From one beginner to another

What's been going on?

Where on earth has time gone. My last post was made way back in Nov 2013. I was really hoping to keep this blog update by entering my experiences, thoughts and learning experiences at least once a week. So why have I waited over a year.
There are no excuses, but I’m going to try my best to make some. I can’t put my finger on it, but I have just found that after a hard day’s work it’s really hard to sit at my cintiq and start creating. I have no idea whether the IBS is involved in any way, but that side of things have really improved.

Well I joined yet another webinar, through visualarium (sister website to ZBrush Central). Sam Kennedy was the class tutor and I learnt so much from his workflow.
I’ve always look on DAZ Studio as a hobbyist tool. But using it in conjunction with other apps, such as ZBrush open doors to reducing workflow times by more than double. This is something that is really essential to my workflow. I need to repeat a character throughout my Graphic Novel, so rather than re-drawing the multitude of poses, I need something that will pose my character to save essential time.
The work below was produced by me as part of Sam Kennedy’s class. I used DAZ to pose the characters and ZB to clothe the male. Te female was dressed inside DAZ. Colours and textures were added inside ZB and rendered out as passes to photoshop to finish off.

09-render-with-texture

The link between ZBrush and DAZ gave me this power. However, over the last couple of weeks yet another time safer has come to my attention - Marvelous Designer.
This is an application that Sam Kennedy has added to his workflow and you can see why.
The speed with which you can adjust morphs in DAZ to create a unique character, import into Marvelous Designer to dress your character and back to DAZ means you could finish a complete concept in eight hours or less, if you understand the interface.

marvelous_design

I’m still trying to improve on my anatomy knowledge and Ray Bustos is my best option there. My next step is to get my characters into Marvelous Designer to clothe.
These updates to my workflow don’t rule out ZBrush, because I’ll still needs to produce buttons zippers and many more. But of course I love ZBrush so much I wouldn’t want to let it go. It’s really good practice to keep up with anatomy and sculpting.

The best ZBrush learning experience

I’m really not doing well on keeping my Blog up to date.

One excuse is that I’m being kept very busy still learning ZBrush. However I’m also learning about anatomy, which is the foundation of sculpting life.

www.ZBrushWorkshops.com in my opinion is by far the best ZBrush learning experience. My introduction to ZBrush Workshops was Sculpting Games: MP5-K, which has been covered earlier in this blog. I was so impressed I joined the ‘Anatomy 2.0’ workshop and have found that a knowledge in anatomy would provide better results in sculpting anatomy.
Half way through this workshop Ryan Kingslien (the originator of ZBW) announced a new workshop, which would include the learning skills of Cesar Dacol jr teaching Creature Designs.

So I didn’t hesitate and joined immediately. We now have 3 weeks left of ten and for me it’s like a dream come true. Being taught by a sculptor who has always inspired me is a wonderful experience.
Every Tuesday night (UK time) we get to watch the master in action. We also get to listen to Cesar’s experienced advise as well as the wise voice of Ryan.
On a Friday night (UK time) Ryan organises a Crit. This is when Cesar provides us with positive advice on how to improve our sculpting skills.

OK it’s not free, but I for one am able to justify the money I have spent for the amount I have learnt. Watching an edited DVD is no comparison to watching a great artist working live in ZBrush. If he makes any mistakes or ZBrush crashes you get to see how he resolves these hurdles and appreciate these things even happen to the professionals.

See my progress below:

Rippler2 Spooner
‘Rippler’ and ‘Spooner’ where sculpted at the request of Cesar, so he could get a feel of our ability. The most positive feedback he gave me was my creativity ability.
He mentioned that I needed to work on my knowledge of anatomy.

HalfBad
The next project was to create a freak. I got started but then ran out of time. Cesar again brought up my basic knowledge of anatomy, which I needed to improve on.
I had all ready joined the Anatomy 2.0 class, but joined the Creature Design class half way through. There’s no way I could keep up with both so the plan is to return to Anatomy 2.0 and solidify my anatomy knowledge.

posed-BPR
The next webinar consisted of Cesar sculpting an insectoid, which we had to follow. ‘CraBeetle’ is what I came up with and Cesar recommended a couple of improvements which I am hoping to carry out soon.

allpose
‘FatCow’ was my last sculpt and I felt an improvement in using Cesar’s techniques. Cesar’s crit was to make some anatomical changes, which I will do very soon.

So get your self down to ZBrushWorkshops.com if you’re looking to improve your ZBrush skills.

Still learning the ZBrush way

So I needed some help, getting my head around the new features of Zbrush 4.
I went on a google search. Whilst there are teasers available regarding the new features of ZBrush 4, I couldn’t find anything with any meat on it. The two books I mentioned in an earlier blog (‘Introducing ZBrush 4’ by Eric Keller and ‘ZBrush Character Creation vol.2’ by Scott Spencer) were answering my questions, but it was a slow process.
I eventually discovered a gem, an article in a 3D magazines providing the answer to my frustration.

I touched on this resource briefly in my last Blog, but I have been spending almost every evening working my way through Ryan Kingslien’s Workshop.
Ryan Kingslien was one of the first to help in the development of ZBrush. So he really knows what he is talking about. His method of teaching is so easy to watch and you get so much more from the Workshops than you initially thought you would.
My choice of Worshops was the ‘MP5-K’, which I felt provided the answers to my questions and boy were they answered.

So what have I learnt:
Spotlight, ShadowBox, Lightbox, Image Plane, Remeshing, Projecting
Clip Brushes, Trim Brushes.
Relax & Polish (under Deformation pallet).
The importance of creating a clean mesh, if there is a need to add detail in a particular area.
Hollowing out a SubTool, using Extract.
A more in-depth understanding of Decimation Master.
Learning from my mistakes and adjusting to correcting something.
and much much more...

Below are a few examples of the model I managed to produce. At this stage I’m not really bothered about accuracy, but what this Workshop has provided is a learning experience I can’t equal.

Front Rear

Left Right

I have ingested tutorial books and tutorial DVD, but I have never learnt as much about ZBrush as I have whilst following Ryan Kingslien’s Workshop.
There are a handful of Workshops available and there is a small price to pay, however once you have registered, you have access to the forums and your workshop for 12 months.

I really can’t sing Ryan’s praises enough, so pop over to zbrushworkshops.com to find out for your self.

Another wonderful gem I spotted recently was an article in ‘3D artist’ (issue 29). I currently use the iPad App - 3DArtist to download their monthly issues. However due to the DVD content I went out and bought a copy. On page 80 there is some advice on Rendering in ZBrush, which is something I’ve been searching for since I started using ZBrush. The article covers Rendering in ZBrush 4 and the new BPR feature. The DVD contains a 28min tutorial on the process. So I am really looking forward to running the tutorial.

In the same issue of ‘3DArtist’ is a small article on page 113, detailing a new line of tutorials by thethirdguild.com. I was that impressed I bought and downloaded ‘Characters Made Easy Bundle’. I’ve yet to begin ingesting the tutorial but this is another I’m looking forward to.
What interested me in this particular tutorial was the inclusion of UV Master, which is something else I’ve been desperate to fully understand.

Working smoothly in ZBrush at a comfortable pace is understanding which is the most efficient way to deal with a SubTool before you start.
This means learning ZBrush until it becomes second nature. I for one now feel like I’m getting there, two years down the line.

ZBrush Workshops member

OK, I decided I needed a little help with the new features of ZBrush 4.
As mentioned in a previous blog ‘Introducing ZBrush 4’ by Eric Keller is brilliant and I am slowly making my way through the book. I haven’t had a chance as yet to start reading ‘ ‘ZBrush Character Creation vol.2’ by Scott Spencer, however I will get around to it.

So I took the plunge and registered with www.zbrushworkshops.com, which was originated by Ryan Kingslien. Ryan runs the workshops with an experience in ZBrush which is difficult to equal.
I opted for the ‘MP5-K’ workshop and after simply viewing the introduction I had virtually mastered Spotlight, Lightbox and Shadowbox in one hit. After all he played an important part in the development of Zbrush 3.

Not only am I finding the workshops really useful, the site also provides a support section where you can ask Ryan questions about the workshops, which he answers promptly.

So there you go another resource that provides inspiration to carry on ZBrushing...

Books & Novels

I thought I’d share my views on a couple of books I recently read.

Over Christmas 2010 I came to a decision that ‘Driven Rage’ was going on hold. I needed to get started on my next project. So I began writing my novel: ‘Inner World’. before beginning the long journey I needed a little inspiration, so I went searching for some books that may be able to provide me with some advice:

on_writing-Stephen_King your_writing_coach-Jurgen_Wolff

‘On Writing’ by Stephen King:
I read this book directly after reading ‘Your Writing Coach’ by Jurgen Wolff and in contradiction to a couple of reviews on Amazon I benefited from reading both. In no way did I find the contents of both books provided the same advise.
‘Your Writing Coach’ was more of a technical walk through the writing process and provided great advice. I will continue to use it for essential reference.

‘On Writing’ on the other hand was a snippet on the life of Stephen King by the man himself. However along the way he provides essential tips on how to and how not to write. The masters advice is sometimes quite forceful and occasionally I found myself disagreeing with a few don’ts. But at the end of the day when you consider how many books Stephen King has sold it makes you wonder.
I suppose you just follow your own instincts and perhaps create your own style, which people will either want to read or not. The thing is Stephen King also covers the knock backs and the successes.

Introducing-ZBrush-4

I also decided to take a closer look at the new features in ZBruh 4. The only book available at the time was ‘Introducing ZBrush 4’ by Eric Keller.
After reading reviews on Amazon, which there were only two I was put off. Let’s just say the reviews weren’t very kind. I eventually decided to try the Kindle version on my ipad by using the Kindle App.
I was pleasantly surprised with the Kindle App and the ease of purchasing and downloading from Amazon.

I’m not even half way through the book, which so far has covered most of the stuff I all ready picked up after using ZBrush 3. However, so far I am really impressed with this book. The writer has a really pleasant and intuitive style of explaining the many elements within ZBrush.
I’m still reading the book, which says a lot, because normally if I’m not getting anything out of the book I would have put it away by now.

I let my Blog down

OK, I’ve really let myself down by not taking care of my blog since before Christmas. I blame it on a mixture of things:
Health
Holidays
Lack of time
Starting a new Novel - “Inner World”.

There’s no real excuse though and it all goes back to inspiration.
I decided over Christmas to put “Driven Range” on the back burner and start on my Novel. The main reason for this was due to the developer of “SceneWriter Pro” losing all his hard work in preparation for the release of “SceneWriter Pro 5”. I can’t imagine a worse time for your HD to fry.
I was so looking forward to continuing ‘Driven Rage’ in the newly developed SWP 5. As it happened the SWP developer did me a big favour. You see there comes a time where you need to put a work down and come back to it later if development dries up. So this gave me the opportunity to start on a new project, which I decided to produce using Pages on my iPad. ‘inner World’ is my latest venture, which is going really well.
I would like to mention at this point, that I did take a look at other screenwriting apps from Celtx and Scrivener to Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter, but I couldn’t find any other that gave me the satisfaction SWP provided.

The other day I thought I’d take a look at ‘SceneWriter Pro’ to see if it had been updated, it hadn’t. For some reason I decided to have a quick look at the SWP website. Low and behold I spotted a link for a new app by the same developer.
It turns out that the developer of ‘SceneWriter Pro’ has re-written his beloved app and given it a new name:
moviedraft_header

This is pure inspiration. At last, my perfect screenwriting app that I can print and export from. For me ‘Movie Draft’ has a simple and comfortable interface yet powerful. Most importantly it gives me the option to build my screenplay scene by scene. There are also some really exciting features on the horizon and I believe this app will become a scriptwriters tool to recon with.

movie-draft-logo

‘Movie Draft’ is currently only available for Mac (OSX) platform on the App store.
I will be working in MovieDraft over the next couple of days, providing the developer with feedback. The MovieDraft website is a good place to start for newbies, where you will find good quality video tutorials, not that you’ll need them because the app is a breeze to use.

In conclusion I would like to wish Mark the best of luck in inspiring others to write successful screenplays and look forward to creating some work I can be proud of.

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