Professional Services
Order outsourcing

How To Create An Original 3D Drooling Fowl With Warty Skin In 8 Hours

The workflows and techniques that Pablo has shared could be instructive, especially when designing original 3D creatures without any other concepts to refer to.


Hello, I’m Pablo Munoz Gomez, a freelance 3D concept artist with a passion for education.

My journey in the 3D world began with traditional sculpting, using clay and plasticine, before diving into 3D animation studies. However, I don’t use these methods directly in my current niche of concept art and pre-production.

I’ve been involved in various projects over the years, more recently, working as a concept artist at Archetype Entertainment. I’ve also contributed to other shorter projects like Moon Kontrol from Pitch Dev Studios. However, a lot of my time goes into teaching my workflows and techniques at my online academy.

About the Wattlefowl Project

The Wattlefowl is the final concept of a 3-Day intensive workshop, which I designed to teach a very cool technique to design original creatures in 3D. The main idea is to dive into the exploration of shapes and the iteration process without thinking too much about the technical constraints. So, the creature I ended up with is simply the result of figuring out how to solve a random chaotic shape like this:

There wasn’t any concept or preconceived idea before I started. The purpose of the workshop was to problem-solve and prototype ideas that could work as a solid concept from abstraction. After I got something a bit more ‘grounded’ in reality, I collected a few references to recreate portions of the creature, like images of chickens and cassowaries.

Work on the Details

Details are the easiest part of the process. The most challenging stage is the blockout and refinement of secondary shapes. Once that part is sorted, details are just a matter of spending the time.

I got lots of custom brushes I developed to speed up the detailing process in ZBrush, so the workflow was pretty straightforward: I created sculpting layers with Morph Targets before adding a type of details, and then, I used the Morph Brush to remove or soften sections where I don’t want to have the details and the Layer Slider to control the intensity. There isn’t much of a trick to add high-frequency details. It is mostly patience.

Retopology and Unwrapping

Since the objective of the workshop was to remain within the creative space as much as possible, all the technical processes, like retopology and unwrapping, were solved by automatic tools.

In ZBrush, I used the ZRemesher to create a quick, clean topology from the DynaMesh sketch, and then projected the details into a subdivided version of the base mesh.

For the UVs, I exported the low-resolution version of the final mesh as an FBX, and when I imported the project into Substance 3D Painter for texturing, I left the ‘Auto-Unwrap’ checkbox enabled. The UVs are not the cleanest, but they are totally fine for a quick concept.


Setting up the textures in Substance 3D Painter was a lot of fun. I started with a flat color layer and then added a couple of additional layers with masks to get something going. For instance, a darker red layer with an AO generator mask helped to enhance the volumes a bit, and another lighter layer with a grunge map as a mask helped to break up the flat red layer.

Since everything was part of the same texture set and I didn’t create ID maps or anything like that, I created folders for each variation of the material and manually painted masks to define the horn and beak areas.

The process of building complexity in the textures is exactly the same regardless of the type of material. I begin with a flat color as the base, and then start adding very subtle variations to the hues and brightness of the albedo, before introducing height and roughness variations.

Some details like the tiny hairs and saliva were painted over in the compositing process.


For rendering, I used Maverick Render because I have a lot of control over the lighting, and I can get a very convicting effect with just a couple of tweaks.

The lighting is also pretty basic, just a 3-point lighting setup to present the character. I used an HDRI as my ambient light, a spotlight at the back as my rim light, an area light from the right as my fill light and to define the silhouette a bit better, and of course, a strong key light from the top to showcase all the sculpting and texturing work on the creature.

I, then, took the rendered image and did a bit of paint over (like the background, dust particles, saliva, and hairs) before doing a bit of color correction to add contrast and enhance some of the colors on the creature’s skin.


It took me about 8 hours or so to complete the creature from scratch. I used it as my demo during the live workshop, so I worked on it for about 2 hours each day and maybe a couple more hours after the workshop finished, just to refine the textures and produce the render.

Here are a couple more sketches I created while I was preparing and planning the workshop. These are also very quick concepts following the exact same technique I used to develop the Wattlefowl creature:

Pablo Munoz Gomez, Concept Artist, 3D Sculptor and Educator

Interview conducted by Gloria Levine

Join discussion

Comments 0

    You might also like

    We need your consent

    We use cookies on this website to make your browsing experience better. By using the site you agree to our use of cookies.Learn more