At the beginning of 2017, I set myself the challenge to learn ZBrush in 45 days. As I was moving away from Maya and was going deeper into Houdini, I realised Houdini’s modeling tools were not up to sniff for straight forward polygonal modeling tasks. I looked around for different options and found that ZBrush was still the industry standard, despite it’s peculiar interface.
The trial version of ZBrush was 45 days, so it seemed only natural to do daily models for that period, document the process and see where it would take me. You can read my first post here.
What originally inspired me, on the ZBrush website, was this little tank. I figured that if I could get to this level of hard surface modeling during my challenge, it would be a success.
Starting at the bottom
Without any prior knowledge, I decided to open ZBrush and see how far I could get, this resulted in a blob. Fully aware how ridiculous it was, I posted it with pride, this was my blob and I made it.
I picked up Michael Pavlovich’ excellent Intro to ZBrush series, and continued to learn more about the brushes and the interface.
By the end of the first two weeks I had all the basics down, I knew my way around the interface and everything was starting to make a little bit more sense.
Struggling through ZModeler
Now it was time to push forward on my original goal. Although the sculpting was a lot of fun, I came here to learn about the Hard Surface tools embedded in the ZModeler brush. So from day 15 I started to properly knuckle down and struggle through with ZModeler, for what felt like forever.
I finally got somewhere exciting at day 27 when I used ZModeler to create a basic version of these Skateboard Trucks.
Now I was confident and knew that I had ZModeler by the balls, I just needed the right object to challenge myself. One of the most difficult, mechanical-yet-organic, hard-surface shapes I could think of was a Bicycle Brake Caliper.
From there on, I wanted to continue modeling all the other bicycle parts, so I could create a miniature version of my own bike.
At this stage I also started to record my modeling process and posted daily Speed Modeling videos. I collected all the 9 parts into one video:
I was charmed by the end result and felt like I succeeded in my original goal.
From now on I would be able to use ZBrush as my main modeling tool, it would supplement all the amazing procedural tools inside Houdini, and as a beneficial side effect it would insulate me from the mood-swings of software monopolies like Autodesk.
For the remainder of the challenge I figured that I should focus on what ZBrush was originally intended for: sculpting. Even though this was never my main goal it would be good practice and could definitely come in handy for character projects.
On day 40 I continued by sculpting the Statue of Liberty for the pixelart game that I am not developing.
Along the pixelart theme, from day 41 to day 45 I sculpted the main characters from Day of the Tentacle, one of my favourite adventure games.
Bernard is looking at you…