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ZBrush Studio Projects: Realistic Game Characters [Paperback]

Ryan Kingslien
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

March 15 2011 Sybex Serious Skills
Tips and techniques for bringing reality and creativity to your game characters and art

As video games evolve, the bar moves ever higher for realism, one of the most challenging artistic frontiers is creating realistic human characters. In ZBrush Studio Projects: Realistic Game Characters, ZBrush expert Ryan Kingslien zeroes in on specific areas of concern for game creation: human body style, faces, skin texturing, clothing, shoes, weaponry, and putting your character into a game environment. Throughout the book Ryan offers tips and insights that provide readers with the depth and breadth they need to bring reality and creativity to their game characters and art. Projects start from the beginning, just as they do in the studio, with the author to guide you step by step through attributes and tools. Projects encompass multiple disciplines to obtain finished, professional results.Although some step by step explanations are given, projects serve more as a guide for readers to complete their own version of the project. Each project comes with support files to validate results

  • Covers one of the most unique challenges for game artists -- sculpting realistic and moveable human characters for a game environment
  • Brings you up to speed on ZBrush, the top digital sculpting tool used to create characters and props in such games as Rock Band and World of Warcraft
  • Covers body style, faces, skin texturing, clothing, shoes, weaponry, and how to put your character into a game environment
  • Provides in-depth techniques and tips for everyone from aspiring digital sculptors to high-level professional ZBrush artists
  • Includes a DVD with supporting files from the projects in the book, as well as videos that illustrate concepts

Build the next game-winning action character with ZBrush and this professional guide!

Note: CD-ROM/DVD and other supplementary materials are not included as part of eBook file.

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Product Details

Product Description

From the Back Cover

Get real and give your game memorable characters

How do you create unforgettable characters for today's games? Pick up ZBrush and follow the anatomy lessons and studio-savvy tips in this insightful guide. Using ZBrush's rich toolkit and his own experience as founder of zbrushworkshops.com and as a former ZBrush product manager, Ryan Kingslien helps you hone the techniques you'll need to create human characters with compelling faces, bodies, clothing, and weaponry.

You'll learn by doing a series of projects that encompasses anatomy, sculpting, proportion, gesture, color, and texture—and master techniques straight from the studio. Discover what to do, what not to do, and how to make your game characters breathtakingly real with this must-have guide.

  • Get comfortable with key ZBrush 4 tools

  • Tackle the complexity of the human form with easy-to-follow projects

  • Master human body and facial anatomy

  • Sculpt eyes, noses, brows, and mouths with ease—and paint skin texture, exotic eye makeup, and brilliant color

  • Build killer weaponry and costumes that draw players back again and again

  • Apply pictures to models using photo reference, with the new Spotlight tool

  • Connect seamlessly with Photoshop® and spot-fix texture files

Learn the anatomy of the face

Use Transpose to pose your models

Create realistic clothing and wrinkles

Sculpt hard surfaces using Clip brushes


The DVD includes all the project files and other support files you need to complete the projects in the book, as well as video instruction on key topics.

About the Author

Ryan Kingslien is the founder of www.zbrushworkshops.com. He was the first product manager for ZBrush at Pixologic, where he meshed programmers and artists to help create some of the revolutionary tools in ZBrush. He also created the first industry-standard curriculum and documentation that helped bring ZBrush to companies such as ILM, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Electronic Arts.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book Sept. 29 2013
By abraham
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really loved this book,

Ryan has an excellent way of teaching anatomy, and I really come back to this book again and again more than any book I've bought (and I own quite a few now).

Not only does it cover proportional stuff, it has some good guides to modeling, and it breaks down everything into planes and then builds you back up - by the time your done you have a much better understand how the human form, not just the female form breaks down.

The accompying DVD that comes with this has some great bonus material, and covers some rarely focused on, but usually difficult places to sculpt, which is really great.

I'd buy it again, and wish it came with a digital version, only because toting it around with my laptop and other gear I do my art with just gets heavy - but you can't beat the print quality, and COLOR pictures for everything.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book on Zbrush, but not for newbies. Oct. 17 2013
By Neko Nine - Published on Amazon.com
For those wanting to improve on modeling human characters, this is a must-have reference, but this is not the book to pick up if you are new to the concept of digital sculpting, the ZBrush UI or the topic of retopology. To be clear, I am not beginner to sculpting or ZBrush, but Mr. Kingslien is going at a certain pace and on more than a few occasions, details on how he got from point A to B are not always present. If you know how Zbrush works, you can figure it out, but keep in mind time has passed since this book came out and versions of ZBrush have come and gone. Meaning some menus and options have been combined with others and no longer exist. Here a newbie will probably end up pulling their hair out looking for settings they will never find. This is not to say this is not a good book, but for me the definitive book on anatomy, retopology and projection is still Scott Spencer's Digital Sculpting Human Anatomy. Think of this as a nice companion to the topics Mr. Spencer introduced; particularly because this book focuses solely on a female character, not a male. The reasons I will not part with my copy are for the nifty shortcuts to sculpting folds and alternate ways to texture/paint skin and clothing. His approach to modeling he human face and how to generate pores are also very useful.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for Character Creation in Z-brush! Oct. 16 2011
By $ko7 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've watched some of Ryan Kingslien's Gnomon video's and other tutorials. I really wanted a handy reference on character creation in z-brush. I personally prefer books to tutorials since I constantly find myself rewinding the same parts over and over. This book is exactly like his video's, only in book form, going through his process step by step from start to finish to create a character primarily in Z-brush. I find myself going to this book over some of the other z-brush books I've bought over the years.

It's important to point out 2 things. First, this is not a beginners book. If that's what your looking for, try Eric Keller's Intro to Z-brush 4 book. Second, it's not a Z-Brush anatomy book per-say, if that's what your looking for, try Scott Spencer's ZBrush Digital Sculpting Human Anatomy book, which is also not for beginners.

That being said, the great thing I found with this book was the disc of content included. Since it is common for z-brush pro's to move back and forth between other 3d apps, like but not limited to Maya and 3d Max this book contained files that are ready to go in z-brush or .obj files that can be brought into other 3d apps. In the book, When he mentions another application like Maya, he tells you where on the disc to find the files if you don't have access to Maya and where to go in the book and what to skip. Which I personally found to be very helpful and a time saver. It also has brushes and other files that can be used in z-brush that Ryan Kingslien uses in his own work. Not to mention the disc includes some video tutorials as-well.

Kingslien has worked for Z-brush and has been paramount in the advancements of the software over the years. One thing that I noticed is that he tends to start out at a higher sub divisions then many other Z-brush pros. This may cause problems for new users as it's recommended that you start with very low topology and work your way up as Z-brush is very ram intensive. One other small problem, this book is marketed as a "Game" book, and it really seems to be more aimed at creating characters where polygon count is not an issue, like film. However, if your new to Z-brush, this polygon count issue is pretty much nullified with the creation of a plug in called Decimation Master which is free from pixologic.com
11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing and frustrating. Aug. 28 2011
By Sparky - Published on Amazon.com
The author assumes the reader has the familiarity with Zbrush tools and anatomical study to render the majority of this book a redundant exercise. The bulk of the early tutorials simply reference other anatomy tools or books, with an emphasis on describing what should be where, with almost no attention to technique. As a new user of Zbrush, eager to develop my skills and knowledge, this book has been a reliable source of frustration and irritation, particularly at the author's inability to sympathize with someone ignorant of the tools and techniques - the only kind of person likely to use this book.

Not that Ryan Kingslein is entirely undeserving of his hype and status, though. The accompanying assets and videos are fantastic. After slogging through the second chapter, practically pulling my hair out with frustration, watching the video was a breath of clear, fresh air. Which is to say, the text is unclear. Kingslein is obviously more adept at video tutorials and describing anatomical structures than conveying remotely helpful instructions through writing. I have no doubt that he is a wonderful instructor IN PERSON, but this book is simply not helpful or an effective resource for someone wanting to learn. If that seems contradictory, consider again who would make the most use of this book. Probably someone who DIDN'T already have full comprehension of the topics covered. Providing the assets to "play along" piecemeal, comparing the pupil's models to Kingslein's, only serves to illustrate how profoundly the text of this book fails as a comprehensive educational tool.

I would not recommend this book to anyone. If you are, like me, familiar with 3D content creation but new to Zbrush, there are better, more comprehensive tutorials out there. By all means, look for Ryan Kingslein videos, just steer clear of this book, the pictures are pretty, but don't expect clear instruction on how to come close to recreating them (which is obviously the entire purpose of the book). Kingslein's dropping the ball is most prevalent in the early chapters, which really should not have even been included. "Get comfortable with key Zbrush 4 tools" is first in the list of expectant outcomes from using this book, but that couldn't be more of an unrealistic expectation. Perhaps the bullet points on the back are actually a list of prerequisites. "Get comfortable with key Zbrush 4 tools (before opening this book)".

I can't imagine who this book would actually benefit, considering the knowledge and familiarity required to make the baby steps, BUT THE BABY STEPS ARE INCLUDED, and supposedly prepare the pupil for later chapters. However, the later chapters practically hold your hand; with step by step instruction, in some cases. That would have been REALLY HANDY in the early chapters, but are sadly, missing. There's another thing to note: In the early modeling and polypainting sessions, Kingslein's base mesh is divided into polygroups, but the instructions for that invaluable step aren't in the book, or even referenced. Polypainting and modeling the legs requires hiding part of the mesh, then revealing the hidden portion and mirroring the changes after you're done sculpting the partially hidden mesh. Again, how to do this, OR EVEN THAT YOU HAVE TO DO THIS, is nowhere to be found in the book. You're just supposed to know this stuff!

I have taken no pleasure searching Pixologic, Google, and better tutorials/books for all the missing instructions, while finding zero insightful needles in this haystack of fetishistic reiterations of anatomical observations from other books and resources, which are needed to make sense of the early chapters. USELESS PIECE OF GARBAGE, THIS BOOK!

Again, if you are at all new to character modeling in Zbrush (the Maya portion also assumes intermediate ability and familiarity for beginner-level activities. Why even include them if the reader must already be well versed in these topics?) and are in need of assistance, education, tutorial, guidance, etc. LOOK ELSEWHERE! It sucks. I hate it. One star for pretty pictures, another star for the accompanying DVD.
4.0 out of 5 stars not bad Aug. 9 2013
By Pablo Gonzalez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
good book that i would recommend to any beginners out there
basics of anatomy, texturing, and creating assets are shown
5.0 out of 5 stars This is what I needed April 2 2013
By Robert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had been giving a thought to character modeling for a while and recently I decided to go for it, bought a couple of books and just now that I got this one I see THIS is the one I needed.

What a great buy!
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