Final model and Evaluation

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Below is my final model. I created this using Zbrush. This was the first time I had ever used Zbrush, so I was a complete novice when it came to using the modelling software. I was able to pick it up easily enough but I feel there is still so much I need to explore and perfect.  I enjoyed this project because I was really able to take on board what we learnt in character performance along side this one. I chose to pursue a character called Viola who lived in the 1920s. Her characteristics (fully explained on previous post) is comedic, naive and seductive. Although this may seem conflicting, the sides don’t all occur at once. Although as a model you can’t really see the character move or act but I truly believed developing the character at the beginning meant I was able to grasp who she was and in turn make a character I felt was fitting.


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I spent a lot of time researching in the study zone and analysing silent movie actresses. I made several moodboards to see how females at this time moved. Why is this important? Well if I was going to rig it the character needs to be able to meet my requirements. I wanted her to have long limbs so that she express her self in a dramatic way. I gave her some features which would help the silhouette stand out amongst other characters. Her shoulders are very sloping which at the time was seen as beautiful. I also emphasised the length of her neck. Another feature which I wanted to really establish was the profile/ nose. I wanted the profile to sweep into the nose. And the nose to be extremely defined. These features was something I looked at from the designing stages to its current look.

As I stated I spent a lot of time drawing and trying to choose a character which would work with my characteristics in my synopsis. I feel I spent a little too much time in this stage which consequently meant I had less time sculpting and modelling. This is something which I need to hone down if and when I do my next Zbrush character. I don’t regret it however as it really did help me when coming to make my final character.  For example I took up some time by making the little clay bust of my character but it was so useful to actually hold the head of my character see what elements I need to hone in or exaggerate. It also helped me to consider how to build up the face of the character in zBrush.

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The hardest bit for me during this zBrush project was trying to model the eyelids! I found it difficult to build over the eyeballs and I spent a lot of time doing this. I also spent a whole day doing the zspheres so that the model had a good foundation to work on. Furthermore I knew that my character was stylised and therefore did not need me to build alot of muscle definition. Therefore to get the form correct I aimed to create a good structure with zspheres. Another weak point of my model is the feet. I am not happy with them at all and if I had more time I would had redone them. However it is good however to see where I can improve for next time.

Next term we will be carrying out a rigging project. If I was going to rig this character I would make sure that the arms and legs allowed for clumsy and dramatic movements. I will make her cupids bow and eyebrows very manipulative so that I could get a sense of her weirdness. This is something which i found hard using some of the other rigs as the arms were limiting to how I could manipulate it.

There are several things which I would like to change to this model if I had more time such as: the feet, and also the neck I feel like i wish it was thicker. These are things which I will make sure to consider to begin with specifically the feet as they were really hard to model.

To conclude! I really enjoyed this project as it let me develop another software skill, it also relied on my designs to make a character which was suitable for my synopsis. I was able to understand a stage of animating i had not previously done, I will now understand what I would like to tell a modeller if they were ever developing my design! I think i did really well for my first attempt at zBrush. Till next time using it.

Look below to see my progress.


Character design

This character design unit looked very fun!! It would also allow me to take what I had been carrying out in the first unit. Developing a character and understanding the character. Henning came in at the beginning of the unit giving us advice on how he carries out modelling and designing a character. His advice was to understand the character, the language, the feeling you want from the character. These pieces of advice will be used to inform the rest of this designing unit!
Here is a mind map that I created in order to consider a character… I had a lot of ideas such as an arctic vampire or a spy from WWII. In the end I chose to go with either a silent movies actress. I felt this would allow me to pose her expressive and gather a lot of visual research for me to begin designing with.


Above is a synopsis I created for this character. This was a really fun bit for me as I was really able to get into the characters mode of thinking. It is true what they say the more you write for a character the more you get to understand the character. This has proven a good practice for my other project with Mike. I created as many questions to answer as well as using character question prompts online. All equating to a much fuller picture in my head of what my character is like. Some of my favourite questions I asked were: Greatest regret? Idea of perfect happiness and last time she cried. It put in perspective what the character priorities. Even though I am not animating this character It allowed me to think as she was alive.


Creating moodboards

Atmospheric board. I have a tendency to make lots of boards for different things. This board is to get a sense of atmosphere. It is meant to feel light hearted, free and expressive. 


Pose Board – Above is another moodboard I created to understand how actresses in the silent movies era used there bodies and how they posed. It really is an extension of understanding how my character would animate. I used this particular board when I was modelling my body as well as my own sketches.

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Pintrest= My greatest reference tool. I have only just begun using pintrest recently but it has been a great tool for me to separate my references. I created this board so I could analyse how silent movie actresses presented themselves and the general ideal beauty at that time. Above this you can see the board  that I collected imagery for anatomy, clothing, expressions for viola. Very useful tool.

Getting reference and understanding context

Gaining Reference and context!

After initially creating moodboards and synopsis i head to the study zone where I looked at different books about movie industry at this time as well as fashion in this decade. This would all help me build on my character, what was beautiful then? What did they wear?

I learnt ultimately that the 1920s was time about defiance. After the world war one people expressed themselves. Woman going against traditional beauty, hiding there figures in loose fitting clothes, cutting there hair to seem more boyish. Cinema was taking off and it was a very exciting time. This for me was so interesting to learn and how would it feel to growing up in the 1900s and living in the 20s!

Henning emphasised the importance of understanding where the character lives and the environmental context.  I looked through the below book and scanned in several pages which I found beautiful and a good starting point to my designs.


Brigitte Helm in Metropolis 

One of my inspirations is Helm in Metropolis and the pure beauty of how she moves and expresses herself. Furthermore her features were the considered ideal of beauty in 1927 when the film was released. The 1920s Ideal of beauty was complete opposite of today, with thin long eyebrows, thin lips, little to no curves, short hair and long defined noses. I love Helm’s ability to change from a innocent character to a dark menacing one! I will be using Helm as a reference point when designing my character.


I really love Helm’s features in metropolis and the defined nose.

(Below the amazing dance scene in Metropolis which is just stunning to watch!)


Salome 1923

Another film which I used as a reference point was Salome, I found it whilst researching for this project and fell in love with the piece. It is really beautifully filmed but it is again good to identify character poses and how women were using there bodies at the time my character lived.



I used this book, Fashion sourcebook to give me some more information of the time and culture. It helped me come up with appropriate clothes for Viola. It was very resourceful and full with fashion photography and illustrations demonstrating what it would be like to shop in the 1920s.
I thought this image was similar to my design with the sloping shoulders and long limbs and illustration at the time.
This was a big inspiration and very close to my final clothing. I liked the “V” and the simplicity of the clothes. My character is not rich only working on several films in a small role.
Beautiful fashion illustrations, look at the long limbs and the way the characters have been posed. Pointed feet as the character stands still.
I scanned this in as I loved the characters pose on the right. I did a similar sketch due to this.
Glamorous look!


Designing a character

Below you can see pages from my sketchbook. I don’t need to annotate each page but you can see how I worked through designing the character. I  began using all my references and then identified the things which worked and the things that just didn’t.



Used this page to try out some expressive moves. Working with flow lines to begin with.


Using my reference boards and research I began to create some inked designs for the head. It was really fun to play around with the elaborate hairs that they had at the time.

Above I began to think about body shape and further developing the heads. I like the idea of a long body that could be used to be expressive. It also meets with the ideal beauty at the time. A lot of the fashion illustrations showed tall women and I think it could work really nicely in using her long limbs.
I like this page because of the distinctive differences in the features between the heads. I really like the bottom left image that demonstrates a long nose and little lips.
As I work on these head,  I understand that I really want a distinctive cupids bow.  I also love the idea of having sloping shoulders.


Developing the body and how it moves. I want a long torso for the character.




Beauty Board – I wanted to use what was considered beauty to reinforce my designs. I made this board at this point to finalise the head designs. I also really like the art deco concept I made in one of my sketches so I want to carry that through. The Roman statues also sees very distinct art deco noses that swerve from the eyes. This is something I would like to finalise in my designs.








Love the defined nose on the left page, it looks very strong. I would like to experiment trying to make the face cute or lovable.




Final Favourites – I scanned in the above heads and photoshopped them onto one page. These were my final favourites. I wanted to make some final sketches using sections of them all.

 Final Character Design

Above and below you can see my final character design. I tried to work through the different expressions. I am actually really happy without how the design came out. I used a lot of my research to understand the relevance of the time. The ideal beauty, the women who were casted. I chose to use sloping shoulders, thin lips, expressive eyes and a long define nose. The eyebrows are long.




Sculpting with Clay 

Images to show concept clay sculptures also known as Maquette sculptures, art

I decided I would like to try modelling my character or at least the head in clay. I think doing this process will allow me to see what marks I need to create so that every brush stroks in zBrush is there for a reason as Henning advised. Working with clay is still the same as working in zBrush this. By this I mean you have to work from the foundations to the skin. I think physically holding clay and moulding it will inform my sculpting stage in zBrush.

“At Pixar there are two full-time sculptors who make clay maquettes of our main characters, taking two-dimensional designs into three dimensions. Both are incredibly talented. They explore the characters and their facial expressions before these are built on the computer.” Jonathan Hoffman 

In the thread above a modeller discusses the potential of using clay to model and then 3D scan into zBrush.



Above you can see my progress of making my sculpted character. It was tricker than what I thought! It took me some time and I still think I could improve it. But it is my first time sculpting a face.The experience was very useful when I come to sculpt my character in zBrush. It let me figure out how I want to define the structure. How the side profile should look in accordance to the structure of the face. How I want the neck to swoon into the chest. How tall the hair will appear on the face. Sure you can get this from drawings as well but having something I can physically hold allows me to see what I want to emphasise or shrink. For instance I think I want to make the bottom of the nose smaller and the cupids bow more pronounced. The lips were super hard to do, I see why it took 7 years for Leonardo Da Vinci to perfect Mona Lisa smile.

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Final costume design at the end on the right. I wanted it simple, as I stated previously, Viola is not rich.

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Modelling in Zbrush

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To begin the modelling It started with this little sphere! What is this sphere you maybe thinking if you are a complete beginner like myself. Well it is a Zsphere and one of the ways to create you character is to use it to build on. The main shortcuts I used were “W” and “Q” (Q allowing you to draw and rotate) (W to allow you to move the new spheres and pull them out)

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When I did the legs they kept ending up really skinny so I had to redo them. I think Zbrush was really good to use to make you think about anatomy, the curves of the body.
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I might have spent a little long worrying about the zsphere stage. But I tried to think about how the joints would sit, the shape of the bodypart. I felt if I made this step as accurate as possible it would make the sculpting stage easier.
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I used my sketches as well as the reference board imported via the image plane section.
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I kept switching to the A to preview the adaptive skin.

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The hardest section of modelling with zSphere was the fingers! I tried to work it out myself, but in the end watched a tutorial. Using a shift and click control I was able to create Fingers which I could pull out.

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Positioning the hands and looking at hand reference for the composition in the thumb and fingers/
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Final zSpheres.
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With Adaptive Skin.
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Silhouette of the character. I wanted her distinctive with long limbs, heavily sloped shoulders and a powerful profile.
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Problem :The symmetry on my face was off. I researched how to turn it back on but nothing was working! The symmetry was working perfectly on the body. I realised the head seemed slightly off(not face on) so i rotated it correct and it worked fine after. Symettry made it so much easier to sculpt the head! (Lesson learnt!) I accidentally also made my character wonky without realising so I used the move and rotate tools to get the body straight again. Henning showed me this when he was talking through my body.
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Sculpting the basic features. I used my sketches (As you can see behind as a reference as well as my beauty board which showed the features I wanted to define (Such as the nose, cupids bow and profile).
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Perspective shot.
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Playing around with the facial expression
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Playing around with the facial expression
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I dynameshed the face in order to carry out the basic details of the face.
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When I dynameshed I had to make sure there was no problems with fingers or thighs being joined together luckily that wasn’t the case.
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I wanted a distinct cupid bow as this is something evident in every sketch I did!! Henning reminded us to look at lip anatomy. Which is something I tried to do remembering the middle ball that sits on the top lip and turning in the corners of the mouth to give it realistic depth.
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Placing the eyes in uts socket.
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The profile was something important to m y character as it shouldn’t have a forehead it should slope all the way to the nose which i am happy to see I could achieve!

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My clay model’s profile.
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Working through the face.
Adding hair. ( Was working from my sketchbook in my lap for reference and holding my clay model!) But you can see i added a new subtool and used the move tool to mould it into the shape I wanted. This would mean i could colour it easier without painting on the face by mistake and also it gave me the freedom of coming back to that subtool and editing throughout the modelling stages.

Creating the clothes

Henning said that the clothes in Zbrush and creating realistic looking cloth can be tricky!

Adding the dress. In order to do this dress I masked a vest shape on to my character. Then I extruded it in the masking category on the right and pulled it down so it became a dress. Further giving it details with the clay build up tool. I didn’t want to add too much detail as it is meant to be stylised and it would look out of place among the rest of the character. As the character’s clothes are baggy I did not need to worry too much about the muscles being too distinct I did however added detail to the back in the bum and in the spine, shoulder blades. 
Distinctive profile. Stylised hair! Here is my painted version. I painted my character by taking my self of the “Zadd” replacing it with “RGB” and changing to draw mode. Using the colour drop down and selecting colours I was able to add colour. As I wanted my character black and white I chose black and whites and everything in-between to my character.



Sculpting in Zbrush



It needs to serve a function.



Zbrush introduction!



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Henning Sanden

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We had a lesson in which Henning sculpted a sea monster using Zbrush and were able to see how he carries out his projects. I found the exercise very useful. I was able to see where I was making mistakes and to rectify them.  Below are my notes I took which I think are very useful.

Don’t just sculpt

Start with a solid approach to it

Outside to in. < wrong approach

Should start from the inside out.

Start with skeleton

Then the muscles <— Anatomy comes into play

Origin insertion muscles

Layer of fat on muscles then layer of skin.

Then spend time getting reference. We want to skin, skeleton, Similar creatures e.g crocodile.

Is it an Alpha? If it is

Could start with a maya model or 3d scan.

Start with z sphere.

Block out an overall body

Overlay the model.

Want the proportions to be as correct as the get go.

Brushes i use exclusively

Move> clay build up> dam standard> standard>Inflate brush


Porportion is most vital stage

What environment?

‘v’ look silhouette

Function over everything

Do you believe it could live in the environment

Will never use smooth brush at this stage as it will get rid of any information

We need to make him functional so in this sea creature it needs a strong jaw

For the face you could reference dinosaur.

Don’t save it as a project save it as a tool.  Easily corruptible

Under geometry zmesher

now smooth do not do it before that point.

Now you do the muscles

Clay build up

alpha o6 (3rd tool)

Export out of an obj if it corrupts then you open it up again it should work.


Get spine down, then spatula, get ribcage, you need to know landmarks and the ports in anatomy

clay build up builds onto of one layer

clay brush only creates one layer


alt for sculpt down

brush auto masking and back face masking?

Symmetry always on

When I try to do a character I try to always model with the mouth closed

Keep stuff subtle and look at reference

Get a second monitor , Rarely use image plane


lock scale and position first base mesh in maya

Send it out in sphere for instance or make blocks etc

Consider the model 360 degrees silhouette

Look at tablet settings in zbrush

hair : Stylise hair – Don’t do fiber mesh

plug in for posing: advanced skeleton – Free plug in in maya where you can put the joints.

Don’t smooth stuff over just go over with brushstrokes

simplify it to make it stronger

don’t change focal shift for sculpting

work on the entire thing as you go on don’t focus on one area consistency

Sculpt with perspective on

default is on 90 work on 50 (under draw angle of view)

This will correspond with the camera

I have reached to 200,000 polys think its time to sub it up so sub divide till 800,000

alt and dam standard

Don’t texture in zbrush

cplug in ? export > mirror

merge teeth down

Use dam standard for details

Consider the texture of the skin, not everything is flat

Professional Advice:


Don’t write about yourself in 3rd person

portfolio: I don’t care about anything else.

I want to know what work you do.. I don’t care about extra curriculum

Don’t oversell yourself

Sell yourself as a student

Look at professionals linked in

Shortcuts in Zbrush to use:

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