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Imagining A Diablo-stye Druid Character With ZBrush & UE5

TaeHun Kim spoke about designing a Druid character heavily inspired by Diablo IV, focusing on face, hair, and whiskers modeling workflows in ZBrush and sharing Unreal Engine 5 lighting setup.


Hello, I'm TaeHun Kim, a game character modeler. I majored in sculpture at university, and after graduation, I worked as a welder in the sculpture industry. I started 3D art because I wanted to become the game character modeler I had dreamed of since I was young, and I have been studying for about two years now.

I first came into contact with 3D tools while studying 3ds Max in my undergraduate program. At that time, I didn't use many 3D tools because I wanted to be a fine artist. However, when I decided to pursue a career as a game character modeler, I learned various 3D tools such as 3ds Max, Blender, and ZBrush through various online courses and academies. Currently, I am taking lessons to further develop my individual skills.

The Druid Project

When I was young, I was fascinated by the Diablo characters while watching adults play Diablo II at the first PC cafe in my village.

I fell in love with the Diablo series and started working on this project, inspired by the strength of the new Diablo IV Druid. I found a main Druid concept on Google and Pinterest and combined the main concept with the Diablo IV Druid costumes. For detailed work, I looked for references related to Celtic people and used them as a guide.


Most of the work was done in ZBrush. For stability, I started with the base structure, and once the overall balance was achieved, I used the Morph function with ZWrap to blend the shape of the scan data with the head I created and then added details. I tried to express the skin texture and wrinkles more naturally.

I worked on the facial impressions by thinking about the strong impression of the Celtic people without looking at specific references. For challenging parts of the face, I referred to human body references I had collected over time.

For the eyes, I planned to use MetaHuman materials, so I adjusted the UVs and arranged them according to the iris size.

Hair and whiskers were created by sculpting the shapes and flows, then using masking to separate the mesh and create cards. Short whiskers and eyebrows were masked according to the flow, extracted to get the mesh, and then retopologized with ZRemesher. This method is intuitive and makes it easy to manage polygon counts.

For the body, I aimed to express a muscular, fat body rather than just making a fat character. I sculpted with references to athletes like UFC fighters and weightlifters. In the final stage, I used scan data to add textural details.

The fabric work was initially done in Marvelous Designer, then brought into ZBrush to add wrinkles using the Cloth function. The fur was also created by mixing planes using the Cloth function in ZBrush.

Various methods were used for creating the ornaments. I spread the UVs to create alpha patterns in Photoshop, then applied the created textures to the UV-mapped mesh. Simple patterns were painted directly on the object.

The staff was created by bringing the Megascan asset into ZBrush and shaping it using the Curve function while keeping the color of the scan data intact. After that, additional sculpting was done in ZBrush. Finally, the color tone and roughness were adjusted in Substance 3D Painter.

Retopology was carefully done to minimize unnecessary vertices. I used 3ds Max for the retopology work and Blender for the UV mapping and layout. Blender offers the advantages of intuitive sim work and convenient packaging features, which are visible in the viewport when selecting UVs.


I created hair textures using XGen. Considering the clothes would be placed in Unreal Engine, I adjusted the blend opacity to balance metallic and roughness so they wouldn't contrast too much. The texture scales were created to match the fantasy style without being too small.

To add overall depth to the textures, I set the base using Mesh Maps such as Cavity, AO, and Collision AO from the clothes and started working from there. I checked the blending parts of the Normal and Height channels with the Normal setting to ensure different textures wouldn't mix. Most of my time was invested in trying various base materials.

Lighting & Rendering 

I completed the rendering in Unreal Engine 5.3. For lighting, I placed the Key Light and Rim Light at the front and back, positioned the Key Light to the side to give a strong impression, and added Rect Light to adjust the dark areas.

For the brightness of the face and the specificity of the eyes, I placed Rect Light on the face side. To match the overall feel of the double lighting, I mixed a little green with the Key Light. Post-process settings were adjusted for Exposure, Local Exposure, and Image Effects.

Creating the materials myself was challenging, so I used free MetaHuman materials and Paragon character materials.


It took me 4 months to complete while also working on other sculptural and job-related tasks for a living. The biggest difficulty was not technical but the lack of confidence in the overall silhouette or design direction. I tried various approaches and learned from failures. I continuously looked for references and thought deeply about how to overcome these challenges.

I believe I'm still not proficient enough, and there's not much difference from when I first started. Each project is always new, and I constantly wonder how to make it and what design fits best. Despite this, I have a goal, and finding happiness in creating 3D characters is challenging but fun.

I still think I have a lot to learn, and I believe there's not much difference between me and when I first started. Everything I create is always new, and I constantly think about how to make it and what design would be best. Despite this, I have a goal, and finding happiness in the process of creating 3D characters is tough but enjoyable.

Don't be afraid of failure. Enjoy making and working on what you want to create. Then, I believe, one day, each of us will achieve our great modeling goals.

TaeHun Kim, Character Artist

Interview conducted by Theodore McKenzie

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Comments 1

  • Anonymous user

    I am a fellow worker who studies with him, and he is a very talented friend. I am looking forward to his wonderful next work.


    Anonymous user

    ·29 days ago·

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