Take a look inside the pages of ZBrush Characters & Creatures with Mathieu Aerni's guide to full-body speedsculpting?
Learn how to model a full-body speedsculpt with Blur Studio's Mathieu Aerni in this insightful free extract from the speedsculpting chapter of ZBrush Characters & Creatures. Plus, get 10% off the book in the 3dtotal shop with code ZBRUSHCC10 ? offer ends 25 March!
As a character artist, sculpting in ZBrush is one of my favorite things. ZBrush gives you all of the tools you'll need to quickly sketch out a sculpture and then take that idea all the way to completion. It allows you to create any kind of project, limited only by your imagination and without having to worry about all the technicalities often related to the work of a digital artist.
Realistic human beings are one of my favorite subjects. I started this project by sketching a head, starting from a sphere and without knowing exactly where I would go next. I ended with an interesting-looking man's head, and the idea of an aged man who is having a lot of fun scaring an unknown intruder off his backyard started to take shape.
In this tutorial, I will cover every step of the creation for that sculpture. I will start with the blocking of the head and the torso, explaining the basic ideas of digital sculpting that I always try to keep in mind and apply. I will then explain how I created a production-ready topology and how I created another pass of details on the upper body and head. I will also cover how I created the clothes, how I sculpted the folds, and how I used NoiseMaker to add an extra layer of details on them. We will then take a brief look at hard surface modeling and finally, I'll explain how I posed and rendered
Step 1: Blocking the head
Sculpting can be broken down into primary, secondary and tertiary forms. The primary forms are what will make a character believable, so I try to put a lot of emphasis on the basic proportions and volumes. In this case, I did not look at any particular references because I wanted to practice my improvising skills.
I started with a sphere and used the Move brush and the Clay Tubes brush to establish the broad shape on low subdivision levels. I always try to get the most out of the lower subdivisions levels before moving up. I tried to pay attention to the inflections and structures of the skull, as well as to the fat and muscles that would cover them. The process was mostly done using the Move and Clay brushes. The Clay brush gives you a real-life feeling, just like adding small chunks of clay to build up the surface.
Progression of the head sculpts, from a sphere to higher subdivision levels
Step 2: Blocking the torso
After I had formed the head and features of the face, I continued on the body, using the Move brush and the Clay Tubes brush combined with DynaMesh. When DynaMesh is pressed, ZBrush provides geometry to the mesh without polygon stretching. This gives me the freedom to continue sculpting without having to worry about the
I extruded the arm and torso with Clay Tubes and Move brushes. I also used the DamStandard to quickly cut some of the muscle mass. Then I proceeded to refine the general volumes and define the secondary forms created by fat, tendons and folds of flesh, just to give me a better sense of the character and help judge the volumes and proportions.
I extruded the arms and torso, starting from the head
Step 3: New topology for the upper body
Using all that DynaMesh created a very dense mesh. The new ZBrush ZRemesher provides an entirely rebuilt retopology system. With a single click, it produced a very good new topology based on my original mesh.
I have experimented a lot with the Adaptive Size settings. A low Adaptive Size means polygons are as square as possible and approximately the same size. Higher settings mean polygons can be more or less rectangular in order to best fit the mesh's flow and polygon density which can be higher where necessary, like on the fingers. Here, I went with a high Adaptive Size. After a touch up in 3ds Max, I ended up with a very good animation-ready topology. I then quickly created some UVs in ZBrush using UVMaster.
The hand sculpts, the dense DynaMesh topology, and progressions of the ZRemesher topology
Step 4: Detailing the head and torso
Now that I had a nice mesh with UVs, I imported it back to ZBrush and projected all the details onto it. I started from the very first subdivision level and slowly moved up, putting as much form and detail into every level as possible.
I moved to subdivision levels 3 or 4 and used the Clay Tubes brush in conjunction with the Smooth Brush, both with low value. I kept alternating between those two brushes, using the Smooth as a polishing tool to reduce the hard edges and refine the transition between forms. It was a very iterative process, but it gave natural-looking sculpts with a nice fleshy feeling. I also used the Standard brush with Lazy Mouse to cut finer details like the infra, the lower eyelid and the nasolabial furrows.
I continued stepping down to lower subdivisions to modify large forms. Then, I moved up to the highest subdivision level to sculpt the tertiary forms: the wrinkles, skin pores and high frequency details.
Details of the head and torso
Step 5: Creating the cloth
I started the shirt with mesh extraction. I painted a selection on the chest area that roughly resembled the type of sleeveless shirt that I had in mind and then pressed Extract. I then created a production-ready topology using ZRemesher and 3ds Max. I didn't have any existing geometry to extract the pants so I had to block them using the DynaMesh tool.
When I was happy with the basic shape, I started sculpting the folds. When improvising folds, I have a tendency to do mostly long folds that spiral around the legs. I tried to include different types of folds that follow the logic of real life clothing, like those zigzag alternating folds that occur on the inside of the bend of a tubular piece of fabric when it buckles. They tend to be more angular the stiffer the fabric is.
There are almost always drop folds falling from the knees and half-lock folds on the sides that are produced when a tubular piece of cloth abruptly changes direction.
Also, pants that have been bent often leave imprints. A lot of those zigzag folds caused by frequent compressions are visible at the back of the knees of well-worn pants. When working in production, those memory folds work very nicely because they don't fight against the folds created by cloth simulation, they just add a layer of detail on top of them.
First the DynaMesh topology, then the ZRemesher topology, and finally the sculpted pants