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3D

Create a 3D Micro Robotic Insect Using ZBrush Renders

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Creating a realistic 3D render often involves the use of both 3D applications and Photoshop. In this tutorial we will explain how to add texture and lighting to a render that we originally created during a tutorial on Cgtuts. If you would like to start this tutorial from the beginning and learn how to create these renders in ZBrush, please browse to the tutorial on Cgtuts to learn more. Let's get started!


Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.


Before We Begin

If you would like to learn how to create the original render in ZBrush, please begin by following this tutorial on Cgtuts.


Step 1

Create a document 600x600 pixels with black color as background. Import the render passes provided in the Asset files. Manage the layers as shown.


Step 2

Next, create the two new channels for the depth passes in the Channels Panel.


Step 3

Now, we are going to blend the "Tentacles Light" layer, change its blend mode to Soft Light and set opacity to 80%. To avoid making the lower area too bright, add a Layer Mask and apply a gradient of black color from bottom to up.


Step 4

Next, we are going to add the light that comes out from the tentacles, make a circular selection and fill it with white color, then got to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a quantity of 8.5 pixels of radius, duplicate the layer and move the new light over the other tentacle, merge both layers, and rename the new one "Light Bright" set its blending mode to Lighten and leave Opacity to 100%.


Step 5

Under the light we have created before it is necessary to add a glow effect, for it, duplicate "Light Bright" layer and place the copy below it, now go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and apply a 90 degrees and 9 px of Distance.


Step 6

Now, we are going to add more smoke inside capsule, first it will be necessary to create a mask to avoid paint outside it, for that, use the "Capsule Mask" layer, and as we want to avoid painting the insect, we will use the "Model Mask" also, check out the black and white color on the layers capture. Paint some smoke strokes with the brushes provided on the assets file.


Step 7

The smoke strokes we painted before are not very well integrated, create a Layer Mask and apply some black color gradients for improve them.


Step 8

At this point I was not happy with the tentacles light effect, then I decided to add more. Let's do it, add a new layer, name it "Extra Light" and place it below the "Glow Light" layer. Create an elliptical selection over tentacles, fill it with white color, then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a 28 radius pixels. Now set the blending layer mode to Soft light and leave Opacity to 100%.


Step 9

Now we are going to add some detail to the sonar eyes, load the pattern provided on the assets, create a new layer, name it "Spyder Eye Texture" and place it over "Capsule & Model" layer, next fill the new layer with the pattern, then got to Edit > Transform > Scale, or short cut Command/Ctrl + T, and rescale till get the desired dot size. Next, using the "Color Mask" layer make a selection of the eyes using the Magic Wand Tool, and apply a layer mask on the pattern for isolate them. Set the blending layer mode to Overlay and 42% of Opacity.


Step 10

Next, we are going to apply a Lens Blur to the "Capsule & Model" layer, go to Filters > Blur > Lens Blur and apply following settings, make sure to select the correct Alpha for the Depth Map.


Step 11

Here we have finished the first phase, for keep all organized create a Folder, "Group 1," and put all the layers we created before inside.


Step 12

Now we will increase the size of the canvas to start working on the final composition. Go to Image > Canvas Size and apply the following settings in two times. We got a new canvas of 700 width by 800 high.


Step 13

Let's start creating our micro bionic spheres army, first select all the "Group 1" layers, duplicate and merge them, so we will have the foreground micro bionic capsule, rename it "Front Capsule". Duplicate that layer twice and rename them "2nd Line R" and "2nd Line L," scale them a bit (Command/Ctrl + T) and place them below "Front Capsule" layer.


Step 14

Next we will create the transparency of the foreground capsule, it will be necessary to apply it on the crystal but not on the insect, to achieve it, first set the Opacity of "Front Capsule" layer to 75%. Now we have the desired crystal’s transparency, next duplicate "Front Capsule" layer and place it over the original one, using our masks layers, use the "Model Mask" layer for make a selection of the insect shape, then apply that selection as a layer mask to "Front Capsule copy," so we will have the insect opaque again and the crystal opacity at 75%.


Step 15

Let's start duplicating more insects, make copies of "2nd Line R" adding more capsules lines, make sure to make them smaller depending of how far the line is. Follow adding the layers from up to down, name them with the number line and R, L or M depending if they are right, left or is in the middle, "3rd Line R," "3rd Line M," 3rd Line L" and so on.


Step 16

Arrived at this point is necessary to add more space at the bottom to the canvas, to have enough space to design the floor. Go to Image > Canvas Size and apply following settings, now we got a new canvas of 700 width by 900 high.


Step 17

Next step will be add the ground, we are going to use the same pattern as before, create a new layer, name it "Ground," placed below all the capsules layers. Fill that layer with the pattern and go to Edit > Transform > Perspective, and transform the layer to fix the perspective, next set the Transparency to 14% for darken it.


Step 18

Now we are going to create the blue lights that come from the floor, they will help to enhance our technological atmosphere. Using the Magic Wand Tool make a selection of some ellipses of the pattern that are below of the front capsules, create a new layer, name it "Ground Lights," and fill them with the Paint Bucket Tool and light blue color.


Step 19

Select same ellipses that we choose on the previous step, but now go to Select > Modify > Contract and make them 6 pixels smaller, create a new layer, name it "Light Brights" and use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill the selection, this time we will use white color. Next go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a blur of 18 pixels to the blue lights layer, and a blur of 8 pixels for the white ones. So we have the lights and its glow.


Step 20

Capsules needs to reflect the blue light that comes from the floor, for it, let's create a new layer, name it "Ground Light Reflection," next use the "Capsule Mask" layer for make a selection of the front capsule, use it for make a Layer Mask to isolate the capsule's shape. Next apply a gradient from bottom to up with same light blue color we used for the lights, set the layer's blend mode to Soft light and Opacity to 70%.


Step 21

Same as before but this time invert the mask for the second line capsules, create a new layer, name it "Ground Light Reflections 2" Soft Light blending mode and 100% of opacity, and instead of use a gradient, use a soft round brush to paint the blue reflection.


Step 22

Following with reflections, this time it is necessary to create some on the front capsule crystal. Create a new layer, name it "Reflections," Normal blending mode and 100% of Opacity, make a selection of the upper lights from the "Ground" layer and fill it with the same blue color, next blur it using the Blur Tool.


Step 23

Now it's time to blur the capsules as they move away, farthest ones must be more blurred for create a kind of macro effect, and give the feeling that they are microscopic. Go to the different layers applying the following blur settings.


Step 24

Set the Opacity of each capsul as shown. Next, you notice that the smoke pattern of each capsule is very repetitive and does not look real, to fix it, create a new layer, name it "Capsule Corrections," Normal blending mode and 100% of Opacity, isolate the second line capsules making a selection of them and apply a Layer Mask, don't forget to exclude the front capsule. Now with the smoke brushes paint some strokes, then, blur them with the Blur Tool. For the 3rd and 4rth capsules lines use the Smudge Tool to modify the smoke pattern.


Step 25

On the previous steps we have obscured too much the tentacles lights, to turn on them again create a new layer, name it "Point Lights," Normal blending mode and 100% of Opacity, and with a hard round brush paint a dot over each one, them go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a 4 pixels radius blur. For enhance depth create a new layer, name it "Depth Shadows," Normal blending mode and 100% of Opacity, pick the Gradient Tool set its Opacity to 20% and make a gradient from top to bottom with a black color.


Step 26

Here we will add some Vignetting to the image, create a new layer, name it "Vigneting," Normal blending mode and 100% of Opacity, next, make Command/Ctrl + Left click on the "Background" layer, we have a selection of the whole image, go to Edit > Stroke and write 9 pixels Width, then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a 32 pixels of radius blur.


Step 27

Now we will add the light labels, the biohazard, and the barcode, using the labels brushes provided on the assets, paint each label on a new layer, "Label 1" and "Label 2" set its blending modes to Normal and 70% of Opacity. Then go to Filter > Distort > Spherize and apply that filter twice at 100% for each one, next go to Edit > Transform > Wrap and transform each one for fit it on the capsule. Finally apply a Layer Style of Outer Glow with the shown settings.


Step 28

To add more macro effect use the Blur Tool on the "Ground" layer, to blur the surrounding areas of the front capsule.


Conclusion

Finally Flatten Image, add some noise, Filter > Noise, and adjust the Levels, Image > Adjustments > Levels, this step is optional, I like to add some noise to my images and adjust levels can enhance the final image effect.

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