It is a very simple mesh, based on a cube. It is mainly intended to make sure I don’t get into trouble with the finer details later on. I used to start out in ZBrush with a standard sphere or such, but working from a base that that already anticipates certain shapes works a lot nicer in my experience.
I then export the mesh as an obj to Zbrush. Since the update to Zbrush 4R7 it is a lot easier to make adjustments to the base mesh, so there I ad additional data as preparation.
I also made some changes in the orientation of some parts of the mesh. I started out with an open beak, but that was something I didn’t want for this illustration. So by masking parts of the mesh, I could rotate the jaw so that the beak was closed.
This mesh is already set on a higher resolution, so now I can start adding details.
The feathers are made using fibermesh in ZBrush and I had to tweak the fibers so that they mimicked the down feathers on the vultures neck. The feathers are made out of several layers of fibers, depending on place on the model.
I also added the feathers on the shoulder, but those I will tweak some more because I don’t like them.
After this I started working on the skin material. At first I tried a skin material I used for the old man but that was too pink and there was too much subsurface scattering:
So I tweaked that untill it was about right.
I then rendered it and exported the different render layers as Photoshop files.
In Photoshop I tweaked everything until I was satisfied. I added some shadows and a slight vignette to add to the feeling/ambiance of the illustration.
with these as a result: