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Learning Diary - Zbrush Sculpting for Characters and Creatures.

Hello everyone, i know this is a brand new acc, but it's been a while since i keep looking at progress and learning diaries about 3D art in general over here, however i never got into it, mostly because i'm bad at art in general, i know it's moslty practice but i never felt motivated to really start.

A little bit about me, i have no prior experience in 3D modeling, i'm really bad at drawing, started to learn pixel art for a while last year, wanted to start learning 3d that time but was too affraid to do t. Also i'm on my the last year studying civil engineering in Brazil, yeah..

But this changed last month because i always loved the possibility to create something of my own using my creativity, that's why i've decided to learn 3D sculpting. But i know that there's a long and complex road ahead full of challenges to overcome!

And i wanted to make my very own journey here so i can get some advices on how to improve, i plan to make an update every week at least.

After watching some of the zbrush official tutorials and a flippednormals video about basics of sculpting this is the result of my first sculpt trying to model the troll from LOTR, took a few hours and a lot of tries to get this:

After that i  tried to make a skull, but after trying a few times i gave up and came up with this creature:

After this failure i did some research to see if i could find some tools to help me develop my sculpting skills, so i found the Anatomy for sculptor book online, got a copy and decided that i want to learn anatomy. After reading for a while and some sculpting i ended up with this monster. :lol:I did spent a few hours on this and got really frustrated, but i realized that my probleam was that i was not using any references and was using only the book to guide me. So after watching some videos on youtube and get my hands on a reference i've came up with this:

Still really bad, but at least i didn't got mad and frustrated while sculpting like the first one.

After that i sculpted a creature using a reference to  train my eyes for getting little details, i don't know if i can post the original art so instead i will give the name: "Frog Guard" By Billie Hall, i found it on artstation, heres the sculpt:I did spend 4-5 hours sculpting this but it was nice to learn a little bit of custom brushes.

And this finishes my first week into sculpting and 3d modeling, now my biggest goal is to learn anatomy because i know how important it is to know it so i can my future creatures and characters better. 

Thank you so much for reading this, any cc and advice is really appreciated. If possible i have a question about how to approach anatomy, should i sculpt individual things like a hand, leg, torso, or should i make a whole upper body?


  • RaphaelFabris
    I know i said i would only post once every week by i just want to drop my torso study to get some CC.
    I used some references but mostly the Anatomy for sculptors book, need to improve a lot, especially the back, but that's all the time i have for today.
  • RaphaelFabris
    One more day one more male torso study, this time i tried to work a little more on little details! 
  • RaphaelFabris
    Decided to give my anatomy study a break to make a project of a dino following a course thinking oh well it will probably take a few hours at max.. it has been 3 god damn days and i'm just now starting detailing the head! But now i know how much patience is needed in this world.
  • RaphaelFabris
    Progress of my dino, pretty much finished the head, but i've decided to end the project here, way too ambitious for a beginner. Maybe i will come back and finish it later.
  • RaphaelFabris
    No more dinos, back to sculpting with learning anatomy purpose, found about Rodolfo Fanti today and felt in love with his technique so of course i had to try it!
  • RaphaelFabris
    Ok, i cant hold myself, another day another creature.. today is the day of the mighty Blurrg! :)
  • RaphaelFabris
    While studying the face anatomy i sculpted a face trying to get the bonemarks done without too much muscles and fat, this was the result 
  • RaphaelFabris
    Another head study, tried a different approach on sculpting the mouth, also made it a little asymmetrical on purpose.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention that i had a really hard time with the eyes, by far the hardest thing to sculpt on this head.
  • RaphaelFabris
    I'm not sure if i started this topic in the wrong place or if i'm doing something wrong because of the lack of the feedback.. that's sad, well no matter, will keep posting for me and anyone who wants to see a progression diary.

    Another head study done, it's supposed to look like The Rock but it was really hard to get the bonemarks right, had a hard time with the eye again but tried a different approach and it wasn't as hard as the last study.
  • RaphaelFabris
    No completely "perfect" faces today, just a mighty deformed Dwarf!
  • JohannesAg
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    JohannesAg polycounter lvl 4
    What kind of reference are you using for these studies? for your next one I would highly recommend grabbing a head scan from 3dscanstore and try to replicate it. If you don´t wanna buy a scan you can still get pictures from their site of a turnaround of a head for free and use that as reference. Then post your progress on that along with which head you are using as reference so people can more easily point out where you need spend more time and what the mistakes are. It´s a bit more work to point out general anatomical errors on a random face which is probably why you´re not getting a lot of feedback :)  also I think you´ll learn more from those kind of studies anyway, good luck!
  • RaphaelFabris
    Thanks @JohannesAg for the tip, for now on i will upload my sculps with the references!

    Today was a really bad day for sculpting, was really demotivated, mostly because i still struggle a lot when starting a head, i'm affraid i'm not good enough to get better at this.. but still tried to sculpt something, kevin hart to be most precise, but somehow it turned out worse than my last head study, maybe that was because of my demotivation..i don't know, maybe i will try and sculpt a creture tomorrow.

    References used:

    I tried really hard to get the eyes and mouth similar, but was not able to achieve it..
  • JohannesAg
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    JohannesAg polycounter lvl 4
    okay so right off the bat I see that your biggest problems come from the profile view, it´s an important view, don´t ignore it.
    The head is too wide from the profile and not long enough down.
    See how you sculpted the cheek so it curves into the nose shape? it shouldn´t do that. And how the orbital bones of your skull is kinda flat but on the reference it goes way further back.
    There is also a tendency to overly define the jaw, while in reality the transition is more soft than that.
    For a face you need at least three good references of a front view, a side view and a three quarter view, don´t just use pics from the front.

    Also sculpting faces is hard and takes time, doing a bunch of quick studies is cool but I think putting more time in fewer heads and really getting in there would probably be more beneficial. Also making a lowpoly head that you can use so you don´t have to start from a sphere everytime.

    Hope that helps somewhat, keep going

  • RaphaelFabris
    Thanks @JohannesAg , didnt realized these skulls mistakes while sculpting, specially the cheeks and the eye part, will keep that in mind on my next attempt.

    It's been a while since my last post and that's becaue of college and some health problems, oh well, i did a little bit o practice on sculpting these days but not in anatomy. heres a derp baby yoda.
  • RaphaelFabris
    Well.. for anyone in the future reading this, sometimes you will go through busy and hard times.. but you have to keep going! Well at least that's what i'm trying to do, let's see if i keep posting and studying here.. :)

    Anyways, instead of trying another small sculpt i've decided to try and make my first big project( with polypainting uv mapping and so on), got inspired after watching a tutorial from Luis Gayoso.. Here's the result:
    I'm really happy with the results and it was quite refreshing. Learned a lot about polypainting and texturing.

    But i think i will stick with small projects for now, still need to get back to anatomy stuff, but that's really frustating for me.

    That's it for now, see you all! :)
  • RaphaelFabris
    And here i am again with another big project and with no human anatomy study at all.. this time a toad, wanted to do some more polypainting and i'be been trying to make a somewhat cool frog since the beginning of my journey(well you can see that i've tried with that derpy looking frog in the original post). Inspired by "Frog Catapult"  from Lee Jongsung, here's CATATOAD(yes, i named it.)


    I'm somewhat happy with it, had a really hard time with the acessories, it was hard to make it fit with the frog.

    That's it for now, this time i will not say what i'm gonna do next because that's a mistery even to me at this point, see you all.
  • meowvortex
    I don't have much to say since I am learning zbrush in my spare time like you, but I can see that you are improving a lot. 
    If you want to learn anatomy, I might want to suggest The Complete Figure Drawing Course HD by Riven Phoenix.

    I am still learning it, it a bit dense but I think that will help ^^
  • Dabou Master
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    Dabou Master polycounter lvl 5
    Hey there ! I see you've been through anatomy learning too, I'm experiencing how much of a pain it can be so I'm just here to sympathize ^^.
    Sadly we have to go through this to achieve whatever we want one day.
    If I was to give you any kind of advice : don't wait too much before coming back to learning the basics of anatomy. I got discouraged quickly long time ago and didn't approach it for years and now I'm paying for that. It's really hard to accept how bad you are in one field when you have progressed a lot through others. So you should always do a little bit of anatomy each time you do 3D (I mean as long as you don't master it and you're still interested in doing characters), just don't put all your time on it as it's pretty complex and it requires quite some time for the brain to memorize all the shapes and placements of features. Or even to see shapes on real faces requires practice.
    But do yourself a favor and don't stay away from anatomy for too long like I did, you'll regret it one day :disappointed: .

    Keep it up man :).
  • RaphaelFabris
    Thanks meow and dabou for the answers and advices, sorry for the late answer.

    Well.. it`s been a while huh? And yeah, i did pretty much nothing during this time, that's because of college and life stuff, but mostly college, felt really bad for not doing anything in 3 months, after the war frog i joined a course and did 3 studies before stopping.

    First study was an alien which i managed to finish it.

    Learned a lot from, the most important thing being patience with your sculpting.

    Second one was a dino, this one i didn't finished, the scales on the head were done by hand, that drove me almost insane, halfway i was not sure if should just skip the whole model or finish it, so the final result was not as good as i expected.

    Doing the 3rd study i was getting really anxious about all the college stuff, so i didn't got even close to finish it before stopping everything, maybe i will get back into it in the future, the plan was to sculpt a courier pig.

    Well, i've decided to came back first day this year, but man did i felt horrible after trying to sculpt something and realizing how rusty i was already, felt like i didn't learn anything, i tried to come back doing a snail monster, this is what i got before giving up.

    After almost 2 weeks and much thinking about giving up on the whole thing or not i decided to persist, did a 30 min anatomy study.

    I started the course again, i'm doing the alien and dino again and will probably sculpt another animal, the goal is to get back into track of sculpting and then start learning more about anatomy.

    That's it for today, when i have the new alien and dino ready i will post again, see you all and good luck  and don't give up on your journey!
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