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Polypainting colors in ZBrush

From: Digital Creature Creation in ZBrush, Photoshop, and Maya

Video: Polypainting colors in ZBrush

In addition to sculpting ZBrush is also a great tool for painting. It works through a technology called polypainting in which vertices are colored when painted. The more vertices you have in a model, the finer detail you can paint. In this chapter we will be painting everything by hand. While it's true that you can paint by projecting photographs like we did in Chapter 7 with the pedestal, I find that painting most things from scratch allows me to do some unique things that you can't find in photos.

Polypainting colors in ZBrush

In addition to sculpting ZBrush is also a great tool for painting. It works through a technology called polypainting in which vertices are colored when painted. The more vertices you have in a model, the finer detail you can paint. In this chapter we will be painting everything by hand. While it's true that you can paint by projecting photographs like we did in Chapter 7 with the pedestal, I find that painting most things from scratch allows me to do some unique things that you can't find in photos.

Before I start painting I do want to study photographs of real animals so that I can get a sense of the types of colors and patterns that will feel natural. There's often a relationship between the anatomy and the coloration. For example, in this photo notice how the scales and plates are one color pattern and the gaps between them are different color pattern. There might be one color on the creature's underbelly and a different color down the back. These kinds of variations bring both a natural feel and visual interest to a creature.

So let's start painting. The first thing you'll want to do is make sure that you're on a white material. So if you've got red wax or any other colored material on your object, go to SkinShade04. This one usually works really well. You'll also want to make sure you're on your highest subdivision level. So let's make sure we've got the right SubTool selected. We want the dew hopper here. Now let's go down to the Geometry palette, and just go ahead and slide the subdivision level all the way up to the highest.

Now we want to fill the whole thing with a starting color. I am going to pick a tan color. It doesn't really matter so much as it's going to be painted over eventually with other colors. Now we just want to fill the model with this color. So go up to Color and click Fill Object. Now we're ready to start painting with other colors. I find it best to approach painting in the same way that I sculpt, starting with big broad areas of color and then slowly getting more and more refined.

If I were to start with fine detailed strokes, and then it turns out that I wanted the base color to be a little bit different, it would be very hard to change. So let's figure out what color we want to use in combination with this tan color. I think the leathery skin on the underbelly and legs might work well with this tan color, but I want the bony plates to be something a little different. Let's get a kind of a dark red and now we need to paint with color. So I am going to go up and change RGB, turn that on so we're painting with color, and turn off the Zadd so that we're not sculpting.

I also want to paint symmetrically. So I am going to hit X to turn on Symmetry. Let's just zoom in a little bit here. So now you can just start painting. Now I just want to get a broad variation right now, kind of a gradient from this red color to a tan color. So I am not going to get really specific at all. I just want to establish a basic gradient. This is a good time to experiment with different color combinations. Maybe I want a little bit more green, maybe on the legs.

So I could just try that out and see how that looks, and if you don't like it, you don't even have to undo, you can just still pick a different color, and just paint over, and see what works out. I am going to zoom out for a better look. Really, I am just playing around, just giving myself lots of options. Maybe I want to put that to a more blue color and just see what you get. I am going to hit Space and shrink my brush size a little bit.

Maybe you could try out some weird patterns or designs on this as well. So really it's up to you at this stage. Try things out, experiment, have fun with it. Now, let's get into some tips and tricks. You can use masking to paint only on the bumps or only in the space between bumps. This is a great way to use the existing anatomy to make painting even easier. Let me zoom in a little bit and explain. So you could come in here, and shrink your brush size down, and try to paint only exactly right in-between cracks.

So you could try to paint in here and spend all this time doing that, but that would be very tedious. So I am going to show you a faster way to do this. Let's go to the Masking palette and I am going to click Mask By Cavity, and it might take a few seconds to do this. So what this has done is it's masked off anything that's in a crack or a crevice. Now if you invert this mask, you can come in and get a larger brush and just paint directly into all these cracks and crevices.

If you want to change the color of the bumps in-between the cracks, you can just invert again, and let's try a different color here, yellowish color maybe, and paint on there. Now if we clear the mask and zoom out, we can see the effect that we have. There are a few places where we could use spotlight to project texture from photos. The issue with that is that so much of the color of the creature is dependent on the specific details of the sculpted anatomy; it would be very hard to find photos that would complement the sculpted details exactly.

So in a photograph with lizard scales for example, the scales would not very likely line up with the sculpted scales on the creature. However, on the places like the bony plates this might work out. So let's give it a try. I've got this photo of a seashell and I am going to try to project it with spotlight onto the bony plates. Let's see how it works. Let's go to Texture menu and Import, and let's get that seashell reference. Let's go back up to the Texture menu, make the seashell active, and actually what we want to do is zoom in on the parts of the dew hopper that we're going to paint on.

So let's just zoom in really close on one of these bony plates. I want to look around for a better view. That should work for now. Now, open your Texture menu, make sure the seashell is active and click on this button right here to add it to spotlight. I want to make this thing go away. So I am going to hit Comma and now let's position the seashell so that it's right on top of where we want to project through. So we can rotate it, we can scale it, we can move it around by clicking inside of this area right here, and let's lower the opacity so we can see the model more clearly through it.

So I want to position the seashell so it's right over the bony plate here, pretty good. So let's click-and-drag on the Spotlight Radius right here. This is going to give us a preview of the size of the brush. Now when you're ready, just hit Z to go into Paint Mode. So now you can just start painting. You brush right through the photograph onto the model. When you're done, you can hit Z to go back into Spotlight, and you could either reposition this photo to start painting on a different place or when you're done for good, you could just hit the X here.

Let's zoom out and see what this looks like. So you see there are some situations where you'd want to use photo sourced textures. However, I would still want to do some painting to help integrate this with the rest of the textures. From here on out, there's not really any trick to it. It's just a matter of working from general colors to fine details. Go ahead and paint various SubTools as well. Just be careful to use Symmetry when necessary and then turn it off when you're close to the center line. This part of the process really depends more on your artistic eye for color and painting than any techniques or tools.

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This video is part of

Image for Digital Creature Creation in ZBrush, Photoshop, and Maya
 
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  1. 2m 34s
    1. Introduction
      59s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      34s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 1s
  2. 10m 45s
    1. Installing custom brushes
      3m 54s
    2. Preparing GoZ
      5m 6s
    3. Optimizing tablet settings
      1m 45s
  3. 8m 36s
    1. Brainstorming
      2m 47s
    2. Refining a concept
      3m 22s
    3. Gathering reference images
      2m 27s
  4. 42m 12s
    1. Starting with ZSpheres
      6m 45s
    2. Posing the ZSpheres
      3m 39s
    3. Sculpting the basic forms
      5m 34s
    4. Using DynaMesh
      3m 8s
    5. Sculpting muscles and mid-size shapes
      6m 20s
    6. Defining joints
      3m 42s
    7. Sculpting bony plates
      5m 0s
    8. Sculpting leathery skin
      8m 4s
  5. 22m 8s
    1. Using GoZ between ZBrush and Maya
      2m 15s
    2. Making an eyeball
      3m 45s
    3. Creating tail spikes
      2m 44s
    4. Modeling a tooth
      4m 27s
    5. Duplicating the teeth
      4m 8s
    6. Finishing the teeth
      4m 49s
  6. 51m 27s
    1. Drawing guidelines for retopology
      4m 56s
    2. Fleshing out the retopology guides
      4m 29s
    3. Creating new topology
      5m 32s
    4. Generating the new mesh
      4m 58s
    5. Cleaning up the mesh in Maya
      5m 5s
    6. Modeling the tail in Maya
      4m 5s
    7. Modeling the claws
      6m 4s
    8. Preparing to project detail
      6m 5s
    9. Projecting detail to new topology
      4m 46s
    10. Cleaning up projection problems
      5m 27s
  7. 21m 0s
    1. Cutting UV seams
      5m 55s
    2. Prepping UV shells for UV Master
      4m 38s
    3. Using UV Master to unfold UVs
      4m 17s
    4. Arranging UVs in Maya
      6m 10s
  8. 13m 25s
    1. Creating a pedestal with Spotlight
      4m 53s
    2. Decimating the geometry
      4m 53s
    3. Finishing the pedestal
      3m 39s
  9. 38m 21s
    1. Setting up the scene for rendering
      5m 14s
    2. Making a key light
      6m 7s
    3. Making a soft sky light
      3m 0s
    4. Making a rim light
      4m 53s
    5. Setting up a simple SSS skin shader
      5m 21s
    6. Adjusting the skin shader
      7m 2s
    7. Adding ambient occlusion to the shaders
      6m 44s
  10. 55m 37s
    1. Polypainting colors in ZBrush
      8m 1s
    2. Extracting texture maps
      6m 54s
    3. Organizing the maps into Photoshop layers
      8m 9s
    4. Compositing the color maps in Photoshop
      4m 33s
    5. Compositing the specular maps in Photoshop
      7m 20s
    6. Importing the maps into Maya
      5m 7s
    7. Connecting the maps to the shaders
      5m 13s
    8. Setting up remap value nodes
      5m 51s
    9. Editing remap value nodes
      4m 29s
  11. 26m 32s
    1. Designing the pose
      4m 35s
    2. Linking subtools to the main body
      4m 12s
    3. Posing with transpose tools
      6m 4s
    4. Polishing the pose
      2m 4s
    5. Finishing touches in ZBrush
      4m 50s
    6. Finishing touches in Maya
      4m 47s
  12. 18m 7s
    1. Fine-tuning lights and render settings
      7m 0s
    2. Batch rendering a turnable animation
      5m 48s
    3. Polishing the renders in Photoshop
      5m 19s
  13. 52s
    1. What's next?
      52s

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