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ZBrush Character Creation: Advanced Digital Sculpting

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A stunning, content-rich update to this top-selling ZBrush guide!

This second edition of ZBrush Character Creation has been fully updated for ZBrush 4, the newest version of this fascinating and popular 3D sculpting software. ZBrush enables users to create detailed organic models using a brush-based toolset and tablet. The startling results look as though they've been painted with real brushes and oils, and ZBrush is increasingly popular for ...

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A stunning, content-rich update to this top-selling ZBrush guide!

This second edition of ZBrush Character Creation has been fully updated for ZBrush 4, the newest version of this fascinating and popular 3D sculpting software. ZBrush enables users to create detailed organic models using a brush-based toolset and tablet. The startling results look as though they've been painted with real brushes and oils, and ZBrush is increasingly popular for use in film, game, and broadcast pipelines.

Author Scott Spencer is embedded in the ZBrush community and his movie credits include Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix and the upcoming The Hobbit. Learn Spencer's invaluable techniques for texturing, chiseling, posing, costuming, and more with his newest ZBrush guide.

  • Explains ZBrush 4, the newest version of the revolutionary software tool for creating 3D organic models in a way that appears to be traditionally painted or sculpted
  • Shows you how get the most out of ZBrush, from the fundamentals to new tools for texturing, chiseling, and costuming
  • Offers plenty of insights and professional techniques for creating characters for films and games, drawing from the author's own experience on such films as Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix and The Hobbit
  • Demonstrates the author's own techniques of using traditional sculpting and painting concepts and applying them to digital art for greater artistry

Discover the beauty of ZBrush with this colorful, in-depth guide.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470572573
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/15/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 637,781
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Spencer is a freelance character sculptor and designer. He is currently at the Weta Workshop in New Zealand, where he is working on Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. He has created creatures and characters for film, games, and collectible figures. His credits include Iron Man, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Golden Axe, and Species 3. He is also a leading digital sculptor, longtime beta tester, and consultant to Pixologic.


Scott Spencer once defined a novelist as "someone who sits around in his underwear all day, trying not to smoke." For Spencer, not smoking has been a productive occupation. His best-known novel, Endless Love, sold more than 2 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages. The story of teenage love and obsession has drawn high praise from other novelists, including Anne Tyler and Michael Ondaatje. Joyce Carol Oates wrote, "No description of Endless Love can do justice to the rich, startling and always intelligent tenor of [Spencer's] prose."

Less fortunately for Spencer, Endless Love also attracted the attention of Franco Zeffirelli, who directed a disastrous Brooke Shields vehicle based on the book (the 1981 movie periodically turns up on critics' lists of the worst movies of all time). But while Endless Love was, as Jonathan Lethem opined in Salon, a good book overshadowed by a bad movie, Spencer's next novel, about a political candidate haunted by the memory of his late fiancée, got an actual boost from Hollywood. After Keith Gordon filmed Waking the Dead in 1999 with Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly in the lead roles, the book was reissued, gaining thousands of new readers. As Spencer notes in an interview on his publisher's web site, "The best thing about having a movie made of your novel is that more people read the book."

Spencer published several books between the first edition of Waking the Dead and its reissue, including Men in Black, the tale of a literary novelist whose pseudonymous hackwork earns him sudden fame and fortune, and The Rich Man's Table, the fictional memoir of a Dylan-like folk singer's illegitimate son. The Los Angeles Times Book Review called Men in Black "the Cadillac of novels -- every word vibrating with a kind of shameless big-boned American grace."

With his recent novel A Ship Made of Paper, Spencer returns to his earlier themes: romantic obsession and overpowering desire. "What makes this brave, dazzling novel so impossible to put down is the urgency with which it makes you care about what happens to its characters: male and female, black and white, young and old," wrote Francine Prose. "Scott Spencer has a genius for observing dramatic everyday moments when the self crashes into the barriers of class and race and culture, together with infinite compassion for the wayward impulse that turns human beings into fanatics willing to sacrifice everything on the altar of romantic love."

Critics have credited Spencer with an ambitious prose style and a keen grasp of contemporary culture, but what distinguishes his work most is his ability to tap into the intense currents of emotion beneath the surface of domestic life. As New York magazine noted, "In a literary age marked by cool, cerebral fiction, Spencer writes from the heart."

Good To Know

In our interview, Spencer revealed his love for all types of music. "My daughter, son, and I are always making mix tapes for each other, sharing the music we love," Spencer shares. "I have no musical talent, but music is a part of nearly every day. I still love the music I grew up with -- from Elvis to Motown to Otis Redding -- but as I grow older I find more and more music to love. I have major CD storage issues."

Spencer has taught fiction writing at Columbia University and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has written for The New York Times, Esquire, The Nation, GQ, and Rolling Stone, among other publications.

The film version of Endless Love, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, was (as TV Guide put it) "a notorious disaster," but it marked the film debut of three future stars: Tom Cruise, James Spader, and Jami Gertz. The movie's theme song won Lionel Ritchie an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.

A Ship Made of Paper is the fourth novel of Spencer's that uses Leyden, New York as a backdrop.

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    1. Hometown:
      Rhinebeck, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 1, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B. A., University of Wisconsin, 1969

Table of Contents

Foreword xv

Introduction xvii

Chapter 1 Sculpting, from Traditional to Digital 1

Gesture, Form, and Proportion 1

Gesture 1

Form 4

Proportion 7

Best Practices for Digital Sculpting 7

ZBrush Interface General Overview 8

Masking and Visibility Brushes 15

Using the ZBrush Tools 16

Creating a 2.5D Pixol Illustration 17

Sculpting a Lion’s Head 18

Adding Subtools 22

Refining Your Model 25

Finishing Your Model 30

Creating a 2.5D Pixol Illustration 30

Chapter 2 Sculpting in ZBrush 33

An Approach to Sculpting 33

The Brush Menu 35

The Brush Menu 38

Saving Custom Brushes 43

The Clay Brushes 44

The Polish, Planar, and Trim Brushes 47

The Écorché Approach to Sculpting 49

Saving Your Work 51

Sculpting the Skull 51

Measuring with the Transpose Line 53

Roughing in the Shape of the Skull 54

Sculpting the Forms of the Facial Mass 55

Sculpting the Muscles 58

Adding the Eyes 62

Sculpting Skin and Fat on the Face 66

Adding the Neck 69

Sculpting the Neck Muscles 69

Sculpting Ears 71

Chapter 3 Designing a Character Bust 79

ZBrush and Working with Imported Meshes 80

Optimizing Meshes for ZBrush 82

Increasing Polygon Counts with Local Subdivision 86

Importing and Preparing a Mesh for Sculpting 87

Using Polygroups to Organize Your Mesh 88

Setting Up GoZ and Subtool Master 94

Installing GoZ 94

Sculpting a Character Bust 94

Adding Geometry Using Mesh Insert 99

Advanced Techniques: Sculpting the Demon Beast 102

Adding Geometry for the Horns 108

Refining the Character Bust 112

Chapter 4 ZBrush for Detailing 119

Form and Details 119

Alphas 121

Alphas and Strokes 125

Alphas as Stencils 129

ZAppLink Stencils 132

Importing Images to Use as Alphas 133

Sculpting Alphas in ZBrush 135

Details and Layers 136

Detailing the Stingerhead with Alphas and Stencils 139

Sculpting Fine Details with HD Geometry 148

Creating Bump Maps with HD Geometry 152

Another Take on Detailing 156

Chapter 5 Texture Painting 163

UVs in ZBrush 163

The Texture Menus 166

UV Projection Texture Method 169

What Is Polypainting? 170

Painting a Creature Skin 172

Color Theory 172

Making a Custom Spray Brush 174

Blocking in Temperature Zones of the Face 175

Mottling Pass 176

Base Color Washes 178

Temperature Adjustment 179

Projection Master for the Stinger 181

ZAppLink 184

Baking Polypaint to UV Texture Space 187

ZAppLink Views 188

SpotLight for Texture Painting 189

Polypaint with HD 196

Extracting Maps from the HD 197

UV Master Plug-in 198

Control Painting Tools 200

Chapter 6 ZSpheres 205

Introducing ZSpheres 206

Drawing a Simple ZSphere Chain 207

Moving, Scaling, and Rotating ZSpheres and Chains 210

Building a ZSphere Biped 211

Making Hands and Feet 216

Adaptive Skin Controls 216

Adding Edge Loops to the Head 220

Chapter 7 Transpose, ZSphere Rigging, Retopology, and Mesh Extraction 225

Moving and Posing Figures with Transpose 225

The Action Line 226

Topology Masking 229

Posing a Figure 230

Posable Symmetry 235

Transpose Master 235

Retopology 237

Preparing for Retopology 237

Using the Topology Tools 238

Importing Topology: Three Methods 241

Project All and the ZProject Brush 242

Importing a Mesh Directly 246

Changing Topology with GoZ 248

Topology Tools Advanced Applications 250

Building Accessories with Topology Tools and Mesh Extraction 250

Making a Shirt with Mesh Extraction 254

Adding Suspenders with ZSphere Subtools 256

ZSphere Rigging 258

Transpose Measuring 262

Chapter 8 ZBrush Movies and Photoshop Composites 267

ZMovie 267

Recording the Screen 267

Turntable Animations 270

Introducing the Timeline 271

ZBrush to Photoshop 278

Setting Up the Canvas and Placing the Character 278

Creating Render Passes 279

Photoshop Compositing 283

Loading the Renders as Layers 283

Punching Up the Details 284

Painting Eyes 286

Finishing Touches 288

Chapter 9 Normal Maps, Displacement Maps, Maya, and Decimation Master 295

What’s a Difference Map? 295

Displacement Maps 296

Normal Maps 297

Exporting Directly from ZBrush to Maya Using GoZ 297

Installing GoZ 297

Exporting to Maya Using GoZ 297

Exporting to Maya Using Displacement Maps 301

Rendering Displacement in Maya with mental ray 302

Exporting Your Model from ZBrush Manually 305

UVs and Vertex Order 306

Generating Displacement Maps 310

Accessing Your Original Mesh Shape 311

Making 16-Bit Maps 311

Making 32-Bit Floating-Point Maps 313

Multiple Maps per UV Region 313

Displacement Menu Options 313

Processing Displacement Maps for Use in mental ray 315

Setting Up Your Scene for Displacement 316

Setting Up Single 32-Bit Displacement Renders in Maya 316

Setting Up Multimap 32-Bit Displacement Renders in Maya 322

Setting Up 16-Bit Displacement Renders in Maya 324

Applying Bump Maps in Maya 325

Common Problems When Moving into Maya 326

Troubleshooting Renders and Artifacts 327

Normal Maps 328

Rendering Normal Maps in Maya 330

Maya Normal Map Setup 331

Cavity and Ambient Occlusion Maps 333

Creating Maps Using Multi Map Exporter 335

Exporting with Decimation Master 338

3D Printing 340

Chapter 10 ZSketch and Hard-Surface Brushes 343

ZSketch 343

Hard-Surface Sculpting 361

Hard-Surface Brushes 361

ShadowBox, Group Loops, and Matchmaker 366

Create a Ray Gun 375

Appendix About the Companion DVD 395

What You’ll Find on the DVD 395

Chapter Files 395

Bonus PDFs 395

System Requirements 396

Using the DVD 397

Troubleshooting 397

Customer Care 397

Index 398

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted May 11, 2011

    Excellent Reference

    Scott has written a great book on zbrush that will not only give you the resources you need to create a master peice but, also give you artistic fundmentals that be used in amy medium! If Scott writes it, I buy it and I refer to this book on a daily basis.

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