A 3D Adventure Part II
Following numerous tutorials, I take a break from trying to achieve a bear head and move on to body parts.
These shapes probably started out as spheres and were stretched and smooshed into a torso and legs.
My intention was to amass a parts bin that I could call upon to assemble into a variety of shapes. As I would achieve a shape, into the parts bin it would go for future use.
Putting together what I had learned so far, I’d arrived at a bear of sorts. I was a long way from where I needed to be, but I’d started on my journey.
It was around this time that I discussed my progress with the experts who had inspired me – William Lowrey and Wayne Taylor. Both of them could do this with their eyes shut, but they both have other things to occupy their time.
It was probably during these conversations, I summed up what I was hoping to achieve. Essentially, I wanted to make the equivalent of the terracotta army in bear form. All of the characters were similar, but each one unique with unique accessories and facial features, but based on a similar form.
I needed to arrive at a basic character, then pose, give expression and emotion to and accessorise, dress and complete. A daunting task.
There’s a widget in ZBrush called ZSpheres. a brilliant way to have a poseable figure with the correct proportions with all the joints and wiggly bits you’d need to achieve the right expression.
Great. I gave it a go. However, as soon as it comes to fleshing out the character, all poseability is abandoned. That’s no good if I’m going to need to re-use a shape. My Terracotta Bears couldn’t go down that route – I’d have to rebuild from too far back in the sculpting process for it to be of value.
The overwhelming advice that I had from both Wayne and Billy was “keep the topology simple”
Time to back pedal. For my base character to be poseable, it needed to be simple. Any detail could be added once the pose had been achieved. Bear in mind that, as I write this, the process of adding that detail, clothing and accessories remains a mystery – I’ve not reached that stage of the tutorials.
This is where I went terracotta barmy
The need to establish a smooth and repeatable workflow totally clouded my mind.
I tried the low-poly, simple sculpts several times, but they felt awkward and crude. I’d allowed the need to establish a way of working to overshadow the learning process.
The thing is, both Wayne and Billy have already done the mileage with ZBrush, putting in countless hours and experiencing the pitfalls to enable them to give that piece of advice “Keep it simple”.
Tutorials became pointless. All of the videos I watched assumed that the piece in question was a one-off. I stumbled and ground to a developmental hault.
About this time, all drawings and colour visuals had been completed to allow the factory to plough on with the new range. I took the opportunity to break away from ZBrush for a while.
While I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by building bear bodies, I thought a change of focus would do me good. Taking one on of the sketches from the recent batch, I started working on a piece of furniture.
ZBrush is very ‘organic' and I actually found it strangely difficult to build the base structure. I mean, it’s a bunch of slabs and a cube. I really don’t know what came over me.
Once I started smearing virtual wax over the form, progress became very enjoyable. The plan was to build a loose form, into that I would meld some more precise elements.
There’s no shortage of reference for vibrators and dildos on the internet, so in no time at all I was having nobbly bumpy fun. There’s a feature in ZBrush where you select ‘Radial Symmetry’, set a number and away you go! Great fun, drawing stimilating lumpybumpyliscious toys until I had enough to embellish the seat.
The next bit was more precise where the dildos were positioned across the structure, each positioned and sized to harmonise with its neighbours. While it’s an essential stage, I found that compared to the squidging and massaging virtual wax, the scaling, angling and arranging the forty something sex toys, probably the least fun. Still, there are worse things that people do for a living.
After the ‘hard’ elements were in place, I worked back into the base form, tidying and adjusting the supporting structure to give the impression it was constructed totally from our ‘Buzz ’em Buddies’
Spending three or four days plunging myself headlong into actually sculpting something rather than pondering on production streams and workflows was immensely valuable in becoming familiar with ZBrush’s notoriously complicated interface.
It was time to grasp the nettle and do something for real – It was time to build a figurine!
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