You recently completed a piece for Photoshop Magazine. What are some of the benefits for illustrators when using ZBrush?
Today I’m employed as a Character Designer. I love what I do! I get to sit behind my computer at my home studio and come up with madness. Using ZBrush and Photoshop together is like peanut butter and jam. They go together so well.
My workflow is all about forward movement. I like striking while the iron is hot. Variations are the name of the game and I want to get as many out as I can in a day while maintaining a professional grade to them. I have found that the more I hem and haw, the less likely the works will hit the mark.
ZBrush allows me the freedom to go wherever I want without the fear of a lost cool concept. Of course this requires a little tech know how at the front end, but once the process is in place... well it just becomes process. In this way ZBrush keeps me on track with the sculptural, color and rendering aspects of the image creation.
I use Photoshop to take my rendered passes and composite the image together. Having said that, I can see a day where even that work flow will exist completely within ZBrush. After all, BPR Filters are extremely powerful.
In respect to features, you also recently took part in a hugely successful User Group Meeting hosted by Pixologic and the Gnomon School of Visual Effects where you highlighted the use of Layers and FiberMesh. How are these features enabling you to push even further than before?
Yes and thank you for that. I had a blast and can’t express how cool it was to have one of my heroes, Rick Baker come up to me and be excited by my workflow. It’s not every day that you manage to teach anything new to a seven time Academy Award winner.
Layers to me are an integral part of my workflow, along with morph targets. Like I said earlier, my workflow is about constant forward progression. I dislike anything that bogs down the artistic flow. This is especially true of copying. I find the endeavor a technical one and by its very nature, laborious. So I was constantly frustrated by the thumbnail process. Although extremely powerful, it is unfortunately one that causes too much turmoil! You see a drawing or thumbnail, once accepted by the client, causes issues as it puts me into copy mode. I must now convert the thumbnail into a 3d form and that is time consuming.
Out of my frustration came a solution, although not all at once. It was a gradual process that I refined. Even as I show it to you now, it took some time to figure out the back and forth. That being said, I knew that once I had figured it out I needed to share it with everyone. I use it not only to create designs, but also to come up with variations in faces, heads, horns... you name it.
FiberMesh. is a relatively new thing to me. That being said, I have embraced it with both arms and I’m not letting go. Hair is an integral part of character design and it was just a matter of time and evolutionary process for it to show up within ZBrush. (Or at least, I had secretly hoped it would.) Before FiberMesh, the only way was through cheats and hand painting in Photoshop.
I can tell you that I am currently taking the material I created for the UGM and turning into a full blown program at my new online school, Phoenix Atelier. I’m sure that the workflow I will show will evolve like everything else I do, but I am excited by what I am able to achieve at this point. Very quickly, I might add -- which is fantastic as time is a huge factor with everything I do.
What is Phoenix Atelier?
Phoenix Atelier is a brand new online school that I have founded with a simple goal: To help dreams come true through education. This is my legacy. It is my way to give back to an industry that has given so much to me. Our structure is curriculum-based with 8 week structures. It focuses on the complete artist; not just the fundamentals.