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Refining a concept

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

Video: Refining a concept

The next step is to take your best idea from all the doodles and get more specific. We are not dealing with skin texture or hairstyles yet. It's still very basic. At this phase you'll be arranging the limbs and the other major shapes. Now is the time to experiment with various proportions making some parts bigger and smaller, moving legs forward and backward, playing with the various limb thicknesses. It's still very loose and simple drawing here. You'll be doing several pages of variations of this round of the design process as well.

Refining a concept

The next step is to take your best idea from all the doodles and get more specific. We are not dealing with skin texture or hairstyles yet. It's still very basic. At this phase you'll be arranging the limbs and the other major shapes. Now is the time to experiment with various proportions making some parts bigger and smaller, moving legs forward and backward, playing with the various limb thicknesses. It's still very loose and simple drawing here. You'll be doing several pages of variations of this round of the design process as well.

Out of all the brainstorming sketches that I did, I like the ones that are going in the direction of this four-legged critter with its tail looped over its head. Now that I have a very basic idea of where I'm going, I need to start thinking more specifically about it. I need to understand the world that it lives in and how it behaves. If the creature is part of a story that is already been written, you will need to take into account the role that the creature takes in the story. For this course, it's more up to my imagination. When you start sketching, ask yourself questions about where and how the creature lives.

Your answers will help in form the design. What kind of habitat does the creature live in? Does it chase prey or evade predators? What does it eat and how does it catch it? Imagining where your creature will actually live, will add believability to your design. For this course, I actually brought several different concepts to this moderately refined point. I wanted to make the best creature that I could so I made lots of types of creatures. This gives me lots of options from which to choose and when designing having a variety to choose from is always better.

Whatever the case, you'll probably work with writers, directors, and other artists to refine a design that works just right. The design that we are doing in this course was chosen because it features several different anatomy types in one creature. I want to show techniques for making different kinds of scaly, leathery, bony, and smooth skin. I also want to show muscle and joint anatomy along with common anatomical features like eyes and teeth. For those reasons, I chose this Dewhopper design.

I imagine the Dewhopper to be carnivore and a hunter, yet it's also small like a squirrel so it needs to be able to run and hide when larger predators are around. I imagined a dry desert where water is scarce. I imagine that it lures insects with a drop of sticky liquid that it can excrete at the tip of its tail. Insects think that it is a drop of dew and come up for a drink. The creature can then lunger the insects to capture it. The best design for a particular project isn't necessarily the one that looks the coolest.

You have to consider how it fits into the production that it's a part of. You don't want a minor character to have a look that upstages the main characters. As artists and sculptors, we often want to give creatures huge muscles and big fangs, but often the creatures placed in a story calls for a more subtle approach. The main thing to remember at this stage is to give yourself lots of ideas to work with. Don't get stuck on just one idea no matter how much you feel it to be right. A good designer is always coming up with variations and alternatives to any design.

When you have a good set of ideas to choose from, you'll be able to finally tell which one works best for your character.

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This video is part of

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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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