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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.
Once you have your basic 3 ZSphere arrangement, you are ready to start adding to the armature, to create more of a figure like shape. To do this, I have my 3 ZSphere arrangement, its in Edit mode, and I have the Draw button activated, and I'm going to add a head to the top by clicking and dragging, right there on the top section. So here is my head, it's a new ZSphere that I have added. If I press the A key, right now my figure still looks like a bit of a sausage, but I can fix that very quickly. I can move the head away from the rest of the body. To do this, I'm going to switch to the Move button.
I'm also going to bring my Draw Size down to a lower level, so that when I pick and move these spheres, I'm a little bit more accurate than when I'm actually picking. So now I have my head. I'm just going to drag him upwards to create more of a neck. I'm going to add another ZSphere in between those two. To do this I click back on the Draw button, and I can click any one of these interconnecting ZSpheres to add a new one. So I just click right there and I have a new ZSphere.
To scale this down, I press the Scale button and then just drag on that ZSphere, left to right. I'm going to drag to the left to scale it down. Now you can see I have the beginnings of a neck and a head. Now, for some arms. So this little finger of ours can actually get something done. I'm going to switch back to Draw; I have Symmetry activated, as you can see in the Transform pose. I'm going to click and drag to add some shoulders. As always, I'm constantly pressing the A button to preview my mesh.
I'm going to zoom in a little bit and just briefly show you what I'm trying to do here. When I have these up here like this, you can see I have got kind of a tangled mess here, on my Polymesh Preview. When I press the A key and move these down, now I have a bit of a nicer arrangement in the edges. This will be easier to sculpt when I'm finally ready to turn this into an actual Zebra Sculpture. So I'm going to click on the A button to switch back to ZSphere mode, click on Draw, and I'm going to add more ZSpheres.
Now, you noticed with that one I did not wait until the brush turned green, I went ahead and added it even though it was red. That's okay; these things can always get moved around after you have added a few more ZSpheres to fix any problems in the mesh. The green and red indicators are a suggestion it's not something that you absolutely have to follow every single time. I'm going to switch back to Move by clicking on the Move button, and I'm going to drag these guys out to make some arms. Click on the A button to add some elbows. Switch back to Draw and click somewhere on the middle here. Let's move this back, switch to Move, drag backwards. See how it looks by clicking on the A button.
I usually press the A button after every single change I make to the armature. Seems little bit tedious at first, but you will find that it will save you a lot of problems later on when you go to sculpting. I'm going to press the F key to center this on the canvas, switch to Draw and add some hips; there we go. Couple more here at the bottom of the hips. See how that looks. Press the F key, switch to Move, and drag these down. I'm dragging this button to scale out a little bit, and move them on the canvas, I can see them clearly.
I'm going to add some knees by clicking on Draw, click in the center there. I'm going to rotate my figure, and as I rotate I'm holding the Shift key so it snaps into a side view. Now when I switch back to Move and drag this backwards, and this is how you actually start to pose the ZSphere to create somewhat of a gesture in your sculpture. You can actually add a lot of personality to your character while still in the ZSphere mode. Click on A to see how that looks. It's a good place to experiment. What if I drag this guy down here, give him a bit more of a belly.
How does his attitude change when I move his head back? So here is my basic figure. I'm going to zoom in on the hand, press the Alt button, release Alt button, and drag. Hold the Alt button to reposition the ZSpheres on the canvas, now that I'm zoomed in. It's actually easier to work if I turn Local mode on; that means that the pivot point of the model is always the last place that I have worked on the model.
So switch to Draw and I'm going to quickly add a thumb. Press the A key to preview. There is my basic thumb. I just have Draw activated right now. I'm going to add a couple of fingers by clicking and drawing on the hand. Switch to Move mode, drag these out. Switch to Draw; click towards the base of the fingers a couple of times to add some more ZSpheres. Then I'm going to switch to Scale and scale these down.
I'm going to drag on this to zoom in a little bit closer and examine what's going on with my Polymesh preview. By switching to Move here I can start to move these around and preview as I move them. You can see how the mesh changes each time I preview it. So I'm sort of untangling these edges here to make more of a neater arrangement.
When you are working with ZSpheres, you are going to spend some time doing this. It's time well spent, because you will find when you go to sculpting, especially something like a hand, if you have a nice clean arrangement to your edges on the Polymesh, this is going to be a lot easier to work with when you are sculpting. I'm going to add one more finger here, so we have the standard four fingered cartoon hand. Press the Draw button. Add another ZSphere here. Press Scale to scale on the center of that join, right there. It's not looking too bad, that's a good start.
Since I had Symmetry activated the entire time I was working on this hand, if I press the F key to zoom out, he has got two hands; it cuts my workload in half. Finally, I'm going to switch to Rotate, and I'm going to rotate these arms into more of a pose, to give this guy even some more character. You can see if I rotate a little too much, I'm going to get a twisting here. Sometimes that's okay, but most of the times its something I want to avoid. If I zoom in here, I should have more control over the rotation.
That's an acceptable amount of twisting. Actually, if you look at the anatomy of your arm, the muscles float, or the radialis does actually twist like that. There we have our basic stick figure ready for digital sculpting with the sculpting brushes. The last thing I need to do, if I was satisfied with this version, is to go to the Adaptive Skin palette and press Make Adaptive Skin. This will make a copy in the Tool palette. The copy says, Skin_ zsphereStart, the original is just called zsphere Start. So the one that starts with Skin_ is the one that I want to actually start sculpting.
That's the basics of creating an armature with ZSpheres.
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