Making Of 'P'
In this tutorial I'll show you my approach to developing a stylized character bust, from basic 2D silhouette sketches through to the final rendering. Don't take it as a step-by-step tutorial. I'll not explain every little step I made during the whole process of creation because there are a lot of good tutorials out there which follow this path. This will be more a general overview of my approach.
Let's say I received a character design description with the following constraints:
1. Stylized character, bust, male
2. Strong, dauntless, tough, angry, bossy
3. Broad muscular neck, receding forehead, huge chin
With this information in my mind I started with some silhouette thumbnail sketching. For this purpose I used Autodesk's Sketchbook. After some minutes of doodling around I had a handful of good shapes... in my opinion (Fig.01)! Doing sketches like this gives you the opportunity to get faster feedback from clients in these early stages of design.
After a feedback meeting with my client, who gave me some notes, I ended up with a selection of shapes. I made myself some notes and drew lines over the sketches to keep focused (Fig.02).
In ZBrush I started with a simple sphere - not very original, I know, but everything starts simply. I'm always using basic shapes like cubes, cylinders and, of course, spheres at the beginning.
Ok, after I dropped my sphere into ZBrush's canvas I used only the Move brush with a higher Draw Size to establish the basic volume of my character bust (Fig.03).
Once I was happy with the overall shape I activated DynaMesh with the following settings (Fig.04):
• Groups: Off
• Polish: Off
• Project: On
• Blur: 2
• Resolution: 256
Rough Sketching Pass
At this stage it is very important for me to carve the overall shape and feature lines of my bust in stone because later on, it will be more difficult to apply global changes. During the rough sketching pass I only used the ClayBuildup, Smooth and, from time to time, Move brush to get my forms. All the time I had my sketches in front of my desk to help me to stick to those base shapes and notes.
Step by step, I added more and more features. I started with the basic skull and neck, before moving on to the nose and eye sockets, then the ears and hair. Mostly I worked with Symmetry on, except for the hairs (Fig.05).
I also used the V key often to check the silhouette of my model (Fig.06).
At the end of my rough sketching pass I applied DynaMesh again, but this time with the Polish feature (Fig.07).
Next I started to blur/smooth out some surface areas with the Smooth Stronger brush (Fig.08).
Main Sculpting Pass
Now I used a lot more of ZBrush's brush power, such as Move, Standard, Clay, ClayBuildUp, Smooth, Smooth Stronger, Flatten, Planar and some user-defined brushes (Fig.09).
I always try to define all the shapes and surface features in this pass. Below are examples of my own brushes plus the both Smooth brushes which I used constantly. The TicalCutSmall brush comes from ZBrush's Standard brush. I applied a small alpha, changed some settings in the Samples >Area and also enabled ZSub.
TicalPinch is a simple adaption of the native Pinch brush. In my workflow I constantly changed the Imbed or/and Gravity Strength values. The different colors in Fig.10 refer to areas where I used those brushes.
During the sculpting process I constantly change my MatCap materials. That helps me to see surface mistakes (Fig.11).
After hours of hard work I ended up with a good shape for my character (Fig.12). I added eyeballs, a shirt collar and some cloth folds.
Up until this point I'd only been using DynaMesh to sculpt my model, without any SubD levels. I planned to use ZBrush's Transpose tool to give my character a more appealing and dynamic pose. I knew with my current DynaMesh edge flow it would become uncomfortable to pose my bust. Therefore I decided to rebuild the surface of my model (retopologizing).
For other projects I've used always TopoGun because it gives me the possibility to place my edge flow very quickly and accurately. But in the current case there was no need for animation-friendly topology, so I decided to go with ZBrush's QRemesher. I drew some lines on the surface (Fig.13) and turned AutoMask off. With different brush types I cleaned calculation errors, applied several SubDiv levels and Reprojection passes.
Final Sculpting Pass
It was now time to start my final sculpting pass. Here I refined the shape of the eyebrows and eyelids, worked on the nose, and added detail on the shirt and hair. I tried not to overload my character with details. I had established spaces between main lines so that the audience could clearly read the surface. Also I improved the facial expression to follow the description of the client and my own notes (Fig.14).
Next it was time to pose my character to get rid of the boring bust. I played around with ZBrush's Transpose tool, masked some areas, and moved and rotated the handles (Fig.15).
At the end I had a handful of different poses (Fig.16). You can find more of those on my website.
After my client had chosen his favorite pose, I added a base to my bust and began my polishing pass.
For my presentation I used a typical portrait light setup. A key light to cast shadows, a rim/back light and a simple fill light (Fig.17).
From ZBrush's Standard Materials section, I chose the SkinShade4 material. I started to change the Specular and Cavity colors. My idea was to give the presentation a really soft look. Therefore I also lowered the Specular value and adjusted the Specular Curve. Fig.18 shows you the difference between the two materials.
To render the final image I used ZBrush's Best Preview Render (BPR). As you can see in Fig.19, Shadows and AO were enabled, and Details had a value of 2. Under the BPR Filters I chose Filter/Glow with the blending mode set to Lighten, activated the Floor Grid, and increased the Rays and Res values.
Compositing was done in Photoshop, where I combined the different layers with different blending modes (Fig.20).
And here is the final result (Fig.21).
I had finally delivered a design with which my client was happy!