Custom Text using Zsphere/MeshInsert

So after playing around with MarcusCivus’ wonderful zplugin that allows automated meshinserting into zspheres some over the weekend, and learning the in’s and outs of what works and what doesn’t… I decided to try an idea at how the meshinsert process could be used to create customized text.

The process basically amounts to this :

1 - using your photo prog of choice create a 1024x1024 image with your text of choice in 200-250pt font stretched across the center. black text on white background
2 - in zbrush create a poly plane
3 - load in text-image file, flipping horizontal and vertical as needed. Apply as texture map to poly plane
4 - divide poly plane enough times (no smoothing) to be able to texture>polypaint. then mask by intensity, hide pt the white area and you’re left with only your text. you may want to change display settings to double sided at this point for ease of use.
5 - split the text into polygroups, 1 letter per group, and then groupsplit so each letter stays a seperate subtool (this is important so as not to overwhelm plugin later)
6 - append as many zspheres as you have letters, shrinking the prime zsphere and moving it out of view for the time being
7 - using zsketch, very carefully add single point spheres to the surface of one letter. first use varying sizes along the edge and then populate the rest of the surface with no more then 100 points. repeat this process for each letter
8 - relocate prime zspheres each to a point in front and above the letter it is connected to. This will allign any inserted mesh properly oriented to the letter.
9 - now is a good time to save a copy of your working mesh in case script fails

important - 10 - turn of zsketch on all spheres. The mesh insert script will ignore any zsphere with zsketch turned on, but if you turn it off it will take into account every individual point you created regardless of whether its visible to you.

11 - with zsketch off run the zsphere mesh insert plugin which can be located in this thread ; http://www.zbrushcentral.com/showthread.php?t=94752 … select your object of choice to replace the zspheres with and cancel the option box for the connector replacement. please bear in mind that you will be inserting the full number of polys per model per zsphere point you have set up. This is why i suggested limiting to 100 points per letter, and i suggest an object of no more then 12k polys. This will result in a mesh of between 1.2 mil and 1.8 mil polys per letter.

12 - after each individual letter is processed, re-append the resulting copy’s into a single file, locations should all be preserved, and before creating polymesh’s of the adaptive skins tweak your zspheres for size/rotation/location as necessary. when everything is where you want it to be create polymeshes of each new adaptive skin mesh, and once more reappend together into one file

you now have lettering created from whatever object you wish in whatever orientation you want those objects to be in. Depending on how big your model has gotten already i suggest duplicating the letters and move them perpendicular to original to create more depth. This can also be accomplished in photoshop by creating multiple layers, offsetting them slightly, and using varying degrees of lens blur + depth map on the lower layers to mimic true depth. …

Here’s my first test of this process. the basic idea was i wanted to make the word GRAILS using …well… grails… and i think it came out pretty nice for a first try and shows just how much potential the zsphere mesh insert function has towards outside the box thinking :