ZBrush Tutorial: Creating a Digital World

zbrush tutorialDo you find yourself absently sketching or doodling on the back of napkins or envelopes? What if there is a way to make these drawings come to life, digitally, maybe for a video game or a movie? ZBrush is a digital sculpting program that uses pixols to add a third dimension to your drawings. These pixols allow you to create digital mesh maps of your drawings, which is the first step to creating a physical rendering of your notebook sketches, bringing your work to life. Sounds a little complicated? Don’t worry, there are plenty of ZBrush tutorials available to help you learn this program step by step with beginner courses like this one, along with courses for those who are already familiar with the basics. The story of any video game or movie is in the details and there are plenty of courses available to help you learn how to digitally refine those important details. 

It’s Game Time

The interactive entertainment industry, otherwise known as video games (and we’re not talking about your momma’s Pac-Man or Frogger type of games) is a multi-billion dollar international industry  that is composed entirely of digital characters and worlds. That’s right, 100% digital, whether it’s on your TV, smartphone or PC. Now, that has you thinking. And where exactly does ZBrush fit in? It creates digital art by bringing to 3D life those characters, accessories for characters, the worlds that the characters live in and so forth. Video gaming is one of the many industries that utilize digital art sculpted using ZBrush, which by learning how to use ZBrush could be one way to get a piece of that multi-billion dollar digital pie. This is worth thinking about if you happen to find yourself doodling an action character, their weapons or demons for them to defeat. There are ZBrush tutorials that outline the character creation process, including body sculpting and movement techniques, such as this course that is specifically geared toward creating new characters for video games.  However, the character is one aspect of the game, the tools or assets that the player chooses to use with their character can prove to be vital to progressing through each level in the game. The creation of this tool can be just as intricate of a process as sculpting a character. For instance, in this tutorial, you learn about creating and texturing a shield, which when playing a game, a shield can either add another life or be game over for a player. And shields are pretty awesome looking too, they can add another layer of dimension to the character through its style and design intricacies. Accessories can be game-changers for players, so you might as well learn about how to make one that stands out in any realm. It’s also interesting to see how the digital landscape extends beyond the gaming world, with many characters crossing over to the big screen or vice versa. If your imagination expands into the Middle Earth, well, ZBrush can take you there too.

Journey to the Center of the (Digital) World

Director Peter Jackson created cinematic magic when he brought to life on film J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy about Middle Earth’s world of hobbits, elves, orcs and countless other mythical beings. Each film in the trilogy was nominated for and won the Academy Award for Visual Effects. Of course, this is a rare feat in Hollywood, but it illustrates the impact, and importance, of visual effects. This includes the digital creation or enhancement of many of the fantasy characters in the films. As you might guess, ZBrush can be used to sculpt similar characters, including the orcs (otherwise known as goblins to the world outside of Middle Earth). If creating digital characters appeals to your imagination, there is ZBrush tutorial that walks you through the process of creating an orc, which includes learning about the various tools that ZBrush offers specifically for this type of creation and the workflow process for creating characters, in general. While this course focuses specifically on sculpting the orc, the techniques learned in the tutorial can be applied across the board when creating digital 3D mesh maps of the characters that exist your imagination. And this is example where the characters have cross over appeal, moving from the silver screen to the gaming world as this trilogy spawned its own video games.

Setting the Scene

It’s said that life is in the details and this proves to be true when it comes to video games and movies that involve creating a realistic digital character or setting. What exactly are the qualities that make a character or setting realistic? It is the subtleties that perhaps we don’t notice in real life, but make all of the difference in creating a realistic 3D digital world. For example, certain fabrics can change the way a dress moves naturally, the way your hair lifts as the wind blows through it, and even the way the corners of your eyes crinkle when you smile or laugh. All of these natural reactions to, and subtleties within, our environment must be recreated when they become part of the digital world. For example,  facial expressions create a dialogue of their own and it is the contours and way that facial features move that give meaning to a character and their dialogue. Intermediate users of ZBrush can take advantage of this in-depth ZBrush tutorial which demonstrates how to sculpt different types of wrinkles and also, shows how to sculpt folds of cloth to create those additional subtleties and important features that create a realistic character and setting in the digital world. This will add dimension to a character you’ve already sculpted, especially as movies and video games continue to be created in HD, where even the tiniest details can play a part of a scene.

Whether you are dabbling in the digital sculpting world of ZBrush or looking to parlay your hobby into a new career in the digital world of video games and movies, there is a plethora of ZBrush tutorials available to brush up on your digital sculpting skills. And again, if you’re just testing the waters, there’s always a beginner’s course, like this one that will walk you through the basics and get you started on learning how to create texture using Zbrush. Time to have some digital fun!