Gold Bracelet: ZBrush-Blender full Workflow 2020

ZBrush creates the best 3D models, Massimo Kagges broke his recent project – The Egyptian Golden Bracelet – created with the help of ZBrush, Blender, Substance Painter and Marmoset Toolbag.

Egyptian bracelet:

the goals
The choice to create a 3d model of this Egyptian bracelet, which was found in the Tomb of Tutankhamun, was determined by many cases: first of all, I needed to gradually improve my modeling skills and, therefore, strengthen the workflow of Blender – ZBrush – Painter.

become more efficient and faster in work, understanding what to do in the basic grid and at the modeling stage. Then, looking through the links, I was very curious to recreate all this variety of surfaces, each with its own characteristics, reaction to light, type of weathering over time: I like to study materials and try to put all their details into my textures,

the form:

The shape of this object was also very interesting: the pseudo-circular shape of the bracelet itself is segmented with all the stones along with it and finally broken by a large beetle on it.

The first thing I did was to create this shape on a flat plane, making it faster thanks to the Mirror modifier. To get a round shape, I made the grid follow the Bezier circle using the Curve modifier: this is a good non-destructive way to work, which allows you to easily and quickly customize the last steps before sending everything to ZBrush. Then I used this first Bezier circle to control the curvature of all other elements, i.e. an array of stones.

Scarab was what I most wanted to do in ZBrush, so in Blender, I only created basic subdivided meshes to check proportions and silhouette. For each leg, I used a simple top, extruded several times, and a Skin modifier to give them thickness.

Blender to ZBrush workflow:

I am very far from saying that I know how to use ZBrush correctly, but every time I try to learn something new and improve what I already know. In this case, almost the entire scarab had to be corrected by modeling: the legs, which in Blender had a soft round shape, were honed to get a more angular shape with sharp edges; carvings on wings and on the body; the whole head was almost redone, merged with the eyes that I held separately in Blender, and finally decorated with straight lines on both sides.

The gems – the simple half-cylinders in Blender – were created to give them a look based on the material: the gold ones were just dented due to the ductility of the metal, and the stones were chipped around the edges. The import-export process between Blender and Zbrush has been made very very very simple thanks to the addition of Blender GoB.


Texturing was by far the funniest and most important step for this part since I decided to leave at this stage all the small details of the surface, such as scratches/cracks/ micro-parts, which I did not sculpt. The textures were made in Substance Painter, but I could also use Substance Designer because I did almost nothing in hand painting to be as non-destructive as possible in the case of the latest geo / ultraviolet settings.

First I turned my attention to the material from lapis lazuli to get its complex mixture consisting of various minerals (blue from lapis lazuli/sodalite; white from calcite; metallic yellow from pyrite). For polishing, I decided to keep a slightly rough surface, as you can see in close-up, respectively with the standard, and create a contrast with other more polished other precious stones. For translucent gemstones – carnelian and quartz – I tried my best to fake the internal inclusions that have this kind of gemstone, through small color variations that would correspond to the same variations on the transparency map.

Gold material:

The work on the gold material was really interesting and very different from the way I usually relate to metal texturing. Gold – like platinum and silver – is known in chemistry as the “noble metal”, which means that it practically does not react with anything, therefore it does not create by-products such as rust for iron or green patina for copper. Thus, the only way to work with a worn gold artifact is to work with small changes in roughness along with micro-normal details that indicate everything that happened with this artifact with


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