Hey there guys!
It’s been a little while since I posted here but the last couple of weeks were so hectic here, where I live… Had to move in a new place… work meanwhile… and
other boring stuff along those lines. But now everything is fixed and I am back to what I was working on. SO I managed to get done the first stage of refinement
of the upper body. There are still areas that need adjustment and also areas that I am not very happy with but… I think is a decent place to be
in order to be able to move down to the legs. Hopefully I’ll get this done today and than, after I visit the hands and feet, I will be ready to over the whole figure and
integrate all the parts of the body as well as doing the last stage of refinement.
Now… This will be a little bit of a long post because I decided something. In the past weeks, while moving computers, furniture and other things around,
I was thinking that I should change a little bit the way I post in my sketchbook. So I came up with the idea of writing small… working diary passages in whioch I will
detail a little from how it was to work on whatever I post at that given moment. Things like problems I had, tools or new settings I’ve discovered, inspiring work that gave
me a certain idea or thought me something… etc etc.
I have seen this kind of approach in another sketchbook, here on Zbrush Central, and I find it to be very helpful. I find it to be abother way to learn, different from what we
have in tutorials or specialtty books… I mean, those are great instruments of learning but this is another way you can learn things. You
will probably understand better what I want to say if you will visit the thread/sketchbook that I refered to: http://www.zbrushcentral.com/showthread.php?167023-Johnny-Destroy-s-sketchbook
Check it out and you will see what I mean… and also you will maybe have the chance to learn a thing or to as well as see a great guy and artist.
I know I am still a newbe and I don’t intend to make tutorials on my work… because I think you need a certain amount of knowledge in order to do a proper tutorial. What I will do is just my will to share, my hope to engage constructive discussions and critiques and my way to say a little thank you, back to a community that gave me and thought me so much in the last few months…
So… this being said, I will post the quick renders I’ve done with the upper body and than I will tell you a few things about what I’ve learned during the process.
I will back track a little and share a little from what Scott Spencer meant for me and what I’ve learned while following his first two books: “Zbrush Digital Sculpting - Human Anatomy”
(done back in the 3.0 - 3.5 days) and “Zbrush Character Creation” (2nd edition).
Well, there are hundreds of things that I’ve learned from this guy but I will stick with a few major things that changed completely the way I work and the way I think about
sculpting in Zbrush.
1 - I’ve learned that you do not need to make a perfect stroke from the first try… You can spend hours and hours just sketching around and allowing you the time to “massage the form”
until it becomes what you want it to be. Before, I was getting stuck in small areas very often, trying to understand what was wrong with them… and I would spend two hours or so in one
small area… trying to get it perfect while the whole rest of the sculpt was barely sketched in. This brings me to another thing that I’ve learned, which is “work on the whole thing”…
I know that in this exercise I took each part of the body separately but even than, I would try to work on the whole part… for example on the body I would work on the pectorals a little, than move on the lats,
than abdomen, back side and so on. All this things are part of the way I work now. From a technical point of view, I discovered a few tricks about how brushes can help you keep a sketchy like approach as well as building up the final form slowly. Let’s go a little trough these brushes…
a) Clay tubes: For some reason I never managed to tame Clay Buildup… is a bit to powerful for me, at least for now… Clay tubes however works like a charm. The trick that really got me
into this brush was simply to lower the Zintensity to about 20 and the Focal Shift to about -5. Also, when you want to transition between two forms and fill the gap between them, this brush
without any alpha is doing a great job… I don’t know if is something that other people do but I found that if I go in circular strokes with this brush while no alpha is active, I can fill in areas
very nicely and also create a strong sense of volume.
b) Smooth: The first thing I will do after I finish this huge wall of text and post it on the forums will be to open Zbrush and save a few new brushes. One of them will be a Smooth brush with adjusted settings.
I found these settings while watching Scott Spencer and he uses them in order to allow him to go in with the Smooth and tone down the clay strokes without destroying the created form. No, it is not about
smoothing parts of the stroke without touching a certain edge… is about lowering the intensity and sometimes adjusting the curve in order to be able to go over the whole thing and give a nice settle feel.
I found that a Zintensity of about 20 - 25 works for me… If I find myself struggling to smooth something than I will just step down a level and smooth there first, than go back up and tapper the area little more.
Also, in the last stages of refinement you can bring the curve down in the edit curve menu; this will make your smooth to affect the high points only, allowing you to preserve the overall form wile getting the surface noise down.
c) HPolish and Clay Finish: I like to think about them like my instruments to tame the beast… The beast being any form that at some point just goes wild pulling out in direction I don’t really want it to.
In this kind of moments I just go with one of these two brushes and plane the surface a little… It does take down from the volume but it does it in a constructive way… I had this problem on the deltoid muscle for example…
At some point I looked at it and … it was very oddly shaped. The top part (the one on top of the acromion process) had an odd valley, the form being very high in a point and very low in another… Also, if you look from a front - 3 quarters view
at this part of the body, you will see a nice S curve from the head of the deltoid that attaches to the clavicle and down to where it inserts in the arm. This curve was not an S curve in my case… it was some bumpy like line… In these cases I went with HPolish
and planed the three sections of the deltoid… Also, I went down with a little bit of Lazy Mouse and established that S curve I was talking about.
d) Standard and Alpha 01: This I use for going in a certain area (take the forearm for example) and separate the muscles in there in order to allow me to see what’s going on and what goes where. Many times you will end up by getting those valleys covered in the
final figure but until you get to that point, I find this technique to be very useful, mostly now, when I just start to learn Anatomy.
- The Interactive Light, Custom Interface, Hotkeys, and BasicMaterial 2: Yea… a bunch of technical stuff that I want to mention because they helped me so much… At some point, in his book, Scott Spencer defines the form as “the effective representation of a shape in space.
This is possible through Light and Shadow There is no form without Light and Shadow.” So, because form is so important (being the main thing that defines whatever you sculpt), he comes with several technical things that can help you see the form better while you help. One of them is the Basic Material 2. As you might know, the MatCap Materials have built in light while the Standard Materials have no such thing. Therefor, while the MatCaps are desirble for final renders, the Standard Material roughness comes in handy while you sculpt. The basic material 2 especially since it has that specific specularity which will allow you to see bumps and lumpy parts of your sculpt that otherwise would be covered or not so proeminent with a MatCap material. In other words, this material is so rough and basic that if you manage to get something look good under this material, you will be able to get it look amazing under a proper shader.
Together with this, I was introduced to the Interactive Light. Since this material has no built in light, you can take the light in your scene and orbit around your model, taking it in any odd angle you might want while the form on the sculpt will react accordingly. This would be impossible with the MatCap.
The last thing, Hotkeys and Custom Interface in general. One day I opened Zbrush and I looked at the interface… and I said “ok… what do I need from what I have here?” So I took each button and slider and if I didn’t need it I just took it away from the interface. In the end, the right hand thin bar (the one that starts with the BPR button) got eliminated from there and what was left from those buttons went up, where I had plenty of space after the Zintensity and other sliders. Also, I thought what brushes I use most often and what I might need… I got the most used ones on 1 to 5 hotkeys and the rest I dragged them under the Colour Square. Also, Backface masking made its way to my interface since is a tool that I find very useful.
I think I will stop here since this is already way to long. From now on I will hopefully stick strictly with what I post… now I had an excuse since is the first time when I post in this way…
Right… Thanks for watching/reading and as usual, let me know what you think!
Have a great day and an awesome week dudes!