NEWBIE CHALLENGE #6 .. EARS
Ok, grapple fans, I've got a real tester for you this time. We're going to make an ear .. just using ZBrush. It's not easy .. it's not stinky-hard either, but you will need to concentrate and experiment.
Now, there are a number of ways to make a reasonably accurate ear in ZB. In our quest to learn new tools and methods, the approach I'm using here is with edgeloops and ZB's method of creating extrusions. An 'extrusion', in case you don't know, is where you move one or more polygons and the software fills in connecting polygons for you. In ZB you hide all polygons except for the ones you want to move. Move them manually or using an option in the Deformation menu (Offset, Size, Rotate, Taper etc), then hit Edgeloop. Connecting polys will magically appear. In the attached script I use this technique to move the ear canal into the head, to raise the bulk of the ear proud of the head, and to create thickened edges.
It is much easier and more efficient to create ears in an external modeller. However, we're here to learn ZB, eh? I've attached some pics of my own ear, which you may find useful. Then there's a graphic showing the method I'm using in the attached script to get the initial polygons for the ear. The 3 edgeloops shown will give a decent start .. after that, it's all a question of adding detail, and moving vertices and edges into a nice flowing mesh.
When I extrude the bulk of the ear away from the head, I faff about a bit trying different distances, rotations and offsets to get the ear at the right angle. The final settings I use are Z offset -20, Y rotation +30, X offset -10, followed by an edgeloop. I've left all the 'Undo's' in place, because that feels more honest. Heh heh. I also waste a bit of time by creating polygroups for some of the parts of the ear. The idea was to make the structure clearer. Not sure that I succeed. Ah well.
Some way into the script I hide all of the ear and do something with the head. You can't see what I'm clicking on because the tool palette extends below the bottom of the screen. All I'm doing is masking the head, so I can move the ear without affecting the head itself.
This challenge is all about the actual geometry and shape of the ear, which is why I've just made one. If you decide to make a pair, mirrored on both sides of a head, just substitute Size for Offset (normally it'll be increasing or decreasing the size along the X axis, rather than offsetting along the Z axis as I'm doing).
Go on .. have a guess. Yup .. make an ear or ears to be proud of and show us here. Scripts, wireframes, timelapses, tools, textures, renders .. whatever you fancy. More experienced modellers who pop by and know much better methods for making ears in ZB will be welcomed with open arms.
Hints and Tips
Stick your finger in your ear. Feel where everything goes and what connects to what. Study photos and real people. Pretty obvious, really.
The only part of the ear that goes below the surface of the head is the ear canal itself. Everything else radiates out from the canal. The Antihelix (the 'Y' shaped area in the centre of the ear) isn't flat, but curves in 2 directions .. at its top it lies very close to the skull (in fact, the right-hand arm of the antihelix does actually attach to the head). The central part of the antihelix is often the most sticking-out part of the ear. And the bottom also attaches to the head, just above the lobe. The whole antihelix gives rigidity to the ear (feel the ridge in your own ear .. notice how it's the top edge of the ring of cartilage that rises from the skull and lifts the ear away from the head). A common mistake (and one I've made myself in my entry below) is to over-do the curled edges of the helix (the rim around the outer edge of the ear). It shouldn't be curled over all the way round the ear, but only for about half starting where the antihelix begins to head upwards across the ear. And make the rounded edges nice and fleshy. Mine are too thin, and so don't look very realistic.