Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finally got my lazy ass back into motion!

Phew, been a while since I've checked into here. I'm sorry to have missed out on so many great posts, especially made my Justin (who has some true discipline keeping up with the posts!). Glad to see everything's still active. I found some very useful resources in the last few weeks, I'll be sure to post them soon.

In the meantime, I've started working on my Ashley Wood-style robot (something I posted 10000+ years ago on this blog). Finally posed him (her?), and forcing myself to finally learn the lighting/rendering aspect of ZBrush.

Up to this point, my process was:
Modeling and pose was done in Maya.
Texturing (coming soon!), Materials & Shaders, Lighting, and Render Passes done in Zbrush.
Composited in After Effects.
Fine tuning done in Photoshop.

My vision for the final image is nothing like this one -- this whole image was a test run on figuring out the workings of Zbrush and its Lighting and Rendering systems------ wait, didn't I already tell this story?

HAHA by the way, please excuse the CRAPPY shadow and background. Just quickly slapped those in there because I was tired of seeing my robot just floating in empty space. Didn't get to throw on its supply/ammo belt yet, and still have to do the dents/scratches/rust texturing. oh well, one step at a time I guess.. :p

I'll be checking out everyone's posts soon enough and comment on at least a few of em -- just a little overwhelmed on how much I have to catch up on! (*gulp*)


  1. Nice, it's really starting to look good. The beveled edges adds a really sense of realism. Looking forward to the completed piece. How long does a render from zBrush take?

  2. Looking good so far. Are you thinking about adding more variation in the metal color. Right now it is a little dark, and from far away parts of him are a little hard to distinguish. You may also want to reposition his left hand. It may read better if it was not so edge on to the camera. I remember you are going off an illustration so I don't know how close you want to stick to that, but those are my suggestions for what it is worth.

    How do you like Zbrush's Lighting and Rendering? I haven't had an occasion to use it yet. I'd be really curious to hear what you think.

  3. @Amjad: Thanks for the comments man. The rendering in Zbrush was surprisingly quick; even the Ambient Occlusion and Depth passes are processed at a much faster rate than Mental Ray can pull off.

    @Justin: I appreciate your input. I agree that the robot is too dark, and the feel of the metal is too monotonous and smooth (especially for a robot engaged in combat). Although it's weird, on some screens, the robot is pretty bright. Guess it depends on how your screen is calibrated. I also agree with your comment about the silhouetting, and not too mention I got a bit nutty with the Depth Pass.
    There will be actual textures applied to this robot, and the materials will most likely be modified again, especially with the gun.

    Since both you guys are curious about ZBrush's Lighting & Rendering, I will say this:
    working with ZBrush is a real pleasure if you're in need of cranking out good-looking (and quick) shaders and render passes. First thing that should be learned though, is to learn how to use ZB4's timeline tool (found under the Movie pulldown menu).

    It's simple to learn - my main point is that you'll want ZB to remember where you want your camera when posing your character. All you do is make a keyframe (click anywhere on the timeline). That way, if you accidentally move the camera, or lose the tool (which happens to me all the fucking time!), making a cut-to key frame (ALT+Click on a keyframe so it toggles into a box instead of a circle). Now whenever you mess up, all you gotta do is just move the slider (little vertical bar under the timeline region) to the box keyframe, and your camera will snap to the exact spot you intended it to be. Make sure it say's CAMERA next to the timeline, or else you're probably keyframing a different object/attribute. As i said before, even if you lose the tool entirely, just redraw it back on, go into 3d edit mode, move the slider, and there you go! the keyframe is still remembered (assuming you didn't exit Zbrush, or that you actually saved the file).

    Next Chapter....

    ANYWAY, to summarize things: lately ZBrush has been becoming my preferred way to apply texturing, seam repairs, sometimes even UV mapping for organic (and vegan) models. The Rendering and Lighting is so much more accessible and understandable than trying to sludge through Maya on a whim. Oh, also look into the Spotlight tool -- THAT THING IS A GODSEND!

  4. How is Zbrush for working on "USDA Certified Organic " models. I mean, I know a lot of stuff says it's "Organic" but I'm talking about the stuff you find at the farmers market. Also please post some images of some of your "Vegan" models soon. I've been thinking about working on some of those myself if I can ever get over my love of red meat.

    In all seriousness thanks for the heads up on Zbrush rendering. Can't wait to see the next version of this project.