New to ZBrush and Teaching Myself

Hi Everyone! Im new to the forums, and to the software!

I am an industrial designer by training and trade, but my true passion has been in character/creature design ever since I was a little kid, specifically comic characters and monsters. I would love nothing more than to create highly detailed sculptures that could then be 3D printed and made into figurines or statues. I suppose I would need to be able to sell a few of them in order to finance this hobby, however (and I realize it may be a pipe dream) if I found that I was good at it and became successful I would definitely consider taking it on full-time in the future.

My strengths have always been in 2d visualization, but I’m fairly proficient in one particular 3D nurbs software package (Autodesk Alias) and Im decent with industrial clay modeling but I wanted to expand my skill set into digital sculpture as well. I spent a bit of time using Autodesk Mudbox, mainly because the interface was a bit more familiar to me coming from Alias, however I found that a basic proficiency in Maya is absolutely essential in order to take full advantage of the tools. Obviously a decent grasp of Maya would definitely prove useful anyway, but I wanted the ability to start a sculpt from nothing and you simply cannot do that easily in Mudbox. If you can’t build your own custom base meshes in Maya, you are relegated to using the 7 or 8 base meshes that come preloaded, or downloading someone else hard work, which I was just not satisfied with doing. Zsperes and Dynamesh were the answer I was looking for, so here I am making the move.

Any advice or feedback you kind folks may have for me along my journey is welcome and I thank you in advance.

For my first sculpt I wanted to do something that would challenge me and require me to learn how to use a fair number of the tools in ZBrush. I could have done something completely original, but I wanted to test myself by interpreting someone elses work, so I decided to use Batman: Bloodstorm as my reference. This cover captures everything that I love about Kelly Jones’ artistic style. Easily the moodiest, darkest, and biggest Batman I can remember, and his cape is crazy!

I also like the obscurity of the drawing, which leaves a lot up to my own interpretation. So after a few hours (okay, maybe 3 or 5 hours) this is where I stand:

I started with a Dynamesh sphere and went on from there. I came up with a neutral posture that was somewhere in-between the typical humanoid erect T pose and the final crouching pose as seen in the Bloodstorm cover so I could take advantage of symmetry for the majority of the legwork. I admit that I focused on getting the anatomy accurate (however extremely exaggerated) rather than modeling Jones’ bulging muscle ropes exactly as they’re drawn, but I felt it would be a valuable exercise for future creations.

I found that although X symmetry has been active throughout the sculpt, the ears/horns are not quite symmetrical. Could this be simply a result of the mesh being too stretched in that area to mirror accurately? That also seems to be the area where I am having the most trouble sculpting the way I want. Even with the strength way down the tool tends to affect the opposite side. I suppose a better way to do it would be to append a sub-tool and weld it on, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet… I think the next step is going to require sub-tools to be appended for the spikes on his gloves and his cape anyway, so Ill need to figure it out.

Anyway, I don’t really plan to do anything with this sculpt once its finished, just render it out and post it here I guess, but I wanted to use it as a learning experience. Lately I’ve found myself making up excuses to not work on it, so I figured if I post my progress up here Ill at least have you guys to hold me accountable to finish it. That philosophy has worked for me in the past. Thanks for looking! I look forward to hearing your feedback!

Attachments

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I figured Id give Bats a break for a little while, sort of…

For my second project I wanted to make a sculpt based on a sketch I did for my 4 year old son a couple of years ago. Like any awesome kid, his two favorite things in the world are Batman and T-Rex (in that order), hence Bat-Rex.
I tested out the timelaps feature for the first time on this build and tried my hand at building with ZSpheres, this is the result thus far:

Original Art:
Bat_rex_Capture_zpslmnhgpqn.jpg
TimeLaps:


Turntable:

Quick render:
Batrex_test_render_2_zpsm78ycifd.jpg
Batrex_test_render_1_zpshsewv0kj.jpg

This was also my first time extracting sub-tools and some minor hard surface sculpting on the fins of his gloves. Used a custom dragon scale alpha from Michael Dunnam at Gumroad.com for some preliminary skin details on his face, tail, and feet. Next Ill do a bit more detailing/texturing before final pose then sculpt the asymmetrical parts (tongue, cape, etc.) Then onto Polypainting and some real rendering and Photoshop!

Actually I could use some input here. I know there’s a thousand and one ways to skin a cat, but for this type of project would it be advisable to do the poly painting/texturing while I still have the model in a symmetrical pose, or does that really matter much? Also, since his exposed skin areas are currently part of the same mesh as the rest of his body, should I divide them out so its easier to get a consistent fabric texture on the gray part of the suit? Any feedback you can give me is much appreciated! Thanks for looking!

Looking great. thank you for sharing all of the process. Keep the images coming. Can’t wait to see what you do next.

If you continue working in this direction, I think that your dream is not so far from you. Your work is already very good, then by practicing and discovering more ZBrush features and functions, I’m sure that producing highly detailed statues is not so far :slight_smile: