Join Ryan Kittleson for an in-depth discussion in this video Starting with ZSpheres, part of Digital Creature Creation in ZBrush, Photoshop, and Maya.
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.
- Brainstorming and refining a character concept
- Installing custom brushes
- Optimizing tablet settings
- Posing the ZSpheres in ZBrush
- Sculpting muscles and midsize shapes
- Working with DynaMesh
- Using GoZ between ZBrush and Maya
- Creating topology for animation
- Sculpting fine detail
- Cleaning up a mesh in Maya
- Creating the UV layout
- Lighting and shading
- Painting texture maps
- Posing with Transpose tools in ZBrush
- Batch rendering a turntable animation