review diary - escape studios 'zbrush for 3d artists' part 3

The M61 Gasmask, yup hard modelling is a go in Zbrush 3.5Well, its been a long time since the last part of the review. The good news is that I finally finished the third part of the Escape Studios ‘ZBrush for 3D Artists course’. What a ride its been, lows and highs and yet another step closer to getting my head around everything in ZBrush 4.

This section of the course dealt with mechanical sculpting, and was very challenging, the main part was constructing a M61 gas mask directly in ZBrush, as this module progressed, you could see how constructing the base mesh in traditional 3d app such as modo or Maya would be advantageous to a quicker workflow, however, the course showed how, at a push admittedly and to be honest very pleasantly surprisingly, ZBrush could be used as a reasonable 3d modeller.

There were however a good few issues with this section, some were solved, when Pixologic released GoZ for modo 501, which helped me with an understanding of workflow back and forth. However, having said that the workflow into Maya is nicer due to the creasing options that are available as was discussed in the second module of the course. 

The main issue is that the gas mask section of the course was created in ZBrush 3.5 and while the major elements of ZBrush 4 haven’t changed,  some of the buttons and brushes have, this meant a couple of things, one was sometimes a wait while the ever helpful and patient tutors at escape came to our rescue to say which button had changed.

The other was that due to other courses which I had used outside of Escape, and also by remembering some of the elements that had been taught in the previous escape course modules, I couldn’t help but feel that a lot of the gas masks elements were potentially redundant due to workflow enhancements that have occurred in ZBrush 4.

Not all was a waste, the planar brush segment for example was a great source of useful tips, and one that I would keep coming back to. ZBrush 4 does make things a lot more streamlined, and there were times that some of the Gas mask section was like doing homework within your homework.

What would be especially vexing, is that some of the secondary videos would show how ZBrush 4 could have made the stuff you had just been learning in ZBrush 3.5 irrelevant.

For completeness sake it was good to know the methodology used, but honestly, it would usually lead to more frustration and confusion than was necessary. This spoiled the experience of what had been up to that point a clear and concise course.

I feel that Escape really need to reevaluate this section of the course, as well as address having courses across software versions. This is detrimental to the pupils learning experience, moreover, it makes you feel that your potentially not getting a good deal as lesson’s are obviously not up to date, as it’s now nearly 10 months since the release of ZBrush 4.

This was thrown very much into light, when the second shorter part of the course was accessed.
But hard surface modelling is a lot easier in ZBrush 4. Thanks to Shadowbox and the new clipping tools
This was a brilliant introduction into both shadowbox, the reason I finally stepped up and bought ZBrush 4, shadowbox blows me away everytime. It also showed some of the new clipping brushes in the latest release as you constructed a lego minifig. This part flew past, due to the well structured and very clear instruction. It really cast the first half of this course in its shadow(box): boom - tish.

Even though this section was hard work, and as I said, part of that was to do with the divergence between ZBrush 3.5 and ZBrush 4. It’s becoming more obvious to me that the benefits of doing a long and intensive online course like this with an app as deep as ZBrush 4 is really worthwhile for a couple of reasons.

First of all you do get a deep, deep understanding of what the software can do and what it can’t do. The interesting thing is that this course is showing me that ZBrush especially in version 4 can almost be considered a truly standalone 3d app, if your primarily into producing 2D concept art, say like me, this is potentially really exciting for someone, again say like me, who just thought ZBrush was just for sculpting.

The second is that while I was in the middle of this module, I had to knock out a very quick test image for a contest I was doing with my primary creative team, the image wasn’t production ready, but it got the point across to the team. It took 15 minutes to create the image in ZBrush, with help from GoZ to get the original mesh in from modo.

No other app I have could have made that image that quickly. In fact no other app I have wouldn’t have made that image.

More importantly I wouldn’t have been able to make the image and realised I COULD make the image, if I hadn’t slogged through this module as it relied on a lot of remeshing and projecting sub-tools.

ZBrush is an awesome app especially in version 4 for 3d and 2d artists, and the Escape course more than does it justice, just let’s leave ZBrush 3.5 behind please.