The Sharkyan: Inventing Creative Characters In this video, we will be diving into the world of creating highly detailed characters. To start we will create a block of digital thumbnails. Then we enter ZBrush 4R2 where we will discuss using new features mixed with traditional sculpting techniques that will enable us to create new characters quickly. Here at cmiVFX we maintain a current training library for the latest versions of popular software titles. When it comes to high end CG and VFX training, there is only once choice... cmiVFX!
This first chapter we'll utilize a fun and free online doodling program called ScribblerToo to create some basic thumbnails for character ideas. We will go over what thumbnails are intended for and how they really help to kick off the design phase.
Once we have a good variety of thumbnails created, we can then open them up in Photoshop to create some quick line art to describe basic forms and possible design features for our character.
Now that we have our basic design thoughts roughed out, we can move into our favorite program for sculpting characters, ZBrush 4R2. Before beginning The Sharkyan, we will discuss my favorite brushes, alphas, matcaps, and keyboard shortcuts, among others. Also we will have an overview of the basics of interfacing with your object.
An exciting new feature introduced in the 4R2 release, Dynamesh gives us the ability to not worry about topology at all and just focus on creating our character in a very intuitive and streamlined way. We will use it to take a sphere and turn it into a simple t-pose mesh that is ready for refining. Introducing Dynamesh into your workflow will improve your process in such a dramatic way.
This is the meat of the character sculpting process. Having a focused attack on building up forms is key for good character creation. We will focus on adding important shapes, utilizing both human and shark anatomy, and go over how to start implementing certain design features that will give it the personality and demeanor that starts to breathe life into The Sharkyan.
It's always important to make an interesting silhouette so your character will pop off the screen. In this early process of getting The Sharkyan off the ground, it's never too late to add silhouette adjustments that reinforce overall design intent and make it a stronger piece.
The face of any character has so much to do with it's personality and attitude. Using layers, we will explore a few head design possibilities and show off what mixing layers can do for design discoveries. This will segue us into the next dvd in the series where we finish out the detailing and final sculpting on The Sharkyan.
Jesse Sandifer is a self-taught artist who started out his career creating architectural illustrations but switched over when he found his true love in entertainment art. He has co-owned a small boutique studio, Green Grass Studios, in Dallas, Texas for over eight years. Along with Green Grass, he now runs and directs Chickwalker, a new company that focuses on creating high-end characters and concepts to the cg art industry (www.chickwalker.com). His everyday duties include high-poly 3D sculpting, texturing, lighting, and rendering for concept design, look development, production-ready assets, illustrations, and 3D printing.
Clients and projects vary widely in an array of markets and include Hasbro Toys, Fox, Warner Brothers, Zynga, Autodesk, Shadows in Darkness, Mandalay Films, ReelFX, and the NBA Dallas Mavericks.
In his off-time, he enjoys working on his personal art, playing disc golf, and making ice cream. Of course, this is when he's not spending loads of time with his wife and three young children. Jesse teaches monthly subscription-based tutorials for people interested in becoming better character artists at www.cgnuggets.com. He also teaches intermediate Mudbox classes for The Rydan Workshop, an online cg training school.
"Although the character process is somewhat linear, what's cool about the new way of using Dynamesh for creating characters in ZBrush 4R2 is that you can literally start off with a sphere and create a character like The Sharkyan. I created this model to about 75% in about 2 hours and never had to worry about adding more base geometry for fins or the tail. That's why I'm able to teach in real-time for this project, no timelapse. In the end, for character creation, it's all about how sharp and professional the final product looks and how efficiently and quickly you can crank. That's what I'm trying to describe in this series."
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