Modelling Ears for Beginners

A step-by-step guide to modelling humanoid type ears for beginners. The tutorial assumes you’ve a (very basic) grasp of ZBrush … eg you know how to load a ZSphere, use shift+drag to get the model facing you exactly, how to switch Frame view on and off, and roughly where to find Tool settings.

I’ve only been using ZB for a few months, and I’ve no anatomical training. But the ears let down a lot of otherwise excellent models and there seems to be a demand … so I guess it’s time for me to pay back to this most excellent community. Any errors, inefficient techniques, or plain stoopidness are all down to me. However, I have an excellent lawyer! btw I’ve deliberately exaggerated the ears so it’s easier to see what’s going down.






I am not worthy (bow to ground) :D:+1:small_orange_diamond:+1:small_orange_diamond:+1:

Excellent tutorial, [color=Wheat]Moochie :+1:small_orange_diamond:+1:small_orange_diamond:+1:

I canan see this as being extremely useful reference; thanks a bunch!


Cool Moochie! Thanks!!

Thanks guys.

Something I meant to add … when working on the ears, it’s a good idea to mask the rest of the head, so it won’t be affected by any tugging and pulling. To do this, Ctrl+Shift+click on the skull itself so everything else disappears. In the Tools > Masking menu click on Mask All (it masks everything that’s visible, not the whole model). Ctrl+Shift+click in a blank part of the window and the ears will reappear, unmasked. To clear the mask when you’re done, click Clear in the Mask menu. Yay!

great tutorial. :+1:
Excellent ear


thanks a lot, it’s very usfull for a beginer like me :wink:

:smiley: :smiley: hi this is actually vivien writing here…was too lasy to log out and log back in…so anyways, i just wanted to tell you that 1) the ear looks super good, 2) good tut, 3)the skin is wonderful, it’s one of the nicest ones i’ve seen so far!!! good work! vivien:+1:

very nice tut. :)))
its a shame you dont study anatomy. you would be an even more awesome zbrush artist if you had the right anatomy.

any chance of makeing a script or video tut?

I have been drawing ears and staring at peoples heads for a week till I found this. What a great and wonderful resource this is! :smiley:

my first post and my first 3d ear.
Outstanding tutorial, Much thanx, man.:+1:

nice ear, Moochie… can you teach me how and if can i do more or less the same with classical sculpting method (draw/move/scale…)? I’m a new-new-newbie in Zbrush and I can’t work with zballs… I should learn… :rolleyes: I always say “I should…” but I never do!!! hi hi hi :stuck_out_tongue: otherwise, it looks quite simple to make an ear with zspheres, can I put them on a polygonal head that I have already made (without freezing the head)? I think I can’t, but I ask you 'cause I’m just a kid in zbrush…


Good question … I’ve been meaning to experiment along similar lines, but never got around to it. So I’ve had a fiddle. What follows is not definitive … I’m a beginner myself … I’m sure one of the more experienced users will tidy up if I make a mess.

The basic problem with ears is that you need quite a number of vertices to get all the folds and smooth curves. You can try inflating them out of your head mesh, but that won’t work at very low resolutions cos you’ll move too much of the base mesh. If you do it at higher resolutions you soon get stuck, because you’re not adding geometry, just increasing the size of the polygons. Most computers can only take a standard head up to sub-division level 7 or so, so if you started building your ears at level 4 or 5, you won’t have enough vertices to get nice ears.

The best method is to give yourself all the geometry you need from the word go, by manipulating the verts as shown above. So, what about ZSheres? (see pic below)
a). a sub-divided cube (level 4) dropped in Projection Master (short-cut G). All options turned off except ‘Deformation’. Added a ZSphere chain, which is difficult to build along a plane as you can’t rotate the head (the cube here) in Projection Master.
b). picked up from PM. As you can see if you study the grid lines, adding the spheres has not added any geometry … just pulled existing polygons out from the cube.
c). starting with a single sphere for the head, I built a rough ear shape from smaller spheres. You wouldn’t do it quite like this as you’d get better results with Attractor spheres, but I didn’t want to over complicate things. The first ear sphere is imbedded in the head sphere, of course, and I pulled a couple of the last spheres into the head too, to see where the mesh would flow.
d). this is the Unimesh option (for converting ZSpheres into a mesh). The mesh follows the spheres faithfully. But this isn’t an option for head modelling, as all the polygons are now all wrong for nice face modelling. What I mean by this is that they don’t follow any of the contours you’ll want for nose, mouth, eyes etc. It’ll result in stretching and will be hard to get a nice finish.
e). adaptive skin option. Cool for horns, but not for ears. You could get much better results with a lot more care with the spheres, though.

The one thing I didn’t do was use MultiMarker to add separate ears to the head. That would work fairly well, apart from the inevitable ‘join’ at the front of the ear, which may be visible, where it meets the head. Try some experiments when you get a handle on ZB’s tools. As with any modelling, it’s ‘horses for courses’ … use the method that best suits the project you’re working on. And, of course, have fun!



Thank you very much, will come in handy.
One observation.
“try sticking your finger in your own ear and try
to visualise what goes where.”
I am having trouble modelling asses.:smiley:

Oh, they’re not too hard. Horses are tough, though. :smiley:




Touche:+1: :smiley:

I just have read your reply to my question about modeling ears… I’ll try this solution…I didn’t think that I could put zspheres in Projection Master! Danke schon! :wink:

:D:+1:small_orange_diamond:+1:Very very usefull thanks i learned something from this :smiley: