Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.


Digital Creature Creation: Starting with ZSpheres

Starting with ZSpheres provides you with in-depth training on 3D + Animation. Taught by Ryan Kittles… Show More

Digital Creature Creation in ZBrush, Photoshop, and Maya

with Ryan Kittleson

Video: Digital Creature Creation: Starting with ZSpheres

Starting with ZSpheres provides you with in-depth training on 3D + Animation. Taught by Ryan Kittleson as part of the Digital Creature Creation in ZBrush, Photoshop, and Maya
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 34s
    1. Introduction
    2. What you should know before watching this course
    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 13s
    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 1s
    8. Sculpting leathery skin
      8m 4s
  5. 22m 9s
    1. Using GoZ between ZBrush and Maya
      2m 16s
    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 28s
    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 5s
    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 38s
    1. Polypainting colors in ZBrush
      8m 2s
    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 34s
    1. Designing the pose
      4m 36s
    2. Linking subtools to the main body
      4m 13s
    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?

please wait ...
Starting with ZSpheres
Video duration: 6m 45s 5h 11m Intermediate


Starting with ZSpheres provides you with in-depth training on 3D + Animation. Taught by Ryan Kittleson as part of the Digital Creature Creation in ZBrush, Photoshop, and Maya

3D + Animation
Maya Photoshop ZBrush

Starting with ZSpheres

Now that we have a pretty solid idea of where the design is headed it's time to get even more specific about its anatomy. This usually means doing detail drawings or clay mockups, however, with digital technology at our fingertips we can not only get this phase done more efficiently, we can also do things that just aren't possible with traditional materials. It's one thing to see a drawing or a clay sculpture of a design. But it's a whole other thing to get a sense for how it can move and make adjustments to the design without having to redraw or re-sculpt it.

3D software is going to help us speed up this process. In ZBrush, we can build a figure out of ZSpheres and pose them in various ways. This means that you can build the body once and then position the limbs to test out how they would move. So let's create a ZSphere. I am going to hit the Comma key to make this little menu go away because it's just in the way right now and let's make a ZSphere by clicking Cylinder 3D and click it one more time and we get this little pop-up with some primitives that we can choose from. I am going to click ZSphere.

Now just click-and-drag in the canvas to draw one out and go into Edit Mode. So this one ZSphere doesn't look like much, but it's going to be the start of the structure of our creature, and we can build new ZSpheres based off this one by clicking-and-dragging on it. So if we click-and-drag we get a new ZSphere and we can continue to build the structure out. I am just going to undo that because we want to build this symmetrically. So I am going to hit X to turn on Symmetry. So now you see, everywhere you move the mouse, you are getting one dot on one side and a symmetrical one on the other.

So if we click-and-drag, you get two of them. However, I don't want to build two of them off to each side. What I actually want to do for right now is make one along the center line. So if you move the mouse close to the center, you notice that the two dots snap together. So I can just click-and-drag I know that this one is created exactly along the center line. So let's look at this from a different angle. I am going to click-and-drag out on the canvas to rotate around. Okay, let's load up the Reference image of our Dewhopper. So go up to the Texture menu and click Image Plane, and then click Load Image.

I am just going to navigate to our Exercise Files. In Ch_03, 03_01 and we need to change from Photoshop to JPEG because that's the format of our image and let's open that. I will show you a few tips on using image planes in this video. I won't use the image plane much in the rest of this course because it can create a lot of visual clutter. However, feel free to load up one whenever you think you could benefit from comparing your model to a reference image.

So the ZSpheres that we've created are going to be the core of the creature. So we can move it so it's on top of the reference by just clicking the Move button and dragging and I want to position that first ZSphere kind of over the hip area. And now let's go into Move Mode up here at the top and just click-and-drag on this ZSphere and just move it down, kind of to the shoulder area. Now you know what's happening is these ZSpheres are covering up our reference image. So I want to make the ZSpheres a little bit transparent so we can see both at the same time.

Go up to the Texture menu, go down to Image Plane and click Reference Views. Now you can change the model opacity; I am just going to bring it down to about halfway. Now let's grow out some more ZSpheres to give this creature some more structure. Let's give him a head, so I am just going to go into Draw Mode and click-and-drag and rotate around, so we can see the front of this shoulder ZSphere. I am just going to click-and-drag to make a new ZSphere for the head, and I will just rotate back around and I want to hold down Shift so I snapped an orthographic view and just move this so it fits on top of our Reference again.

If you go into Move Mode, you can just grab the ZSphere and just move it out to the kind of tip of the snout and sometimes what happens is, other ZSpheres get moved along, so you just have to push them back to where they belong. You can add new ZSpheres in between existing ones by going to the Draw Mode and just clicking anywhere on the segment between ZSpheres. So I want to make a new ZSphere that kind of goes up to the horns on the top of the head and also one that goes down to the jaw. So I am just going to click right here. If you want to delete ZSpheres, all you have to do is hold down Alt and click on one and it goes away.

But I am just going to hit Ctrl+Z to undo that because I wanted that one there. Now we can grow some new ZSpheres out of this. Let's do one for the lower jaw. I am just going to rotate around so I can see the underside of this one and I will just click-and-drag one right out of the center line. And let's move it back and hold down Shift to snap it and let's make sure that everything is positioned where it should be. Go back into Move Mode and now I want to grab this ZSphere and bring it out to the lower jaw.

You might just have to grab some of these and move them around a little bit to force them where you wanted to be. It's never going to be really exact, and now you might want to scale one, after you create it, so just go into Scale Mode, I am going to shrink this one down a little bit, doesn't have to be exactly positioned, just kind of roughly in place and now let's make some for the horns. So I want to go back to Draw Mode and just make a new ZSphere there, drag it out and go back into Move and we will just move it up. So what happens there's a lot of times different ZSpheres get pulled around, so you might have to struggle with a little bit till you get everything correct.

Let's look at this from the front view. From the front view we can see that we might want to move these horns out to the side a little bit. So I am just going to click-and-drag in the Move Mode and bring them out to the side. Alright, good, so rotate, go back into Draw Mode and I am going to hold down Shift to snap it to the side. Go ahead and continue creating and positioning ZSpheres as needed to complete the toes, and the limbs and the tail of the figure.

It's just the same procedure that we have been doing so far. Clicking-and-dragging to create new ZSpheres, moving them, sizing them or creating new ZSpheres in between existing ones. I am going to stop here and in the next movie we will pick it up with the ZSpheres finished. ZSpheres are a great way to start on the character model because it's fast way to get a sense of the design in 3D. Sometimes there are problems with the design that you might not be able to anticipate in a 2D drawing. For example, sometimes a design looks great on paper, but ZSpheres can reveal that maybe the front legs would bang into the hind legs in the course of walking.

By creating the limbs and structures in 3D, you can see if the design will work in 3D as well as you hoped.

There are currently no FAQs about Digital Creature Creation in ZBrush, Photoshop, and Maya.






Don't show this message again
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Digital Creature Creation in ZBrush, Photoshop, and Maya.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


Upgrade to View Courses Offline


With our new Desktop App, Annual Premium Members can download courses for Internet-free viewing.

Upgrade Now

After upgrading, download Desktop App Here.

Become a Member and Create Custom Playlists

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of online learning video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Log in

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

You started this assessment previously and didn’t complete it.

You can pick up where you left off, or start over.

Resume Start over

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.