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Making of: Tombstone

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Date Added: 11th December 2014
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Dhanad Islam reveals the masterful modelling techniques behind the creation of his fantasy beast: Tombstone


This tutorial will illustrate the steps I took to reach the final design. I will go over my process of building the base mesh, blocking in basic forms, silhouette studies, breaking primary forms into secondary ones, adding skin, and tertiary details, rapid mesh creation within ZBrush.

Importing the base mesh

After having created the base mesh in Maya, I import the geometry into ZBrush. Once in ZBrush, I refine the silhouette straight away by pulling and pushing the shape to match the design, and silhouette studies. In the event that I think I need to refine the edge flows, I bring it back into Maya, and add loops or redirect edges where needed.

For this creature, I design a skeleton and base it's muscle system on the forms found in bulls and gorillas. I like to keep all my reference images related to the skeleton system of any creature I want to mimic on my side at all times.

Working with the basemesh


I prefer to use the Basic Material when blocking out the forms. I then start off with the Clay Tube and Clay Buildup brushes with low Z Intensity to quickly sculpt over the creature's most basic and major forms. I am also searching for the bony landmarks, typically Step 1 and Step 2 (Finding the landmarks) is something I explore first and foremost simultaneously.

TIP: When building basic forms, I work in low subdivision levels. Using ClayTubes, in conjunction with Clay Buildup, Move, and Smooth brushes at low subdivision levels help flesh out the primary forms faster.

When building forms I do not go above subdivision level 1 or 2 (Hotkey Ctrl+D to subdivide). When I subdivide at this stage, I store a Morph Target first, to preserve the shape and the silhouette, as subdividing from level 1 to 2, or 3 will smooth out the mesh too much - which I don't want. So to tackle this, assuming my mesh does not have any subdivisions yet, I click Tool > Morph Target > StoreMT. Then subdivide to whatever level I need, e.g. 3. Things get smoothed out, but no biggie as I have that original shape stored.

To get that shape back, I go back down to my base mesh which is now my subdivision level 1 (Shift +D to go down each level), click Tool > Morph Target > Switch. The shape that was stored is now morphed back, all that form that was sculpted earlier is back, and now I can go back up subdivision level 3 (Hotkey D to go up a level) with no loss of information.

Blocking out the base mesh with brushes

Finding the landmarks

Finding the bony landmarks! The skeleton underneath is what drives the overall shape and silhouette of any vertebrates. I use Standard brush with Alpha 18 , along with varying Z Intensity to define the bony landmarks such as the ankle joints, knees, pelvic bone, the vertebrae, the jaw-line, etc. Also Dam_Standard brush, wherever I need to define the bone line a bit more clearly.

Finding the bony landmarks

continued on next page >

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