Tell us about yourself, your background, school, and mentors...
My name is William Lambeth, "Big Bucks" on ZBC (that's my dogs name). I work at Image Metrics in Santa Monica, Ca. as a Modeler/Texture Artist. I studied traditional painting and illustration at a small art school in Laguna Beach, California. At that time, there was no 3d training available, but I believe that any 3d artist would benefit from traditional drawing and painting. I have always liked figurative work, especially the work of the old masters.
I remember hearing that they could draw anatomically correct figures with no reference and that set me on a quest to achieve the same. I purchased a model of a human skeleton and began to study each bone in great detail. I bought every book on anatomy. I could afford and spent countless hours studying and drawing. One of my closest friends was introduced to the 3d artist Timur Baysal a.k.a. "Taron". Taron shared his techniques with us and that was it.
All of my anatomy studies shifted to 3D. I didn't get serious about getting a job in the industry until about two years ago when I decided I was going to learn the major software packages and make a demo.
Have you always been an artist?
I have always enjoyed drawing and painting. My mother and grandmother used to oil paint and they got me started at a young age. I was probably using oils at around 8 years old.
What inspires you and your work?
Everything around me from the ants in my yard to the distant galaxies. I probably should have been a scientist. Oh well.
"I love the feeling that I am sculpting... It lets me create precise details that would be very difficult to achieve in other packages."
How long have you been using ZBrush?
My first package was Lightwave with a side of pmg Messiah, but I’ve been using ZBrush for about 2 years. Time flies. I started using it after someone demoed it and my jaw hit the floor. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. I love the feeling that I am sculpting instead of mechanically pulling vertices around. It lets me create precise details that would be very difficult to achieve in other packages.
How did you start this project. Did you start by sketching, or did you go straight to XSI? And why a warrior?
It started when I saw my friends' book "African Warriors". I'm fascinated with the culture. They rely solely on nature for their food and shelter. They are free from the dollar. It is a beautiful thing to see. So I decided to explore that subject matter in my work. I might have made a couple preliminary sketches, but I pretty much just jumped into Modo and created the base mesh. I originally modeled and textured a headdress with beads and jewelry, but the characters face alone seemed more appealing. I took my low poly base mesh from Modo into ZBrush and refined my shapes and exported a cage with one subdivision more than the original. I created all of my texture maps in ZBrush. The bump material viewer was very handy for those little wrinkles and pores.
I modeled in Modo. I feel very comfortable with Modo and really like the control it gives me for my edge loops. I have been quite interested in learning ZSpheres because they are extremely fast, but at the time I was just using what I knew. I see a lot of people getting nice results with Zspheres. I suppose the still could have been created in ZBrush alone, but this project was also about learning XSI. Texturing with ZBrush is really the only way I enjoy texturing.
Can you elaborate on your painting process?
Nothing too fancy. I don't use any custom alphas or techniques. I simply paint like I would on a canvas what I want to see on the model.
Tell us about your creative process.
My process as of late has been more scientific than creative. I like to study the interaction of muscle and bone in motion and the way light interacts with a surface. Every time I log on to ZBC or CGtalk I am inspired. There are some amazing artists out there and the quality is getting better and better as the technology is becoming more user friendly. And I learn a lot from the ZBC Community so thanks everyone!
What personal projects are you working on now?
I'm not working on any personal projects now, but I'm still working on the Samburu Warrior at my new employer (Image Metrics). We are using their performance capture software to drive the animation on Samburu. I have in mind what my next personal project will be and I'm very anxious to get started. I won't tell you for now, but be on the look out for something soon. Well.. not too soon.
Where do you see your work headed?
Professionally and personally I would like to continue to keep pushing and break through the boundaries of realism and produce an undetectable CG character. I will continue to work on the anatomy studies and someday produce learning tools for artists that I wish I had.
Any last words for our readers?
I just want to say that the ZBrush community and actually the entire CG community have been so helpful to me. There are a lot of people willing to share ideas and knowledge and that is how we should keep it. To all of you struggling artists, keep fighting and your dreams will be realized. I just got engaged to my beautiful fiancé Hollie. Love you honey!