Monday, January 27, 2014

I'm having a toad-tastically great time with ZBrush...

I've been busy making a toad.
Here's a few pics of early stages.
Right now it's nearly finished (see next post), and I've combined it with my turtle to create my favorite (and perhaps most bizarre) piece to date, so stay tuned for pics of that in my next post!

Anatomically fairly accurate zsphere toad armature 

Armature plus a tiny bit of sculpting converted to a polygon skin

More sculpting to create what looks like a dessicated dead toad!

Further sculpting, followed by re-meshing (smooths everything out) 
Building a new ZSphere rig inside the skin which can be posed, taking the skin along for the ride! It has some small issues and the resulting posed skin (next post) needs a bunch of work, but it sure is fun! I have too many zspheres in the thighs here, which led to some nasty post posing results! (so I removed some and tried again)
I'm probably making all kinds of grievous workflow mistakes, but it seems to be working (although I'll probably not find out for real until I take the finished model somewhere to be milled or printed, at which point I may learn of all kinds of horrendous digital doo-daddery I need to re-think or brush up on).
What I like is that I can work in a similar way to my wire and clay approach, and get convincing results.
Plus I can also do things I can't do with wire and clay that make things more efficient.
There's lots of back and forth between my sculpting program and video tutorials on YouTube or Pixologic's website to remind myself how do do things.

But it seems to be working, so I'm happy.

Next post: See the bizarre result of a turtle and toad as seen through the mind of your's truly...

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Did you guess right?

Nearly done turtle in ZBrush (still needs a bit of work)...

If you guessed that the strange looking thing at the end of the last post was a fledgling turtle, congratulations:
You guessed right!

Below are progress pics of iteration number 1.

I still have a bit to go on it refining claws, head, folds of skin etc and adding some more texture, but for  now I feel good that I've made a recognizable critter that I can continue to mess about with a bit.
One for my playtime critter bank.

Maybe I'll work on it more before I have a bash at something else, maybe after.

This turtle I wanted in a nice alert, perhaps aggressive pose, for future plans I have for it.

It's nice to be able to separate the body from the shell while making it. And now I have a shell and body tucked away.
Another particularly nice feature is that you can have ZBrush duplicate your strokes as you work on the other side of the shell, so achieving symmetry isn't a headache.

If I wanted to print a small one, I'd probably adjust it some to thicken up the thinner areas in particular, but since I've made plenty of turtles in sizes from an inch to a lot bigger, I can refer to those to get a sense of how much detail vs how much broad strokes to shoot for.

This is fun!
Kinda sorta turtle body laid out with ZSpheres

There's a face only a mother could love! More ZSketching

No need to get fancy with stuff hidden away by the shell. Makes for a strange looking beast though.

First go at a turtle in ZBrush more or less done

First go at a turtle in ZBrush more or less done

First go at a turtle in ZBrush more or less done

First go at a turtle in ZBrush more or less done

First go at a turtle in ZBrush more or less done - Sculpture that loves you back
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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Epic new (for me) game-changing sculpting tool

Hello again,

My first piece using ZBrush

First rough sketch of my  next piece

New tool

I got myself a shiny new sculpting tool in December.
I've been eyeing it for quite a long time now, and I finally decided it was time to have at it.

I'd been watching loads of online video tutorials just to get a really good idea of what it can do and how useful it might be.

It's a program for sculpting on your computer.

The sky is the limit

It's pretty amazing.
You can work in all kinds of ways, try out all kinds of new things, and all without filling up your house with gazillions of clay sketches.
You can store them all on your computer instead.

When I've built up a nice little menagerie of critters, I intend to have lots of fun playing with them to see what other strange things may transpire. 

So since I've had a whole lot of things banging around inside my noggin, but have been unable to make them into sculptures for space reasons, I'm going to probably go a bit nuts making loads of stuff that may or may not ever see the light of day.
Some of it will of course.

Just scratching

The learning curve is pretty huge, and there's people who use it professionally who still only feel they've scratched the surface.

I'm sure I'll start slowly, since I'm spending a lot of time trying to figure out why the thing I did with the tool just exactly the same as in the instructional video created completely unexpected results.

Puzzling slog

It's a bit like doing a twelve million piece jigsaw puzzle. You can only focus on the bit you're doing right now, but other areas you are as yet unaware of put what you are trying to accomplish into some perspective.
Or they would, if you could see them.
So lots more slog to get a feel for the lay of the land is in order.
Mostly fun slog. Sometimes frustrating slog. Hopefully rewarding slog.

Print your handiwork

Eventually, anything you decide to bring forth into the physical realm can be 3D printed or milled in foam if it's big.
Or routed with a CNC machine I imagine.
You can export your sculpture to be brought into being at any size that is capable of being printed, routed or milled, which pretty much covers anything you could possibly want.

I understand you can prep your printed/milled piece in a variety of ways before molding. Sanding and priming if it's a smooth or angular piece, or have it skinned in clay and do the final tooling old school instead, for instance.

I can feel some more Kickstarters coming on in my future...


ZBrush seems to be very popular with the gaming crowd who are busy making ghouls and goblins of all varieties, but it's also used by concept car designers, illustrators (you can color the sculptures and output them as images to be tweaked further in photoshop), toy creators, and who knows who else.
I plan on adding myself to the growing list of users.


One of the pieces I have been wanting to make was a hand coming out of the wall holding one of my mice by the tail.
Probably Pugnacious, unless I make another mouse digitally just for fun.
I wanted a smoother style of hand, perhaps wearing a rubber glove, kind of 'putting out the trash' than I normally create texture wise, so that was the perfect jumping off point after a lot of hours of messing about with shapeless blobs to get a feel for the tools.

See what you think. Here are a few screen shots of various stages of progress, to fairly much finished (except for printing, molding, casting, and attaching the mouse by the tail betwixt finger and thumb of course)...

The method I employed pretty much follows my usual process of an armature if needed, slowly building up the forms anatomically, then final surface concerns. But not usually out of chocolate, or I'd never finish anything.

Hand armature made in ZBrush

Hand armature made in ZBrush

Hand armature made in ZBrush

Building up anatomical forms of the hand, made in ZBrush

Building up anatomical forms of the hand, made in ZBrush

The icing on the cake - Folds added and overall finish smoothed out

The icing on the cake - Folds added and overall finish smoothed out

The icing on the cake - Folds added and overall finish smoothed out

The icing on the cake - Folds added and overall finish smoothed out
I find it amazing that the folks at Pixologic have been able to make something so complicated, and potentially quagmirish to delve into, relatively painless to get sculpting with pretty quickly.

I'm working on my  next piece right now. See if you can tell what it's going to be from the picture below...(yes it's a real creature, not a fantasy beast)

What might this be?
Find out next time! - Sculpture that loves you back
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