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TUTORIAL: Create a Photoreal Chimpanzee Using 3ds Max, ZBrush and V-Ray

3D artist Ahmed Teeka shares tips and tricks for creating a photoreal chimpanzee using Autodesk 3ds Max, Pixologic ZBrush and Chaos Group’s V-Ray rendering software.

We’ve all seen the stunning photoreal primates created by Weta Digital for films such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and, more recently, Jon Favreau’s epic remake of The Jungle Book, and now here’s a nifty tutorial for creating your own photoreal chimpanzee using Autodesk 3ds Max, Pixologic ZBrush and Chaos Group’s V-Ray rendering software.

The tutorial was created by 3D artist Ahmed Teeka, who brings seven years of experience as a 3D generalist to the task. “I enjoy work that is challenging -- testing my skills,” he says. “I always love learning new skills, and I hope that you can take something away from this tutorial.”

Check out the full tutorial below:

Making a realistic animal is a very challenging project. Especially when it has a lot of sculpting details in the face and hands. In this tutorial, I will provide an overview of how to create this Chimpanzee with 3ds Max, ZBrush and V-Ray.

First, I gathered images for reference. Be sure to choose your reference images well because there are many different types of monkeys. The images you choose should be of the exact monkey breed you are creating. Try to have images that cover all areas of the body -- including images that show figure, bone structure, muscles and posture.

Then, I worked on a proportionate model. This is where a good reference image will come in handy -- it will help to ensure the proportions are correct.

I also made a patch for better resolution. To make a patch, try to gather similar parts within each square. This way, the area will have better proportions as well as overall shape.

Then, keep unwrapping the other parts and move them to the necessary area. These patches will then be exported from ZBrush and imported with a good amount of detail, creating a higher quality.

I created details using ZBrush, but I focused most on the face and hands - since these areas do not have hair. These required the most attention to detail to get the skin to look realistic. I used the simple brush in ZBrush and used my reference photos constantly. I was able to create a detailed and a life-like image with these tools.

Then, I started to add texture for added depth. I used the real chimp’s face for reference and then added my bump path from ZBrush above it for a better match between texture and sculpt details.

I used 3ds Max in a linear workflow and the V-Ray physical cam to create the hair. I made one modifier for each type of hair.

Tip: Use few samples for your test. Once you are comfortable with it, increase the Max samples and lower the color threshold (around .05). It would be smart to try out more samples for the hair -- which helps with realism.

Tip: V-Ray light is a good for source of light, but if you need a more significant source use the spot light.

I made a rig for posing with the bibbed and skin modifiers.

I also did lighting tests to try and get the right feel. I did this by shrinking the frame, then widening it to make the antialiasing higher quality. I recommend creating the backlight, which provided a good translucent effect.

Hint: Spotlight gives you the best specular effect in your scene.

In this test, I tried to enhance the skin details, which I later combined with the multiple bumps in ZBrush. I also played with the fizz attribute to get the random hair effect.

There you have it! Attention to detail was key in this process -- especially with the areas not covered with hair. However, the result is an incredibly life-like chimpanzee!