I started my career as a CG generalist. This means you do a little bit of everything, mostly modeling, lighting and rendering. I got lucky enough to start out at a studio where I was also able to do animation and since there was nobody else to do it for me, I rigged my own characters as best I could.
Naturally leaning more towards the animation side, I started to pick up more of those jobs. Again in a lot of the smaller studios there’s nobody else to rig it for you, so I continued to develop more rigging skills on the side.
Making my Generalist Skills Great Again
While I was spending more time specialising, the rest of the industry hasn’t been standing still either. After all these years I kind of feel the need to go back and solidify some of my generalist base, which will allow me to continue my journey.
As an example, over the last few years I’ve lost touch with Maya’s new polygon tools. And Houdini’s non-destructive modeling tools are hardly useful for standard modeling yet.
So all this made me think, in 2017: How am I going to model anything for my own animations?
Why I want to learn ZBrush
I figured if I’m going to supplement my modeling skills with another package, I might aswell take on the industry standard. Not to mention this will open up possibilities to do some 3D printing.
Looking around on their website, I noticed this little tank by Joseph Drust. ZBrush is well known for doing highly detailed character work, but not necessarily for this sort of hard surface modeling.
For all it’s simplicity, it’s got this sweet tactile feel to it. All corners have little beveled/rounded edges, this helps to catch the backlight and creates a more realistic look. It almost looks like a 3d print to me.
In the industry, ZBrush is known for it’s peculiar interface. While most packages like Houdini, Maya and Cinema4D share a similar technical nomenclature, ZBrush was specifically developed to attract traditional sculptors and illustrators.
Years ago I’ve looked into ZBrush for a bit, but I couldn’t get past this alternate way of thinking. So this time around I realise it’s important to stick with it for a longer period, until the whole interface, gestures and workflows fully sink into muscle memory.
45 Days of ZBrush Challenge
On their website, Pixologic is offering a 45 day trial for ZBrush 4R7. So I decided to challenge myself to do daily sculpts, for the next 45 days.
Between all my other work I’m going to study and sculpt for a few hours each day. I’ll post my insights, problems and solutions along the way. Hopefully this will be useful to someone, otherwise it’s still a reference for myself.
So far I’ve only managed to model this blob…
I’m following along with these cool videos by Michael Pavlovich:
Here’s a list of other videos I found on the ZBrush website. But note that’s another 7 hours of video combined…
- introduction to ZBrush (90 mins)
- ZBrush UI (26 mins)
- how to start in ZBrush (105 mins)
- zModeler intro (72 mins)
- zSpheres (42 mins)
- zBrush for concepting (74 mins)