Sep 12, 2014

Teaching sample: Polypainting

Every Thursday night, I teach a class over at Studio Arts here in Southern California.  I usually do recaps for major subjects, and did one last week for polypainting in Zbrush.  Here are some recap videos I did for the class, that I wanted to share with the world.

If you're ever in So-Cal and can take a class, great, but if you're not, I also teach classes online at, so maybe I'll be lucky enough to meet you there one day virtually or in person!  Have a great day all, and Happy Zbrushing!!!

Part One, a timelapse of blocking in the bull man.  
The music is from the album The Philadelphia Experiment:

Part Two, some things to keep in mind when polypainting

Part Three, Polypainting demo

Here is the bust I created for the demo as a Zbrush project file (not a Ztool, so you have to open this with the file menu at the top of zbrush, not the load ztl button.  I did it this way to preserve the shaders on the subtools).
Download the bust HERE:
Here is a link to my Zbrush UI with instructions on how to load and use the UI. please read the "readMe" file :-)
Download the UI HERE:

Aug 11, 2014

ZBrush Summit. 2014

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be asked to present at the first annual Zbrush Summit.  It was an INCREDIBLE honor, and I saw, heard and learned a lot.  I think Pixologic will be uploading videos of the presentations, but in the meantime, someone recorded and uploaded these videos:

The Demo:

 The Post Demo Interview:

Jul 22, 2014

Zbrush Workshops class, summer 2014

Below is the character I created for my summer course at  The goal of the course was to create a concept for a character, then a digital maquette, and finally a production friendly mesh with good UVs and topology.

This is the final character with effects and lighting in viewport 2.0.  All of the materials a standard Maya materials (lambert, blinn, phong) no DX11.

This is the T-posed, neutral character prior to rigging with UVs and textures in Maya.

 Here is a version of the costume in Zbrush.  This is all dynamesh/zremesh geo and no retopo or UVs. As you can see, the design continued to evolve into what you see above (no satchel or cape etc.).  I liked some aspects of this version of the character, but the overall silhouette still felt like it could be pushed  more.   

Here is a tutorial on the Dynamesh and Zremesh techniques I used in Zbrush.

Here is a breakdown of developing the ethereal flame on the sword.

Early stages.  This was the first pass of polypaint, after connecting all the skin pieces via dynamesh.

Here is what the rough, sculpted costume looked like.  I arrived at the costume by sketching over the nude character in photoshop and used lots of reference to help narrow my choices.

Next, I took a decimated version of the dynameshed skin in to Maya to see the sculpt through a conventional lense, and start to retopo.   I was experimenting with the hair, and it felt all wrong for this character.

After a retopo pass on the face, I took a stab at some very rough expressions to see how the topology held up.

Here are some shots at the first retopo pass.

Here is a WIP of the UVs for the costume....Zzzzz. :-)

Here are some shots of the texture process for the character.  This is on the lowres, re-topoed models with good UVs as polypaint.  No texture projection was used on these.  All the textures are hand painted or procedural.

More images coming soon! 

May 4, 2014

New Class, Character creation: Zbrush Photoshop Maya

I'm pleased to announce a new class with Ryan Kingslien and Zbrush Workshops.  Here is the first, preview webinar for the upcoming course.  CLICK HERE to learn more about the course!

Apr 7, 2014


In my previous post, I showed time-lapsed versions of the Tantor demo, but for the hardcore nerdy (meant in the most endearing way possible!) Here are some real-time recordings of the process.  No music, no time-lapse, just the raw recordings.  If you want to try the UI I'm using, check here:

Apr 2, 2014

Tantor demo Timelpase

This is from a recent modeling demonstration.  Usually, I like to sculpt original designs, but this was done for a demonstration of modeling in Zbrush to an existing design. Tantor was designed (I believe) by Glen Keane and Sergio Pablos(If this is not the case, someone, please let me know).  If you want to try the UI I'm using, check here:

In this first hour, I spend an hour blocking in all the parts.

In the second hour I try to get closer with silhouette, proportions, and plane changes.

In the Third hour, I try to nail down the shape more and block-in color.  The point of the exercise is to see if in a few hours we can get something worthy of showing an art director, character design lead, etc.

Nov 18, 2013

CTN 2013

This weekend I had the chance to attend CTN 2013 as a guest presenter for Pixologic and also as a presenter on the main stage.  I'll post the pixologic videos if they post them online, but below is a link to the interview and sketch session we did on the main stage.  It was scary but fun.  I also got to reacquaint with old friends and colleagues like Shihan Barbee, Walter de LeonSteve "Sketchbot" Talkowski, Punn Wiantrakoon, Joseph Drust, Kurt Papstein, Bobby Pontillas, Jake Parker, Katy Hargrove, Greg Couch, and many more!

I also got to meet the amazing Dominic QwekCory Loftis, and Marty Havran, and Sandro Cluezo.

So many cool and skilled people. A much needed dose of inspiration, and thoroughly humbling!

Sep 29, 2013

New character development..

Here are a bunch of development sketches I'm doing to create a new character for class... He is a cartoony hipster version of the creature from the black lagoon.

As I continue to develop the look, and narrow down the style, I'll keep updating this post.

First, some light research to get me thinking about "hipster" stereotypes...
Next I do a couple of paintings to learn how I might want the character to look, I like to start with the face.  

Next, I start doing some gestural sketches of the body to explore different proportions.

"paper doll" sketches for quick costume exploration...

After I have some ideas about the costume, I try to start thinking about the style.  These are the first steps toward finalizing the look of the character before moving on to creating a maquette and finishing the design in the round.

Pirate game res project...

This is one of the projects from my recent Zbrush workshops class.  I wanted to create a pirate character, and during my initial research, I came across images of modern Somali pirates.  I thought it would be interested to create a pirate based on some of those guys.

Click the image below to launch the verold interactive 3D viewer and see where we ended up.

Here is an image of what the texture set looked like...

And here is an image of what the model looked like.

Overall, it was a fun project, and I hope the people in the workshop learned a little.  Below are some images that show some of the steps we took during the course:


Jul 23, 2013

Some Turbo stuff:

I had the pleasure of working on Turbo as a modeler and got the chance to try my first bit of Vis-Dev for Dreamworks doing some graffiti art for the film.  I worked with some great people on this movie,  learned a TON, and made some good friends.

This is the house where Turbo lives and works.  The model was later updated and changed by other artists, but what you see here is the version I had the pleasure of working on.  Each piece of geometry in things like the roof tiles and wall slats was unique in order to be able to accept a different material and/or texture.  Finding the right level of stylization with which to infuse the model was challenging, but I love where we landed. It was a fun model to make.

This is a busted up car in the garage of the house.  The design was based on an old Alpha Romeo Spider, tweaked to pull it in to the shape language of the world described in the film.  Projects like these are the most fun to model because you have to figure out just how far to push the style.

In one sequence, the snails are brought in to a garage and they race on a makeshift track, cobbled together by the people who work in a strip mall. This was a really fun model to work on because of all the little details and figuring out what the track was actually made of.

This was a work in progress version of a character that got cut from the film.  Originally she was slated to be the niece of the chairman of Nascar who happened to be infatuated with Snails.  


Probably the most fun thing I had a chance to work on was this graffiti  .  It was used all over the film in the background on walls, bridges, and the LA River.  Graffiti was the first art form I fell  in love with as a little kid growing up in New York, and it was great to be able to create digital versions for a feature film.  These are all photoshop (except the concrete background, that's a photo :-)

I'll add more Turbo stuff later, but these are the things I had the most fun working on, so I figured they should be posted first.