– Used to quickly extrude the surface and lay in basic forms and rough overall sections.
– Used to get an easy texture onto the stone and to define the rocky in a less smooth way.
– Used to push and pull the forms around and to achieve concavity (curve inwards) and convexity (outwards) with the rocks. This also helped with defining the silhouette even more and in starting to move things to different levels so everything wasn't on the same elevation.
– Used to make sure the rocks look like they were derived from the same natural process, meaning that they needed to be neighbours and not just a bunch of extrusions. So this brush helped in getting everything to have that collective feel. I also used it to define the edges of the rocks more, which was a huge part of achieving that kind of texture to be further readable.
Slash1 and Slash2
– Used to dig in some cracks and separate out of some the rock transitions. Also good for making little scratches and giving irregularity to the rock surface.
– Used a couple of custom and default alphas to apply a fine layer of surface texture over the rocks, so that it didn't look too hand-made (Fig.09a – b).
– Used to smash in some pits and deeper crevices.
– I like to use this brush so I can get controlled smoothing instead of the simple Shift + click method that goes pretty much full pressure. When I use the smooth brush method, I can have a more varied level of smoothness so that I don't destroy all the hard and cracked surfaces. I didn't want the rocks to look like they got smoothed-over or polished.
I used all these brushes in this general order, but definitely switched between all of them to get the right look. I tried to get each of the brushes to do their intended job and never forced one to do it all. I don't like fighting through a sculpt with just the standard brush because I tend to work faster with specific tools. There's nothing wrong with using the standard brush only, it's just not my weapon of choice!
I had also never used the Polypainting feature of ZBrush before this challenge, and I decided this was a great time to do that. Since he was all rock it was going to be easier to spray on a basic texture and then paint custom treatments to define the rockiness even more (Fig.10).
After I finished that, I started moving on to the export process. One of the learning processes I had with this project was that displacement used a lot of resources. Since I needed to render this image at a high resolution, my displacement was crashing my computer no matter what I did. So, after many tries with different approaches, I had to scratch that because of my planning error and decided to just use a high-res mesh in Max and supplement it with bump maps and good GI lighting. It was definitely a frustrating time in the project for me, but I was just running out of time to figure out another solution and I wanted to complete the image strongly. I had essentially lost most of the fine details that I had created in ZBrush, and that took me some time to get over!
At this point, I had my model in 3ds Max. I rigged up the low-res model because, as mentioned, I originally intended to do an animation with the character (Fig.11).
If I had known that I was going to run out of time for the animation portion of my concept, then I guess I could have just used ZBrush's Transpose Master to pose him. But I also needed to set up a camera in 3ds Max for the final shot, so I knew that I would need to be able to tweak the pose in individual areas like the arms and define how much his head should be turned, etc. I then used the Skin Wrap modifier on the high poly mesh to follow what the rigged low-res mesh was doing. This way I could hide the high-res mesh, pose him in low-res, and then unhide the high-res and it be in the same spot as the low-res (Fig.12). Otherwise, I'd still be waiting for the high-res mesh to respond to my transform commands to this day! The Skin Wrap modifier was a life-saving feature to have.
For the composition, I wanted to have Mr. Rock look down his extended arm, with the pencil towards us in perspective, and have the sphere more in the foreground. I quickly modelled the other supporting props and set pieces, and before I knew it I had my major 3D elements ready to light (Fig.13)!