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Need guidance on workflow for detailing Meshes

polycounter lvl 8
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Klaus Hustle polycounter lvl 8

Currently i'm doing mostly polymodeling in blender and i got quite good at it. But it's not really practicable to polymodel certain kind of details.

I was thinking about creating basemeshes in blender by polymodeling and detail them with decals, but i'm curious what else would work.

I got quite interested in zbrush and looked up some artists that do quite the same hard surface stuff i am aiming for.

I'm just not sure how i would approach the transition from highpoly zbrush model to the retopologized model in blender with keeping all the details.

What would be the most ideal workflow to approach this? Would it work to work really clean and precise in zbrush to use the highpoly to bake normalmaps from for all the details? The challenge for that would be to achieve really clean results in zbrush, but if this would generally work i could consider it.

Thanks, help is really appreciated.


  • kanga
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    kanga quad damage

    Yeah you can do hard surface modelling in zBrush:

    You can use a combination of zBrush and Blender:

    And you can use Blender addons (inexpensive to buy) in Blender to help with detail:


    Decal Machine:

    You can also use insert meshes in zBrush

    You can bake details from a high resolution mesh to a low resolution mesh in zBrush or in Blender or from one to the other. You can use Baking software for that like (free) XNormal or commercial Substance painter or Marmoset. You can find info on Texture Baking in the Polycount wiki.

    Have fun 👍️

  • Klaus Hustle
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    Klaus Hustle polycounter lvl 8

    Thanks so much for the very detailed answer!

    I looked into everything, knew some of the stuff beforehand, made up my mind and i'm still not sure which route to follow.

    After looking into zbrush workflows i've been convinced that i would do my highpoly details in zbrush to generate normals for a mid-level polymodel to have something of a quality between games and film.

    That said, i just stumbled upon this portfolio, the stuff this guy is doing just with polymodeling is insane, makes me feel like i could also polymodel details for a highpoly mesh:


    still on the fence about it 🤷‍♀️

  • pxgeek
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    pxgeek keyframe

    I don't think one way is "more valid" than the other...It's more of a personal preference to the individual artist. So play around with both and see what clicks for you.

    If you're not working from a specific reference source then I like think of the detailing process as really just a design process. Meaning that it is iterative, with lots of back and forth and takes time to solve. In this sense I think you may find that one approach is more conducive to your creativity than the other, so ultimately a matter of preference.

    btw, pretty sure that's masterxeon's work linked above, he has lots of great process videos on youtube. If you haven't come across them yet, they are definitely worth checking out. I think he also has a video where he sculpts a hard surface mech head in blender too.


  • Klaus Hustle
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    Klaus Hustle polycounter lvl 8

    yeah masterxeon is insane, watched some of his stuff. when it comes to personal preference i found out one thing about myself; i really don't like the non-destructive workflow with hardops etc. even though i love watching artists like mx2 pull it off. Personally i'm not feeling the creative freedom with these tools, like others, apparently.

    I just discovered Rachel Frick, she also does hardops/boxcutter stuff but also clean polymodeling with quite complex stuff, it's inspiring, as i love polymodeling as i said but unsure if i could pull it off at this level or if this is even something to aim for.

    That's one of her pieces done with the help of hardops:

    ( https://www.artstation.com/artwork/qAqJe2 )

    I just very vaguely recreated something like the front part of it with all quads modeling:

    it's quite bit geo for something that could just be a small piece. Also most details got to be planned ahead to prepare shrinkwraps etc.

    I thought Zbrush would be quite easy for stuff like this via normals. The process of generating normals via highpoly isn't as quick and spontaneous as i've thought though. The question i should probaby asked myself iswhat kind of work i want to do in the future, i guess. I'm slowly but surely getting a glimpse of what every route entails.

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