Making Of 'The Hulk'
Hi, my name is Fabricio Torres and I'm a freelance 3D modeller.Â In this 'Making Of' I'm going to walk you through some of the steps of creation of my Hulk model.
This project started as a personal challenge.Â The new Hulk film was to be released and (again) I didn't like the way he was portrayed. Â I do understand the idea behind the concepts, with Hulk being a "realistic" character, but I wanted to see more of a comic book beast, with everything over-exaggerated. Â And as everyone else was creating Hulks at the same time, it added another task: not only to develop my own design, but to create something different - something new! Â And as I was trying to enter the toy market at the time, I decided to make it like a diorama/collectible statue, and I set my mind on the fact that he wasn't going to look just like a super bodybuilder - he had to be the buffest guy ever! Â I also thought that it would be cool to have his arms really long, with short legs and a tiny head, kind of like a giant gorilla in human form. Â Some research on Google provided sufficient references for the body and expression, as well as the debris that I wanted to place on the model's base.
OK, so most people have asked me why I chose to start with such a simple base mesh (Fig.01). Â Well, the answer is that I think it's faster and more enjoyable to block-out forms in ZBrush. Â You see, at this point, I didn't have a concept in mind, just a general idea of the overall look. Â It would have been a huge waste of time and effort to define the proportions and volumes on a low poly mesh if I wasn't sure where I was going!Â With that said, I also think it's a lot easier to retopologise things nowadays, rather than start modelling from scratch. Â Believe me, from someone that came from the pre-ZBrush era, to build things from nothing using a cube or placing polygons on an empty viewport is not fun (although some still think it is, of course).
After importing the base mesh into ZBrush, I started messing with the "move", "clay" and "standard" brushes to add volume. Â I didn't go too high on subdivisions and tended to work a lot on the existing polygons before subdividing the mesh again. Â The main focus at this point wasn't detailing; it was on the shape of the silhouette and volume - the fewer polygons, the better! As you can see (Fig.02), I made his mouth open from the very beginning because I wanted a screaming Hulk. Â There was no need to model his mouth closed and then pose it later if I already knew the final expression I wanted! Â I also I avoided the 'T' pose because his deltoid muscles were so immense that they would look awful!
With the overall shape and proportions already set, it was time to retopologise the model and continue sculpting with a better distributed base mesh. Â For this I used Topogun (a powerful software - still beta, but very stable and full of nice tools). Â I imported pieces of the ZBrush model and quickly established an improved mesh with correct edge loops for animations and a more balanced poly distribution (Fig.03).
When I was satisfied with the result, I re-imported it into ZBrush and re-projected all of the details from the old mesh onto the new one (Fig.04). Â To do this, append the new base mesh as a Subtool and subdivide it once, then hit the "project all" button, and so on. Â What this does is to shrink wrap one mesh into another. Â Take care with stars (five-edged vertices) though, as they usually react really badly when doing this! Â To help keep things in order, remember to store a morph target before projecting the details; if something looks bad, paint it with the "morph brush" and save your work!
With all the details sculpted on the ugly base mesh on my brand new one, and with everything looking right, I continued subdividing and adding details (Fig.05).
With the body more or less finished, it was time to pose it! Â I didn't particularly think it was worth spending time doing a traditional rig with ZBrush's transpose available, but sometimes even transpose isn't enough, especially when experimenting with different poses, because it isn't always a fast process with the whole "select/rotate/deselect" thing. Â Not to mention that you can sometimes lose the proportions of your character if you don't always set up the rotation pivots in the same places!Â So the solution came from a method that I wasn't aware of, but it proved to be highly effective: "ZSphere Rigging". Â The setup process can be seen at this link: http://www.zbrush.info/docs/index.php/ZSphere_Rigging
The basic idea is to deform a level of your mesh using a "skeleton" made by ZSpheres, and then save it and re-import this mesh back into your model on the exact same level you were working with the ZSpheres, "posing" all other levels in the process. Â I do have to say here that this wasn't as perfect as it might seem; you have to re-sculpt (entirely) some parts due to the (sometimes) bad enveloping, but it's faster than transpose as I mentioned, especially when you have to play with different poses. Â You'll also notice that if you only use rotate to bend the "bones", you'll always keep the proportions right (Fig.06).
After refining the posed model by adding more detail and fixing the look of the posed muscles (this was very important, as the volumes changed when the muscles were bent or stretched), it was time to work on the other objects for the statue. Â I started by painting a mask of what would later be the pants, and then extracted it, sculpting the borders of the holes and the details on the fly and folds (Fig.07). Â I chose to extract it from the legs and made a different Subtool, rather than sculpting it right into the mesh because it was easier to have more polygons in the pants for details if I wanted them, avoiding subdividing the whole Hulk by one more level.
For the base I used XSI again. Â The idea was to set Hulk in the middle of what used to be a street but is now a pile of asphalt surrounded by a lot of debris. Â So I modelled pieces of concrete, some metal, electrical cables and water pipes - everything I could think of to set the mood of the battle that had just happened there. Â I also added a tyre (reused from an old project), as a comparative to the actual proportions of Hulk. Â Again, I kept the base meshes very simple. Â Also, because of the mass distribution and aiming for a cool balance so that the figure would stand still, I had to take care of where I put the details on the base. Â In this case, because Hulk is inclined towards the front, I needed more of the base there. Â To avoid adding a large piece of asphalt I simply put a piece of metal going in the same direction as Hulk's head and touching the ground, acting like a "tripod", so as to hold the piece safely whilst not disturbing the look in any way (Fig.08).
With the base exported into ZBrush, I started adding details. Â For the stones and concrete I used the "standard" and then the "fast mallet" brushes. Â For the cracks in the asphalt, I projected an image using Zapplink, and used it to set up a mask and sculpt the lines. Â Metals were detailed with the "clay brush" set to a low intensity (Fig.09).
The hair was extracted from the top of the head, and I then used the "standard brush" with a few "lazy mouse" touches here and there. Â The trick was to vary the directions, adding movement and interest (Fig.10).
Everything was ready for printing now (Fig.11 - 15). Â It would have been cool to have some cuts on the deltoid muscles and waist for better moulding, as well some pins under the feet to fix the statue to the base, but this can be done later in a programme that prepares the mesh for printing, just in case you forget to set it up from the start. Â Just make sure you have the booleans done in the right way!
Fig.11 - Click to Enlarge
Fig.12 - Click to Enlarge
Fig.13 - Click to Enlarge
Fig.14 - Click to Enlarge
What you mustn't forget is that all base meshes should be closed. Â No open polygons! Â This would be a problem later as the printer needs volumetric objects to understand what to do.
And this is pretty much it!Â I hope you've all enjoyed this Making Of article.
Final - Click to Enlarge