Same Base, Different Face

Same Base, Different Face


Here is a visual demonstration of what a good base mesh can be. All the faces in this article were built off the same base mesh, which can be downloaded at the end of this article. I developed this base mesh after running into sculpting problems with my previous meshes. I made a conscious effort to replicate the muscle and bone structure of a real face while at the same time leaving a low enough poly-count that the mesh could still be adapted to different faces. The development of this mesh owes a lot to ZBrush Studio Projects: Realistic Game Characters by Ryan Kingslien and L’Ecorche iPhone/iPad app by Michael Defeo and  Scott Eaton.

Method of Production

Eyes, eyebrows, hair and, eyelashes were all done as separate ZTools. I used mask extraction to create the eyebrows and eyelashes. I appended a polysphere for most of the hair. The dreads were done using the Curve Multitubes brush. My five most frequently used brushes were Move Topological, Inflate, Trim Dynamic, Damian Standard (Dam Standard) and Smooth. These scupltures can be seen in the round on my Youtube Channel.

samebase_001 samebase_002 samebase_003 samebase_004 samebase_005 samebase_006 samebase_007 samebase_008 samebase_009 samebase_010 samebase_011 samebase_012 samebase_013 samebase_014


Download Base Mesh Bust (Updated Feb 5, 2013)

Click here to download my base mesh bust. You can auto-polygroup the model using the existing UVs I created for it. It consists of 1034 quads and weighs in at 143 KB.

Making All Quad Meshes

Quad is short for quadrilateral, a 4 sided shape. Quad meshes are ideal for digital sculpting and 3d animation. Sculpting on a mesh with a mixture of quads and non quads can result in pinching and sharp angles in unwanted areas. Here I present some cases where polygons can be converted into quads.

1) Quad adjacent to a triangle
Add a line in the centre of the quad.







2) Two Quads adjacent to a pentagon (5 sided polygon)
Add a line to the centre of the pentagon.







3) septagon (7 sided polygon) sandwiched between 4 quads and 2 quads
Split the septagon as shown.







4) Ring of triangles (even number)
Remove half the lines to merge triangles into quads.







5) Ring of Triangles (odd number)
Remove half the lines and add a point to the remaining triangle.







ZBrush 4R2 – DynaMesh: Bye bye manual retopology?

Update Jan 29, 2013: Even with ZBrush 4 Release 5,  QRemesher and the topology brush, the dream of never having to do manual retopology is just that a dream. Manual still gives the best results, although I am sure Pixologic will improve their algorithms. The title of the article is a bit misleading but I keep it for historical purposes.

Update Oct 8, 2011: Free ZBrush 4 Release 2 Tutorials from Pixologic

DynaMesh is a new feature of ZBrush 4 release 2 that allows the user to add to a mesh while at the same time maintaining an evenly distributed topology! What is even better about DynaMesh is that the new topology is mostly made of quads, making it easier to sculpt in ZBrush and animate in other 3D apps. I am not certain but I suspect this instant retopology technology was borrowed from Sculptris after it was acquired by Pixologic. The main difference between Sculptris and ZBrush with instant retopology is that Sculptris only uses triangles whereas ZBrush uses mostly quads. While DynaMesh reduces the work required for retopology it is not perfect. Stray triangles may appear in the retopologized surface that will need to be edited out manually.

To make use of DynaMesh, here are the steps.

1) Drop your Ztool onto the canvas
2) Enter edit mode (press ‘T’)
3) Make the tool Polymesh3D
4) Open the Geometry palette
5) Click on the ‘DynaMesh’ button

Once DynaMesh is enabled, ZBrush can automatically retopologize your mesh every time you hold down the control key while clicking and dragging on the canvas. Simply clicking and dragging turns sculpted features into a more uniform mesh and maintains quads for most of the new retopologized mesh. This is useful for fixing topology after stretching a model with the Morph Elastic Brush or the Snake Hook Brush.

Dynamesh really shines when retopologizing after inserting a mesh. ZBrush 4 Realase 2 has added a number of “Insertion Brushes” which allow the artist to add meshes to the current mesh. In my example I inserted a nose on a sphere. Control clicking and dragging will combine the old mesh with the inserted mesh. The combined mesh will again be composed mostly of quads with no breaks between the previously separate meshes. To prevent two meshes from being combined, remember to use Group split before remeshing to turn them into separate subtools.

You can also control the resolution of your retoplogized mesh with the slider underneath the DynaMesh button. Increasing the slider before remeshing creates a finer mesh. Decreasing the slider before remeshing creates a coarser mesh.

Below is my DynaMesh example sped up 5 times.