s, but discovered 3D sculpting with ZBrush in 2013, and it’s completely changed the way I create art. I’ve always been influenced by science fiction, horror, and giant monster films, so to practice I sculpted a monster a day for several months. The subject matter motivated me to keep going and to explore creative options as well as get a firm grasp on the application. Over time, the application seemed less intimidating, less of an obstacle and more of a helpful tool to create the images I wanted.
To strengthen my skill sets, I reached out to Krystal Sae Eua. A friend alerted me to a mentorship she was offering. I jumped on the opportunity to learn from an industry pro. Over the course of 4 Skype sessions, 1.5 hours each, Krystal took the time to help me develop numerous aspects of modeling and rendering a creature. I chose the ridiculous creature from an old B-horror film from the 60’s titled ‘The Horror of Party Beach’. As a young kid, I always found the creature quite scary, despite its minimal design.
I thought it would make an interesting subject to redesign, both as an exercise to create a new monster from an existing one, but also as a way to learn new approaches and techniques with my mentor.
ZBrush 2019 latest update, KeyShot 8, Photoshop CC, Sketchfab.
Over the 4 weeks, I sculpted the creature. For the block in phase I kept it simple, using Dynamesh and a fairly low resolution, but enough to add some readable detail. I also kept the limbs and extraneous features separated to subtools for easy management.
At this stage, I was still conceptualizing physique and anatomy. Krystal was most effective here, showing her exceptional knowledge of sculpting anatomy. She helped guide me through ways to best portray the musculature, bony landmarks, and their relationship to overall posture and pose. She was also very helpful with ideas pertaining to the concept, and how the creature might act, which led to specific features of the mouth forms. She also helped with random technical tips and tricks, that really help with shaving time off of a project.
Even though I knew a lot already, there’s always more to learn, and it’s always exciting to learn new things. The remaining sessions we just developed the model further until it was ready to subdivide, paint, and pose.
The model only has sculptural texturing, and poly paint data. There are no maps of any kind. I used all approaches to create the look and feel of an aquatic creature. From manually sculpting scales and textures, to using brushes with alphas assigned.
I used Keyshot to create the final renders. I used the HDRI setups to light and tried several passes to compose in Photoshop for the finals. For me, it’s always a process of trial and error. I play with all kinds of combinations of materials and HDRI to get a pass I like, knowing that it may be used for only one layer of the final composite.
In Sketchfab, I try to make use of all the wonderful features they have to make the model look as good as it can. I use one of the premade light set ups, and simply tweak the multitude of settings until I like what I see. The new ground shadows really help ground the model in the space provided and seem to give it more weight. A welcome addition. I always add a bit of grain and sharpen to pull it all together.
See more images on ArtStation.