From one beginner to another

I've always been amazed and intrigued by images produced in 3D apps and felt a need to get involved.
I never really had the resources or the capital to delve.
I dabbled a little with
Maya easy learning, just to see how easy or difficult it was to produce something special. To be honest I lost interests due to the time I spent learning and producing a simple object. To cap it off the price ensured I put Maya to one side and never really picked it up again.
Things went quiet for a while and then I found
Blender, which I couldn't believe was free. Even though I still have Blender in my toolbox and hope to utilise it in the future, the learning curve was too much and I had little spare time to learn this brilliant application. So I went on the hunt for more 3D apps.

Eventually I decided the first 3D software package I would purchase would be Poser6 and it really opened my eyes. Poser allowed me to speed up my workflow. I mean I really didn't have the time to study a life drawing/anatomy course. Poser and the combination of Photoshop allowed me to produce my first major work '
Vulnerable'.

Then I discovered ZBrush. I bought this amazing application in 2009, mainly due to my screenwriting project going stale. The idea was to produce some concept art for the screenplay, which would in turn inspire me to improve the first draft.
ZBrush took some time to get used to, however after a few video tutorials I managed to get my head around the interface and things began to make more sense.


image created using zbrush and photoshop
This was my entry for the Imagine FX magazine cover competition (Dec 2009).

The Brief: "When choosing a topic to paint, remember that we are a fantasy and sci-fi magazine and the subject of your image should reflect that. Also, your image needs to stand out on the newsstand, so consider your colour palette, where your focal points of your image are, and how they might interact with text on the cover. Oh, and no nudity please... other than that, have fun and good luck!"

It didn't even make the top 50. However the competition was top class and the winner was definitely worthy (issue61 Aug 2010).
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Powerful & Fun to use

Compared to other 3D apps ZBrush was affordable, yet the results took my breath away

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Like using clay

I started by following a tutorial by Scott Spencer from his excellent book "ZBrush Character Creation - Advanced Digital Sculpting". I used the Ximageplane projection technique, which is included on Scott's DVD that comes with the book.

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Shaping is easy and fast

I soon got the shape of the skull by using the Move Brush. It didn't take long to get used to the interface and X symmetry made life so much easier.

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Experiencing other Brushes

I then used the Standard Brush to locate the eye sockets. The Clay Tube Brush and Rake Brush helped build areas of the skull. By this point I had incresased the polycount.

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Amazed by the results

Before I started the Tutorial I didn't believe I would be able to produce anything that would resemble a skull. However the results I was producing in ZBrush drove me to carry on by using the same Brushes to add more detail.

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IFX competition

At this point I read about the cover competition held by Imagine FX and decided I could use this model to give me a reason to get my teeth into ZBrush. I used the Move and Inflate Brush to really distort the skull.

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Enjoying Sculpting

Here I added even more detail by experimenting with different Brushes. I opened up the mouth and created some teeth as a seperate subtool and added them to the skull model.

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Poly Painting

I needed this model to stand out and started to add colour. It needed to look like a mask which had been hand painted by the tribe that owned it.

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Getting carried away in ZBrush

Originally I was going to paint the eyes using Photoshop. But I decided to learn a little more about ZBrush and went on to create an eye along with some more Poly Painting.

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The Face behind the Mask

I decided to create a basic face to help with positioning the eyes. I also wanted to angulate the mask and face to have the eyes looking up.

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Bringing them together

Combining the two subtools wasn't as easy I first anticipated but I eventually got the pose I was looking for.

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Selecting the right Material

I couldn't find the Material I needed in ZBrush, so I popped over to Photoshop to create my own. I was amazed by the results.

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Colour, Light and Shadows

My next step was to create different render passes to be layered in Photoshop. This would add much more depth to the finished piece.

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Finished in Photoshop with extras

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Knowing ZBrush is knowing what to do when your workflow breaks down...