3D Character Production in ZBrush & 3ds Max

Jeongho Shin shared the details of his character workflow in 3ds Max, ZBrush, and Toolbag: general approach, face, hair, low poly in ZBrush and more.

Jeongho Shin shared the details of his character workflow in 3ds MaxZBrush, and Toolbag: general approach, face, hair, low poly in ZBrush and more.


Hello, my name is Jeongho Shin, I am a 3D Character Artist. I have been working in the games industry for the last 15 years now. Environmental artwork used to be my main work but now I am more focused on character creation. The titles I worked on were Tera, C9, Kingdom Under Fire 2, ArchLord. I mostly studied by myself except for a government-funded 6-months program back in 2001 and 1 month in a private institution in 2017.

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Approach to Character Art

Basically, in every piece, I pursue the artistic beauty and try to add as many unique characteristics as possible. For me, there is a lot more to study and learn but I am trying very hard and I hope people enjoy my characters.

When I work on the BaseBody of the character, I rather use fashion models than anatomy as the reference. It is very hard to tell which is the exact size and proportion for the perfect bodies. It depends on the pose, hairstyle, outfit as well as personal taste, trend and territories. Also, it can ] differ from the camera angle. Therefore, I use numerous references every time I make the character. I especially like to use fashion models from online shopping malls because they have various postures and proportions that keep changing according to the general public’s interest and trends.


In my character workflow, I use 3ds Max for the start and finish. Editable Poly is used for establishing the basic shape and editing it while ZBrush is for the muscles, wrinkles on the fabric and editing the mesh in order to change the pose.

After the basic shape is finished in 3ds Max, I go to ZBrush and work on the details with dividing. For the costume, I put it on low-divide and use it low poly as it is. For the low poly of the BaseBody, I use ZBrush’s Topology function: creating Normal Texture, applying low poly and checking Detail.

Face & Hair

When working on the 3D characters, I try to avoid the Uncanny valley effect as much as I can. Expressing and passing the character’s personality and emotion is very important to me so I use makeup references more than anatomy. Also, I use Face Morph function and make the face expression as natural as possible. 

I do not use any special plug-ins for the hair and simply work on it with 3ds Max’s Editable Poly. For the hair shader, I use Marmoset’s Anisotropic (in Reflection).

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Textures & Colors

UVs are done in 3ds Max. The colors are more important than textures for me, so I use Photoshop for the skin and fabric textures. Substance Painter is used only for the metal and leathers. For the skin shader, I use Subsurface Scatter function in Marmoset.

For the stockings in this particular piece, I used Photoshop to do some additional work on the leg texture. I added a layer on top of the skin and used a dark color with Multiply, then applied opacity 50 – 75%. This allowed me to achieve a similar look to wearing real stockings. Specular and Glossiness Textures were done in the same way.

Render of Choice

I use Marmoset most of the time. The biggest strength of Marmoset is that it is not only a real-time render but also gives you high-quality results. Besides, any edits are applied right away and you can check them immediately. I revise and correct a lot for more natural poses and at the moment I am trying my best to optimize this process.

If you found this article interesting, below we are listing a couple of related Unity Store Assets that may be useful for you.

Jeongho Shin, 3D Character Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev


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