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Sculpting muscles and mid-size shapes

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

Video: Sculpting muscles and mid-size shapes

Here's another far too often overlooked phase of creature modeling, the midrange details. These are the shapes and structures of your model that are smaller than the big things like limbs and heads, but are bigger than wrinkles and scales. Midrange details are things like the muscles that make up a limb. So a good example of a midrange detail here is kind of the way this muscle overlaps this limb right here. It's kind of creating a separate shape from the limb over all.

Sculpting muscles and mid-size shapes

Here's another far too often overlooked phase of creature modeling, the midrange details. These are the shapes and structures of your model that are smaller than the big things like limbs and heads, but are bigger than wrinkles and scales. Midrange details are things like the muscles that make up a limb. So a good example of a midrange detail here is kind of the way this muscle overlaps this limb right here. It's kind of creating a separate shape from the limb over all.

It's also these little folds of flesh that kind of hang off the skin here. Same thing with these bits of skin here on the neck the way they hang off. Looking at this kangaroo here, some good midrange details are these bits of tendon and muscle that are surrounding this joint right here. This is going to come in really handy on a dew hopper, because we can look at this and see how these different muscles connect to the joint. Same thing with this frog. There are little details that are bigger than the tiny little warts. So for example, this little lump here on the back.

And that's a good midrange detail. It's not as big as a big limb or a head. These are the details that bring believability to a creature. Unfortunately, too many modelers get distracted by the temptation to sculpt the fun wrinkles and skin bumps before they really give this phase the attention that it deserves. While sculpting this type of detail, be sure to look at your reference closely. I'll be looking at images like these to help me maintain a sense of anatomical believability as well as artistic appeal. So let's load up our exercise file.

I am going to go to the Exercise Files, Chap_3, 03_05, simplemesh.ZPR. So I am going to hit Shift+F to show the wireframe and just zoom in here. So you can see that there's a good number of polygons, but it's not really heavily detailed. It's just enough to give me this midrange detail. Usually, I try to get all of the shapes into a subdivision level that I possibly can before subdividing again. This keeps me from getting bogged down in fine detail before I am ready.

I am just going to hit Shift+ F to turn off the wireframe. So let's look at an example of one way in which midrange details can be done wrong. I am going to go into my Crease Brush. So BCJ. So what happens a lot of times is people will sculpt in muscles and joints in such a way that it separates the joints from each other. So what you will see is kind of a line that separates two joints, and I am going to go into my Custom Clay Brush and also sculpt on some muscles here.

So what you see a lot of times is muscles that bulge on either side of a joint. It kind of creates a separation from the top of the leg to the bottom of the leg. And that lacks believability and it's not as nose interesting to look at. So I am just going to hit Ctrl+Z to undo all of this. What's more believable is if you sculpt on muscles in such a way that it creates a pattern. So if you look at your reference, you can see oftentimes that muscles will attach on one limb and then they extend down onto the other.

So these muscles of the forearm actually attach up on the upper arm. Similarly, with the bicep, the muscle attaches down on the bone of the forearm and then continues up onto the upper arm. I am just going to tweak this some more. So now you can see that the muscles kind of have this zigzag pattern which is much more believable and much more interesting to look at. Let's look at another example. I am going to hind leg and I just want to subdivide the model a few times to give myself more detail.

I am going to go to the Crease Brush to just show you what you see sometimes. Sometimes people will try to create separations between muscles by just scratching on a line and try to define and separate muscle this way. The problem with that is that the shape of the muscle might be there, but it doesn't really have the volume of a muscle. It just looks like lines on a surface. So let me undo that. What tends to work better is sculpting on the volume of the muscle. So I am going to my Custom Clay Brush and I just want to sculpt on the size and shape and volume of that muscle rather than lines between them.

Of course, I'll probably spend a lot more time refining the shapes of these, but you get the idea that seeing the volume of the muscle is much more believable and appealing than just seeing lines scratched on between them. Sometime also I'd like to consider when sculpting in midrange detail is that you don't really need to be all that careful with it. You can just go in and be wild and just experiment with different things and if they don't work very well it's very easy to just smooth them out.

Then just try something else. It's also a good idea to try to use variations. So let's say I want to put in some ribs of this character. I am going to do some thin ones and some thick ones and just try to get some variety, and then you can smooth things out and continue working into it. You can overlap muscles. So for example, you've got this muscle that comes off the shoulder right here and onto the back and it overlaps ribs.

So I just like to work back and forth and just try different things and overlap different things and eventually with time you get some good results. It can be hard to know when you've gone far enough with this. What I usually like to do is try to force myself to go too far to really pull out these muscles to the point where it's just silly and then just tone it back until it looks right. Kind of like you never know if you have gone far enough until you've gone too far.

Another thing you can do is ask yourself, if you can sense the volume of each muscle underneath the skin. If not, if your muscles are just defined as lines on the surface, you should work more developing those forms. It's very common for beginners to overlook this stage of sculpting, but if you keep it in mind every time you work, it will become second nature.

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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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