Polishing an Army Boot

Insomniac Games senior character artist, Henrique Naspolini, shows us how to polish an army boot in ZBrush

The idea of this tutorial article is to demonstrate how to take a rough model to a polished final look, with clean details all without leaving ZBrush. It cover steps such as mesh extraction, mesh cleanup, with ZRemesher and panel loops, and adding stitches detail with the help of curves and custom created insert mesh brush. The tutorial focus on one part of the mesh but these steps can be applied all over the model.

Step 1: Mesh Extraction

On the rough ZBrush mesh, paint a mask on areas that we want to extract and be its own mesh. In Tool > SubTool, click on 'Extract' and then, if you are happy with the preview, press 'Accept' to finally get the new mesh as another SubTool. The Extract settings may vary but I usually set the 'S Smt' to 100 if the rough mesh is high resolution.

Masking desired areas to be extracted

Masking desired areas to be extracted

Step 2: Mesh Cleanup Process

The new extracted mesh needs some cleanup to look good and work with. This process basically involves ZRemesher and Panel Loops. In this case, I find that ZRemesher will work best if the mesh is hollow, so first thing to do is isolate the outer (reddish) polygroup and 'Delete Hidden' to keep only what is visible, and then hit 'ZRemesher'. After that, use 'Panel Loops' to get the thickness back. We just want a simple shell result, so watch those settings. 'RegroupPanels' and 'RegroupLoops' are useful to unify the polygroups. A final touch is to extrude the shell border with the ZModeler brush to get an extra loop with consistent width.

Polishing the extracted mesh with ZRemesher and Panel Loops

Polishing the extracted mesh with ZRemesher and Panel Loops

Step 3: Making the Stitch Brush

Before heading to the next step, we need to create a brush that will insert the stitches on the model. With ZSpheres we can quickly create the stitch object. It is important to keep this insert object somewhat low-res because it will be duplicated hundreds of time on the target mesh. It is also a good idea to create variations of the stitch so we have multiple options within the same brush.

Creating a custom InsertMultiMesh brush

Creating a custom InsertMultiMesh brush

Step 4: Adding the Stitches

With the target mesh cleaned up and the Insert Mesh brush ready; it is time to add the stitches. Since the mesh has multiple polygroups, it is necessary to isolate the target areas (in this case the yellow polygroup) to frame the mesh with curves based on its border. In Stroke menu > Curve Functions, press 'Frame Mesh' to draw the curves. Then, unhide the polygons and, with the stitch brush selected, click on the curve to apply the stitches. If you prefer, press 'M' to select the double-stitch option and click on the curve again to replace the stitches. Once you are happy with the result, click anywhere inside the mesh to commit the stitches.

Using ‘Frame Mesh

Using ‘Frame Mesh

Step 5: Final Model

And here is the final model. I used these techniques multiple times in different ways. I also used different types of stitches as well as different sizes. The details are sharp, clean and polished.

Finished model using these techniques

Finished model using these techniques

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