Cake in Zbrush W.I.P.


Often I get impressed and admired by 3d images which has enormous quantity of details and made by some kind of inevident and incomprehensible for me and for CG way. Food forms one of these categories of stuff. If to be more precise - it is cakes. That is why after long thinking I decided to make one myself. I choose the reference from cooking web-site (in the attachment) and want to approach to it as close as possible (but not too close).
I plan to use 3ds max as an environment software. Zbrush for modelling. And V-ray for rendering. Since I’m not a pro user of Zbrush I will be glad to see your advise and critics.
Let’s go!


I made a cylinder in 3ds max (2624 polygons), then imported it in Zbrush. Subdivided to 11 mil polys and started to sculpt. I took standard brush, added alpha with a big stain there and pushed a deepening on my corn. Then, I made these grooves along the side (there are some grooves on reference image). After that I took another standard brush with biscuit alpha and added some relief. It looked like mountains. Then I trimmed it with Trim Dynamic to make the surface look like cut biscuit.


First corn is ready. Time to start another one.


The second corn is ready. I won’t sculpt others since I can just turn these two on 180 and get 4 unique corn sides. I still have ideas how to improve them, but I’m lil bit tired of sculpting now… I’m going to switch to strawberries.


I switched to strawberries and decided to model it in 3ds max. I created a sphere, stretched it and narrowed one of the poles. Then manually transformed the topology from quads to diamonds. I inserted and beveled each polygon to form small dimples. Then I deformed the model by noise modifier. Added dimples to the top and the bottom parts of the berry and implied turbosmooth. After that I picked all dimple-bottom polygons and detached them to an object. I used it to scatter the seeds with standard 3ds max scatter object. Then I modeled a stalk (also by hand in 3ds max) and voila!


Very nice start! And thanks for describing how you did the strawberries! Have you seen this making of? Two part video


Thanks for your interest to my work.
Yes, I’ve seen it. It is a good one but it covers only modelling of cake’s body and creme and says nothing about shaders and how to sculpt biscuit which are the most struggling things.


I just finished shading of the strawberry. To adjust the refraction of the right level and consistency was challenging. I used translucency of standard V-ray material and it did a good job! I’m quite happy about it. It still needs several tweaks, but I plan to make them when all geometry is ready. I also didn’t know how to texture the stalk (small leaves). It is a solid object, all leaves are merged into one so I needed custom texturing. It did have proper UVs, but didn’t have a map
Zbrush Spotlight was the answer! I’d found an image of a leaf which looked similar to strawberry leaves. Then I projected it on each leave, one by one. I adjusted size and position of the image for every projection until it is ready. Now check out how it looks! )


I’m working on strawberry slices.
I made a decision to make 3D copies of real slices pictured on photo. For this purpose I had bought a photo of strawberry slices and started my work.
Firstly I circled the shape of the chosen slice by spline and extruded it. I got a low-poly model of the slice.

I imported this model into Zbrush and remeshed it by using DynaMesh and ZRemesher. Now the topology is more even in size and follows the shape of the slice. Then I pushed in the dimples for strawberry seeds. by using standard brush.

The time of an aperture has come. Careful look on a strawberry slice reveals its structure. It consists of multiple cells. On the major part of the slice it can be imitated by just bump mapping. But it’s not the case of the aperture. The inner surface of it is formed not by a knife, but by nature. So it is very uneven and bumpy. To create this type of the surface I decided to use NanoMesh brush.
I masked the aperture and deleted all other geometry (I made a backup subtool beforehand). I also made an InsertMesh brush with a model of the cell inside (it looks like a cylinder with hemispherical ends).

Then created a NanoMesh brush and filled every single quad with it.

I switched the distribution method to random scattering and chose the right number and size of the cells. I also oriented them along surface normals (with little angle deviations).

Now I have to merge the cells with the backup subtool. I did it by merging :slight_smile:
Then I used DynaMesh to combine two meshes into one and voila! High-poly model of a strawberry slice is ready! 4 million polygons!

I’ve brought it in 3ds max and used ProOptimizer. This guy left me with only 3% of original number of polygons, so now it is about 120k quads. And it still looks good.

I filled the dimples with the seed and applied the materials. The slice is ready!


Continuing to cook the cake.
Recipe of delicious cream:
Ingredients: poly cylinder, low-poly corns, models of sliced strawberry.
Tools: 3ds max, Zbrush

Take one poly cylinder in 3ds max, fit it’s dimensions to the corns, round the edges and make another two copies. Put these three blank models between the corns. Export them to obj and run Zbrush. Make a new Zbrush scene and put low-poly corns and blank creme models into it. Now we already see the proportions of future delicacy. Take the standard brush and slightly crumple the model.

Try to make the cream look unideal. You can even make dimples for future strawberry slices. Now it is strawberry time. Put the sliced strawberries between the corns and the cream layers. I did it in 3ds max but can also do it in Zbrush.

You can still sculpt the cream on this step to add some details and make it look more real.

Since the slices will have a lil bit of transparency it is necessary to prevent intersections between cream and strawberry models. Otherwise the cream would intervene into the slices which is wrong. To get this we have to use boolean subtraction. We need to subtract slices out of the cream. Do it with Zbrush LiveBoolean and then convert the result into new subtool and it is ready!

Export the cream mesh to obj and put it back into 3ds max. There is no difference between now and the scene before the subtraction, but it will be visible on renderings.


Biscuit is the key part of the job and I guess the most difficult. After several trials of putting the shader on the mesh which I showed above I realized that it won’t do. It just didn’t look like biscuit. The corn wasn’t porous enough and didn’t feel like it was composed of multiple particles merged in one biscuit and still have spaces between them. Maybe I could be rescued by displacement but it can’t provide hollows under the surface of the model. So I decided to make this upper layer by geometry. NanoMesh from Zbrush was a perfect choice.

I opened polyshpere in Zbrush, decreased the number of faces by retopology tools and created InsertMesh brush. Then saved it.

After that I’ve made a new subtool and imported one of the biscuit corns there. I cut out the centre of the mesh in order to work only with visible parts of the mesh.

That was the party time! I created a Nanomesh based on InsertMesh which I’d made before and covered the whole corn with small spheres. I made it distributed randomly with small variations in size. I’ve adjusted the number and size of them so that it wraps the mesh evenly. Then I converted it into geometry and got a new subtool consisted of the corn and spheres merged in one mesh.

Strictly speaking biscuit doesn’t consist of spheres. Its particles have undefined, randomly formed shapes. But every crumb can be composed of one or several spheres. Geometry of such type can be created by DynaMesh after implemented on the mesh. I put the density of polygons to max (4096) and hit DynaMesh. It merged intersecting spheres and made some kind of organic net. This was the thing that I needed.

I could merged that net with the original mesh of the corn. It would decrease the number of polygons. But after several render tests I decided not to do it. I did it based on the fact that being independent these two meshes have hollows between them. These spaces are visible on renderings due to translucency of the shader and they look fairly realistic.
I guess I’m pretty happy with the biscuit now.


This is looking amazing! And thank you for describing how you are going about this , very informative!