Model & pose a Wolverine sculpt for 3D print
In this tutorial, I will show you the process I used to create a character for the collectible figure industry. I will talk specifically about my Wolverine fan art work and show you some methods I used to create this character, such as opening a ZBrush UV, how to prepare a character for printing, and some useful tips and tricks to get a good result.
Sculpting a printable 3D character
Before you start modeling, you need to search for good references. First you need to define what you want to produce. Be very careful and if necessary create separate folders for references. At first my selected references were made for the anatomy part, then when my ideas were flowing I started adding reference images for other parts, like boots and gloves.
In this step, I used the PureRef program to organize the images, collected many images of real people, statues and items for the character
Initially my idea was to make a bust of Wolverine, something faster where I could train and have more projects for my portfolio, but over time I decided to produce the full body to have a character that required more effort and study. When the base of the head was ready, I started sculpting the character with separate SubTools and adjusting the shapes with dynamesh.
With the base done, I started refining the separate objects to have a little more control between the shapes, when I considered the shape/silhouette to be good enough, I started to plan and sculpt the clothes and accessories to give a little more life to the character. After that I did a rough pose to see what it would look like. Posing at this stage is a good way to check how your model will look at the end, and fix possible issues with proportions.
Pose and refining
After deciding what Wolverine's final pose would look like, I started to work on Wolverine's accessories. I added a new belt, a bag with items, boots and gave him a facial expression.
Even though I was looking forward to detailing the accessories, I had to hold myself and see the big picture. You should only take time and detail any specific part of the character if it works as a whole while you are still defining its pose, expression, and all accessories as a rough sketch.
As you can see, my model was all dynamesh with a very bad topology to finish, so to continue the character I had to make the mesh acceptable and make a retopology for each piece. At this point, I used zremesher to help me get a good mesh and then I opened the UV maps directly in ZBrush. To create the UVs, I used UV Master (Zplugin > UV Master). I checked the option to open the UV in Polygroup. To detail each part I used the Surface noise along with layer, which helped to have more control.
Finishing the model in ZBrush
After opening the model UVs and having all pieces with the modeling done, it's finally the time to start detailing. This is where I used a lot of surface noise to my advantage, with some textures and some parts using Inflate brush, Clay brush, and Dam Standard brush. I tried to put textures and noise on every piece so the character won't look like a plastic doll.
Cleaning for printing
This part is quite important for those who want to work with 3D printing. The idea is to make sure your 3D model is like a shell, which means it's completely empty on the inside, reducing production costs and avoiding production mistakes during the actual printing. Many errors can be avoided at this step by closing gaps, uniting pieces that are too far from each other, and adding connecting pins (male/female parts) in the correct places.
When adjusting your model for printing it's important to keep in mind the spaces between the meshes. An easy way to adjust this problem is to use the Brush Move with BACKGACING MASK on, approximating them manually. After this adjustment you can use the Live Boolean to connect the pieces.
Be aware that you may find air pockets in the model, even after these adjustments. To solve this problem, select the air inlet with Select Lasso and create a new polygroup, hide it, delete it and then close the remaining holes. You can repeat this process until the model no longer has any air pockets. When you're free of these you can finally separate your model into the pieces final format which you'll use to print.
After splitting and closing all the remaining gaps you can start working on the Keys, which work as plugs that will be used to assemble the parts later. To make that you can simply use a cube as the "male" key and subtract boolean to create the "female" mesh counterpart.
After splitting and closing all the remaining holes I start creating the keys, which work as plugs that will be used to assemble all the parts later. To make that I simply use a cube as the male key, then use subtract boolean to create the “female” mesh.
For the render I used the 3-Point Lighting technique, with an extra light to bring more visibility to the background. It's really important to place the light in the correct spots, a bad lighting could mess up your presentation. My intention was to show all the details of the character, so I thought using dramatic light was not ideal. A dramatic light is awesome to look at, but sometimes it's impossible to see all the model clearly. You can also make a good use of rim lights to make it special and pop from the background without being too highlighted.
The idea of this set of lights was to make the model look like something that has already been printed. The material wasn't really special; it was a diffuse with dirt in color to give depth. In some parts I used the Specular at maximum and the roughness very low. Even with a very simple material you can achieve a nice look, and as my idea from the beginning was to have a colorless render, this material helped me a lot.
Basically after finishing each separate light render, I merged the overlaid files and worked on the image. I brought a little more saturation and sharpness to specific places, and also tried to take some of the faded aspects that the image had at the beginning and gave it a little more life.
Use the silhouette to your advantage: small adjustments can make a big difference to the character. When you know the characteristics of the character you have a great advantage in making the silhouette. As we all know, Wolverine has aggressive traits so I decided to make the claws more detached and also used the negative spaces to show some movement along the symmetry break. Always keep in mind that a good silhouette will add a lot to your character and make it pop from the background to catch the spectator's attention. Using the silhouette in the right way will give your character more life and movement.
Whenever you are going to do a study, even if it is a simple head, don't restrain yourself. Be willing to receive constructive criticism, they are good for your professional and personal evolution. In my Wolverine model, I asked the opinion of some friends for parts of the model that I didn't like the result of. I know many people are afraid to let others’ opinions influence their project and lose their artistic identity, but I don't agree. In art we can go far alone but with help we can reach the unimaginable.