ZBrush 4: Modeling a Creature with ZSketch

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ZBrush 4 Sculpting for Games: Beginner’s Guide

ZBrush 4 Sculpting for Games: Beginner's Guide

Sculpt machines, environments, and creatures for your game development projects

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(For more resources on the subject, see here.)

What the creature looks like

The Brute is a crossbreed between a harmless emu and a wild forest bear. It is a roaming rogue living in the deepest forests. Only a few people have seen it and survived, so it’s said to be between three and eight meters high. Despite its size, it combines strength and agility in a dangerous way. It is said that it hides his rather cute-looking head with trophies of its victims.

ZBrush 4: Modeling a Creature with ZSketch

ZSketching a character

In this workflow, we can think of our ZSpheres as a skeleton we can place our virtual clay onto. So we try to build the armature, not as thick as the whole arm, but as thick as the underlying bone would be. With that in mind, let’s get started.

ZBrush 4: Modeling a Creature with ZSketch

ZBrush 4: Modeling a Creature with ZSketch

Time for action – creating the basic armature with ZSpheres

Let’s say the art director comes to your desk and shows you a concept of a monster to be created for the game project that you’re working on. As always, there’s little to no time for this task. Don’t panic; just sketch it with ZSketch in no time. Let’s see how this works:

  1. Pick a new ZSphere and align its rotation by holding Shift.
  2. Set your draw size down to 1.
  3. Activate Symmetry on the X-axis.
  4. The root ZSphere can’t be deleted without deleting everything else, so the best place for this would be in the pelvis area.

    Placing the cursor on the line of symmetry will create a single ZSphere—this is indicated by the cursor turning green.

  5. Start out to create the armature or skeleton from the root ZSphere, commencing from the pelvis to the head, as shown in the next screenshot. Similar to the human spine, it roughly follows an S-curve:

    ZBrush 4: Modeling a Creature with ZSketch

  6. Continue by adding the shoulders. A little trick is to start the clavicle bone a bit lower at the spine, which gives a more natural motion in the shoulder area.
  7. Add the arms with the fingers as one ZSphere plus the thumbs, we’ll refine it later. The arms should be lowered and bent so that we’re able to judge the overall proportions better, as the next image shows:

    ZBrush 4: Modeling a Creature with ZSketch

    This “skeleton” will also be used for moving or posing our model, so we’ll try to place ZSpheres where our virtual joints would be, for example, at the elbow joint.

  8. Add the hips, stretching out from the pelvis and continue with the legs. Try to bend the legs a bit (which looks more natural) as shown in the next screenshot.
  9. Finally, add the foot as one ZSphere for the creature to stand on:

  10. Now we have all the basic features of the armature ready. Let’s check the concept again to get our character’s proportions right. Because our character is more of a compact, bulky build, we have to shorten his legs and neck a bit.

    Make sure to check the perspective view, too. Inside any game engine, characters will be viewed in perspective. We can also set the focal angle under Draw FocalAngle|. The default value is 50. Switching perspective off helps comparing lengths.

  11. Add another ZSphere in the belly area to better control its mass, even if it looks embarrassing.
  12. To make him look less like Anubis, you may want to lower the top-most ZSphere a bit, so it will fit the horns. Our revised armature could now look like this with perspective enabled:

  13. With the overall proportions done, let’s move on with details, starting with the toes. Insert another ZSphere next to the heels and continue by adding the toes, including the tiny fourth toe, as shown in the next screenshot:

    ZBrush 4: Modeling a Creature with ZSketch

  14. With larger ZSpheres, we can better judge the mass of the foot. But because we need a thinner bone-like structure, let’s scale them down once we’re done. Be careful to scale the ZSpheres, and not the Link spheres in-between them. This keeps them in place while scaling, as shown in the next image:

    ZBrush 4: Modeling a Creature with ZSketch

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