Generally outside of work, I try to experiment with different styles, or to polish and furnish a personal universe. I have a lot of fun thinking up creatures belonging to this world of my creation, and the particular character I'm talking about in this ‘making of' article belongs to the "Sang Bleu" series – a mix between "metabaron" and "moebius" (heavy references for me).
As you can see in Fig .01, I love starting my characters from scratch, just to remove all the constraints of shape and topology. The cube is probably the simplest and best way to remove these constraints, and it gives you the opportunity to express yourself with complete freedom.
When you're satisfied with your concept, you will then be able, at any time, to redo the topology, re-project your quick sculpt and go in depth with the details. Keep in mind that the most important thing in a character is the concept – when you've got it right, the rest is all just technical.
So as the first step, ZBrush, which is for me the fastest way to come up with a 3D concept, I create a cube:
- Create a ZBrush cube primitive
- Go to "Unified Skin", set "Resolution" and "Smt" to the minimum values, and press "Make Unified Skin"
- A new tool will be created with a clean Cube mesh – select it
- Go down to the "Texture" tab and click on "Enable UV"
- Now you can go to the "Geometry" tab and reconstruct the subdivision of your cube
- When this is done, just delete the higher subdiv.
- And you'll have a perfect cube!
- Now you're free to subdivide it to get a perfect sphere
All, or almost all, of the objects where done in the same way. I'll take the chest armour now to quickly explain the work in progress (Fig.02):
- 3D concept
- Redoing the topology can be hard and can quickly become a big mess. To avoid this, I usually use the Polypaint function in ZBrush to draw the topology first, thinking of keeping nice and evenly spaced quads (keeping objects clean with quads is not indispensable, but it's still better for the entire process). I then use the Topology function in ZBrush to recreate the new wire
- Then I re-project the information from my old, dirty mesh to the new, clean one
Finally, I finish up the piece by polishing the main shape and volumes and add some details. Redoing the topology is quite important if you want to render the character without importing into Max a mesh that's too heavy.
Step 3 - 6
In Fig.03, I'm introducing the main brushes I use to sculpt and showing how I use them to come up with organic shapes:
- The Clay brush is used to define the main volumes
- The mask (with the Clay brush) can define some specific areas I want to pull out/in
- The Slash brush I usually use to smooth and also to add some depth
- Damien Canderle's brush is very useful to add some depth and to define wrinkles
- The Inflat brush is great to bulge up volume
Here's an example of how to use them (Fig.04):
- Quick main base with the Standard brush
- Clay to define the different volumes and the direction
- Slash to add an organic feel between and on volumes
- Inflat to bulge volumes and to pinch at the same time between them
- Alpha pass is useful for the "pore" details. I use Gnomon's alpha in most cases – they are pretty useful!