What was the overall pipeline for your work on this project?
We received ZTools of character concept sculpts from Legacy Effects that had been developed with Andrew Stanton in California. We then took these and retopologized them in Maya using some basic Maya shrinkwrapping tools. I don't use anything tricky for my retopologizing, but use Maya's World Space Transfer Attributes tool to shrinkwrap my retopologized model onto the concept sculpt.
We then used ZBrush's Projection tools to extract as much data as possible from the initial concept sculpt. The model was then reposed into a more standard pose and we began resculpting with an eye for preserving as much of the concept sculpt's intentions as possible. Everyone would have a say at this point and often revisions to the anatomy to better serve rigging would be done.
Was ZBrush used for environments at all?
The Environment team -- headed by Guy Williams -- also used ZBrush to touch up all the environments to give the stone a weathered and chipped look. They built intact structures, then used the Clipping brush to chip and flatten sections in order to make them appear old and broken. These chunks were then retoplogized before more subtle weathering was done.
Did you read any of the Edgar Rice Burroughs books for inspiration or did you rely solely on the concept art?
I actually read the first book upon which the movie is based. When I was a kid, I was a huge E.R.B. fan and I spent one summer reading a lot of his Tarzan books. They were good fun pulp reading. I think the film owes a lot to some of the classic cover artwork used on the books, as the designs for the costumes are realizations of a lot of these covers.
We also made modifications to proportions based on animation tests using the basic model. All of this would lead us towards our final production models and sculpts.
ZBrush did a great job when reprojecting new topology onto our sculpts over the many generations of revisions throughout the show. I found that by taking the Blur setting down to 1 we preserved a lot of good detail. Andrew, who had spent a lot of time with Scott Patton at Legacy Effects, was very much in love with his characters and was always there to smack us if we varied too much from the original concept.
The costumes for the characters were modeled in Maya based on real-life costumes created by the production's Costume Designers. Surprisingly, the biggest challenge in the costumes was not the intricate leather pieces on the costumes, but rather the simple loincloth that the characters wore. It wasn't as clearly envisioned at the start of the production and was rebuilt numerous times over the course of the show. The "nappy" or "diaper-like" cloth was explored and reinvented numerous times.