Every so often we're going to be highlighting a member of the ZBC community. There are an amazing number of astonishingly talented artists among us, and some in particular stand out for their generosity. These people constantly share new work, explore or discover aspects of ZBrush use, and participate in the community.
This week we've interviewed Ralf Stumpf. A perusal of his ZBC Gallery shows that he's done it all! Aliens, robots, monsters and humans -- they're all there. Ralf has also been an important beta tester, with constant feedback that has helped make ZBrush 3.x what it is today.
Note: The ZBC Gallery link above will take you to the many WIP threads that Ralf has contributed. This is a great way to learn more about Ralf's techniques. To see his favorite finished works, please click on the thumbnails at the end of this interview.
Hi Ralf. Thanks for taking the time for this interview! To begin, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I studied design in Germany and graduated in 1989. I work as a freelance artist. For a long time in my career I made packaging and corporate design for international companies, but my real passion is illustration and character development. To work on a feature film project for Pixar or Blue Sky Studio would be nice.
Could you share a bit more about yourself? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy watching good movies. I collect robot models and I love "making of" books and art books from all genres. (Nothing compares to a physical book.)
So how did you get started in CG?
I started CG in 1987. I just wanted to do things like in Pixar's short "Luxo Jr." Over the years I worked with many software packages on different hardware systems. Now my main software programs for 3D are Maya and ZBrush.
And how did you first discover ZBrush?
I was not satisfied with the techniques for organic modeling in standard 3D programs. Point tweaking is not the right method for artists. Then I saw the great works from artists on ZBrushCentral and I was immediately aware that ZBrush is a must for every digital sculptor. This was in 2004 and my opinion hasn't changed over time.
Could you be a bit more specific? What were your reasons for using ZBrush?
Working with ZBrush is very natural, like clay. The sculpting brushes have so much power even in higher levels with millions of polygons. I like to sketch in ZBrush with a very simple base mesh, and then make a new topology inside ZBrush later if I have found the right design direction. And in the end I can texture the entire model directly with ZBrush in 3D.
So what would you say is your favorite new feature or features of ZBrush?
I like the clear interface, the real-time workflow in different subD- levels with the sculpting brushes in real 3D space, and the possibility to generate 32-bit displacement and 8-bit color maps for other applications like Maya. I also really like the new features in ZBrush 3.x like Subtools, Polypaint, Retopology and Projection, working with Alphas in 3D space and of course the real-time MatCaps and Preview Shadows.
So we know that ZBrush is great for your needs. Would you recommend ZBrush to other artists, and why?
Yes! ZBrush is the complete package at the moment. The control of the sculpting brushes is amazing and it can handle real high polycounts even with older computers. And with the realtime MatCaps and Preview Shadows you really have great feedback while sculpting your model. The possibility to texture your model with Polypaint is intuitive and you can convert this later with the right UV's to a texture map for using in other applications.
We're seeing more and more new ZBrush users all the time. What advice can you offer them?
Learn ZBrush like a child that is discovering a new world. Play with the tools and take the time to look at ZBrushCentral to see what is possible, and to get tips and tricks.
What other impressions or comments about ZBrush would you like to share with us?
ZBrush 3 is a great step in the right direction. Artists always have wishes and there are still many challenges for software developers, but I really like that Pixologic continuously improves the package.
Do you plan to incorporate ZBrush in future projects?
ZBrush is one of the main applications in my workflow and has influences in every job or project I work on. And from time to time I teach ZBrush to some students.
I think all artists are inspired by other. Which artists do you find most inspirational, and why?
I respect all artists who do their work with heart. Artists who try to improve their skills over time. Art and design is a big field and I'm interest in nearly all variations.
Thanks, Ralf! To finish the interview, which ZBrush piece is your favorite out of what you've done so far?
Every new work is my favorite. I always looking forward and I hope never stop to learn.
Ralf Stumpf's Finished Works
Click each thumbnail to view the full image.