GDC 2015 Next Gen Pipelines (starring ZBrush!)

Hey everybody, just got back from GDC; Gamespot was cool enough to livestream and post my presentation about next gen pipelines, the power of concepting in 3D, and the Zbrush-to-engine-with-one-button iteration solution.

Anyway, here’s the link, and as I sort through things I’ll post relevant art (and some extras!)


*edit: and if video isn’t your thing, here’s the slides:





Awesome! Thanks for sharing.













Thanks for sharing Michael! Learned some interesting stuff on substance programs, as well as I installed Kuadro :wink: Really helpful tool, I used to open up all my references, take a screenshot of those so I have the layout stored away. This is much cooler tho :D:+1: The models are badass too. Amazing hard surface!

Ooooh thanks for reminding me! Link for everybody else:


Free reference viewer preset manager. Life changer. Use it!

Yeah just pulled in some reference, love it!
Michael, so would you say that the future of the concept artitst (especially character/prop related) is going to be more and more 3d based? And you yourself are a production concept artist I understand? What you’ve talked about at GDC totally makes sense, really enjoyed the presentation.

For sure, coming down the pipes are more and more powerful, speedy tools for evaluating and iterating in 3D, which like I mention is the end experience, so why not start there. The argument for “speed vs 3D” is becoming weaker as the tools and processes become stronger, and the “tech” side of production, while always an issue, can be somewhat automated and controlled by the artist, instead of vice versa. Even since last week, after talking to a number of companies, we’ve refined our process quite a bit from the presentation. Very exciting stuff coming up.

And as far as it just being relegated to just prop / character stuff…I’ve spent the last month and a half concepting environments in 3D, and while there are technical things that need to happen (memory, perf, etc…) the fundamental idea of iterating on the end experience still holds true, ESPECIALLY for environment work. We’re working now to make some of the environment workflow hurdles more iterative and non-destructive as well.

You might remember the mech helmet examples in the slides from this thread:








Very interesting, and so true! I’d love to see the workflow in the industry shifting towards this workflow you explained. And I’m pretty sure it will in the near future. The helmet is absolutely fantastic! I haven’t seen it before since I wasn’t around zbcentral at a time, so thanks for sharing it again. Do you have a video of the creation of the helmet somwhere? :wink: I noticed your mech sculpts have that thin mold running between armor plates and all. How did you make that? My hard surface and sci-fi overall definitely needs a lift haha

For sure, and after a bit I’ll post videos on making the FPS Female GDC lady. For the commentary-time-lapse-helmet-creation:

for the specific technique vids:

The rubber-ring stuff was mostly done using the curve-on-border-insert-curve-brush technique, at the bottom of the first page of the helmet link (unless you’re talking about other areas)

Great talk Michael, really enjoyed the VR ideas… I see your vision, now lets get Museums on board. Plus… I love what you said about junior modellers! Thats me… I want that work and experience!

Kind Regards


I’m really excited for the potential of 3D art to take off in the next few years. Fingers crossed!

Great model and presentation thanks for sharing the video very informative, I know you had a lot more to say in a short time. VR in sports I didn’t realize its potential. Also thanks for the reference viewer it makes it more efficient now.

Thank you Michael!

No prob guys! Working out authorization for some of the images…in the meantime here are some that I know are safe!

Early Character Sketches:

FPS Female 001 in “Form Refine” (pre-detail) mode:



That’s amazing Michael, thank you for the videos! And yes that rubber thing is exactly what i was talking about… that’s a nice technique I keep forgetting about.:o

cool :+1:

Hey Michael,

thanks for posting a follow up to your GDC presentation here on ZBC. I posted over in the Modo forums just how informative and entertaining this session was. I know it’s geared more towards working with large groups of artists, fine tuning large pipelines and purging the attitudes and inefficiencies that plague production rather than an individual focus. However your points about ‘best practices’ and cutting out unnecessary steps or leapfrogging stages of development due to a more flexible iteration process for the most part can scale downward.

Also any chance Luiz’s session on ‘Proceduralism and Automation’ is kicking around somewhere. I am sure its more than likely beyond the scope of my own pipeline but would still be interesting to watch.

Great to see and learn the insights of how things work in the bigger facilities.

Thanks for taking the time.


Thanks for the kind words, I’ll go check out the Modo forums and see if I can find it! There’s a pretty detailed thread (with Luiz as well) over on the polycount General Discussions forum, a little more in-depth info; I think the thread here will just get buried so go check that out for sure. Luiz’s talk…I think is buried in the GDC vault, I know they recorded it, but not sure how that works. I’ll see if I can at least convince him to post his slides, if not re-record the session on youtube or something. It was a good 30 minute breakdown, a little more concise than mine :lol:

Thanks for this, it is impressive stuff. There’s a bit that is confusing me however.

I’m currently building a large mechanical beast and using dynamesh, so have high poly hard surface bits. And want to get them to a low poly thing I can UV and get a normal to use in Quixel Suite.

IN your video, you dynamesh, then decimate, then run UV - great, but when you show your color id map, it is using a completely different UV. How do I go from the UV created in UV master, to being able to get the colour id information from my poly paint (which is on the dynameshed object). Hope that question makes sense. :slight_smile: