Sketching With DynaMesh

BioShock Infinite lead character artist, Gavin Goulden, provides tips for sketching in ZBrush with DynaMesh...

When starting on a new sculpt, sometimes you just want to jump right into the action and not fiddle with creating a base mesh in a 3D program. DynaMesh is built specifically to allow you to avoid that step, loading in a very simple primitive and dynamically adding geometry to your model as you push and pull to get a desired base mesh ready for intense sculpting. DynaMesh also serves as a great way to jump right into ZBrush and start sketching. Ideas can become clearer when worked on in 3D, and you can be left with a rough model to build a base mesh from – things like armor designs, creature proportions, and alien races. In this tutorial, I will give you a quick introduction to this tool and show you how, by using DynaMesh, it can make your workflow more streamlined and focused more on the fun part of the job – creating art, and creating it fast.

Modeling with DynaMesh

To begin, import a base mesh primitive or use one of the primitive models included with ZBrush. With the model activated, navigate to Tools > Geometry > DynaMesh. This will activate DynaMesh and convert your model into a DynaMesh object, blowing away any levels of subdivision you may have added. Generally, I like to work with a light mesh and increase the mesh density as I work. By holding Ctrl and drawing outside of your model, you will recompute DynaMesh over your model, which will add geometry based on how much you've distorted the topology of your mesh.

DynaMesh gives you the freedom to sculpt by dynamically adding geometry as your mesh becomes too distorted

DynaMesh gives you the freedom to sculpt by dynamically adding geometry as your mesh becomes too distorted

Beware, though, fine details that you have added will most likely be lost, and if you needed a specific edge flow within your model, that will be lost as well. Keeping that in mind, it is very important to work in stages of detail and retopologize your mesh once you are done using ZBrush or an external program.

DynaMesh is a great tool for jumping right into a new sculpt, or blocking out a base mesh that you can later clean up for proper sculpting

DynaMesh is a great tool for jumping right into a new sculpt, or blocking out a base mesh that you can later clean up for proper sculpting

Top tip: ZRemesher and DynaMesh

After you are done sculpting with DynaMesh, you may want to have cleaner topology within your model for future sculpting or create a low-poly asset for animation. Deactivate DynaMesh and navigate to your Topology brush. This will allow you to draw guiding lines for ZRemesher. It isn't a necessary step but it definitely helps with the end results. Once you have the lines properly defined on your model with the Topology brush, navigate to ZRemesher in the Geometry panel. You can manipulate the density of your final mesh, as well as control what areas are denser than others (if you used Polypaint to effectively mask out areas). After your settings are to your liking, click ZRemesh and your mesh will be recomputed with new topology.

Once you are done sculpting with DynaMesh, you can use the topology tools within ZBrush to correct the mesh and make it clean for future sculpting

Once you are done sculpting with DynaMesh, you can use the topology tools within ZBrush to correct the mesh and make it clean for future sculpting

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