From your thoughts to the 3D form
Conceptual art is a fluid and dynamic process. Forms reveal themselves in the medium bringing the artist closer to the realization of something entirely new. Because of its speed and amazing potential for experimentation, the leading conceptual artists enjoy working in ZBrush. A simple sphere can be quickly molded into a creature’s head using the intuitive sculpting brushes. Details can be created on higher subdivision levels while the primary forms are altered on lower levels. Hundreds of iterations of a concept can be generated form a base mesh giving the artist more time to explore more ideas.
By reusing the basic elements of the design there’s no need to constantly recreate the original mesh. This means you can quickly build a library of assets that can be called up at any time to help you make what you need.
ZBrush is designed to be used like a sketch pad, a place where ideas can be fleshed out and tested using intuitive tools. The interface acts as a workshop giving you quick access to make anything you want. Plug-ins such as PaintStop let you quickly sketch using natural brushes. ZSketch lets you sketch in 3D as easily as you would draw on paper.
A simple ZSketch armature can be generated with a few strokes while you sort out proportions and the gesture of your ideas. This can then be skinned with a dense sculptable mesh. Exploration continues using the sculpting brushes. Hundreds of brush presets come with ZBrush and they can be customized and saved to extend the power of your toolset.
You can develop both organic and hard surface mechanical objects and everything in between. The process is non-destructive allowing you to stretch your creativity as far as you can. You’ll never feel as though you are boxed in by technical restrictions.
Concept in production
Imagine a day in the life of the ZBrush concept master: Start a meeting in the morning and while still brainstorming, sketch the incoming ideas with QuickSketch or PaintStop. Or jump right into 3D with a ZSpheres II armature and ZSketch "clay". When the core idea has taken shape, start to sculpt and even texture with complete freedom to try new things. Directors love it when you can give them multiple options to choose from, mixing and matching on the fly! Once your idea is approved, evolve what you already have into a full hero model. Don't guess at what would be the best base mesh for your work, restricting everything that comes after. Instead, create as you'd like and then build the best base mesh for your creation once you're done. All details including painted textures can be transferred to the new model. But why stop there? Optimize the hero model with Decimation Master and export it with 3D Print Exporter in STL or VRML format, ready to do a 3D print. When it’s done, close to the end of the day, you will have a 3D concept that you can hand to the director for final approval. All while remaining confident that any changes he might want can be easily made back in ZBrush where everything is as fluid as your imagination.
Your imagination won’t be restricted by the technical side of CG. You will be free to be an Artist, focused on the Art itself and little else. You have an idea. Sculpt it, paint it, texture it... Create it at the speed of light!
“Normally our über concept artist James Hawkins would handle all the creatures, but we needed to get the modelers something ASAP, so I tackled the Rockworm. I started with ZSpheres, formed a basic shape, subdivided and started sculpting. It was so easy. Once I had some nice organic shapes going I pulled renders into Photoshop and composited the color and textures."
Chris Perna, Art Director - Epic Games
[...] Scott Patton then sculpted the intricate head of the beast in ZBrush. “The viperwolf is where we really got onto 3D sculpting, ” Rosengrant stated. "We could build a 3D model in ZBrush and put it through its paces - and we could do it with Jim, on the fly. We had two and three hour sessions with Jim during this process.”
Cinefex 120 - Avatar article by Jody Duncan
Thanks to options such as 3D layers, Morph Targets, retoplogy, and remeshing, no idea is too time consuming to try. Details sculpted into a surface can be turned on an off, dialed up or down in any combination as your inspiration take shape.
The Art of Freely Painting Your Concepts
As your concepts take shape you can also develop their look through Polypainting and materials. Polypainting allows you to paint colors directly on the surface without the need to create UV texture coordinates or switch to other paint programs. How does the paint job you’ve applied to your model look on metal? How about skin? Or bone? Instantly switch between material presets or customize your own materials. Surface properties can be extracted from photographs using the Material Capture tool and blended together to create an infinite variety of looks for your designs.