Post Magazine

February 2010

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Scott Patton created this giant character in ZBrush for instructional videos he did for Gnomon Workshop. It's a two-DVD set that tracks his 3D process for creating characters. Na'vis and avatars, horse-size wolves, vir tual backlots, digital doubles, souped up jets, creepy monsters and game-trailer characters — they all get their star t with 3D modeling software. An array of tools enables artists to choose what's right for the project and what feels most artist-friendly. L E G AC Y E F F E C T S When you're working on a feature like James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar that has a lengthy production cycle, sometimes new tools are developed along the way that revolutionize how things are done. Scott Patton, lead character designer at Legacy Effects ( in San Fernando, CA, is a designer, sculptor and painter who began his career in the industry as a makeup effects artist. He had been keeping an eye on the rise of 3D sculpting technology and about a year before he commenced work on Avatar he found Pixologic's ZBrush. "I saw the light at the end of the tunnel," he says. "It had started to take what we knew in the practical world and translate it to the digital world." With "schedules shorter and artwork more and more complex and realistic in the concept ar t world," Patton could see how ZBrush could parlay his skills to concept art with 2D imaging upfront and 3D modeling he could change on the fly. Nevertheless, "the tools at that time were not quite there yet." But during the course of Avatar's production, the film became "a testing ground" for ZBrush. At first Patton was restricted to sculpting just the head, comping in teeth and other features with Adobe Photoshop. But as production went on, Pixologic "developed methods to bring in subtools so I could pose the model and represent it more like a practical clay ma- quette," he repor ts. He was able to add multiple objects — like teeth and eyes — at different resolutions. These artists make the most of their tools. By Christine Bunish 3D Modeling 3D Modeling

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