ZBrush Every Week Series: Week 1 Skull

ZBrush Every Week Series: Week 1 Skull

My New Year’s resolution is to sculpt something new at least once a week. As part of this resolution I’ve started sculpting the human form based on the excellent drawings of Dr. Paul Richer (1849-1933). Dr Richer was a French anatomist, physiologist, sculptor and anatomical artist. Richer approached anatomy like a draftsman; he created drawings of top, side, and front views that can be used for developing 3d models. A great tool for  using with ZBrush! I began this sculpt began with shadowbox to define the major masses. I used the image plane tool with the various views to get the finer detail.

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Likeness pt 2

Another attempt at achieving likeness. This time the 4th Doctor from Doctor Who (Tom Baker Era 1974-81).

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Working on Likeness…

Working on Likeness is one of the most difficult things to do in sculpting. Trying to replicate the shape, shadows and angles of a face based on photos taken at different stages of someone’s life is challenging. Here are two of my attempts in ZBrush. Scroll to the end to see who I was trying to portray.



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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.

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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.

A Female Touch (September 2012)

Applying a female touch to my face anatomy studies.


More ZBrush Heads (September 2012)

Practice sketches (maquettes) in Zbrush. Just testing my knowledge of Head anatomy. Many thanks to ZBrushworkshops.

Zbrush Heads

In recent months I’ve been making an effort to improve my sculpting skills in Zbrush. Heare are some heads I made with ZBrush based upon the great teaching of Ryan Kingslien at ZbrushWorkshops. I plan to retoplogize these heads and use them with full figures.

Turntable Face 1 on YouTube

Turntable Face 2 on YouTube

Turntable of Face 3 on YouTube

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.