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Technique #3:  Easy Posing

When you model a character, it's best to use a T-pose to facilitate the rigging process later on. However leaving the character in the T-pose is a demo reel faux pas. Posing your character tells viewers that you are thinking beyond the mere mechanics and taking into

consideration its place and purpose in a larger story or world. While not absolutely essential (like wireframes or UVs), I highly recommend that artists pose the characters on their reel.


ZBrush has several excellent tools for posing. My favorite is the new Contact tool in ZBrush 4.0. It lets you create associations between SubTools so that transformations to one can easily be applied to

another. This makes posing your characters faster than ever before – no complex rigging knowledge required.


When a single SubTool contains multiple pieces of disconnected geometry (such as the armor on a character), applying a contact to that SubTool might cause unwanted deformation (see the image below). To avoid this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Begin by assigning Contact points. You do this by creating "parent" and "child" relationships between SubTools. For example, if your character has armor, the body would be the parent and the armor would be the child, because the movement of the armor would naturally follow that of the body. To set up Contacts, go to the child object (i.e. the armor) and using the Transpose tools (in Move, Rotate or Scale mode), draw a line from a point on the child to a point on its parent. Then click on the C1 button in the Tool | Contact menu. Repeat these steps two more times, each time choosing a new contact location on each SubTool and clicking C2 and C3 accordingly. This will help ZBrush properly establish the link between SubTools.

  2. Once the Contact points have been established, go to the Tool | Morph Target menu and click the Store MT button to save a morph target for the SubTool. Storing the Morph Target will allow us to correct any unwanted deformation to the SubTool later on.

  1. Click on the parent SubTool (in the case of a character, this would most likely be the body). Then use the Transpose tools to adjust its pose.

  2. Click on a child SubTool (such as its clothing or armor) and go to the Tool | Contact menu.

  3. Drag the Strength slider up to 100 and click the Apply button. You'll see the SubTool adjust to the deformations made to its parent.

  4. Now it's time to correct any unwanted deformation that may have occurred when applying the contact to the child SubTool. Make sure the child SubTool is selected. Then, identify the geometry within that SubTool that should have been affected when you applied the Contact deformation. Mask it. Everything that should not have been affected by the Contact should remain unmasked.

  5. Go to the Tool | Morph Target menu and drag the Morph slider up to 100. The unmasked geometry will return to its original position, just as it was before you applied the Contact. The masked geometry however will stay in place.


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