To continue challenging myself with ZModeler, I wanted to try and model another organic-like, mechanical shape, like the helmet. Looking around the house I saw my Bosch Drill. Another great canditate to sharpen my ZModeler skills against, in a series I’m gonna call #difficultMechanicalShapes
I put the reference image in my background, and kept the real-life drill on my desk checking the shapes and volumes.
Starting out with a qCube, I used poly extrusions and edgeloop splits, trying to catch the shapes and lines found on the drill. This quickly turned into a big mumbo-jumbo of lines.
I hardly had any control over the strange flow of these lines, so ditched this approach halfway through
Some things just don’t make sense about ZModeler yet. I’ve found out ZBrush doesn’t actually allow you to create 5+ Sided Polygons or as we call it in technobabble NGons.
Tris, Quads, NGons
As a general rule in CG you aim for you models to be built out of 4-sided polygons, we call these Quads, these are easy to subdivide, and smooth.
NGons on the other hand are not as easy to smooth, and create tears, creases and pinches in your mesh when you try to subdivide it. So you will always try to avoid these, it’s always better to create a triangle + quad, than to leave an NGon in your final mesh.
Why I love NGons
So although I absolutely agree NGons are terrible in a resulting mesh, it gives great flexibility during modeling and topology-layout. Sometimes it can be super useful to hack around into a couple of NGons, when you’re trying to re-adjust some edgeflow on your mesh.
You could draw a clean kitchen analogy. Everyone likes a clean kitchen, nobody likes a dirty one. Everyone agrees the kitchen should be clean when you enter, or when you leave the house.
However, while you’re working in the kitchen you need to get your hands dirty. For sure the sauce is gonna drip on the floor, and you’re gonna spill some of those fucking little grains of rice. Hell you’re gonna drop that spaghetti on the floor, but thanks to the 3 second rule, you can still eat it.
All this mess is good within a day’s work, as long as you you clean it up afterwards.
ZBrush doesn’t like a Dirty Kitchen
ZBrush doesn’t allow NGons, so you’re never really allowed to dirty the kitchen. Therefore you have to take very strange approaches to re-adjust your edgeflow.
One of these tools is the split edge tool. This creates a tentpole split in the middle of an edge. To compensate for the lack of NGons, it creates 6 triangles for each split.
Now it’s up to you to remember the edgeflow you were going for,.. and clean up these superfluous tris… I guess you can tell I haven’t quite come to grips with this workflow, yet.
DynaMesh to the Rescue
I was loosing too much time with these technical details, so decided to switch up my tactics. So I converted to DynaMesh and this allowed me to start sculpting out the shape and the details.
Not sure how to proceed from there, but it would allow me to move forwards and at least get something out there.
It’s a similar approach I took to the Attack Llama, where I just freeform sculpted the mesh roughly, but as close as possible.
To clean the mesh up, I reTopologized the mesh by hand, using ZSpheres. I hadn’t tried this technique yet, so seemed like a good occasion.
You can append a ZSphere to your subtools and if you stack it right below your original mesh, you can go down to the Topology dropdown, and hit Edit Topology. This will allow you to draw ZSphere topology lines ontop of your mesh.
The same Adaptive Skin works here, so you can press A to preview the resulting mesh.
Being so basic, this was the perfect tool for the job. It allowed me to easily create the precise topology lines I was looking for, around all the nooks and crannies. I made sure to follow all the creases I could find on the mesh.
Later I extruded along those edges to create deeper crevaces.
Radial Symmetry ZModeler
The front of the drill consists of three separate cylinders. I kept them as separate to the main body of the drill and used Radial Symmetry with ZModeler to create all the tiny little edges, creases and insets.
In the end I had the default MatRedCap shader on the drill, but realised I lost all the detail in the mesh. So I opted for the Framer material for the final image, it sort of highlights all the edges.
But here’s what it looked like with the default material:
Still not sure how add multiple materials yet, so will have to look into that at some point.