Monday, May 30, 2016

Create an InsertMultiMesh Brush (A ZBrush Tutorial)

For this blogpost, I really wanted to delve into something that would be useful for me later on in my travels with ZBrush.  I've noticed while working in my latest class, Production Modeling, that I had created many assets that I would love to use again.  Making tools for everything single one of them and putting them as separate tools to save seemed like a long and lengthy process.

I wondered..."Is there a way I could save this stack and use these pieces again later?"

In researching to find the answer to this question,  I found the "Create InsertMultiMesh" button under the Brush pallet.  This button literally makes your entire project subtool stack available.

To Create one, open the ZBrush application.  Under your tool pallet load up a tool that you know has multiple subtools (or you can create one by inserting assets as subtools into a tool you already have open)

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I'm going to use this guy, I created him for one of my second week projects and I like the horns.  Plus the helmet has some features that I could use later on.

As you can see he has 15 subtools on him.  Okay, this will be a good one to keep, lots of stuff for me to access later!! So, how do we save him?

First, I'm going to go ahead and move my Brush pallet over to the left so you can see.

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You can do this by click on "Brush" at the top of the screen, and then click on the little "power icon" looking button in the upper left hand corner of that little popup window.  Hold down click and drag it over to where you want it, I'm going to put it over there on the left.

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Now that it is over there, we can see all the buttons.  Woot!  Go Us... we are one step closer to making our new brush.

To save this stack I'm going to go ahead and click on 

When you see it pop into the brushes area you know that it completed.  You've just made your brush!  But okay, you made the brush, so what, how do you save this?

To save this go ahead and click on 

You will then have to navigate to where your brushes are stored for your ZBrush.  On my mac they are located in my Applications -> ZBrush -> ZBrushes  (I created my own file in this folder so I could keep track of my own brushes and know where they are.)

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Okay, so now we have them saved.  
You ask, "So how do we use them Em? Huh? Huh?" Well, first we can go ahead and Initialize Zbrush.  Let's get it so it's like we are first starting out in the day.

I'm going to go ahead and just create a PolyMesh 3DSphere.

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to use your newly created brush, you'll first want to load it up. I do this by opening up my lightbox and navigating to my brushes, then doubleclicking.  

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This will allow me to access via the brush menu as I'm working on my new project.

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You can see it above as it is called "HornedHelmet".

Now when I select that brush, I can click on the letter "M" on my keyboard and this will popup.

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I can then "left click" and select the tool I want to add to my new project.  I think I'll add some horns to my sphere.

Turning on Symmetry, I'll add the left horn (this will create both the left and right on my model).
This doesn't create a new subtool, but adds to the existing geometry, it does allow you to manipulate the geometry before it does that though.

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As you can see in the image above, the rest of my model is masked out until I unmask it, allowing me to change my horns position.

So this is how you use this, you can also use the ones that ZBrush has built in, you can access these through the brush pallet.

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They seem to all start with IMM, maybe I should have named my file IMMhornedHelmet, I'll ponder that later.... lets add a body part to our sphere shall we?

Clicking on the IMM BParts Brush and accessing the MutiMesh Inserts Menu, I can see there are quite a few to choose from.

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Let's give our sphere a nose!

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Oh, one last thing.  even though they aren't separate subtools, These do come in as separate poly groups, which you can cmd/shirt click on to select individually and manipulate.

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I hope this helps you and that you were able to learn something!

Till Next Time.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Alberto's Arm (CDC-O 1602 Final)

When finding a set of reference images for my Week 4 project in Character Design and Creation, I really wanted to find one that had the same arm from many different views.   I found that 3D.SK really had some wonderful stuff.  I ended up choosing Alberto's arm because it seemed the most muscular of the bunch.

Photo of Arm Man Animation references White Nude Muscular

This is just one example of my reference. 

My first step after gathering all my reference for both the arm and a sleeve was to line them up in Photoshop and get a decent front, back and top view.  I also had to use a different hand as his hand had the fingers altogether and I really needed to sculpt one with the fingers extended.
This is what I ended up with.

I then took this reference into Maya as image planes and basically just blocked out the arm.  I used basic prims (i.e. spheres, cylinders and a square) just so that I could have a base to export into Zbrush.  That way I wouldn't have to start from scratch in Zbrush.  
The image below is what I exported into Zbrush as an obj.

On to Zbrush.  
I used spotlight so I could get all of my reference images on my screen and imported the prim base mesh.  After turning it into Dynamesh, I used my reference to tried to get a base mesh that gave me the basic silhouette of Alberto's arm and added a sleeve part as needed.


With that done, I made sure to save both of these tools separately and then used brushes to get more secondary details.  This included pulling in muscles, making the hand look more realistic and trying to get a silhouette that was more in tune with the reference images.  I used pretty much move, inflate, smooth tools to accomplish this.  I did find that some of my geometry would cross over and connect,  This was really frustrating as in Zbrush you cannot really select geometry and just delete like you would in Maya.  I ended up using the lasso mask, selecting it that way, and hiding it, then just deleted hidden under geometry.  It probably is the long way around, but it seemed to work.

This is a snapshot of what I ended up with for the secondary.  (It probably has a bit too much detail in the sleeve, but honestly trying to get those wrinkles for silhouette was difficult for me.)

I then used more brushes to really try and get the tertiary details down.  I found his muscle structure to be a little different than what my other reference for arm muscles was showing me.  Like shown here on my Pinterest.

I just tried to really go off of what I had for reference.  I do wish they would have his a TOP down reference image so I could see that, I was kind of sculpting blind when it came to that and not really have done this before made it a bit more complicated than probably should have been.

That and I found the hands infuriating, but I think this is more my own inexperience with using Zbrush that made this harder.

Here is what I ended up with as my Tertiary Mesh.

I then took this model, decimated it using the Decimation Master plugin in Zbrush, making sure to do each subtool separately.  I exported each of these as OBJs to go back into Maya.

In Maya, I went ahead and put all my different builds on different layers so I could show my workflow and then took the tertiary and spent many hours resurfacing using the Quad Draw tool and Multi-Cut.  I have to say this was an extremely tedious process as I was trying to get the geometry to match with the topology of the tertiary mesh and probably used way too much geometry to accomplish this.  Had I do it this all over again, I would probably just make the squares WAY bigger and save myself hours, if not days, of aggravation.  I also used relax to really try to get the quads to be more uniform across the mesh builds.

Another thing that I found was that my geometry had spirals everywhere because I was trying to follow the form instead of making it more UV friendly.  Which goes onto to me using the Bonus Tools - Auto Unwrap UVs Tool in Maya.  I used this because it pretty much lets you select the edges you want to have as your border and just hit one button to get that.  So, making UVs seemed pretty easy, until I realized that my edgeflow was a garbled mess.  So, my UVs got down, but they were a bit on the strange side.

 One thing I'd probably do differntly is cut my hand in half instead of breaking the fingers away from it.  Which leads me to my Transfer of Maps frustration.  There was two different into I had with this.  First was that it seems that somehow my normals for my fingers flipped, so my first render turned out like this.

This really baffled me for awhile until I ended up reimporting my mesh from Zbrush and flipping the normals on my Quaded Mesh arm.
This created the next issue.  When I was baking all of my normal maps for my arms were inverted.

I ended up running to the Google hangout to get help because after checking all my settings and running multiple Transfer Maps, I couldn't figure it out by myself.  It ended up being that during my first issue I must have imported two of my tertiary meshes on top of each other confusing Maya (and me.) 
Also, pushing the TEXTURED button on my Maya Viewport actually lets you see the model with your textures on.  I know this sounds pretty like "duh, no kidding Em", but I was so tired after being frustrated that this simple thing was stumping me. I made sure to write it up on my plan so I could remember to do it next time I start a project like this.  

After fixing this issue, I was able to bake on the normal maps just fine and this is how it turned out.

So instead of 64000 faces, I ended up with about 5k.  I think the geometry is a bit dense still, but I think it resembles the reference pretty well.  I really do hate the hand though.

What do you think?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Week 2 Activity: Aesthetics - Compare & Contrast

When you look at "The Weeping Woman" by Pablo Picasso

(image credit:

Here is my "Weeping Woman"

To compare the two you can clearly see that both are representing a woman crying.  Whereas Picasso used bright colors mine are fairly muted. I will wanted to give a contrast to the work so I made her almost pull away from the background by making it less noticable.  I thought that this would give a sorrowful feel to the piece. 
My shapes are less geometric.  I still tried to use the cool white/blue combination to give emphasis, as well as making the eyes a bit larger to get the viewers attention.

The black lines in my work I really wanted to help move the viewer around.  From the light lines in the background to the flowing hair from the blossom to the orange lines in the clothes.  I thought the thick lines on the sleeves would push the viewer's attention back up the piece.

His brushwork seemed to give a nice texture to it, whereas I tried to use my brushstrokes to give movement as well as texture.

Picasso's ear almost looks like a small bird flying off the tear drop and down the hair I opted to keep my ear showing but not really significant.

While working on this I actually grew to appreciate his work more, whereas at the beginning i found it unnerving to look at, I can see how he used the different elements and principles of design to get his point across.

All and all I think I pulled off successfully what I wanted to do.  I think using the cardboard my base helped.  What do you think?

Week 2 Activity: Aesthetics - FINAL

This is how I ended up doing my final version for this activity.  As we had to use traditional methods I went with Acrylic paint.


This is my final, I tried to use color, shape and lines to give focus and feeling to the piece.  I also wanted to make her the focus and make it more understandable to the viewer.

Work in Progress - Rough Drafts

These are a few of my rough drafts for this Aesthetics activity.


For this rough draft I used color pencil and really tried to capture the sadness with the coloring as well as the expression.  I think I need to tone down the background and make the line work help in the focus


I really liked how she was looking off to the side, as I felt it gave more movement to the piece, but I loathed the hands and the angle.


This is a digital sketch and coloring of where I want to go with the final version, making the woman the focus as well as keep the flow.

Work in Progress - Pre Pro

Here some of my sketches that I came up with as Pre Pro for this assignment.  This is in order of in which I drew them, in my attempt to find where I wanted to go with this piece.


My first sketch for this activity, I really wanted to try and give her a feel that seemed appropriate with the timeframe of the original image.


This was my second sketch Prepro for this activity.  I went with more of a whimsical feel to this one, but it didn't quite do what I wanted it to .


This PrePro was kind of what I was going for, I wanted to use the expression to get across sadness and still have some of the elements Picasso used.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Objective Critique

Objective Critique:

In this work by Picasso you can clearly see the suffering he wanted to put out there. In the center of the image, the viewer's attention is grabbed by the sharp white with blue trimmed angles that jet off in various directions showing clenched teeth and hands grasping at a handkerchief.  Here he seems to use the element of Shape to lend itself to the principle of emphasis, and pushes the idea of sorrow to the viewer.

The facial form features are gaunt and the eyes are almost dead like depictions of what we would think them to be. The elements of value and color is a stark contrast that shows the differences drastically to the warmer tones of the surrounding areas and background.  

We do find a sense of the balance in the sense that the knuckles and lower part of the hand on the right side round out as does the hair on the left.  With his lines and shapes, It almost appears that the left side of her head is a cascading waterfall that starts at the blossoming flower at the top of her head and leads us down to the bottom of the painting giving this piece some very real movement across the canvas.