Hey, my name is Karolina Renkiewicz and I am a freelance 3D artist from Wrocław, Poland.
I became interested in 3D graphics two years ago when I set up my profile on Sketchfab. I have always loved drawing and painting; before I started learning 3D, I was creating digital illustrations. You can see some of my work on my ArtStation.
Why the snail?
I decided to create a snail model because I was fed up with modeling hard surface objects, I wanted to do something organic and detailed. Nature itself was my inspiration—I remember as a child that I was looking for similar snails in my grandfather’s garden.
I used 3ds Max to model the snail shell. When I was satisfied with the effect, I started creating a high-poly mesh in ZBrush. Creating the model in ZBrush was by far the most interesting step. To create a characteristic texture, I used the “standard brush” and alpha. I drew the alpha in Photoshop—it was nothing complicated, oblong shapes slightly resembling reptilian skin. To increase realism, I used the noise modifier. I made slight dents and irregularities on the shell, I didn’t want it to be perfectly smooth.
To create a retopology of the model, I used the ZRemesher tool. Thanks to that tool, I quickly obtained a mesh with a small number of polygons. I did not use the ZRemesher on the shell, because I had made its low-poly version earlier. I only slightly adjusted the shell’s topology in 3ds Max using the Extend tool so that it coincided with the high-poly model. I also did the unwrapping with 3ds Max.
A very important point. Without the right textures, I would not have been able to get the effect of realism. I used Substance Painter for both baking and texturing. After baking all the maps, I started texturing. At this stage, I followed the pictures found on the Internet. I created the texture of the shell using photos of the snail. In Photoshop, I added more details and I applied the prepared texture using the stencil tool in Substance Painter. While texturing the snail’s body, it was important for me to get the effect of a slight amount of transparency, so I made the edges light and blurred the colors with the blur filter to get smooth color transitions from the lightest to the darkest.
An important element in the case of my model was the addition of Subsurface Scattering, which simulates the effect of light scattering inside an object and is perfect for translucent models. Thanks to this option, I was able to achieve a translucent effect on the body of the snail. It added a lot of realism to the model.
The snail has a shiny shell and body, so the SSR highlights the reflections nicely. SSAO emphasized shadows and sharpened the model in a cool way. I used the Sharpness effect to emphasize the snail’s texture. The vignette darkens the edges of the image so that the viewer’s attention is focused on the center of the scene.
That’s all. I hope you found my description useful.