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Making of 'Billy Bob Boone'

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Date Added: 26th October 2009
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The next image shows the character with three levels of subdivisions (Fig.03).

Fig. 03

It's still a terrible mesh but that's not important right now.  What is important is to be able to continue shaping the model into a form that is similar to my initial sketch.  This is beginning to happen - the chin and mouth are formed and twisted, the nose is more distinct, the shape of the face has been refined and the cap has also been roughly created.  In this case, the cap is a "sub-tool", which means it's a separate mesh that can be worked on within the same scene using its own subdivision levels.  This is important because we will not require as many polygons for the cap as we will for the face, and sub-tools allow you that flexibility.  In addition, future objects will also be created as sub-tools, such as the eyes.

Once I have sculpted this level to a form I'm pleased with, I subdivide again and continue my modelling process. Fig.04 shows the character with five levels of subdivisions.

Fig. 04

As you can see, the character now has a significant amount of detail and is beginning to take a more distinct form.  Smaller detail areas, such as the nostrils, mouth, eyelids and ears, now have more definition because I have more polygons to sculpt with.

Generally, it's advisable to leave very fine details for last (such as skin pores, cuts, irregularities, etc.) since they require very high levels of subdivisions.  However, since our cap is smaller and therefore has a much higher polygon density than the face, we can start creating these details here.  The stitching on the sides of the cap are now roughed in, as are the rips and tears on the material.

The most obvious problem with this model right now is the severe stretching of the right eye polygons.  While this may look terrible right now, I know that I will be sculpting this area in more detail later on, and the eyeball will also be covering that up.  Therefore, I am not concerned with it at this time.

As I continue sculpting, my character continues to be subdivided until I reach the eighth subdivision level, which proves to be enough detail for me.  The image below shows the character with eight levels of subdivisions (Fig.05).

Fig. 05

 At this point, all my sculpting has been completed.  If you look closely, you can see skin creases and pores have been painted in and all the areas that were lacking detail now have it.  The previous problematic right eye looks fine at this level of detail with the eyeball sub-tools properly dropped in.  The cap has also had further sculpting details added, including cloth texture and more detail in the tear.

You can see that the lower neck has the least amount of detail at this point.  This is because I intend to cover up that area with clothing so I will use my time effectively and only work on the areas that will actually be visible.

Once I'm completely satisfied with the model, it's time to texture it.  Although I used to formerly do all my texturing within Photoshop using unwrapped UV's, I've since changed my workflow to painting directly on the model, again within ZBrush.  The difference in quality by working in this manner is enormous.  You see exactly what your character will look like as you paint, instead of guessing where details should go and distorting them to make up for unwrapped polygons.

I start texturing "Billy Bob Boone" by applying large patches of colour and, just like subdividing the model for more detail, I add smaller and smaller areas of colour once the larger ones are laid in.  Again, I have to use my imagination to some degree and try to imagine what this will eventually look like once it has been properly lit.  It may not look as striking as I would like it to be in ZBrush, but eventually it will in the final render. Fig.06 shows the character with finished ZBrush textures.

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