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Master the Art of Hard Surface Helmet Sculpting: Unveiling the Secrets of ZBrush


🤖Learn how to sculpt a hard surface helmet using ZBrush.



🤖This tutorial focuses on modifying an anime head model, refining the shape, and adding details like separate parts and visors.



🤖Follow along to create a clean and precise design.






- Workflow

  • We’re going to use the anime preset head for today's class since it has the same shape as the helmet.

  • We’re going to remove the ears and all the facial features using the ClayBuild up brush and smoothing out and DynaMeshing the model as we work on making a flat face.

  • It’s better to work with symmetry so that all the changes we make on one side of the head get transferred to the opposite side.

  • We’re also going to turn off the Perspective view so that we can see our model in the Orthographic view.

  • Using smooth and ClayBuild up we’re going to add and take away from the face while smoothing and using DynaMesh.

  • Now that our face is completely flat we’re going to remove the neck using the knife tool.

  • We’ll fix up the leftover neck using ClayBuild up, DaynaMesh, and Smooth.

  • With the reference in the background, we can turn up the See-through slider so that we can fix up the shape of the helmet using the move brush.

  • With the DamStandard brush start making the lines on the helmet to separate the parts.

  • Make sure you check both front and side view while working to make sure everything is going well.

  • If there is a hole anywhere on your model you can freely fill it in using the ClayBuild up brush and smooth it out.

  • Continue adding in more lines with the DamStandard brush.

  • Don’t forget to also outline the middle of the visor where it splits into two.

  • This is how things should look so far.

  • With the StandardBrush we’re going to add some more clay on the bottom part of the visor so that we can extrude it forward a bit.

  • With the Pinch brush, we can pinch the lines we made with the DamStandard brush.

  • Using the Polish brush we can make the surface flatter and smoother on the helmet.

  • Do the same thing on the side of the helmet and other parts that need to have a smooth and flat surface.

  • We can use the ClayBuild up brush to add some clay on the bottom of the helmet, smoothing it after with the smooth brush and DynaMesh.

  • Continue fixing up the surface with the Polish Brush.

  • Don’t forget to adjust the form of the helmet every now and again.

  • Here we’re adding the line above the vizor with the Dam Standard.

  • If you want to make the lines more precise you can always activate the LazyMouse on the DamStandard brush.

  • Keep using the Polish Brush to flatten the helmet.

  • Mask the top part above the vizor, invert the mask, and with the gizmo move it up.

  • By holding down the Ctrl button and dragging the center square we can inflate the unmasked part as well.

  • Make sure after you make the change to adjust the helmet again to the reference.

  • With the knife tool cut the part we don't need from the helmet.

  • Use the Mechanical Part brush to add in the side details on the helmet.

  • When we add the side parts it will mask our entire helmet and leave the parts unmasked.

  • From here we can use the Gizmo tool to move and rotate them in place.

  • To split the sides from the helmet we need to make sure at least one of them is masked, doesn’t matter if it’s the helmet or the sides.

  • Once one of them is masked click Split Masked Parts in the Subtool options.

  • We want to separate each part of the helmet into its own subtool, to do that we need to mask each part separately and assign them their own polygroup.

  • You can use the masking laso tool or any other masking bruh you find more convenient.

  • Make sure you refine the masked edges so that we get a better separation.

  • After you make sure everything is masked as precisely as possible click Ctrl + W to add a polygroup to the masked area.

  • We’ll repeat this process on the other parts of the helmet.

  • You can always fix up the form even if you are masking, it can help you even to smooth out or move around parts of the helmet.

  • To mask some of the parts of the helmet better we can isolate the remainder of the first polygroup and mask the part that we want to be separated.

  • Once we mask the part we need we can add it to its own polygroup. Isolate the new part and mask the parts that are sticking out.

  • Make sure you mask most of them precisely and assign them their own polygroup.

  • With our newly assigned groups, we can more easily work on specific parts of the helmet without having to worry about the rest of the parts around it.

  • We’re going to Isolate the vizor by Ctrl + Shift + Click on the vizor polygroup.

  • We want to fix up the border of the vizor.

  • To do that we can go to the Masking Tab, make sure only the Border is turned on, and click Mask By Feature.

  • Now the borders of our vizor are all masked.

  • By Ctrl + Clicking on the side we can invert the masking so that the borders are exposed.

  • To smooth them out we’ll open up the Deformation Tab and increase the Polish by feature slider till the borders are smooth.

  • To split the vizor from the rest of the helmet, while it is isolated go into the Subtool menu and click Split Hidden.

  • Now everything else that wasn’t visible is separated.

  • Select the subtool with the vizor and ZRemesh it with Adapt turned on and the Target Poly Count set on 5.

  • We can see that the ZRemesh is working well and we can continue to half the topology.

  • Deselect the Adapt and only have Half turned on, start ZRemeshing to the lowest polygon count while still keeping the form of the vizor the same.

  • We don’t want to have imperfect edge loops like this one.

  • We can fix them using the move brush and move the vertices where they’ll create a better flow for the edge loop.

  • Once we fix up the edge loop select Same on the ZRemesh tool and re-mesh it again to fix up the topology.

  • Now we have a much better edge flow on our geometry.

  • To make the vizor of the helmet thicker we’ll use the ZModeler Brush to extrude the polygons.

  • Set your action to Qmesh and the Target on All Polygons.

  • Start to extrude it inward.

  • We do this so the vizor doesn’t stick out from the rest of the helmet and it is more convenient in this case to extrude it inside.

  • We can see that our vizor looks a bit off and we aren’t able to see the top face of the geometry.

  • Inside the Display Properties click the Flip button and it will flip the faces inside out.

  • We want the borders of the edge to be sharp when we add divisions.

  • We can use the crease tool but it will give us a mediocre result.

  • Instead, we can Bevel the edges in rows of four and increase the Edge Sharpness value.

  • Bevel the main edge loop that is the border of the vizor then continue to bevel the same edge above and below it to add some supportive edges to hold the form of the vizor.

  • Now when we add divisions by either clicking D and accepting the change or using the shortcut Ctrl + D.

  • We can see that the edges at the border are not only beveled but creased as well.

  • Use the Move Brush to fix the positioning of the vizor.

  • We can see that the ends of the vizor are too oval, we can fix this by using the Move Brush to move the form in place and bevel the edges to add some extra support on the ends.

  • Make sure you delete the rest of the divisions by going to the first one and clicking the Del Hidden button.

  • Once we fix the ends we need to adjust the helmet again using the move tool.

  • Here we’re adding some more clay on the part below the vizor using the ClayBuild and Standar brush.

  • We can also refine the lines using the DamStandar brush while having Lazy Mouse on.

  • Same as before, we’ll select the part by Ctrl + Shift + Clicking on it, and in the subtool use the Split Hidden button to split it away in its own subtool.

  • Once in its own subtool use the MaskByFeature tool with just the border turned on and in the Deformation Tab smooth out the edges using the Polish By Feature slider.

  • If some edges are still too rough you can always move them around and use the Polish By Feature slider again to get a better result.

  • Once the edges are polished we can go ahead and ZRemesh it.

  • We don’t want the edges to be this pinched to each other.

  • To fix them we need to move the end a bit with a Move Brush and remesh it again using the Same option turned on.

  • After the ZRemesh with the Move Brush adjust it to the form of the helmet.

  • Like before, extrude it inward with the ZModeler Brush and flip the faces inside the Display Properties.

  • From here bevel the outer edges and add supportive edges to get sharp ends of the edges.

  • After you’re done with the ZModeler brush add divisions.

  • Moving on to the next part. Select and split it into its own subtool.

  • Smooth out the form by hand using the Smooth brush.

  • Mask By Feature and invert the mask.

  • Polish By feature.

  • Fix up the positioning using the Move Brush.

  • We can use the Polish Brush to flatten out some parts of the mask.

  • Zremesh it first on Adapt then on Half.

  • We have extra faces in our form.

  • We can delete them using the ZModeler tool.

  • After deleting the extra faces we can adjust the ends with the Move Brush.

  • Extrude the faces inwards and Flip the Display Properties.

  • Bevel the edges, adding extra ones to support the form.

  • Once you’re done add divisions.

  • We’re going to mask the jaw part of the helmet and give it its own polygroup.

  • Make sure you clean up any imperfections in the polygroup by masking out the bits that are sticking out and assigning them to a different polygroup.

  • Isolate the group for the jaw and Split HIdden.

  • Going to the top part of the vizor, it has a lot of small bits and polygons floating around.

  • We can’t have that stay in the subtool and need to be removed.

  • Use the Masking brush to mask all the parts sticking out.

  • Assign them a different polygroup and continue cleaning up the edges until you only have a front polygroup and nothing on the sides.

  • Once everything is made make sure you add a new polygroup to them.

  • Ctrl + Shift select the main polygroup and Split Hide.

  • Move around the part to fit the form of the helmet.

  • Mask the ends with Mask By Feature, invert select, and Polish them By Feature.

  • Again with the Move Brush adjust the positioning.

  • Zremesh with Adapt then with Half.

  • With the Move brush adjust the form.

  • Once you adjusted the form ZRemesh it again on Half.

  • Before extruding make sure everything is in place.

  • Extrude it inward then Flip the faces.

  • Select what is left of the helmet and mask all the parts we don’t need.

  • Once you mask everything assign them a new polygroup.

  • Ctrl + Shift click the back of the helmet and instead of splitting the parts into different subtools we’ll delete the hidden parts instead.

  • To do this make sure only the back of the helmet is selected then inside the Geometry tab go to Modify Topology and click Delete Hidden.

  • Now everything has been properly split.

  • Move around some parts to fill in the gaps in the helmet.

  • Going back to the top of the vizor we want to extrude it a bit more upward, to do this we’ll use the ZModeler brush.

  • While hovering over a polygon click space and make sure you are using the QMesh action and the Target set on Polygroup Island.

  • Hold down left click on one of the polygroups and while holding down Shift drag out the polygroup.

  • Bevel the edges.

  • Use the Move Brush to put everything in place.

  • Move the back part of the helmet to fill in the gaps between the parts.

  • Going to the jaw part of the helmet, using the Move brush adjust it to close in the gaps.

  • Mask the edges with Mask By Feature and invert the mask.

  • Polish with Polish By Feature.

  • Soften the mask by Ctrl + clicking on the mask.

  • Use the Move Brush to fix up the edges and make them straighter.

  • ZRemesh it with Adapt then with Half.

  • We want to delete most of these polygons because they are causing problems in our geometry.

  • Select the Delete Action on the polygon menu in ZModeler with a Target of a Single Polygon and click the polygons you want to delete.

  • You should be left with this form.

  • We can see that now the end of the jaw part is shorter than before.

  • To fix it we’ll use the Extrude Action on the Edge Menu in the ZModeler to extrude the edge loop.

  • First, extrude a bit from the side till you fill in the gap.

  • Then from behind extrude a bit upward to close up the gap in the back of the helmet.

  • Adjust the bottom of the part using the Move Brush.

  • Extrude it outward this time because we want this part to stick out more.

  • Bevel the edges before adding in divisions.

  • Using the Masking Curve Brush we’ll mask the bottom of the helmet to make a new polygroup.

  • Only have the top of the helmet selected then click Del Hidden in Modify Topology.

  • ZRemesh it to Adapt then to Half.

  • Adjust the positioning of the Move Brush.

  • Extrude it inward the Flip the faces in Display Properties.

  • Bevel the edges.

  • If the top is too short you can always extrude it upward with the ZModeler tool by having it on QMesh, holding down Shift, and extruding it upwards.

  • Extrude more of the helmet up.

  • Bevel the edges.

  • Use Dynamic Subdivisions with a SmootSubdiv on 4 then apply it.

  • Go to the part below the vizor, delete any divisions, and use the masking curve brush to mask the sides.

  • Once masked turn them into separate polygroups.

  • In the Geometry tab go to EdgeLoop and click on the Panel Loops button and it will create creases in between the polygroups.

  • Use the Level brush with Lazy Mouse the add the details on the helmet from the reference image.

  • To add straight lines start drawing with the brush then hold down Shift and drag out the brush to where you want the stroke to go and let go.

  • On the top part of the vizor, we’ll insert some extra edge loops using the ZModeler tool so that we can use the Vertex options in the ZModeler to make Rings in the topology using the Split actions with the Ring Modifier.

  • Once we added the rings we can use the QMesh with the target of Polygroup All to extrude the rings inside the mesh.

  • With the Level brush finish up add in the details on the helmet.


Bonus Slice Curve


- Workflow


  • We’ll get a look at what the Slice Curve knife brush does on our models.

  • We can find it in the knife brush menu by holding down Ctrl + Shift.

  • We use this brush like any normal knife brush and try to slice through a part of our model.

  • When we do so we can see that it actually separated the polygroups where we cut them.

  • It is a cleaner way of making polygroups on your models but it does disrupt our geometry when we make groups like this.

THE FINAL RENDER



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