Sculpting the Skull (Sculpting in ZBrush) (ZBrush Character Creation) Part 7

Sculpting Ears

We’ll now sculpt the ear directly from the side of the head. Since we began with a low-poly sphere, we can easily divide the geometry up to millions of polygons. In the case of this mesh, it is currently 2 million polys. The secret to pulling protruding shapes such as ears and noses from a sphere is to ensure the underlying edges are evenly distributed in this area. In cases where the underlying geometry is stretched to the point of artifacting, then the ZBrush tool Reproject Highres Details can be used to correct these areas. We’ll use Reproject Higher Subdiv later in this section.

Complex compound shapes like ears are easier to dissect and re-create if you break :hem into their individual parts (Figure 2.87).We’ll examine the ear and its anatomy, and hrough a combination of sculpting and masking, we’ll sculpt the ears on the head. Figure 2.87 shows a human ear with its parts labeled.

Ear with labeled parts

Figure 2.87 Ear with labeled parts

1.    If you have sketched in a placeholder ear, smooth it out at this point. Using a mask with the Standard brush, sketch in the placement of the auditory meatus again (Figure 2.88). This represents the ear hole and tragus. Finding this first helps you place the ear correctly on the head. The ear itself lies just behind the midline of the head. It sits at an angle roughly equal to the angle of the jaw (Figure 2.89). Notice as well that the top of the ear is roughly in line with the brow bone, while the earlobe is in line with the bottom of the nose.

2.    Invert the mask and step down a subdivision level. Using the Claytubes brush, pull the ear out. Take care to make it thicker near the back of the head so that it blends off in a wedge shape to the side of the head (Figure 2.90).

Masking behind the ear allows you to pull the helix out as well as invert the mask and press the back of the ear in creating a draft behind the ear (see Figure 2.91).

3.    Using Ctrl+Shift-click, draw a show marquee around the ear to hide the rest of the face. In Figure 2.92 you can see the ear isolated from the rest of the head. With the mask inverted, use the Standard brush with ZSub on to press the internal faces of the ear to make room for the antihelix and conch of the ear. The masked helix will remain in place.

4.    The helix has an extension that dips down and terminates into the conch, or bowl, of the ear. This is called the leg of the helix. Mask out the leg of the helix. Invert the mask, and using the Standard brush, sculpt the extension of the helix that sweeps down into the conch of the ear.

The auditory meatus

Figure 2.88 The auditory meatus

The angle of the ear

Figure 2.89 The angle of the ear

5.  Mask out the shape of the antihelix (Figure 2.93). Invert the mask, and using the Inflate brush, build the general shape of the antihelix inside the ear. Rotate the model around as you work, and be sure not to take any part to a finish yet—just suggest the general shapes. Use the Move brush to pull out the shape of the tragus and deepen the conch of the ear.

Ear mask

Figure 2.90 Ear mask

Working behind the ear

Figure 2.91 Working behind the ear

Building the basic ear wedge in steps

Figure 2.92 Building the basic ear wedge in steps

The antihelix

Figure 2.93 The antihelix

Antihelix and tragus

Figure 2.94 Antihelix and tragus

6.    Using the Inflate and Standard brushes, refine the shape of the antihelix, as shown in Figure 2.94.

7.    If you find in the process of editing the ear that the underlying edges are spread apart or flowing off in another direction that interferes with the form you are trying to make, you can easily correct this. ZBrush has a tool called Reproject Higher Subdiv (Figure 2.95).

This tool allows you to let ZBrush relax the edges of your underlying subdivision levels while retaining the higher-resolution sculpting you have already applied. This is useful when you are pulling large protruding forms from the mesh—you can reduce artifacts by redistributing the edges in a more efficient manner. To use Reproject Higher Subdiv, first mask out the area you want to correct at the highest subdivision level. Step down a couple of levels and smooth the surface gently with the softSmooth brush or a smooth brush with a low ZIntensity. The idea is to gently relax the edges without destroying all the form.

8.    Select Tool + Geometry + Reproject Higher Subdiv, and ZBrush will reproject the detail onto this new subdivision level, retaining your work while taking advantage of the new edge distribution. Figure 2.96 shows these steps in action. Notice how the last wireframe shows edges that are evenly spaced and not spread apart as in the first wire.

You can find the Reproject Higher Subdiv command in the Tool + Geometry menu.

Figure 2.95 You can find the Reproject Higher Subdiv command in the Tool + Geometry menu.

Re projecting higher subdivision levels

Figure 2.96 Re projecting higher subdivision levels

The ear in progress

Figure 2.97 The ear in progress

9.  You can deepen the furrow between the helix and antihelix by masking into this area and inverting the mask. Use the Standard brush with ZSub on to press in, thus creating the necessary draft.

10.    Using the Pinch brush with LazyMouse on and BrushMod set to 10, you can finesse the planes between the ear’s parts. Adding these touches helps reduce the lumpiness of the ear and gives it that structural cartilaginous quality (Figure 2.97).

11.    After a few more passes with the Pinch brush, the ear is complete.

If you have X Symmetry turned on, the changes are mirrored to the other ear as well. While it is easier to create the depth and draft on actual protruding geometry rather than pulling it from the surface of a sphere, it is important to know how much is possible with just very basic geometry. There may be times you want to sculpt an element that has no underlying topology to support it. Instead of letting the topology dictate your design, these shapes can be pulled from the existing surface. Later in this topic we’ll use ZBrush’s topology tools to create an organized mesh from this head. Once the topology is optimized, you can make even more specific edits if you wish to refine the surface further.

The ClipCurve brush in action

Figure 2.98 The ClipCurve brush in action

As a final touch, we will use the Clip brushes to trim the base of the bust so that it has a classical look. The Clip brushes allow you to cut planes through your sculpture defined by a line you drag across the surface. Select the Clip Curve brush and drag a line across the shoulder, as shown in Figure 2.98. Notice one side of the line has shading; this is the side that will be trimmed. You can change the direction of the cut by dragging the line from the opposite side of the model. If you want to move the line, keep holding Shift and press the spacebar to move and reposition the line. Release Shift to execute the cut. Figure 2.99 shows the final trimmed bust.

Congratulations! You have now completed a human head sculpt from nothing more than a ZBrush primitive sphere. Although this mesh is not animation ready, ZBrush comes with a suite of remeshing tools that will allow you to take all your sculpted details and transfer them to a completely new level 1 mesh that is suitable for animating and rendering in a third-party application.

In the next topic, we’ll move away from ZBrush primitives and explore sculpting on polygon models.

The final head with trimmed shoulders

Figure 2.99 The final head with trimmed shoulders

Featured Artist: The Art of Eddie Yang

Eddie Yang is one of those fantastic ZBrush character designers who comes from a traditional makeup effects background. He brings his extensive real-world experience to the table and creates some truly unique and cool characters at the Eddie Yang Design Studio.

Eddie started his career as a sculptor/designer for Academy Award-winning make-up effects artist Rick Baker in 1987. After a 16-year career with Rick, Eddie pursued a career in digital effects before joining the Stan Winston Studio in 2003.

Today he offers his services through Eddie





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