Modeling a Female Android in ZBrush
Illustration by John Hersey

Optimizing topology with ZRemesher


Modeling a Female Android in ZBrush

with Ryan Kittleson

Video: Optimizing topology with ZRemesher

Now that we've got the basic symmetrical pose created, we can see some problems. So let's go to ZRemesher. It's in the Geometry palette.
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  1. 2m 38s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 11s
    3. What you should know before watching this course
  2. 31m 51s
    1. Optimizing the Wacom tablet settings
      1m 55s
    2. Gathering reference images
      1m 27s
    3. Understanding the difference between projects and tools
      3m 15s
    4. Opening and saving tools
      1m 54s
    5. Getting a base model to start with
      2m 49s
    6. Posing the base
      6m 28s
    7. Challenge: Pose the arms
    8. Solution: Pose the arms
      3m 18s
    9. Cleaning up the pose
      2m 57s
    10. Optimizing topology with ZRemesher
      7m 2s
  3. 35m 12s
    1. Refining the base anatomy
      4m 7s
    2. Concepting the android with layers
      5m 21s
    3. Sketching mechanical shapes
      4m 4s
    4. Stylizing based on real anatomy
      3m 42s
    5. Making the chest
      3m 17s
    6. Designing a waist
      3m 37s
    7. Using layers to mix and match the design
      3m 19s
    8. Erasing part of a layer with Morph Targets
      2m 12s
    9. Challenge: Finish the design
    10. Solution: Finish the design
      5m 4s
  4. 30m 56s
    1. Splitting the android into parts
      1m 57s
    2. Slicing the model into pieces
      2m 31s
    3. Using the SliceCurve tool
      4m 36s
    4. Splitting slices into subtools
      5m 42s
    5. Splitting overlapping panels
      5m 25s
    6. Fitting panels inside of each other
      3m 40s
    7. Challenge: Slice the rest of the model
      1m 5s
    8. Solution: Slice the rest of the model
      6m 0s
  5. 41m 51s
    1. Starting with primitives
      4m 58s
    2. Making knee joints
      4m 16s
    3. Connecting the knee joints with the android
      3m 24s
    4. Making parts with insert mesh brushes
      2m 59s
    5. Making wires and cables
      5m 17s
    6. Making hip joints with the Clip Brush
      5m 11s
    7. Forming the pelvis with the Curve Bridge
      4m 1s
    8. Creating the visor
      4m 57s
    9. Challenge: Make the rest of the inner mechanics
    10. Solution: Make the rest of the inner mechanics
      6m 11s
  6. 44m 13s
    1. Making some parts solid
      5m 14s
    2. Cutting back vents with SliceCurve
      4m 9s
    3. Making vent holes from polygroups
      4m 41s
    4. Restoring symmetry with Mirror
      1m 50s
    5. Making side vents with masking
      2m 44s
    6. Cutting ailerons with Trim and Clip
      4m 45s
    7. Using replacement parts
      3m 27s
    8. Cutting holes with replacement parts
      3m 0s
    9. Adding thickness to panels with Extract
      5m 15s
    10. Adding thickness with Panel Loops
      3m 38s
    11. Challenge: Finish panel detail
    12. Solution: Finish panel detail
      4m 48s
  7. 22m 3s
    1. Making a finger segment with ShadowBox
      4m 43s
    2. Duplicating and appending fingers
      4m 13s
    3. Arranging fingers to form a hand
      3m 49s
    4. Making a foot with DynaMesh
      3m 31s
    5. Cutting a toe piece with Boolean intersection
      3m 37s
    6. Cutting the foot piece with Boolean subtraction
      2m 10s
  8. 13m 26s
    1. Making a tire with radial symmetry
      4m 53s
    2. Modeling the wheel hub
      4m 38s
    3. Fitting the wheel to the foot
      3m 55s
  9. 27m 28s
    1. Adding fine seams
      4m 50s
    2. Reducing polygons with Decimation Master
      4m 7s
    3. Mirroring the limbs
      3m 1s
    4. Preparing for rigging and posing
      2m 19s
    5. Posing with Transpose Master
      5m 1s
    6. Applying materials
      4m 14s
    7. Creating a rendered turntable video
      3m 56s
  10. 58s
    1. Next steps

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Watch the Online Video Course Modeling a Female Android in ZBrush
4h 10m Intermediate Dec 17, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Androids started appearing in science fiction over a hundred years ago, and have since evolved from robotic machines into more fully humanoid shapes. With modern 3D modeling tools like ZBrush, it's easier than ever to create a realistic looking android that bridges the divide between man (or woman) and machine. In this course, Ryan Kittleson teaches you how to model a female android with ZBrush's powerful modeling and sculpting tools. He shows how to start with a basic model and refine and stylize the anatomy. Then you'll learn how to concept machine-inspired parts like vents and wheels; create clean, hard edges; refine delicate areas like hands, feet, and joints; and add finishing details like seams. In the end, you'll put the android into an action pose and create a rendered turntable video that shows off your model.

Topics include:
  • Gathering reference materials
  • Getting a base model
  • Stylizing the android's body
  • Exploring design concepts
  • Making pivoting joints
  • Creating precise mechanical shapes
  • Adding thickness to panels with Panel Loops
  • Making a foot with DynaMesh
  • Making a tire with radial symmetry
  • Reducing polygons with Decimation Master
  • Preparing for rigging and posing
  • Applying materials
3D + Animation
Ryan Kittleson

Optimizing topology with ZRemesher

Now that we've got the basic symmetrical pose created, we can see some problems. The topology of the original model, that is, the way that the polygons are arranged to form the surface, don't work very well in this new pose. You can see there's lots of nasty stretching going on in the shoulders, for example, and in the hips. Basically any place that got extreme posing done to it. This stretching is going to make it hard to sculpt, so we need to re-topologize the model so that the arrangement of polygons is more even. Let's see how to use ZRemesher to get this done.

So let's go to ZRemesher. It's in the Geometry palette. And go ahead and click on ZRemesher if it's not already open. You can do this with just a single button push, but let me talk about some settings first. One thing that you might want to do is make sure that Symmetry is turned on. So you can see I've got two dots here on my model. One for each symmetrical side of the model. If I hit x, that turns that off. But since our model is symmetrical, I do want to leave that on. So let's go ahead and click ZRemesher and see what we get. Okay, the result is pretty good. Let's go ahead and undo this.

You can actually use the Undo History right up here at the top of the screen. So we can actually go back and forth between the two just to compare what that difference is. Okay, so let's go back and look at some of the settings. One setting is Target Polygon Count. This is basically how detailed the model will be, the higher the number, the more detail. So let's try ZRemesher again with a value of say, 20. So it takes a little bit longer, but you can see that the result has more detail. I'm going to to hit Ctrl+Z to undo that. Now you're going to want to use ZRemesher on a higher subdivision level because that ZRemesh actually captured some of the low polygon shapes.

So let's hit d a couple times to go up to a higher subdivision level, and try that again. The more detail you're dealing with, the longer it's going to take. It could take upwards of a few minutes sometimes. Okay, so that result is pretty clean. Now, there's another setting, and it's kind of a hidden secret. Every once in awhile, when you're doing ZRemesher, you'll get messy results right along the center line. If that happens, what you want to do is hit Ctrl+Z to undo, and you want to hold down Alt when you click on ZRemesher. Now in this case we might not see any difference. However, if you're getting weird problems go ahead and try this trick. Alright, not a lot of difference, but I can tell it's actually a little bit smoother and cleaner in here. Let's undo this and try something else.

Another thing you can do to get better results is to use ZRemesher Guides. These are lines that you can draw manually to tell ZRemesher the direction that you want the edges to flow in. So let's hit b and z on the keyboard, and then r. Now we've got the ZRemesher Guides Brush. Now if there's any particular places where we want the topology to be flowing, we can just draw a line there. And so this is a little bit low detail right now. Our brush size is kind of big. So I'm going to hit Ctrl+Z to undo that. I'm going to hit s to bring down the size of the brush. And let's try that again. So we can draw lines and tell z brush where we want the new topology to go.

We're just kind of suggesting the basic direction where it should go. So if your running into problems where, you know you want the topology for example, to flow down the arm like this, but you're just not getting that result with ZRemesher, you can kind of tell it where you want it to go specifically. Now there's one final setting that I use often, but I'm not going to use it for this model. But let me just show you how it works. That's Poly Paint. This let's you paint parts of the model that you want to retopologize at higher or lower density. So I want to hit CTRL+X to undo those ZRemesh Guides and let's just get the standard brush e, s, t.

Let's come over to ZRemesher and turn on use Poly Paint. Now for the color density, what we can do is set this to a different number, and this basically is a multiplier. So wherever we paint with a four, the model is going to be retopologized at four times the density. Let's make sure we've got RGB mode turned on and let's just paint the face so it's a little bit higher detail. Click s, and increase. So you notice it actually kind of sculpted on the model. That's because I forgot to do one thing. I forget to turn off z add. So now we're just painting with color and not sculpting.

So let's make sure the face is higher detail, and we can actually come down and make different parts of the model extra low detail. So now it sent a 0.25. That means that the resulting density will be one fourth the standard density. So you could paint that wherever you want. I'm not really going to stick with the result, but let's just try it out to see what we get. Alright let's take a closer look. So you can see the face has a lot more detail. It's actually got some weird stuff going on. So you want to be careful about this, not to have too abrupt of a change. Because we had before, like this really, really intense red.

And then the transition from the red to the standard color just isn't that soft. So you want to be careful with that. One trick you can do to help with that, is to hold down shift and then make sure we turn off z add. So it's only effecting the color. So it just kind of blurs that out. You can actually go down in subdivision levels and you'll get a more strong effect. So now if we blur that out, we get a more soft transition and the result will probably be a little bit more predictable. Okay, so let's try that again. Okay, so you can see it's less dense right here on the back.

And it's more dense on the face, and it's definitely cleaner now. So let's undo this. Now I actually don't want to deal with color density for this model, so let's set the color density to just one. And what I want to do is just paint over all the stuff that I painted before, just to bring it back to one. And then let's increase some subdivision levels so that we make sure that we've got all that detail in there. And the target plug on count, let's do something like ten. Doesn't have to be exact. And make sure I've got symmetry on, and I'm going to hold down Alt and click ZRemesher.

I love ZRemesher, because it does what used to take hours and hours of manual work to do by hand. It does a pretty good job of making an optimized mesh. However, if you want a really clean model for animation with very precise edge loops, ZRemesher is not quite your tool yet. Sometimes it refuses to follow obvious features in the model, even when you draw guides for it. Additionally, it usually still takes some manual editing, in some program like Maya or Blender, to get a real production ready topology for rigging.

But, for our purposes in this course, the topology just needs to be good enough for sculpting, so that the polygons are mostly square and evenly spaced. So this result is going to work great for us.

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