When I was first starting out modeling back in the late 90's it was a very different environment. The number of applications around was very small, there was nothing like bittorrent and it could be cripplingly expensive just to get your hands on educational versions of software.

I bought the educational edition of Max back in 1998 and was basically kind of angry at the good money I had tossed at there crippleware. After a few month's and with Max being the reigning champion on PC's I then got my grubby mitts on a copy of Max 2. I spent a hell of lot of time with that app. I would have spent it more productively had I known or been able to easily discover the keyboard shortcuts, but it was time well spent.

I had already gained a modicum of proficiency in Photoshop and then Max. Eventually I got my hands on Maya and it literally changed my life. I think I would have to say that Maya 3.0 was better for me than my first Girlfriend, somewhere in the stratospheric heights of first bicycles and the first time I saw Akira. I had been learning the hard way for years on Max, by the time Maya rolled around I was able to take the focus concentration and understanding and really apply it in such a more replete way. I have used Maya for almost 9 years, I know how about half of it works pretty well, and it can still do more than most people can imagine.

My first version of Maya was "second hand". I had it on good advice that you could still get hired having done most of your work on cracks, it's promotional and not for direct profit. As a rule I think you should buy every piece of software you use, for a lot of reasons. But here is a quote I can attribute to Dylan Jobe, "I buy every piece of software I use, unless it's too expensive."

Since the old days I have had wealthy benefactors keeping me in legit copies of Maya and Photoshop. I have purchased Art Rage, and Silo, and few other apps along the way that can help me get things done. They aren't replacements for the first loves, but you know, it's fun and there are some tremendously good things about them.

Now with all of the Apps I comfortable with I have very deep understanding of their underlying concepts, optimal workflows and how to just get to an end result with them. There is a comfortable well well groove of an old saddle or the seat of a car that you have owned for a long time. You know what to expect, and you know where to go.

Then an app came along that changed that. It was wierd and new, and funky and powerful. It was disruptive and different and fresh. It could do things in ways that no one could have expected, and as such it changed the way the world looked at things.

It was called zBrush.

And for most of this decade I have been able to get a grip on it.

In 2003 I started using zBrush. Sort of.

In 2005 I started using zBrush again, 2.0 had been out for a while. But not really, once again I couldn't really deal.

In 2007, Pixologic released zBrush 3.0. Once again I tried but I just didn't have the tenacity to really learn it.

It's 2009. I don't make resolutions, but it is time to be resolute. It was obvious back in 2005 that I needed to gird up and learn zBrush. But, it was so easy to fall back into a settled groove, to fool around and too forget. It was easy to stay in a comfortable place and not change. It was easy to keep running over the same over ground. It was so simple to rest on my laurels and not keep growing.

I don't have the same energy I did when I was learning 3D, but's thats fine. ZBrush is program that is going to take a lot of effort to learn as well as I have learned Maya and Photoshop. But there is a missing piece in my creative life. I am starting to see the vast, crazy and innumerable possiblities of this bizzare and completely different app. I am realizing that what needs to change is my mind. This isn't going to diminish me, but augment me, and who knows I think something really good can come out of it.

So I have gotten serious. I can afford ZBrush, so I forked over my $600 and now I have it.

I am methodically downloading each plugin, each alpha, each matcap material, each texture. I am going to read through every inch of the Practical Guide in time. I am going to learn how to integrate each thing in turn. I am going to learn this like I know Maya modeling. I am going to post on the forums.

I only have one grudge I carry into all of this.

I can't stand the "Gears of War" style art. I can't understand why you would want to take some really talented guys and make them produce in essence a Bad Rob Liefeld video game. I am tired of space marines. I am tired of World War II. I am tired of rifles. I am tired of huge swaths of the gaming industry. I want to get to back to fun. I want some bounce. I want some bright colors, green fields, blue mountains, and red sunsets. I want to expresss something very different. I want us to be artists again, chasing wild dreams and crippled by the stultifying sameness of building the ultimate G.I. Joe.

I believe in zBrush. I think it can do more than alien cyborgs and old men. I believe that a tired out Games Industry vet might be a good match for pushing things beyond where they are now. I hope that I can learn a lot. I hope that I can make a change, and can't wait to see what I can do with this. Here's dogs, cats, rainbows, sturgeons, unicycles, Dali and the infinite expanse of the human mind. Here is to the canvas that get me there.

Cheers to zBrush.


Cholesky said...

Where's the pic?! This is pretty funny - I decided a few weeks ago to learn zBrush and spent about one weekend on it before wimping out... I think you need a good base mesh topology before you do anything (and I'm not much of a modeler) let me know how it goes...

JVaughan said...

A good base mesh helps if you are trying to polish up a zTool with all the fanciness. I feel like I have a deep knowledge of Maya. I understand the DAG, MEL and the overall conceptual layout very well as well as understanding the leaf level stuff of the myriad modeling, texturing, rigging, and animation tools. So my trunk to leaf knowledge is good. In Photoshop I can work completely non-destructive (except for the shit that happens with RAW importing, sigh), that's pretty much the zenith of the workflow. ZBrush is ZANY. There are some fucking incredible things it can do but I don't feel like I have real grip on it's 2.5 D painting tools, 3D tools or projects. So I am sorting it all out. Sadly you can't paint of picture of all the help movies you are watching from Pixologic.com... I'll start tackling some projects soon though.