Sculpt­ing a Dragon with ZBrush

READY FOR TAKE-OFF Dig­i­tal sculp­tor Maarten Ver­ho­even shares the skills he uses when work­ing on ef­fects for block­buster movies

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Reviews -

Dig­i­tal sculp­tor Maarten Ver­ho­even shares the skills he uses when work­ing on ef­fects for films.

The ap­peal of dragons to our imag­i­na­tions has en­dured for cen­turies. They’re a topic that ev­ery fan­tasy artist takes a crack at dur­ing their ca­reer, so Maarten Ver­ho­even has picked a great sub­ject for his ex­haus­tive sculpt­ing work­shop. He uses ZBrush through­out most of this video’s four-hour span, with just a brief look at the ren­der­ing tool KeyShot at the end.

Maarten kicks off pro­ceed­ings by us­ing ZSpheres to con­struct his rep­til­ian fig­ure. It’s far from the only way you can get a sculp­ture started in ZBrush, but it’s one of the most ac­ces­si­ble meth­ods when the form has some com­plex­ity. This first chap­ter es­tab­lishes the tone of the whole tu­to­rial: in quiet tones, Maarten ex­plains clearly what he’s do­ing, with plenty of tips and short­cuts. It’s also ev­i­dent, though, that the au­dio record­ing is a lit­tle over-com­pressed, re­sult­ing in a slightly tinny am­bi­ence.

As Maarten pro­gresses, you’ll see how you can tackle a full-fig­ure sub­ject with­out feel­ing over­whelmed by the scope of the chal­lenge. And as the forms take shape and the sur­face de­tails pile up, you’ll also learn a lot about pos­ing your fig­ures and a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent ways of ap­ply­ing the scales that do so much to de­fine the dragon.

Yet as help­ful and com­pre­hen­sive as Maarten’s work­shop is, you can’t help feel­ing that some­thing’s miss­ing, too. The best train­ing videos do more than present the process and tools: they pro­vide a win­dow into the artist’s world, of­fer­ing a con­text of how the ex­pec­ta­tions of the tar­get au­di­ence or client in­forms their de­sign and tech­ni­cal de­ci­sions. With lit­tle of this in­sight of­fered, this video per­haps fails to fully take off com­pared with some. How­ever, you can still ex­pect to pick plenty of new skills, es­pe­cially if you’re new to ZBrush and feel a lit­tle daunted by the breadth of its toolset.

In Sculpt­ing a Dragon with ZBrush, you’ll see how Maarten Ver­ho­even built this bril­liant crea­ture sculp­ture from scratch. ZSpheres pro­vide one of the sim­plest ways to con­struct your core form, so you can fo­cus on de­tails sooner. Ex­pect to spend a lot of your time adding scales to your dragon. Maarten’s got tips to make the job easy.

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