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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.
Now we get to have some real fun with sculpting. Let's open up the Exercise File. Go to File > Open and navigate to your Exercise Files > Ch_03 > 03_03. We are going to start out by taking what is basically a 3D stick figure and giving it some shape and silhouette. I am also going to introduce the brushes that I use most often. The main thing to keep in mind at this stage is to keep it rough and loose, because you don't want to get locked into fine details, when the basic anatomy hasn't even been established yet.
At this early phase, I don't need to see any details, just the big shapes. Here are some reference images of animals with similar anatomy to the Dewhopper. One way to help see past the fine details, is by shrinking down the image or blurring it so that you can focus on only the big shapes. I like to work with dual monitors, so I can put my reference in one monitor and work in ZBrush in the other. So I am just going to move this out of the way. Now let's get the ZSphere structure turned into polygons, so we can start sculpting.
Hit the A key to preview what it looks like in polygons. Now we need to lock in these polygons so click Make PolyMesh 3D. All right, now it's time to sculpt. First I want to use the Move Topological Brush, so I am going to hit B+M+T, and there we are switched to Move Topological Brush. I also want to sculpt symmetrically, so make sure you hit X to turn on Symmetry Mode. So now I just want to push things around to, give this a more appealing shape. I might want to look at my reference to see what kind of shapes existing animals have or I might want to -- just experiment with different shapes to see what looks more appealing.
So I am just going to push things around. This is a really good time to experiment, just try out different shapes. Another brush I would like to use a lot is Custom Clay, so that shortcut is B+C+O, and with this one, I can just build up forms. I can just increase volume or hold down Alt to subtract material. It's a really good way to build on muscle forms, or here you can build up a quadriceps muscles for example or the hamstrings.
It's a good place you can build up some volume and just give some shapes to the limbs to keep them from just looking like boring tubes, you can really just give them some nice silhouette and shape. And again, it's more about experimenting at this point, just seeing what looks good. You might want to sculpt a little bit more on the head area. Now it's really low detail right now, so I am going to hit Ctrl+D to subdivide this once or twice. Now you can come in and really define what the head is going to look like.
So for example, I want there to be an eye cavity, so I am just going to dig in for an eye. I can also shrink my Brush Size here. Another brush, I like to use a lot is Smooth. To use this brush, you just hold down Shift while any brush is active and you will go into Smooth Mode. So now if you don't like any structure that you have made, you can just smooth it right out. If I go up to the tail and use Smooth, you can see that it's kind of shrinking the shape as well, so this can be a useful way to just shrink the overall size of something.
There maybe problems with the design in 3D that weren't apparent in the drawing phase, be on the lookout for things that may need to be altered from the concept art, the temptation exists to jump right into sculpting the details or to work out the finer points of anatomy. That would be a big mistake right now. The one way I keep myself out of that problem is to keep my subdivision levels low. If the geometry is only dense enough to show the big shapes. That's all I'm going to be thinking about. If you go and subdivide the model a lot right from the beginning, you're going to notice fine details and forget about the more important overall shapes.
So I will just switch between these different brushes, go back to Move maybe and just see how different shapes could work with the silhouette and the overall structure of this character. Asking myself questions like, are these shapes appealing or do the different shapes relate to one another? Any of the shapes too big and overpowering other shapes? We just want to play around and spent a lot of time just making sure that everything is looking good at this phase, and I will go back to the Custom Clay Brush, B+C+O is the shortcut for that and just experiment with more musculature to see what kind of shapes I can find that are appealing and the shape of the limbs.
All right, this is pretty fun and I could keep going on forever but you get the idea, and it's not any specific special technique. It's just spending the time to make the shapes look good, to not getting bogged down in fine details. This step of the sculpting process is so crucial because it sets the stage for all the details. While the geometry is simple, it's easy to block out and think in terms of volumes and form. It's easy to make big sweeping changes and experiment with different proportions.
Too many people rush through this, so that they can get to the fine details like scales and wrinkles. If you do that and then it turns out that you need to make a large-scale change, you might end up ruining those fine details. Better to get the overall shapes looking good before moving on to fine details.
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