The latest update of Zbrush (2021.7) has definitely changed my approach to hard surface concepting so I wanted create a breakdown of my general workflow and the thought that goes into the design.
When it comes to overall workflow, I start by gathering references to achieve a basic understanding of what I'm trying to design.
In this case, having an understanding of a gun's parts and function provides a set of "guides" to follow when you begin modelling. Personally I find exploded isometric drawings/diagrams to be a great way to learn and get inspired!
With this design I went in without a specific reference, just knowing the parts it would generally need. It's a lot of fun to just explore without a time limit; this way I find that I end up having happy accidents and discovering more about Zbrush.
Dynamesh, Masking and Gizmo
Dynamesh, Masking and the Gizmo tools are a powerful trio. They can get overlooked and so I wanted to give them the spotlight they deserve.
What this involves is leaving the area you'd like to extrude unmasked. With the gizmo tool you can hit CTRL + Drag to extend the mesh. Not only can you move it in any direction, you can also rotate and scale it! By repeating the technique you can create some really interesting, complex forms to work from.
Rough to Refined
Going from clean topology to Dynamesh to clean topology can seem like a daunting task, but it's surprisingly quick and easy to do! There are a couple things to keep in mind:
Duplicate your mesh: If you have a clean mesh that you're happy with, duplicate it for safe keeping. This means your creative flow isn't interrupted and you have an original (just in case Zbrush crashes).
Slicing: Using the example above, the Slice brush is a great way to create new shapes extremely quickly.
ZRemesher and Zmodeler: After extracting dynameshed shapes, using ZRemesher is strongly recommended. You'll be left with a mesh with clean topology that can be refined further using Zmodeler!
This is just one unique way to go from a rough mesh to a refined one!
There's still more! I'd like to cover some of the other techniques that I find extremely useful for hard surface (but, like all the techniques, they can be applied to everything!) If there's something particular you'd like to see, that I haven't covered, let us know!
Ben Courtenay, Art Heroes Contributor
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