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Pixologic's ZBrush 3 stands at the forefront of digital 3D sculpting and 2.5D painting, a new medium that is taking the art and entertainment worlds by storm. Visual effects artist Eric Keller shares his expertise and talents in ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training. He presents the concepts behind digital sculpting, shows how to produce fantastic images using the unique ZBrush toolset and interface, and demonstrates the power of the Digital Clay and Sculpting brushes. To offer a richer understanding of the application, Eric gives a guided tour of the interface and addresses the most common problems experienced by new users. Exercise files accompany the course.
If you want to add geometry to a model, like let's say you wanted to make some ears, or a neck for a head, you can use Edge Loops to make an extrusion to the model. I'm going to demonstrate this by starting out with a very simple Poly Sphere. You can quickly load the Poly Sphere into ZBrush by pressing the Default ZScript button here at the top of the canvas, and this brings back the startup screen, and I'm just going to press on Poly Sphere, and it will load on the canvas already in Edit mode. Now, the first thing that I want to do is lower the Subdivision Level as much as possible on this model, so it can very easily get in there and add geometry to it. So I'm going to go to the Tool palette here, I'm going to expand Geometry, and I'm going to move the Sider all the way down to Level 1. Then to add even lower levels of Subdivision, I'm going to press Reconstruct Subdivision; once, twice, three times. Now I have a very low resolution Poly Sphere.
The other levels of Subdivision are still there, they haven't been removed. I just now have six levels whereas before I only had three. To create an extrusion otherwise known as an Edge Loop, I'm going to start by first turning on Point Select; so my selections are more accurate, and I'm also going to Activate Symmetry. Now, I'm going to press Ctrl and Shift, drag the selection over the top part of the model. So what I want to do is I want to hide everything except for the four polygons on the bottom. So I release the Shift key, release the pen from the digital tablet. Now I just have my four polygons at the bottom of the Poly Sphere.
I'm going to turn on Frame mode, so I can get a better idea of what's going on here. To make an Edge Loop or to extrude these four polygons, all I need to do is press the Edge Loop button, and there we go. We have a loop of polygons added around the original four. Edge Loops only work on visible parts of the model. So just to demonstrate quickly. I'm going to Ctrl+Shift and hide all of these polygons, Ctrl+Shift to drag, lift the Shift key, now I have this section. If I press Edge Loop here, see how the Edge Loop has been created on just the visible parts of the model.
I'm going to press Ctrl+Z to undo that, and bring back the rest of my model. I just wanted to show you that it's only the visible parts that get the Edge Loop. Now that I have my basic neck geometry, I can actually pull this geometry down. To do this, I'm going to Ctrl+Shift+ Click on the upper part, so now I have just this part visible. I'm going to go to the Masking palette, and expand Mask, click on Mask All. That Mask, the visible parts that are on the model, press Ctrl+Shift+Click on the canvas, and now this part is masked, this part is unmasked.
So what that means is I can choose the Move Brush from the Sculpting Brush Library, increase the Draw Size, and then just drag the neck Geometry down. I'm going to shift to a side view here, drag down. Since this upper part is masked, I don't have to worry about it changing if I drag up here, only the parts that are unmasked are being changed.
So how do I add a few more levels of division here? I'm going to clear my mask. I'm going to reduce my Draw Size, and I'm going to Ctrl+Shift+Click just on this middle section right here. Now, that's the only part that's visible. I can press Edge Loop, and look; I have got two loops; one at the top and one at the bottom. The great thing about Edge Loops is that they automatically create Polygroups. So if I Ctrl+Shift+Click on a blank part of the canvas, now you can see I have got even little bit more geometry to work with, and it's all organized into its own Polygroups.
If I Ctrl+Shift+Click on the bottom, I have that Polygroup. Ctrl+Shift+Click on the canvas. If I Ctrl+Shift+Click on this sort of fuschia area, you can see the neck. Just to make it a little bit more accurate. If I Ctrl+Shift+Click on this orange part, I can isolate just the neck area there and just the middle of the neck. I'm going to bring everything back now. I'm going to Ctrl+Shift+Click on this upper part, press Mask All, Ctrl+Shift+ Click on the canvas, raise my Draw Size, use my Move Brush to continue to shape the neck area. You see this kind of thing going on; sometimes that's just the display quirk of ZBrush. If I move the model you can see it fixes itself.
Now I'm going to start to really actually shape a mesh. When you are first starting something like a head, it's always a good idea, or at least I think it's a good idea, the way I work, to work on the lowest level of Subdivision possible, because I really just want to bring in the primary form of the object. If I work at a very high level of Subdivision to begin with, you can find yourself quickly getting lost with all the polygons there that are available to you. I'm going to reduce my Draw Size. I'm just going to start to drag this down till I have my basic neck shape. This edge right here will actually represent the flow of the sternomastoid muscle, that goes from behind the ear to the front of the sterno. I'm just thinking about that as I'm working.
Right here, this area is going to be the back. Since I have Symmetry on, of course all the changes I make from the side view are being mirrored to the other side. So I'm going to switch to the front view and bring this down. Switch to the back view. Start to form a trapezes. It's a little bit easier sometimes to reduce the Draw Size, maybe increase the intensity of the Move Brush. Now, little bit easier to drag those guys around in a very specific way.
We have a bit of a hunchback here, but that's okay, we could fix that; minor surgery. You can see, that's basically one way you can just start adding a neck to a model. Now, I'm going to clear the mask here, and if you notice I'm working on the lowest Subdivision Level and I have added this new geometry; all of this neck stuff was not part of the original Poly Sphere. If I move the levels of Subdivision up, the great part is all that geometry gets subdivided automatically as well. I don't have to do anything additional to it.
If I turn off Frame modes, you will notice that there is a bit of creasing here, in the parts that were subdivided. I can easily switch to the Smooth Brush and then just paint on these to get rid of that creasing. I have a start to my very basic edge shape. Once more I have Polygroups for the neck as well.
Edge Loops are great for extruding areas for necks, extruding parts for ears, or even creating eye sockets in the model; I could create Edge Loops on this area. The only basic rules that you need to remember when working with Edge Loops is Edge Loops are essentially a ring of polygons that are added around the visible portions of a model. So in other words, to create an Edge Loop you have to remember to hide the parts of the model that are not part of the Edge Loop. In other words, all this area right here, so that you only have a few polygons visible. Then press the Edge Loop button and that will create the Edge Loop. Then you will make everything visible again, then you are ready to work with that geometry.
Edge Loops can only be created at the lowest level of Subdivision. So if I wanted to create some ears, I need to go up a level of Subdivision. Now I can drag around this area, so everything withing the green area will be visible. I'm going to let go of my pen on the tablet so I have this area now. If you notice, since I have Symmetry on, I have both sides still visible. Ctrl+Shift drag around here, release the Shift key, Ctrl+Shift drag around here, release the Shift key, release the Shift key, and one more time, release the Shift key, and now I just have this one polygon here and the same one on the opposite side.
Press Edge Loop, now I have got the beginnings of an ear. I can use the Move tool to start dragging these out, and I have something I can work with. That's the basics of getting started working with Edge Loops.
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