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Woman With Flowers (Delia)

Woman With Flowers (Delia)

by michelevuong on 29 Jun 2021

Portrait of woman wearing flower crown, inspired by fantasy portrait photography and floral magazine photoshoots.

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Woman With Flowers (Delia)

Portrait of woman wearing flower crown. Responsible for all aspects. Created using ZBrush, Maya, and Substance Painter. Rendered in Maya with Arnold.

The main goal of this project was to take a deeper dive into realistic sculpting and shading techniques. Through this process, I've learned a lot about getting accurate displacement maps, techniques for hand-painting skin, and creating believable hair with XGen.

This piece is inspired by fantasy portrait photography and floral magazine photoshoots.


First pass was sculpted in ZBrush with a very generic base model in mind. Distinctive features were added after I felt that the major forms had been accurately established. At this point in the sculpting phase, I'll often do rough sketches over the model to get an idea of how it will look in the final image.

After doing the base, I'll bring the model into Maya and use Quad Draw for retopology. It is then transferred back into ZBrush for posing and skin details.

The DragRect stroke along with a combination of several alphas were used for skin detailing. Aside from pore and wrinkle alphas, I also like to use a concrete or rock brush with very low intensity to add more texture to the skin. I'll disable symmetry at this point to add more variation to the face. This can be especially noticeable in areas that contain freckles or extruding bumps.

Displacement, Normal, Ambient Occlusion, and Cavity maps were exported from ZBrush Multi Map Exporter and brought into Substance Painter.

The butterfly was modeled in Maya then brought into ZBrush for detailing. I used a monarch alpha for the wings pattern and a concrete alpha for extra noise.

Each type of flower was modeled in Maya and then duplicated into a flower crown shape. I adjusted every petal slightly with the Move brush in ZBrush so that they would all be unique. The Crumple brush was used to give the flowers a wrinkled effect. I used a noisy alpha on the flowers for extra details.

Substance Painter

All aspects aside from the shirt base color were hand-painted in Substance Painter. Here is a short breakdown of the diffuse map:

1. Base color with highlights/shadows from AO.

2. Color zones roughly painted.

3. Combined base and color zones using Overlay blending mode on low opacity.

4. More refined paint layers of dark red, blue, and yellow. Painted out face/body contours and added more color zone variation, freckles, sunspots, veins, etc.

5. Using procedural maps to add more spots on the entire skin. Added curvature color for pores and wrinkles.

6. Final base color with makeup.

The roughness map was painted in a similar manner, using mainly procedural maps. I kept the cavities at high roughness and any oily areas of the character, such as the lips and t-zone more glossy.


Two different descriptions were used for the head hair-- one for the base and one for the baby hairs so that they blend into the forehead. I started by first placing and shaping the main hair guides with a low CV count, then rebuilding with a higher count so that the waves could be more defined.

A Region Mask was created to separate the hair down the middle. To avoid any bald spots in this middle area, the starting point of the guides had to be in sort of a sideways "J" shape. Doing this instead of making the guides flow straight down prevents the hair from intersecting with the scalp at the base, especially if you are working with a lower CV count.

I followed a tutorial by Hadi Karimi for the modifiers. Three different clump and noise modifiers were used for more variation. I found that the key to achieving realistic looking hair is to add more differentiation through noise, width, and length, as hair in real life is often not so uniform. Additional descriptions for the peach fuzz and arm hair were also made.

The images below show the progression of modifiers and how they affect the hair description. I changed the hair color here for better visualization.


(Below) AOVs from left to right: AO, Diffuse Albedo, Specular, SSS, Transmission, Sheen, Coat.

Here are some notes about the different passes:​

Diffuse Albedo: For the shirt base color, I followed a tutorial by MographPlus. It was created using a combination of aiFacingRatio, remapValue, and aiLayerRgba to achieve the shiny look.

SSS: In order to have the red makeup not affect the subsurface on the skin, I attached the diffuse map with makeup to the Base Color and SSS Color nodes, and a diffuse map without makeup to the SSS Radius.

Transmission: To render the eye, I created two parts for the eyeball, being the sclera (white outer part) and the iris (inner eye color). The sclera has a circular ramp attached to the Transmission Weight to mask out an area for the iris to show through. The other transmissive geo is the waterline, which adds extra wetness and blending between the eye parts and eyelids. The last eye geo is the caruncle (inner pink part) which fills in the inner eye gap.​​

Sheen: Sheen can be used on many things aside from cloth! A low sheen weight is also helpful to accentuate peach fuzz on skin. I also added sheen on the flowers to make them look softer.

Coat: Added to give an extra oily layer to the skin. It was also used to add extra wetness to the berries.​

​Close up of final render below!

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