Ed Panthera Reveals Their Superman Workflow in ZBrush & Maya

Ed Pantera shared a brief breakdown of the Superman project, talking about making their interpretation of the hero more lifelike.


Hello. I am Ed Panthera, a 3D artist. During my school days, I found inspiration in 3D videos featured in TV documentaries. The 3D space fascinated me, and it set me on the path to the art of 3D design. Over the years, I have participated in projects at renowned companies such as NCSoft, Webzen, and Netmarble for two decades.

I began self-learning 3D character sculpting in 1996 with 3D Studio R4, a DOS program. My inspiration for creating 3D character sculpting stems from the games and comics that I encountered during childhood. I practiced my skills in ZBrush through self-study using books and videos.

The Superman Project

Superman was one of my favorite heroes during childhood. I wanted to create my own version of Superman by blending elements illustrated in comics and movies. The process started after extensive research using image data and videos to inform my creative approach. The goal was not just to replicate but to reinterpret and bring my vision of Superman.

I began by sculpting the face using a base model as a starting point in ZBrush. This involves the process of refining the facial features. To enhance realism, I incorporated scan data and XYZ texture to express the texture, ensuring the smaller details contributed to the overall lifelike quality of the sculpture.

The face was processed according to the flow and skeleton. I referred to the guide I set up.

I started the body by refining the shape, transforming it from a basic base model into a more heroic and iconic form associated with Superman. The patterns were integrated from ZBrush, allowing for intricate detailing and texture placement on the outfit. Marvelous Designer was used for the initial design of the cape, and the final detailing and refinement of the cape were accomplished within ZBrush.


Rendering was done by utilizing Arnold in Maya. The hair was set so that it could be adjusted separately in XGen.

I consider the choice of lighting sources to be integral to the completion of a 3D sculpture, by skillfully distributing and manipulating the light. In this project, I strategically used both sky and area light sources, adjusting them to harmonize with the desired atmosphere and enhance the overall visual impact of the character.


While I can't provide the exact working time as it was done during my leisure time as a personal project, it took approximately two months to complete. The main challenge was achieving a harmonious blend of both comic and movie influences in crafting Superman.

My advice to beginners is to work consistently with a clear goal in mind. It's also important to get visual inspiration from movies, cartoons, and more. Then create your own color as an artist.

Ed Pantera, 3D Artist

Interview conducted by Theodore McKenzie

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