How To : Using Zbrush and Maya to Model a Hover Car

I’ve been working on building vehicle models for a while. Using polygons in the past, I’ve had a lot of problems and ahave frequently abandoned models bacuse too much work was required to ammend things, or the poly count just got too high. The challenge is to keep surfaces/ body panels flowing smoothly and into one another without sudden unwanted changes in angles, whilst keeping the poly count at a high enough level to allow smooth curves, but low enough so that the model doesn’t become unwieldy; particularly if the model is then being exported into other programs.

I’ve found quite a few good tutorials on poly modelling, but they don’t always suit my workflow. There’s a good argument to say that I should simply change my workflow, but it doesn’t always give me the results that I want. I know this is partly due to me being over ambitious in my models before I’ve got the workflow and my abilities up to scratch, but Maya in particular can sometimes do some strange things that make progression of a model very hard; if only I’d known about the issues before it got too hard to correct them. So I lost patience, learnt from my mistakes, started another model, progressed and then hit another obstacle that means more frustration.

I came across a great tutorial (sorry, the link is now lost) that advised sketching the vehicle in each of the three projections, then using that as the basis to build cutves in Maya that will be the outline for the body. This got me to finally start looking at NURBS surfaces for construction and, after some work, I think I’ve got a pretty good workflow going.

This set of images is meant as a ‘How To’ guide rather than a full on tutorial. It will hopefully give some guidance and advice that other people might find useful- but it does presume some knowledge of Zbrush and Maya. I’ve tried to give clarification and pointers to things which I’ve found are trouble spots, and some solutions too. Everyone has their own way of working, but hopefully there will be something here that you can use or that will give you ideas.

It will begin with some concept sculpting in Zbrush, then taking that sculpt into Maya to build a smoother, more developed and useful model. I don’t use other modelling programs very often at the moment, but I’m sure the general principles can be transfered to other programs, especially Max.

The overall process is actually pretty simple, which is why I like it. If there’s anything that you think needs clarifying, please let me know and I’ll add it when I can, but I’m not going to give a huge wealth of extra information.

Note: I apologise for the odd spelling mistake… As a writer I normally check things through a couple of times, but I didn’t have long to prepare this guide, so I’ve just published the images as they are.

So, here we start in Zbrush.

Clicking on any of the images will open the full resolution versions in another browser tab or window.

Now we’re moving over to Maya. Either export a low polygon version of your Zbrush sculpt, or use GoZ to transfer the low polygon model across.

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