Hey all Zbrush fanatics, So... I've been using this program for about 8years or so I guess. First took interest in it in early 2002, and made an account here in 2003, so yeah about 8 years. Anyways, I've been using it for so long but I've never really *done* anything with it other than used it as an aid for my 2d works and to actually help me with my "in the round" sculpture in wax/clay as I've always used it to help visualize elements of anatomy in particular.
Now, with the way this program has progressed and all the fun new tools I've really been sinking my teeth into trying to actually use Zbrush to create with. After playing around with it for so long at least I know the interface and functions of everything like the back of my hand. Now it's time to make stuff and use this thread to document it as I'm committed to finally making some of the stuff I've always wanted to realize but never bothered to sit down and actually "do" any of it.
So, first thing I thought I'd get stuck in sculpting a female figure to use as a base for other projects and whatnot and to challenge myself as it's a pretty complicated (for me) thing to undertake from scratch. The way that Zbrush has "found itself" with the new tools and workflow and everything has come together for me recently and I appreciate the direction they've taken it in, enough so as to really inspire to practice this more and get into it. Excited for the future of the app as well. Well enough background, it's just a thread on the internet after all I'll try to make the thread at least more interesting than the intro!
I started this on Monday night and I have a bunch of wip shots as I go along, alot to learn, I'm trying to document the progress since...if I forget I have this thread here to help with that.
Basically a zsphere zsketch. First go at trying my hand at the "new way" of binding the spheres to a zsketch armature. Just got some form laid in, then I worked on it some more.
Added some more zsketching to help me eyeball the musculature, not worried about being perfect here, just...sketching it out getting in to the fun of messing around with the bulge and smooth brushes. Although I did start looking at reference at this point since I decided it would help throughout.
Tried so many skinning options both adaptive and unified, spent about an hour messing around throwing all the switches. Finally settled on a good unified skin that I felt kept the overall form of the zsketch together. Unfortunately, no matter what setting I tried, I could not get those fingers to skin up. They were bound to the rig, reset binding was done properly and all that jazz. (to get that ghost effect, you render your image with the edit zsketch unactive showing the ghost outline over your zsphere. Then when you hit ctrl-n to start a new canvas, the ghost image remains, but the zsphere armature disappears leaving only the ghost!)
Started the actual sculpting, getting some doubts about how far the topology that unified mesh gave me is going to take me. Remember, I want to use this model as a base for other projects so I want to focus and getting something ...usable for that. Started thinking about how to deal with it as I sculpted, really loving the clay brush.
Got to SDiV 2 and got some more sculpting in, but at this point the topology is just...trashed already. So I took it as far as I could at this level but you see all the artifacting, even with smoothing, everywhere and I knew it would just be best to stop at this point if I was serious about this sculpt and retopo it. So this led me on the quest on trying to do it in zbrush which was maddeningly difficult to the point of frustrating, taking all the joy out of the process and leading me down that road of defeatist thinking. So I did what any sane person would do and threw money at the problem until it went away. Researched an afternoon to figure out what would be my best option and settled on Topogun. Learned it in about, 30 minutes and set out retopologizing the mesh. If I'm going to be serious about it, I need a better solution for this sort of thing since yes, it can be done in zbrush, but it's just easier in a dedicated application. I can't afford the big multi thousand dollar licenses so I use the low budget stuff and for the price, topogun is easy to use and satisfactory for my needs. Since I'm just an amateur hobbyist there's no need for anything really high end anyways. I use Hexagon for modelling basic stuff in as well and that's really cheap and does the trick :P I bought that awhile ago since I needed a basic modeller to supplement my messing around in zbrush. Great little application, love it actually for what it does.
Anyways there's the mesh retopologized, took all afternoon since I'm a beginner at thinking about modelling like this, plus I got hypnotized by the actual act of retopologizing something as complicated as the human form. Felt like either a spider spinning a web of vertices or a little old lady doing some kind of high tech weaving all day. Couldn't decide if it was fun or a chore...still up in the air on that.
The mesh topology isn't perfect but, it's suitable for bringing back in to zbrush and getting a fresh start on the flow and easing my mind that when I take it further I'll have better form to work with without all the artifacting. The little step of retopologizing before progressing seemed like a necessary evil but I'm glad I've done it. Now I had to learn about projecting from one mesh to the other since I've known about the feature all along, but never used it before! Like I said, I've been following and playing around with zbrush for a long time editing models and meshes and whatnot, but not seriously using the tools for their intended purposes.
Oh yeah, after topogun I took the mesh into Hexagon to relax the vert clustering with the smooth brush. I've used that smooth brush while experimenting with UV unwrapping in Hexagon awhile back and remembered it would work well for relaxing the topology I created in Topogun. Topogun has a relax feature but it's...not as nice, or I don't know enough to use it well, but I have Hexagon at least.
SO, now I read up a bit on Project All and how I need to set that up, which was dead simple really. Some small issue with my mesh not being the precise size but I can sort that out later with a scaling tool for .obj, no big deal. Surprised me actually with how nice the feature worked! Had to do some small smoothing due to some spikey geometry but nothing on my model broke and it took a couple seconds to clean up. Relatively painless, I expected a giant twisting mass of garbled polygons to be honest. Taking my time paid off at least in that regard as I got the results I sought out after with minimal pain. What more could you want really? Here's a shot of how that worked out.
So now I can get back to the fun part of sculpting again and not sit and stress about the technicalities. But, all about the learning really. Sit and absorb so much awesomeness all the time from this and other boards I finally felt motivated to put all the learning to use and try to come up with something that isn't just a tweak of some other mesh from poser, or some zdoodle, but something that is actually requiring some thought and technique. More to come of course. The motivation for this thread is actually having sort of a visual record of things as I do them, since my memory...I forgot what I was about to type...oh yeah, it's not so good all the time. Big Pictures with colorful words always help to remind me of how I went about doing something. SO if anybody gets anything out of this thread as it goes along then feel free to post here of course. I'm an artist by trade for the last decade and by hobby for most of my life so I'm no stranger to criticism or discussion regarding this sort of thing. Always encouraged but not actively sought after as they say heh.