This was a lot of fun to do, I absolutely love sculpting and I will definitely be doing a lot more sculpting in my free time. For this sculpt I want to pose her like in my concept and add in the chair and books so that it is perfect for my showreel when I look for placement but overall I am really happy with how she turned out and I’m excited to see how I progress.
For the hair I wanted to get it close to my original concept, so I used the curve tube to block out the different section of hair;
I then used smaller pieces of tube to create some details in the hair;
Once the hair was complete it was time to make the finishing touches and start on clothing, before going onto clothing I re-topologized my model using the Zremesher like last time and created a new topology, this time around I made sure to keep in mind how I wanted it to flow and also looked back at my research for good topology from the BBC project. Having good topology before going on to the clothes is important as it will lay out the correct topology for your clothes and you’ll have clean topology to cut out the clothes from.
After the topology was done it was time to move on to the clothes, for this I duplicated the body and used the lasso tool to cut out the clothing and hide unwanted areas of the body. I cut out the jumper that my character is wearing then deleted the hidden mesh, which left me with just the jumper mesh that I could add creases to which I researched jumpers for.
Once I had the creases in place I then Zremeshed the jumper to have a smoother topology;
I then moved onto the jeans and used the same method and added creases to where the material would naturally crease and buckle so I looked up a reference for this too;
I then Zremeshed this as well;
I then moved onto the socks of my character and used the inflate tool in the deformation tab which gave is a puffy looking effect which was perfect for the socks and then when in with the clay buildup tool as before and added the proper wrinkles that I was looking for in the socks. I used this as reference:
Used the topology brush to draw on the eyebrow shape and moved it to the shape that was closest to my concept
I then did the lashes the same way and tapered the upper ridges and added a slight cat eye to match me concept
I then used the circle select brush to select the center of the eyes to create the pupil shape and added an extra loop to these. Then made the iris and pupil separate colours and added the texture of it Toyplastic to add shininess to the eye.
Here she is from the side, you can see how the lashes come out from the lash line of the eyelid.
Time for refining the character! I first dynameshed the body together so that I could refine with ease. The main brushes that I will be using for the are; the clay build up tool, turning the focal shift down so it is softer, I will also be using the move tool a lot as well as the pinch tool and the tool called the JCut brush, which is a good crease brush, that was provided with the Redbeard tutorial. I first worked on defining the collar bone
When refining the character it is important that I look back at what I had learned from Life Drawing, this is extremely important when working on a believable character, especially if it is “stylised” you still want it to be believable and still have proper anatomy. I found this image below by Brandon Mckinney on Female Anatomy Patterns which is very useful to use for refining my character, this research coupled with my research from life drawing will definitely help me deliver a believable character;
You may wonder why you should define the body even though it is going to be covered with clothes but it’s actually really important, Matt Thorup made a good point of this in his tutorial and said that this is because you will have the correct flow to the clothes when you add them on to your character, they will sit correctly on the body and if it is tight clothing it is important to have this as you’ll want to see the muscles structure behind it or it will just look flat and not proportionate.
I kept my character still low poly when dynameshing it just to figure out the basic shapes and placements of the different features of the body. I first worked on defining the collar bone and remembered from life drawing when Michael Bass told us about how it is like a canoe shape. I then started defining the ribcage, keeping in mind how it goes lower at the sides of the torso. Next was the belly, I dented in the belly button placement and then shaped out the muscle structure of the belly, it rounds out in an oval type shaped around the belly button and then flattens out at the pelvic bone.
I continued defining the body keeping in mind female anatomy and muscles, using the JCut brush to add a bit of definition do some areas. I found that if you start going into to much detail in certain parts of the body not only are you taking up too much time, you are also calling too much attention to that one area of the body, you want it to match the rest of the body and have equal weight so that the body looks believable.
Time for the face, have to make it as close to my concept as possible. I started by sculpting out the basic features, the nose, mouth bag, eye wholes and added a sphere for the eye. I then started adding the eyelids using the tube tool and pulling the top of the tubes that I had pulled out into the face while keeping the waterline masked so that it would stay in place when I moved the lids outwards. The face looked a bit alien like at this stage but there still needed to be a lot of tweaking to be done.
I then added the muzzle and doing the same technique as I did the eyelids by adding the tubes around the lips, but this time changing the curves of the tool to be higher near the start the gently taper out so that I could create the ‘heart’ shape lips’.
I then added ears by adding in some Qcylinders to the side of the face and shaping then to a basic ear shape keeping in mind face anatomy from first years head model project and how the top of the ears meet the same height eyes and the lower part of the ears meet the same height as the nose.
Then I went in the the Jcut brush and started defining the water line by adding that sharp edge to it. I then dynameshed the face together and used the smooth tool to get rid of harsh lines and started to use the move tool and clay buildup tool to add in the cheekbones, eyebrow shape and shape out the jaw.
After getting a better face shape I went in and started refining the facial features more and ears;
Retopology so that I can have a better flow when figuring out the facial placements if I need to change anything, I used the Zremesher guides tool to draw out the correct facial topology flows onto the character, one around the waterline of the eyes, around the crease of the eyes, a mask shape around the eyes (cheek bones and eyebrows), Matt Thorup also recommended that you add a line from the nose through the eyes and towards the ear to direct the flow better. Then I moved on the nose and created a line around the ball of the nose itself, where the crease of the nose is and around the nostrils. I then created a line around the outine of the mouth, around the inner lips, and up the cupids bow up through the nose bridge, Matt then recommended to draw two lines coming frome inside the mouth and through the corners of the mouth because the remesher usually has difficulty to get the flow right in these areas:
I then draw a line around the outside and inside the ears;
I did the same with the rest of the body adding lines where the muscle flow is and where it would be easier for if the character were to be animated to move;
Heres how the remesh did in the body topology;
Here is how it did with the face topology;
Here is the overall topology;
Before moving into zBrush and begin working it is important that you make sure that you have a good idea of the workflow in zBrush, therefore I did more research into this, because after all this is my first time using zBrush to sculpt instead of Mudbox and I did notice a difference. I do find that the UI is confusing and hard to navigate for a beginner, as well as the keys being different to how I’m used to using it in Maya and Mudbox, this will definitely take some time to get used to.
I watched this video that covers all of the basics in zBrush to get you started with sculpting, it is a long video but it was really useful and I found myself go back to it a lot to figure out how to use certain tools.
Subtools are also important to know when working in zBrush, this is because Subtools are the layers of the model, each subtool can contain a number of polygon objects and can also be equal to the maximum number of polygons your system can handle. You can also use masks to combine and separate your mesh which is also a really useful tool.
Since masks are also a useful tool that I will be using I looked up a more in depth video on masking so that I know how to use it when I do;
Some important tools that I will be using quite a lot are;
- brush tools
- transpose tools
- make polymesh 3d is to make the model workable
- subtools as your layers
Another incredibly important tool that I will be using a lot of for blocking out is in the initialize tab, here you can add in your Qspheres, squares and cylinders, which will be basically your building blocks of your model.
I also kept the hotkeys tab open so that I knew what each of the hotkeys were;
Similar to Mudbox and Maya there is mirroring which allows you effect one side of the sculpt and it will do the same on the other side. However there is also a ‘Poseable Symmetry’ option which very useful when sculpting characters in a non-symmetrical pose. This will be incredibly useful for when I go on to posing my character when shes sitting in the chair.
Moving into zBrush:
The first thing that you should do when sculpting your character is cut out the silhouette of your character concept art and then import it into ZBrush by using the spotlight. Once you have your concept piece change the sphere into a Qsphere and turn on your symmetry, then you can go in and block out the main shapes of your character starting with the torso. When blocking out the torso you need to keep in mind the female anatomy, I looked back at my research that I had done in Life Drawing classes, this is because you will notice that the females ribcage is a lot wider than thinner like the males ribcage. When getting the basic shape I took the Qsphere and used the move tool to move and nudge it into the correct shape. As you can see in the below picture the ribcage is made wider in the top middle section of the torso.
I then brought in another Qsphere to create the abdomen and hip shape and used the transpose tool to move, scale and rotate it into place, then nudging the vertices into place. When creating the abdomen you need to keep in mind the S curves in the anatomy, the spine isn’t completely straight so you want a nice arch to the back.
I then added in the thighs with a cylinder shape and elongated them to the correct size. I made the upper middle part of the thighs thicker and the front of the slightly pushed out to indicate the leg muscles and tapered the ends of the cylinders to indicate the knees, keeping the front section lower than the back section to indicate the muscle that does over the knee caps.
I then added in the rest of the lower legs and feet, keeping in mind of the S curves to the legs and where the muscles in the lower legs go. The outer muscle of the calves are higher than the inside muscle, while for the foot the inside bone structure for the foot is higher than the outer part of the feet.
I then added the neck and head, for the neck it was recommended that to have an appealing female character the neck should be long and thin so that it looks feminine and appealing to the eye. Then for the head I took a Qsphere and constructed the basic face shape.
When those were placed I looked at the side profile of the model to make sure that the silhouette of the model was correct as well as the front profile of the model. If the fundamentals are strong then the rest is easy to model, it is important to have a good silhouette.
Next was the arms and shoulders, I took a Q sphere for the shoulders and popped them into place and brought in a cylinder for the upper arm. similarly to the legs I elongated them and tapered them there the elbows are and made sure that the length of the upper arm would reach around where the belly button would be. The lower arm would then be the same shape, I then moved the arms into an angle to look more natural.
On the to wrist, I gave the forearm a but of a twist where the wrist would be as this is how the muscles would affect it. I then brought is smaller Q spheres for the elbow and knees to act as a bridge when we dynamesh and to show the bone structure. I then added in a Q square for the hands and taperd it at the finger as well as making the hand rotate into a cupping shape, then added a Q sphere to create the thumb. Once again tweaking everything to keep the S curves in the silhouette. I also added in Q spheres to create the breast shape, for this I want it to look natural and classy and not oversized and unnatural, I also pushed them a little closer together as if she were to be wearing a bra. I then added some Q spheres to add some butt muscles to the model.
Here is the final blocked out character before going into the polishing and refining stage;
When using Arnold renderer it is important that you use their shaders, as the normal shaders won’t work to their full potential in Arnold. The main shader that is good to use is the aiStandard shader, which is also how I created my glass effect in the scene project. Ambient Occlusion is also a useful tool to use and also what we used in the scene project as well.
aiShadowcache is also another great shader that you can use, especially is you are doing compositing as you can do all your shadow work using this.
As for lights, it is important to use Arnold lights. You have to keep in mind that you need to up the exposure to have it effect the objects well and make sure the object is also an Arnold shader. When using lights you should also have the Arnold renderer up so that you can see the changes that the lights make instantly in the scene.
On the area light its good to have it on quadratic as you can get a good fall off with the light set to this. You can also scale the area and change the light shape depending on what you want for your scene, this can give great effects for when you use the light to imitate a lamp for example. Similar to the basic lights you can change the light colour which is always useful as not all lights are plain white. You can also change the samples to effect the grain that displays in your shadows which are extremely useful as you don’t want a fuzzy looking render.
In the aiStandard shader the Diffuse section is the colour integration, if you turn it down it can affect how much colour is shown. Roughness will change the spread of the light on your objects. Specular will take into account the reflectiveness of your object and roughness here will effect how the reflections are, whether they are sharp or not. Another reflection control is the actual Reflection tab which will control how much reflection your object is showing as well, which is good for mirrors.
Sub surface scanning will create an almost skin-like effect when the light is near it (when the close light illuminates your hand and it glows red) you can change the light colour for this and the weight (how much the colour will show). Emission which is when you turn geometry into a light, really good for bulbs, you can also change the colour of this.
You can also change the presets using the aiStandard to get different effects, like chrome. You can also save the ones that you create. When is comes to glass make sure that your render settings are done properly, image frame should be EXR. Sample settings should be changed in both the light settings and the render settings. In the render settings leave the camera to last and fix the rest first. Diffuse controls the main light on your object, 4-5 should just about do it, its only downside is that it will take longer to render. If your reflections are noisy you can use the glossy and turn that up to make is better. SSS is mainly used for skin light. If you have glass inside glass you can set the refraction value of the ray depth up to 4 in your Arnold render settings so that more light can pass through. If your glass is doubled up make sure it’s thin so that it reacts like realistic glass. One object will look light glass all the way though and if there is a thickness to the glass it will distort more. In the ray depth diffuse it can also affect how much the light bounces off surfaces so this can be really nice to have in your scenes.
AOV’s which are also in your render setting, these will allow you to see things separately, for example, the different lighting and whether you want to see the bounce lighting etc, this can then be changed in your Arnold render view where by default it says “beauty”. This is especially good for photoshop work as they will be all on separate layers.
Alec Parkin gave us a lecture on how to re-topologise high poly models using the Quad Draw tool in the Maya tool box. This is going to be really useful for high poly objects in our scene as well as when I need to re-topologise my sculpt for the 3rd project where I have chosen 3D sculpting.
Alec gave us a task that will help us get used to using the quad draw tool and gave us a high poly sculpt of a face that was done in zBrush and brought into Maya, he then showed us how we can use the quad draw tool to create new faces. To make it easier you can also turn on the symmetry so that it will mirror over what you are drawing on the face over to the other side which is really useful and quickens up the job of re-topologising.
From research last year for the head model project I already had reference to good topology faces as well as the references Alec gave us. This gave me a good idea as to where to put the poles and how to make the faces flow around the main point of the face. I also found that it is important to think about how the topology flows down the cheeks, jaw and neck as it is not straight the way down, it is rounded.
This was a great practice as it let me get used to the tool for when I go in a do the proper thing.
Alec Parkin showed us how he UV maps a character, he showed us where he stopped and started his UV’s, separating the different limbs which would make it easier for uv mapping. Alec talked about how he splits the face UV’s, most commonly done with the seams down the middle of the head and forehead, he then talked about how some may separate the ears for the face UV’s so that they can put in more detail into the ears.
Some UV mappers may also separate the different sections that they are going to UV map which can be easier to UV map them. If you find that your UV map has turned out weird it is recommended that you freeze the model’s transformations before you begin UV mapping as it can deform the UV’s.
Use the relax/Unfold tool to stop warping, option box, untick pack, select all the vertices and apply. if you want to cut a UV seam across, select the edges and go to cut UV edges. Then select the other side of the edge to you want to sew it to and merge them together. It’s good to have your seams where they are going to be most hidden, for example under the arm.
For overlapping UV’s you can select those vertices and hit unfold which with correct them. you can also use Headus UV tool to make UV mapping easier. zBrush also has a good UV unwrapping tool which makes it easier too.
When doing planar UV mapping you need to make sure it is on the right axis, so you would click the option box beside planar and change the axis to wherever it is facing towards, (x y z).
This was really interesting to learn and will help me for when I move on to UV mapping my scene props for the captain’s cabin project. This will also be useful for the third project as I plan on sculpting a character and would like to UV map it as well.
When you are sewing your UV shells together you can then straighten up the edge by selecting the line and straighten it up by using the scale tool and pushing it inwards which will making it even out and will give you a better UV.
If you find that your camera is clipping too soon with your model you can go into your camera tool setting and change the near clip plane to 0.01. You may find that happening when you want to zoom in on certain parts of the model to select different faces/edges when UV mapping.
If you want to repeat your last action that you did you can press G which will repeat the last action on the faces that you have selected. This can be really useful when you are sewing as it will speed up the process instead of having the click the tool all the time from the menus.
Alec then gave us the model to have a go at UVing which gave us a good idea how to do it ourselves and see if we understood what we were being taught or if we needed more help in this area.
For the third project, it was really hard to decide whether I wanted to do rigging or 3D sculpting but ended up going towards sculpting and then in my own time learn how to rig using the model that I’m going to be sculpting as my guinea-pig for practicing rigging.
Since I already modeled over summer using Mudbox and zBrush I felt confident choosing sculpting over rigging for this project as I knew the basics in both applications. This made me want to learn how to sculpt a character properly and I ended up stumbling upon a tutorial series on how to sculpt a female character, going through each step including, blocking out the character, designed anatomy mouth, hair, clothes, fiber mesh and texturing etc. This tutorial is called ‘Advanced zBrush: Female Character Design Mega Bundle’ and is by Matt Thorup, who is a character artist at ChAIR Entertainment and worked on the character sculpt of Moana for Disney Infinity, but since Disney Infinity got scrapped its a shame that it won’t be released. When I found this tutorial it hadn’t come out yet and was on offer so I decided to go for it and get it in hopes that it would help me in understanding how to sculpt characters properly and everything that goes with it.
Fundamentals of Character design:
- Understanding the makeup of an appealing character
Making something that is relatable, this means people will relate to it. Take the face, for example, if you model a human face that does not take in human anatomy it will end up looking weird and not be relatable to the viewer.
- Shape Language
Square-firm, strong, immovable, stubborn
Triangle-active, sinister, adventurous, evil
Circle-soft, smooth, funny, comic relief
This video does a great job at explaining shape language;
Designing and building a female character:
On a male character, they are often stereotypically straight, bolder, angular and bulkier, while a stereotypical female character is curvier, they flow and have a lot of smooth transitions and are usually hour glass figure.
When doing a character it is important to take the time to understand the muscle anatomy, you should always have it up so you are getting the right proportions for your character. Get a lot of references, it’s extremely important as you want your character to relate to your audience. This is where Life Drawing is really beneficial.
After researching anatomy and getting your head around the key areas of the human body you have to then think about how you apply this to your character, this takes us to design vs stylized. What we want to do when creating the character is design the character around the knowledge of anatomy, you do not want to stylize it! This is because you will then lose the proper proportions of your character and you will then loose the relatability of your character.
From this research I was very excited to start, but first I need a concept of what I want to create. I had two ideas, one was a girl with a bird perched on her finger and another of a book worm type of girl lounging on an arm chair reading books. I want to push myself to create something amazing for this section so I chose the bookworm concept, my goal for this project is to have the character model completely done, so that I can create the scene for my portfolio when I start looking for placement;