If you have to break a model into parts for printing, do you use ZBrush for that? If so, what is your process?
I’ll take this one.
I guess I can best answer this by talking about a kind of unique project for us, since it was going to be used as an in-game character and needed to be printed out as well. It was a character named Vonya for the game Cypress Inheritance.
Queue techno music!
I started off with a pre-made base mesh of a woman’s body and turned it into a DynaMesh. From there I was able to quickly start roughing in all the shapes and different design elements that I knew were in the original concept art. I could also play around with adding my own design touches to it. DynaMesh is great for this.
With the T pose now finished and approved, I needed to pose her. So off to TransPose Master we go! Since everything has multiple subdivision levels this was easy. PolyGrouping her into sections (ie., R arm, L arm, R leg, and so on) made handling all these SubTools manageable.
Once the posing was done I needed to think about how this piece was going to get molded and cast, so now we got to breaking this model up into different pieces. The first thing I did was determine where the breaks would be. The parts that were going to have a slice through them were merged then DynaMeshed. Everything else was decimated and merged into a few SubTools. This is such a great feature in ZBrush -- being able to do the whole sculpt without needing to worry about how the model will be split apart until the end is just awesome.
I tried a couple different ways to go about this but found that masking and then using PolyGroups From Mask was the easiest way to get my slice where I wanted it. I Remesh with Groups turned on then delete the excess geometry. With an Insert Cube it’s easy to create pegs/keys along the normals at the break. For the negative side I split off the first Insert Cube and then duplicate it. Now if I just leave the duplicated cube at the same size as the first cube, they won't fit together after printing. So the second needs to be slightly enlarged and then used as a Subtract SubTool.
Once all the breaks have been made and keyed, I'll decimate the DynaMeshed parts and merge them with their respective parts. For me personally, I like to GoZ it off to C4D for all the sizing and splitting into separate STL files.
What would you say is your personal favorite ZBrush feature, and why?
Kevin:Totally the Retopology Brush! Having the ability to create quick primitives in the exact shape I want, right on the model and without having to do a bunch of unusual extractions is such a life and time saver. I use it a lot for bags and belts on characters. Shift+Dragging around the waist a couple times and then just drawing the connecting poly-points is so quick and easy! And that is just the simplest example. I have used it to make more complicated garments right on the body when I wanted more control and had specific parts of it that needed to be laid out a certain way. Also, as a partner with QRemesher it works awesomely. It took a bit to figure out how to partner these features well. It is really easy to get carried away and try to lay out too many curves for QRemesher, leading to a mesh with odd flows that one would not want. Sometimes less is more with that feature. But it can really give you an organic mesh that is easy to pose and sculpt on – and does so very fast!
Is there anything else you would like to say or talk about while you have our attention?
As a professional toy sculptor, I’ve loved the transition to working digitally. Given the number of changes and the speed at which the work needs to be done, ZBrush has become an indispensable tool in our industry. (Also, companies are now frequently asking for STL’s only as opposed to physical prototypes.) As an artist, I’ve found ZBrush to be an amazing environment to let my creativity run wild, no longer constrained by the materials or scale. It’s a place set of tools where I can explore new avenues with my sculpting beyond what I used to do in clay and wax. It also cannot be forgotten that there are still limits when it comes to digital printing.
I just want to mention how much we love the support from Pixologic and how wonderful the ZBC community is. There is so much talent and a huge togetherness. We learn so much from the videos posted on the Pixologic site, but also all of the amazing people willing to share their skills and techniques. I have never seen an art community so driven together to lift everyone up and push the tools further in an environment that is welcoming to amateurs and pros alike! So hats off to everyone, really.
Yeah, there needs to be a ZBrush soundtrack!
Many thanks to Robert, James, Heather and Kevin for putting the time and effort into answering our questions! Thank you also to Little Wonder Studio in general for agreeing to the interview in the first place!
Please share your comments in the interview’s discussion thread at ZBrushCentral.