Isn't it unusual to be working in full 3D at that phase of concepting? What were the advantages of doing it that way?
It really gives you the opportunity to visualize the character in full, from all angles, right from the start . If a director falls in love with a piece of 2D concept art, he will often times find that it is not a "do-able" thing. Some designs look good from one angle but fall apart in others.
With 3D, you can build/sculpt in subtle character with the way they stand or the look on their face. The character is in the sculpt from all angles; no hiding.
Most people think of a digital character in a "T" pose, stiff and straight. That's not what I do. I try to find that character in the posture, asymmetry and expression. Besides, you can do a 3D print overnight and show it in a meeting the next day. Every director loves toys!
This was all done way before version 4R2 and the introduction of DynaMesh. Does that feature figure into your work now?
From time to time I will use DynaMesh. When I do use it I usually retopologize it as soon as the form is even close to what I want.
When I am going to do a 3D-print I always cut my sculpt into pieces so that when it is printed I can mold all the parts separately for better casting. When I have a piece like a hand that might not have a high enough level of detail, I will project onto a DynaMesh, then up the resolution and detail the piece for printing. The piece is then decimated (Decimation Master is a great tool!) so it has better detail than it had as part of the larger sculpt.
How did ZBrush contribute to your overall design process? What features were especially useful and why?
It always surprises people that I don't really get that deep into the features of ZBrush. I use the Standard brush, the Inflate brush, Pinch, Clay, Move... all pretty basic.
I do love the wax shaders and the real-time shadows. These help when I'm generating color concept pieces. I use the TransPose features quit a bit for subtle posing. I also find myself using the retopology tools all the time.
ZBrush's basic features are so good they have become the foundation of my workflow. Any excuse to not leave ZBrush!