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Sculpting the basic forms

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

Video: Sculpting the basic forms

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.

Sculpting the basic forms

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.

Show transcript

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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