Project: DisunionNovember 2008
Finally, after a few weeks I had the time to sculpt something new. I did this work mainly to stay tuned relating to anatomy and the human body while I was searching for a position as digital modeler. After I had done the human figure I couldn’t stop modeling and so I created the tentacle swinging around his body. This was one of these “lazy ass” ideas that comes into your mind at first, when you think about what you could add to make it more interesting. I have noticed that I have forgotten many technical subtleties and tricks that helped me on the modeling process. So it was time to go over these things again. I love doing that as much as I love the actual sculpting 🙂 The final rendering you see above was done in 3ds Max and Vray as render engine. The settings are very basic. There are two Vray and a directional light in the scene. The yellowish tint on the left and the bluish one on the right are coming from a HDRI, placed in the VRay environment slot. The rendering itself takes only a few minutes. As I noticed in some projects I did in the past, it’s sometimes not necessary to crank up all the render settings to highest quality. The noise that you get on medium settings can look good too. You save time on rendering and you don’t have to add it in post. The final look could be OK for first presentation but there should be much more space for better quality if I would work on the light setup and maybe on some maps for the model – next time…
Work Horse Zbrush
I did all the sculpting work in ZBrush. Last month I had the chance to work with the Autodesk Mudbox 2009 trial version. I think they did a good job on the new release. Some new features seem to be really great, assumed you have the right hardware that supports them. But overall I miss some tools that I use every day when I work in Zbrush, like the transpose tool for example. I hope that people at Pixologic are already working on crazy stuff like real-time HDRI lighting or viewport depth of field for the next release 🙂
On this project I was working with the same basemesh that I already used on all the other models that you can find on this website. If you should be interested in using it for you one project, go to the article section and download the free model. Delete all the subdivisions and use the smooth brush to get rid of all the details. The basemesh for the tentacle and the bowels was done in 3ds max – just simple poly modeling. As you can see in the screenshots, I have saved my one brush palette. Basically these are the same brushes as the standard once that come with ZBrush. I did just slight adjustments on the brush intensity, the brushmode, the falloff curve and the used Alpha map. During an early stage of sculpting on a low resolution mesh I use the Clay brush in combination with the standard brush. When I work on a higher subdivision level, a tuned flatten brush does a very good job. When I have to pose or rescale certain parts of the model, I use the transpose tool or the transpose master plugin. Pixologic.com has just made a new download centre available, where you can download many of these useful tools. Sometimes I export the lowest resolution of the model and load it into 3ds max for really subtle changing. Make sure that you leave the vertices order as it is, otherwise your model will mess up when you import it back at the lowest subdivision in ZBrush.
This time I tried to record some parts of the modeling process. It was the first time I did this and I wasn’t confident enough to record the whole sculpting session. It feels like someone is constantly watching you… By the way the recording process inside ZBrush slowed down the viewport speed a little bit. I will try to record the whole process when I do the next sculpt. At the bottom of this break you will find ten minutes footage that shows me working on different part of the figure. To be honest, it’s quite boring, just simple pushing and pulling.
I stay on a very low resolution level as long as I can. The main shapes have to be in balance. Until I’m not satisfied with the overall composition and the way how the skull, thorax and pelvis relateing to each other and to the extremities, I don’t step up in subdivision. At this stage I work with the move and clay brush. Later, when something isn’t looking as good as it should, I come back to this lowres state and try to fix the error here. Keep an eye on the outline of your sculpture. The lines should “flow in rhythm”. It’s good to change the materials sometimes. Some of the Matcap materials are great for displaying fine details, with others it’s easier to concentrate on the overall form.
I start to refine the model on a higher subdivision level. You can call it detailing if you want, but for me it isn’t really detailing in terms of adding more and more details. Let me try to explain this: When you begin to hide certain parts of the model to focus on the arm, the feet or the head, only your work area becomes smaller. The hand on a higher subdivision level gets as big as the whole body on a lower subdivision level. That refers not to the size the model takes on the screen, but the way you look at it as an “artist”. I try to see the hand as a whole body for example. The fingernail is in relationship with the knuckle like the feet correlate to the knee when the whole model is visible. (I’m sure I could explain this much better if my English would be better…)
I’m doing this modeling stuff for more than one and a half year know. I have learned all the anatomy stuff to a certain degree. I have tried to build a working pipeline from concept drawing to the final digital sculpture; from a rough basemesh to the final presentation. I am much more into art in general as I was it a few years ago… A few days ago I was jogging through the snow in the forest near our house. The mountains were tint dark red by the evening sun. They were glowing between the trees like coal in the fire. It was fucking cold. These are the moments where your mind is able to think completely clear. I could remember some people told me, that you can already see by the way my models look, that it is my work; that it is my style. I believe that should be foot for thought. I feel that style is sometimes nothing more than bad habits. In my opinion, parts of my models have my “personal style” when I stop trying to become better, to make it more realistic or more crazy or real or unreal; or whatever you want. Style is standstill. When I was back home again, I decided that I will try to forget all the rules and stuff that I have learned over the last years, start from scratch and make everything new. Reinhold Messner (mountaineer and explorer) wrote in one of his books: “Possession is boring. Only the challenge is important.”
Wish me good luck…
I will post a few links on every new entry I write on this website. You will find here not only work from diverse artists but also any other stuff, that helped me doing the project and keeps me inspired and motivated. Maybe some of you will find something useful for your one project.
http://www.avatarsculptureworks.com mind blowing artwork by Jamie Salmon and Jackie K. Seo
http://www.malanjo.net amazing portfolio of Miguel Angelo
http://www.fx81.com stunning portfolio of Mashru Mishu, great character sculptings!
http://infinite.cgsociety.org/gallery/ the most realistic digital girls I have seen so far by Lee Perry Smith
http://www.jelmerboskma.com great portfolio of Jelmer Boskma, beautiful renderings and very strong traditional skills
http://www.ryankingslien.com Ryan Kingslien is one of the main forces behind the fusion of traditional and digital art.