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Watch as author Ryan Kittleson introduces the skills digital artists need to create photorealistic 3D creatures for film, video, and game production. This course covers basic design, sculpting, texturing, posing, and lighting and demonstrates real-world workflow, starting with the basic sculpture in ZBrush and moving it into Maya for finishing, while editing textures in Photoshop.
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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