SCULPT A STYLISED HORSE

Cin­ema 4D is much more that a mo­tion graph­ics pow­er­house, with an im­pres­sive ar­ray of mod­el­ling tools and a fully fea­tured sculpt­ing toolset to be ex­plored

3D World - - CONTENTS - au­thor Glen south­ern Glen runs South­erngfx, a small Cheshire-based stu­dio spe­cial­is­ing in char­ac­ter and crea­ture de­sign. He’s been us­ing and train­ing Zbrush for over 15 years and is a Wa­com Am­bas­sador for the UK and Ire­land. www.south­erngfx.co.uk

Use 4D’s sculpt­ing tools to cre­ate a quadruped model

F or many years if you wanted to learn to sculpt dig­i­tally you would be lim­ited to us­ing pro­grams like Zbrush and Mud­box. Now it seems like all ma­jor 3D pro­grams have a sculpt­ing so­lu­tion built in. Cin­ema 4D by Maxon is no ex­cep­tion and it has a very pow­er­ful set of tools and fea­tures to ri­val the more ded­i­cated sculpt­ing pro­grams. Dig­i­tal sculpt­ing dif­fers from 3D mod­el­ling in the sense that you are in­ter­act­ing with poly­gons at high res­o­lu­tions (more poly­gons, higher file sizes), and they are act­ing as if they were dig­i­tal clay. You can ef­fec­tively add and re­move clay, smooth it out, rake the sur­face, pull out new shapes, flat­ten ar­eas, add de­tails with greyscale alpha maps and so on.

De­vel­op­ers cre­ated tools that be­came known as brushes and acted on the sur­face of the mod­els as if they were tra­di­tional ana­log tools. As Cin­ema 4D al­ready has a pow­er­ful set of core mod­el­ling tools it is easy to cre­ate a model with good topol­ogy and then sculpt the de­tail that you need on top. In this tu­to­rial we will use the ba­sic mod­el­ling tools to cre­ate a low-poly­gon horse shape. Once we have the shape made we can fo­cus on learn­ing the sculpt­ing process to make the cre­ation come to life.

01 use ref­er­ences

As with a lot of de­sign and con­cept work, it is al­ways a good idea to start by col­lect­ing ref­er­ences. For this project I col­lected lots of ideas for stylised horses on Pin­ter­est and then sketched out my de­sign in a side pro­file. If you are mak­ing a hu­man char­ac­ter you would of­ten start with a T-posed or neu­tral stance, with arms out­stretched, legs straight and so on. As this is a horse (a quadruped) we need to model it with its legs as neu­tral as pos­si­ble and not bent oddly in any way.

02 ADD a mod­el­ling ref­er­ence

Do­ing sil­hou­ette sketch­ing is a great way to find the shapes you want quickly. Once you have a ref­er­ence that works for you from the side, you can put it into the side view in Cin­ema. Choose a panel with the right side view and click Op­tions>con­fig­ure. Next nav­i­gate to your im­age to place it in the scene. Scale it to suit, and now you have a guide to help you block out your de­sign.

03 Box model a Ba­sic horse shape

We will start with a cube and build up from there. First add the cube in Cre­ate>ob­ject>cube. In the set­tings make two Seg­ments. Now hit C to make it ed­itable and se­lect faces on the left side of X, then delete them all. Add a Sym­me­try mod­i­fier from the top menu. Set the Sym­me­try to Weld Points and Clamp Points on Axis. That way we can model half and keep the cen­tre snapped. Drop the cube into the Sym­me­try mod­i­fier and re­name it HORSE. To see through the model while you work, you can use Op­tions>x-ray.

04 ex­trude and polypen

Make sure you can change be­tween points, edges and faces from the left-hand tool menu. To be­gin with we are go­ing to ex­trude out faces to make the cor­rect vol­ume. Go to Face Mode. Se­lect a face at the back and hold Ctrl and Drag. This ex­trudes out a face in the di­rec­tion you pull. Re­mem­ber that with sym­me­try on, it does both sides au­to­mat­i­cally.

Now look around the model and start to move points to get the de­sired shape. To do this right-click on the model and use the Polypen tool. With this tool you can drag points, edges and faces at will. It is one of the best tools in Cin­ema 4D in my opin­ion.

05 polypen to tweak (m-e)

Us­ing Ex­trude and Polypen (M-E), ex­trude up the neck and back down onto the haunches. With ev­ery ex­trude use the Polypen to re­fine the over­all shape. Re­mem­ber to look at the horse from all an­gles, not just the side. Make him fat­ter in the chest area and thin­ner up to­wards his head. Con­tinue ex­trud­ing and tweak­ing un­til you have a ba­sic body and head com­plete. It is im­por­tant to get the shape right at this lower poly­gon level.

06 loop path cut to ADD loops

At this stage the model is very square and blocky. We need to add more loops to en­able us to re­fine the shape to a more rounded form. An­other tool we will use a lot is Loop/path Cut (in older ver­sions use the Knife tool set to Loop). This tool al­lows you to add con­cen­tric loops around the mesh. You can then use the Polypen tool to tweak them into po­si­tion. Add more loops around the neck and more hor­i­zon­tally along the body as shown.

07 ex­trude legs

Now that we have the core of the body done we can work on ad­ding legs. Se­lect some faces at the front and slightly un­der­neath. Use Ctrl and drag to ex­trude th­ese out and then tweak them into a more hor­i­zon­tal po­si­tion. Keep ex­trud­ing down and tweak­ing the shapes to match the horse's front leg. Re­mem­ber you can grab faces and ro­tate them as well. Try to fo­cus on get­ting the vol­ume in the cor­rect place rather than any de­tail­ing.

08 Back legs

The back legs are done in the same way as the front. Se­lect poly­gons on the side and ex­trude down. It is more tricky on the back legs as you need to keep ro­tat­ing the group of poly­gons as you ex­trude them down. This means that the poly­gon loops are fol­low­ing the line of the legs, not just a hor­i­zon­tal line which would make a few prob­lems. Use the Brush tool set to Smooth to im­prove the tight­ness of the mesh. If you smooth an area too much and it loses vol­ume, use the Mag­net tool to pull it back into place.

09 ears, tail and smooth

By now the over­all shape should be look­ing like a horse, al­though it will be blocky. Add the tail and the ears in the same way by ex­trud­ing, mov­ing points with the Polypen tool and smooth­ing with the Brush tool. Slightly in­set the ears so you have an in­side area and make sure there are lots of loops as you go up the ear struc­ture. Go back and forth be­tween the Mag­net tool and the Smooth brush. Later on we will re­fine it with the sculpt tools, but the closer we are at this stage the bet­ter.

10 ADD loops

Al­though we will be able to just sculpt on the mesh at any point and dis­re­gard the un­der­ly­ing topol­ogy, it is good prac­tice to add loops where we think they will be needed later. I al­ways add eye loops and loops for ar­eas like the nose. Se­lect a group of faces then scale them down and hold Ctrl. This will ex­trude the whole group in­wards and leave a loop. You can then tweak that area or sim­ply smooth it down. Use the Mag­net tool to pull ar­eas like the cheek into the cor­rect shape. Then hit C to freeze the sym­me­try and you have a com­plete horse mesh.

11 change to sculpt­ing menus

Now that we have a full horse shape we can move onto the main sculpt­ing process. First change the Cin­ema 4D in­ter­face to the Sculpt­ing en­vi­ron­ment. This can be found in Win­dow>cus­tomi­sa­tion> Lay­outs>sculpt (or in the top right

of the in­ter­face). You will see that it looks fairly sim­i­lar, but now has a set of sculpt­ing tools down the right-hand side and also the sculpt­ing lay­ers panel. At the top of the new sculpt tools you will find Sub­di­vide. Hit that once and no­tice that there is a slider on the right at the top. This shows the level of poly­gon sub­di­vi­sion and you can go up and down as needed.

12 sym­me­try in sculpt­ing

We used a Sym­me­try mod­i­fier for the ini­tial mod­el­ling. Now that we have a full sym­met­ri­cal model we need to ac­ti­vate Sym­me­try for sculpt­ing. In the At­tributes panel there is a tab for Sym­me­try. Se­lect World and set the axis to X(YZ). This will give you a brush that works on both sides of the horse. Keep your eye on this dur­ing the sculpt­ing process to make sure it re­mains ac­tive at all times.

13 Grab tool

There are al­ways tools you will use more than oth­ers and the first one we will ex­plore is the Grab tool. Make sure you are in the side view and se­lect the Grab tool. To change the size of any brush sim­ply hold down B and then drag with the mid­dle mouse but­ton. If you are us­ing a tablet then make sure you have con­fig­ured a mid­dle mouse but­ton op­tion.

Us­ing the Grab tool we can drag around large chunks of ge­om­e­try and move them where we need them. Drag the horse around and make sure you have him back on point with the ref­er­ence.

14 in­crease the sub­di­vi­sion level

Click­ing the Sub­di­vide but­ton will times the poly­gon count by four and smooth the model out as you would ex­pect. Hit it again so that you are work­ing at level two or even three if needed. This is how sub­di­vi­sion works. It gives you enough poly­gons to be able to sculpt high lev­els of de­tail into your mod­els. You can go up and down the res­o­lu­tion by slid­ing back and forth, see­ing the level num­ber go­ing up or down ac­cord­ingly. Also, the poly­count is shown in the area above the slider.

15 pull tool

Once you have mas­tered the Grab tool you need to fo­cus on us­ing the Pull tool. This brush is the workhorse (no pun in­tended) of af­fect­ing the sur­face and it is how we add vol­ume to the model as if we were ad­ding clay to a tra­di­tional sculpt. There are op­tions for chang­ing the size of the brush and also pres­sure. The higher the pres­sure the more you will be af­fect­ing the sur­face as you sculpt, so keep this set low. Start to

im­prove the look of the feet, neck and over­all body vol­ume.

16 smooth

In the sculpt­ing tools panel you will see a Smooth icon. Be­ing able to smooth por­tions of your sculpt as you go along is essential. Most of the time you will be ad­ding vol­ume with the Pull brush and mov­ing it with the Grab brush. Al­most ev­ery few strokes you will want to smooth the mesh down. This can be a pain if you need to keep switch­ing brushes, even if you use short­cuts, so to ac­ti­vate Smooth dur­ing an op­er­a­tion sim­ply hold Shift. You will find this is one of the most-used tools.

17 in­flate

As you sculpt you can some­times be in a po­si­tion where you need to add a lot of vol­ume lo­cally. On the horse you may find it on the knees, the head and the feet. Rather than sim­ply ad­ding clay to the sur­face with Pull, you can use some of the other tools like In­flate. This brush will grow the vol­ume on the model in the ar­eas that you brush across. Used in com­bi­na­tion with the Smooth tool this can re­ally help you keep a good sil­hou­ette.

18 ADD eyes

You can sculpt some eyes right onto the mesh if you like, but it can look bet­ter to have sep­a­rate ob­jects that can then be painted and an­i­mated separately from the main body later down the line. Cre­ate two spheres to use as eyes and move them into po­si­tion us­ing the ref­er­ence. Once you have them lo­cated cor­rectly use a com­bi­na­tion of the Grab, Pull and Smooth brushes to add eye­lids and fea­tures to bring the face to life.

19 knife De­tail

Add some sur­face de­tail to the tail and mane with the Pull brush. To make the hair you can use a com­bi­na­tion of the Pull brush set to a re­ally small size and the Knife brush, again set small. The Knife brush is great for ad­ding lines and creases into the mesh. You can get some nice vol­ume with the Pull brush then carve in hairs with the Knife brush. Keep check­ing the horse from all an­gles. You can some­times work on one area and for­get the over­all shape.

20 sur­face De­tail

Now the over­all shape is tak­ing form you can start to add sur­face de­tail. The Knife is great for ad­ding wrin­kles and creases at key points on the mesh. Add lines and creases around the hooves and feet in gen­eral. Add wrin­kles on the knees and wrist ar­eas. Then move up and add move de­tail around the ears and eyes. Use smooth af­ter us­ing Knife to smooth out any ar­eas where you may have gone too far.

21 re­fine the shape

Try chang­ing the colour of your model and mess around with your ma­te­ri­als to see how the form changes. As you have sculpted

with just one ma­te­rial in one light­ing setup, you may be sur­prised what the model looks like un­der other con­di­tions. By chang­ing the ma­te­rial and colour it will read dif­fer­ently. Try dark colours and see how the sil­hou­ette reads.

22 rig to pose

Al­though it is out­side the scope of this tu­to­rial, it is a great idea to look into rig­ging with the sup­plied char­ac­ter rig­ging tools in Cin­ema 4D. There is an ad­vanced quadruped rig that takes mere min­utes to set up and skin. Once you have a ba­sic rig on the horse you could use it to try dif­fer­ent poses and see where the anatomy is work­ing and where there are is­sues. This is where hav­ing a good un­der­ly­ing topol­ogy is cru­cial.

23 ma­te­rial

This horse is a very stylised one and prob­a­bly works best as a sculp­tural piece. Use some of the C4D ma­te­ri­als sup­plied with your ver­sion and put to­gether a full scene to show off the sculpt. I used a ba­sic mar­ble ma­te­rial and ap­plied it to the horse and also a ba­sic base that I built from a cube. The idea is to show off the sculpt work rather than any tex­ture or ren­der.

24 fi­nal pass

Do some ren­der tests and see what is work­ing and what needs im­prove­ment. There are lots of ad­di­tional fea­tures in Cin­ema 4D’s sculpt­ing toolset and this tu­to­rial just gets you into the ba­sics. You can use gra­di­ent im­ages as al­phas and make your own amaz­ing al­phas to use on the sur­face. Th­ese would help when us­ing mar­ble and stone if you needed a more dy­nam­i­clook­ing base.

25 Bak­ing

Once you have fin­ished your sculpt you may wish to bake it down into maps. This is es­sen­tially tak­ing all the in­for­ma­tion from the sculpt and turn­ing it into tex­ture maps that can help de­form a lower-res­o­lu­tion mesh, giv­ing the ap­pear­ance of a higher res­o­lu­tion. It’s ba­si­cally how most games can per­form so well th­ese days. The op­tions are all at the bot­tom of the sculpt panel. One map that you will of­ten need is the Nor­mal map.

us­ing a tablet and pen Sculpt­ing is best done with a Wa­com or sim­i­lar type tablet and pen. To use a tablet pen make sure you go into Edit>pref­er­ences>in­put De­vices and turn on Graph­ics Tablet and Hi-res Tablet. 02

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07 Grab, pull, smooth 90 per cent of the sculpt­ing work is done with Grab, Pull and Smooth. If you can mas­ter th­ese three func­tions quite quickly, you will be a sculpt­ing wizard in no time at all.

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14 stay low longer Keep your model at a lower res­o­lu­tion for as long as you can. Sculpt on it at that level un­til you can’t go any fur­ther, and then go one sub­di­vi­sion level higher. Rinse and re­peat. The more you get right at the lower lev­els the bet­ter.

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16 use dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als If you only ever sculpt with a de­fault ma­te­rial you may be sur­prised with the re­sults you get later down the line. Try out sculpt­ing with dif­fer­ent colours, ma­te­ri­als and light­ing set­ups to see how they af­fect your model.

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