I have a couple questions regarding workflow with Zbrush. I have been using it enough that I'm comfortable sculpting in zbrush now, and have a good flow between Maya, Modo (for my organic UV's) and Zbrush. I'm trying to figure out a professional and reliable pipeline for my work, something that would make me a dependable freelance artist not green about things that have an answer. Roughly put my pipe goes something like this.
1) sculpt basic shape of character in Maya.
2) export to Modo where I apply UV's (best organic for me)
3) import back into Maya to maintain UV's and export as obj to Zbrush
4) sculpt my character out in Zbrush and export new Low model, normal map and displacement map (32 bit) to Maya.
5) render using mental ray and there is my work, although it is not flawless. I have problems with displacement maps and even normal maps that don't resolve accurately in Zbrush.
I'm trying to resolve these issues and tighten the workflow on my pipeline, and take my work to the next level. Toward this end I have been reading a lot, and watching a lot of demos on Zbrush workflow. This of course has lead me to see that artists talk about retopologizing their zbrush sculpts when they bring them back to 3d software which makes me do a double take.
Does every artist re-topologize back in the 3d software if they are working for games or film or basically anything that moves? This seems like a painful ending to using software that is meant to be intuitive and improve work flow. Am I looking at dated material (gnomon tutorials I purchased this week, Feb 22 2009) Character Modeling for Production.
I get my normal map, and displacement to work in Maya however when just using Normal map (like in games) the character lacks the volume of the displaced character. If gamers are only using normal maps and not displacement maps then how do they accomplish this volume? Is it because they are re-topologizing (i.e. rebuilding the model back in Maya or Max or 3d software of their choice?) That doesn't seem like the right solution because even though my model is simple, it is around 6000 polys, and to re-topologize something complex from Zbrush would surely put me much higher, and take a load more time. It seems to defeat the purpose of using Zbrush to begin with to have to "trace" over the exported hi-model back in Maya or Max.
So why re-topologize? I can see from demos that they send hi-res zbrushed "sketches" back to Maya, and recreate them in 3d, but there is no discussion of why this is necessary, and I don't know if they do it just because, A) the video is old, B) That's all that studio knows how to do C) It's because animated characters require movements that would stretch geom incorrectly rendering zbrushed models useless in production.
The thing is that I don't hear people talking about this. Saying, Yes Zbrush is brilliant but you know you have to rebuild the model in 3d software if you actually want to do anything other than a still pose or illustration.
This to me seems like it could be a major drag, since I like to create and sculpt and not necessarily spend all this time learning a cool piece of software to find out that I have to yet again return to the painful path of pulling polys.