How to Sculpt Facial Features in ZBrush(1)

If you want to make realistic characters, the bones are the most important part. Improving knowledge of Anatomy is a very important skill. In this article, the TPN-Accredited CPU/GPU cloud render farm, Fox Renderfarm will share with you a tutorial about how to sculpt facial features in ZBrush.

The knowledge of Anatomy is equally important for making realistic characters and cartoon-style characters. No matter what method is used to make the model, although we cannot see the underlying bones, muscles, and cartilage, only if these parts are deconstructed correctly can the model be displayed in a formal way. In this passage, I will show how to use ZBrush to build a head model and sculpt the underlying muscles and bones.

1. Head Modeling

How to Sculpt Facial Features in ZBrush

Before making the head model, draw the basic shape on the bones, then sculpt the main muscle and cartilage parts, such as ears, brow bones, mouth, etc., and then perfect the rest. First, use the basic model to build the top muscle, and then click the Append button under the Subtools menu to select a sphere in the pop-up window.

At this point the sphere has been added to the list of sub tools, select it and start by activating symmetry (the X key on the keyboard), and then use the Scale and Move tools to place it on the correct position of the skull: use the button at the top, click and drag the model to draw a transposed line, then use to move the line and adjust the size of the sphere.

Under the Geometry option, click the DynaMesh button to create a dynamic mesh. This function can update the model changes in real-time according to our work. If necessary, just Ctrl-drag the canvas, and ZBrush will calculate the new mesh that changes at any time.

2. Transparency Setting

How to Sculpt Facial Features in ZBrush

Click the Transp button on the right to adjust the transparency of the mesh until you see the skull under the sphere. This function is very useful when sculpting the model. It can provide a reference point. If we want to adjust the opacity/transparency level, we can use the sliding bar in the priority setting under the drawing menu to achieve.

Next, we can adjust the sphere on the skull. First, use the MOVE brush to draw a basic shape, and then stretch the mesh in DynaMesh mode. If necessary, we can hold down the Ctrl key and click and drag the canvas to update the mesh. If we feel that there are not enough polygons that can be used reasonably, we can increase the resolution.

Adjust the mesh on the back of the head, which is very close to the skull because the skin on the head is very thin.

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How to Sculpt Facial Features in ZBrush(2)
How to Sculpt Facial Features in ZBrush(2)
After roughly adjusting the main shape of the skull, we can start shaping the eyes and nose. The skull will help us to be more precise when carving every element, so pay attention to the skull. We can use Standard or Clay brushes or other favorite brushes to trim the area around the eyebrows. Next, start to sculpt the closed eyes. The closed eyes can let us see the eye and face area more clearly. This step can be made with the Pinch brush. First, the basic shape is sculpted, and then the nostrils and the main cartilage area. At this point, look at the skull under the model again to observe how the bone structure has changed. Carefully observe the nasal area. We can find that the bones here are very short. Obviously, the nostrils and the tip of the nose are composed of cartilage and muscle. Next is sculpting the shape of the mouth. Firstly, draw some muscles around it, roughly at this stage. 4. Muscles Sculpting The goal of this step is still to build the foundation of the main muscles and keep as much shape as possible simply. If the produced neck has a problem, then the head is prone to problems. So it is very important to learn this aspect of deconstruction, and the movement of the neck muscles will affect the facial expression. Draw a mask under the head via pressing the Ctrl key to draw on the mesh; press the Ctrl key to invert the mask and click on the canvas; use the Move tool to stretch the selected area downwards to shape the neck. When finished, press the Ctrl key, click and drag the canvas to completely erase the mask for sculpting; use the smooth brush to soften the model, and then use the moving brush to complete the main shape. Some of the main muscles of the head need very powerful muscles to maintain the movement of the head. This is an important point to remember during the creative process. Especially when turning the head, the dynamics of the neck muscles are very obvious. Don't waste too much time in this step to create too many complicated shapes. Keep everything simple.
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