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Tips for making good edge flow

From: ZBrush 4 Essential Training

Video: Tips for making good edge flow

Edge flow can be a challenging thing to get right. There's the theory behind it that I mentioned in the last movie, but there's also a lot of practice and experimentation that goes into a thorough understanding of it. Hopefully, with the following tips you will gain a better understanding of what goes into good edge flow. Let's open up the head_linesdrawn exercise file to look at what a finished edge flow drawing looks like. It's a Ztool, so I have to click and drag to bring into the canvas. Let's go into Edit mode and I'm going to hide the Light Box. I'm going to hit F, so we can see it full screen.

Tips for making good edge flow

Edge flow can be a challenging thing to get right. There's the theory behind it that I mentioned in the last movie, but there's also a lot of practice and experimentation that goes into a thorough understanding of it. Hopefully, with the following tips you will gain a better understanding of what goes into good edge flow. Let's open up the head_linesdrawn exercise file to look at what a finished edge flow drawing looks like. It's a Ztool, so I have to click and drag to bring into the canvas. Let's go into Edit mode and I'm going to hide the Light Box. I'm going to hit F, so we can see it full screen.

Okay, so I use different colors than you saw on the last video, but it's the same thing really. The first thing I want to talk about is keeping it clean. This means to avoid the temptation to follow every little detail, and instead focus on just the things that have a structural significance. So you see all the major structures of the face have been followed with edge flow lines. However, I want to zoom in here on one thing and note how I didn't follow every little detail. So you see there's this little line here on the bridge of the nose area? Little things like that can sometimes distracts from the big picture.

You don't need to follow every little detail; it's just the bigger forms. It's about following the structures that are actually going to move and change when they're animated. Something else to keep in mind is keeping it roughly even and proportional. Keeping every single polygon a perfect square is impossible, but you should try to avoid making any polygons that are more than twice as long on one side than they are in another. So you see most of these polygons are roughly square. Some of them are longer, a little shorter, but mostly square.

Now there is one big exception to this. You want to make edges closer together at creases and tight areas. So you look here in the laugh line. We've got edges that are closer together. Same thing around these creases around the eye. They are really helping to hold that crease shape. It's okay to have long polygons in these instances, because you want the model to be able to retain these long finer lines. You also want to avoid making abrupt changes in scale with small polygons next to really big ones.

It's okay to have small polygons in areas of tight detail, like around here in the corner of the eye or in the nostrils, and then you want to have bigger ones in big broad areas where not so much is happening. The important thing is to make a gradual transition from one to the other. Something else you want to do is avoid poles. Poles are when you have six or more edges meeting in one spot. It's like the grid lines on a globe meeting at the North Pole. Poles are difficult to sculpt and rig properly.

So I don't think I have any poles in this model. It's pretty free of that problem. But I do want to point out that there are places where you're going to have five edges meeting in one spot. So, for example, right here. Down here on the jaw line you've got another one, and back here behind the jaw there is another area where five edges meet in one spot. It's impossible to entirely avoid those five-pointed stars as they're called, but what you really don't want to do is have six or more edges meeting in one spot. That can cause weird pinches to form as you're sculpting, and it makes it difficult to rig.

Notice all of these polygons are four-sided. A few triangles are actually okay, but use rectangles when feasible. When a model is subdivided, triangles actually turn into rectangles. So one thing you can do is intentionally retopologize with triangles and then when it subdivides all those triangles will turn into four-sided polygons. Another good thing to do is retopologize at a lower density than you know you're going to need and then export at a higher subdivision level for animating.

It's also a lot less work to retopologize fewer polygons than it is to retopologize when you have drawn out a lot more lines. Now this edge flow drawing is not perfect. There are some things I would want to change. So, for example, there is this one edge right here that's going a little closer to this edge next to it than the other one. Something I would want to do is fix this by redrawing this line so it's a little more centered. Something else I would want to fix is to look out for faces like this. This is actually going to end up being a five-sided polygon, and we don't want that.

So you would want to find a way to split this maybe into two four-sided polygons or maybe a triangle and a four-sided polygon. Maybe you could draw an edge from this point and take it up into the nostril, something like that. Experiment with it. See what works. Something else I probably would want to do before I go into retopology is to spread out these edges right here across the nose. They are all kind of bunching up in one spot. I'd probably try to bring this one up higher, just kind of scoot all these up, and some of these down, just so that they're not all bunched up right here.

Keeping these tips in mind will help not just with retopologizing models in ZBrush, but with any kind of 3D modeling. It's a lot to remember, I know, but the more you practice it, the more you'll internalize these rules, and beautiful topology will come naturally to you.

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This video is part of

Image for ZBrush 4 Essential Training
ZBrush 4 Essential Training

63 video lessons · 15621 viewers

Ryan Kittleson
Author

 
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  1. 5m 13s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Using the exercise files
      59s
    3. What is ZBrush?
      1m 47s
    4. A note on screen resolution
      1m 32s
  2. 19m 17s
    1. Making sense of ZBrush
      2m 39s
    2. Understanding the interface
      2m 29s
    3. Using Light Box
      1m 23s
    4. Navigating the canvas
      2m 2s
    5. Using Perspective and Floor
      1m 51s
    6. Understanding local centering
      1m 9s
    7. Trying different materials
      2m 7s
    8. Activating symmetry
      2m 15s
    9. Viewing your work in various ways
      3m 22s
  3. 19m 59s
    1. Understanding polygon-based models
      1m 45s
    2. Creating ZSpheres
      4m 21s
    3. Using ShadowBox
      2m 15s
    4. Making a ZSketch
      2m 47s
    5. Extracting from an existing mesh
      4m 0s
    6. Using primitive 3D meshes
      3m 24s
    7. Importing from other programs
      1m 27s
  4. 23m 43s
    1. Understanding brush settings
      2m 45s
    2. Inverting brush effects
      1m 9s
    3. Switching to Smooth mode
      2m 35s
    4. Setting the stroke properties
      4m 14s
    5. Working with alphas
      2m 34s
    6. Using the Move brush
      2m 51s
    7. Using the Clip brush
      2m 58s
    8. Learning a few more common brushes (Polish, Clay, Flatten, Inflate, Tracks)
      2m 14s
    9. Saving and using brush presets
      2m 23s
  5. 26m 53s
    1. Working with tools and projects
      1m 52s
    2. Working with subdivision levels
      3m 4s
    3. Masking off parts of your model
      2m 28s
    4. Masking based on cavity and occlusion
      4m 23s
    5. Selecting and hiding parts of a tool
      2m 51s
    6. Working with polygroups
      2m 0s
    7. Using deformation
      1m 59s
    8. Mirroring geometry across an axis
      1m 49s
    9. Restoring symmetry
      1m 45s
    10. Creating morph targets
      2m 31s
    11. Understanding surface normal direction
      2m 11s
  6. 8m 57s
    1. Learning the basics of subtools
      2m 37s
    2. Making new subtools
      3m 12s
    3. Combining subtools
      3m 8s
  7. 7m 20s
    1. Masking with Transpose
      1m 49s
    2. Adjusting the Transpose Manipulator
      1m 46s
    3. Moving, scaling, and rotating with Transpose
      3m 45s
  8. 20m 25s
    1. Understanding how ZBrush uses color
      2m 36s
    2. Learning the basics of Spotlight
      3m 37s
    3. Painting and texturing with Spotlight
      2m 56s
    4. Texturing a head: A practical approach
      11m 16s
  9. 21m 14s
    1. Drawing new edge flow for retopology
      7m 52s
    2. Tips for making good edge flow
      5m 14s
    3. Creating new topology
      3m 55s
    4. Transferring detail from the old model to the new
      4m 13s
  10. 13m 28s
    1. Understanding the UV maps
      2m 47s
    2. Installing the UV Master plug-in
      1m 47s
    3. Using UV Master
      3m 46s
    4. Creating texture maps
      5m 8s
  11. 6m 36s
    1. Preventing problems
      1m 42s
    2. Recovering a corrupted model
      2m 28s
    3. Recognizing and fixing common problems
      2m 26s
  12. 4m 54s
    1. Examples of ZBrush work
      3m 16s
    2. Goodbye
      1m 38s

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