Creating a 3D model for a paint over - part 1
When you start out as an artist it is a rewarding exercise to construct your own perspective drawings. However, as you progress in your career, you will discover that it is not always feasible to draw everything from scratch. When you have to paint an illustration without an existing concept it gets challenging to create good quality in short time. In this tutorial, I am going to guide you through how I, as a 2D concept artist, use ZBrush in order to get a nice and clean reference model. We will later use in order to create an illustration. If you want to take a closer look, I also provide you the model as a ZTool and an FBX file.
Coming up with an idea
As I get started I want to gain an overall understanding of what I am about to design. In this case the idea was my own, and I planned to create a sci-fi vehicle. I wanted to build something that comes across as powerful, funny, but also friendly, and so I tried to reflect this in every element during the design process by using blocky, bold, and round shapes as my main design language.
Building a blockout
There are many ways in ZBrush to get started, but as a person who loves to think in lines, I find it most convenient to work with ZSpheres. At this point geometry doesn‘t bother me at all. All I am interested in at this point is to gain a basic understanding of how the body my vehicle is going to look like. In my mind I divide the vehicle in a few lines that create a flowing description of the overall shape.
Why work with ZSpheres?
The ZSpheres are easier to handle than any other tools. A neat trick in order to keep your lines consistent is to create the start and the endpoint first and keep adding new spheres in between them, refining the flow of the line. The more spheres you add the nicer your shapes will become. A cage of ZSpheres alone can already be a great base to draw on top.
Using a cylinder primitive to create wheels in no time
I create a new cylinder and use the initialize tab in order to add an inner radius and decrease the amount of polyloops so I have an easier time editing. With a combination of masks and scaling I create my basic shape of the wheels. As mentioned before, I try to keep the basic idea of powerful friendliness in mind as I block out the shape of the wheels.
Creating the tire profile with ZModeler
I switch over to Photoshop and sketch out a tire profile. Again, I try to come up with something that reflects the mood I want to convey, so I go for blocky round shapes. I import my sketch onto the grid in the Draw menu and use the ZModeler to build the tire profile. I bevel my result to make it look a bit smoother and use the ArrayMesh tab on the right to project it around the tire loading one of the presets from the Lightbox, the one that already looks like a tire in its thumbnail.
ZModeling the body of the car
Using the grid I made from ZSketches as a reference I add a single polygon plane and use the ZModeler to create the body of the car. Using a few bevels I can easily replicate the shape. Once I‘m done I use Dynamic Subdivision in order to get a smooth result, I can still go back to and edit. The ZModeler is very intuitive but sometimes I have to use the mask brush in addition in order to isolate selections.
It is up to you how far you want to take this. Sometimes when I work on a commission I only block out the rough shapes of a model before I paint on top. But because I knew I was going to show my model this time I decided to spend a little more time and take some extra care. All elements are created from primitives and modeled with ZModeler. I used the SBend-Deformer in order to get some quick bend into the antenna.
Creating my reference shot
Once I am happy and confident about my design I prepare my reference shot. Sometimes I export it and use a different 3D software in order to render my image, but this time I decided to stay in ZBrush as I hadn‘t planned anything particular for the lighting. I kept the wireframe visible as I am going to use it as a reference as well.
Next time I am going to show you how I use this image and use Photoshop in order to turn it into a 2D illustration that blends well with other 2D assets.