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Making Of 'Aquaman'

By Nick Gizelis
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Date Added: 13th July 2010
Software used:
Photoshop, Softimage, ZBrush

Initially, I sent a solid bust model to the 3D printer. As it appeared, the product was rather heavy and expensive for the required size (about 17cm total height), so my next move was to make a hollow bust instead of the massive one.

In XSI I made a shell of a certain thickness out of the base bust (the subdivision 0 level mesh) and exported it as an .obj. Thankfully the UV map did not need any fixing, at least on the visible parts of the bust. In ZBrush, I then imported the above Sub-D 0 level .obj of the currently active high poly sculpt and replaced the initial cage model.

From that point, the model - as it was expected - presented quite a mess, so the work by hand was about to start. With brushes like Move, Flatten, Polish and Tweaked Standard, the surfaces began to take the appropriate shape. A uniform thickness had to be completed between the several subdivision levels, while making sure I had Backface Masking active on my brushes, so that my strokes didn't affect the outer surface of the shell, but only the inner polys.

Of course, much of the sculpting information on the surface was lost in the end, so I had to use - being careful with the settings - the Project tool between the initial solid sculpt and the new hollow one, in order to transfer all the detailing information to the bust shell.

For the base to become a hollow shell, I worked with the initial model in XSI. Then I modified the spline that was used for the Revolve by Axis mesh, so that the final model reminded me of a bell (being hollow).

Another valuable lesson I learned at this point was that it is much preferable to begin sculpting in ZBrush with a base model that is already a hollow shell, than making a shell out of the final sculpt (Fig.28).

1061_tid_image_28_detailed_head_bust.jpg
Fig. 28

Eventually, having finished with all the nitty gritty of the modifications, I exported the assembly in .wrl format and it was off to the printer (Fig.29).



1061_tid_image_29_textured_final_head_bust.jpg
Fig. 29

The 3D printing was done here in Athens, by 3DPS facilities (http://3dps.net/) with a ZPrinter 450. Many thanks to Phaedra and Panagiotis, the heads of 3DPS, for their great support (Fig.30)!

1061_tid_image_30_final_head_bust.jpg
Fig. 30

Conclusion

The work I did for Aquaman was a valuable, interesting and enjoyable journey. I had the luck of being able to work on a beautiful concept by a great traditional artist like Aris Kolokontes and to explore the aspects of a pipeline to digitally replicate a physical model in a rather loose way, lending to it some of my own taste. 

The whole range of steps needed to transform a sculpted mesh into a digital composition presents a great compilation of interesting, challenging "problems" that ask for solutions, ensuring an exciting and ever-learning procedure.

I truly hope that this Making Of provides some interest to an aspiring, digital, character-loving person and that it helps someone to enjoy my creative process and learn from my mistakes. I myself try to do that all the time by learning from others' work.

Thank you for bearing with me!




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