If you’re interested in becoming a 3D video game or character designer, the first thing you want to do is learn how to use the tools of the trade. One of those tools is ZBrush.
What is ZBrush?
ZBrush is a digital sculpting tool that lets artist paint, texture and model 3D computer objects.
ZBrush uses a proprietary “pixol” technology that captures all the information an artist needs to create character or object including color and lighting information.
How is ZBrush different from other 3D modeling tools? With ZBrush, users actually sculpt their objects like traditional artists might use clay or stone. Introduced in 1999 at SIGGRAPH by Pixologic Inc., today ZBrush is used by everyone from Electronic Arts to Disney to produce characters and objects for video games, movies and television.
Next-Gen Production Tools and Techniques
“I rely heavily on ZBrush to render anything organic in an environment,” Kevin Johnstone is a Senior Artist for Epic Games, the company behind the video game mega-hit Gears of War. “(ZBrush) give(s) most of my mechanical hard surface models a degree of weathering and damage so I can avoid making things look too manufactured or unused.” Learn how Epic Games used ZBrush to create Gears of War.
This advanced production tool is capable of producing anything from rocks to people and it does it with ease.
Learning how to use 3D modeling software like ZBrush starts by getting the right training – and those best practices are taught by DMA. It’s important to get the right start, why? Artist who pick up bad habits or workflow spend more time re-learning correct and industry standard methods.
Using Pixologic’s ZBrush and learning advanced digital painting and texture mapping with Photoshop® can help make you a professional digital artist. Knowing techniques for creating architecture, characters, creatures, vehicles and other objects are essential. Techniques for normal mapping, grunge-color maps and specularity maps are also important.
To create the incredible detail you see in the games, DMA teaches both fine art principals such as color theory, layout compositional design, form and structure, as well as other techniques to expand your understanding of the art of game design.
One of the most frequent questions to settle before coming to Digital Photography and Photoshop I is: what kind of digital camera should I choose? The answer depends on your objectives and comfort with camera technology. If you are a hobbyist, you’ll probably focus your attention on DSLRs: those traditional-looking cameras that accept different lenses and provide an optical viewfinder through which to compose your shots. The pocket point-and-shoot alternative is generally more travel-friendly and affordable, although there is considerable overlap in the latter regard among high end point-and-shoots and entry-level DSLRs.
One measuring stick commonly employed when comparing models is the number of effective megapixels (MP) of the image sensor. All things being equal, it would seem reasonable that a 12 megapixel camera would resolve an image twice as well as a 6 megapixel model but, in fact, the comparison depends on additional variables. If the optical precision of the 12MP camera is not commensurate with the power of the sensor, actual improvement over the 6MP camera may be nominal. Even though the greater number of pixels will yield a larger croppable area, insufficient sharpness can render the results a wash. The smaller the size of the pixels and, therefore, the greater their density, the greater potenital for stray data, known as noise, and poor detail in low-light shooting situations. The image of the skimboarder was shot with an older 6MP camera yet reporoduced sharp enough to earn a full page spot for July in the 2009 Tidelines calendar. In this case, the quality of the lens was more important than the number of pixels.
For detailed side-by-side comparisons and actual image samples, I recommend dpreview.com Regardless of the form factor you choose, consider investing in a camera that shoots images in the RAW format. While Photoshop CS4 can employ many of the same enhancements on JPEG images, you’ll truly enjoy the full power of the application with images shot in RAW.
Last year’s Documentary Filmmaking class was a fantastic experience for me as a teacher. The students included:
• a businesswoman from Boston,
• a sociologist from Japan,
• a teenager from France,
• a flight attendant from Miami,
• a scientist from Texas,
• and a teacher from South Carolina
Imagine what you could learn from a group like that!
Here’s a small snippet from the course. Since I’m an editor I can’t resist an example of phenomenal documentary editing. Have a look at the following clip, from the documentary Carrier, about the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.
So first, one of the pilots introduces the idea that everybody on the carrier needs to do their job correctly, at the right time, for the carrier to function properly. And that sets off this montage of flight deck operations, set to—wait, can it be?—the “March of the Wooden Soldiers” from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”
Notice how similar motions are grouped together—there’s a beautiful series of circular motions, for instance. And at the end, somebody declares “it’s like a ballet.” Which makes perfect sense, since the filmmakers have already make that perfectly clear from a visual standpoint! But then they extend the metaphor to other areas of the ship, particularly the people feeding the ship and cleaning it up.
This is actually an important priority of the filmmakers: making the viewers understand that an aircraft carrier isn’t all about the planes and the flight deck, but that there are people greasing the cables and cleaning the toilets as well. And they’ve done a great job of conveying that visually at every opportunity.
Want more? Well, you’ll have to come to Stanford. Not a lot of people regret spending a week in Northern California, and I’m sure you’ll learn a tremendous amount and enjoy yourself as well!
See what teens made at Digital Media Academy film camp this summer in Chicago!
This video was made by shooting hundreds of individual JPEG photos and piecing/editing them together in Final Cut Pro. This was made during DMA Film Camp in Chicago this past summer in the Teen Film Editing and Filmmaking Course. Learn how to make a movie like this at a DMA course this summer!
Andy Hoffman is currently a junior at Carnegie Vanguard High School in Houston, Texas and will be graduating in the Spring of 2010. Andy has known since he was 10 years old that he wanted to find a college that would allow him to get a degree in Video Game Design and allow him to go into the gaming industry.
The following is an interview with Andy. Read showcasing how Digital Media Academy inspired Andy and helped him acquire great skills that will allow him to pursue his passion.
DMA: How old are you?
DMA: How many summers have you been attending DMA?
Andy: This will be my fourth summer.
Andy has taken the following game creation courses at DMA:
- 3d Game Creation I with 3ds Max (July 06)
- 3d Game Creation II with 3ds Max (July 07)
- 3d Game Creation III with 3ds Max and Maya (Aug. 07)
- Advanced Video Game Production I with 3ds Max, Maya, & Zbrush (July 08)
- Advanced Video Game Production II with 3ds Max, Maya, & Zbrush (July 08)
DMA: Which DMA location did you attend?
Andy: Stanford University. I enjoy the campus environment, it’s very easy to get around and a relaxing environment.
DMA: Prior to attending DMA, did you know what career path you wanted to take?
Andy: Somewhat. The main issue that prevented me from deciding to go into game design prior to attending DMA was the practicality of it.
DMA: Describe your experience at DMA.
Andy: In the past three summers I’ve learned a lot and had fun doing it.
DMA: How has DMA helped you in deciding what you would like to do when you “grow up”?
Andy: Meeting other kids with similar interests, and the instructors and speakers who came and spoke to us about the game design industry really inspired me.
DMA: Do you know which University you would like to attend?
Andy: Through the help of DMA and my high school counselor, I found several incredible options that are considered prestigious in the game industry. I’ve now narrowed my search down to Savannah College of Art and Design, Ringling College of Art and Design, Southern Methodist University, The University of Texas at Dallas, and University of Southern California. SMU offers a 5 year program that includes a masters degree as well.
DMA: What stands out the most for you from your time spent at DMA camps.
Andy: Being in high school, but living on a college campus for a few weeks out of the summer doing what I will hopefully be doing a year or two from now when I’m actually in college.
DMA: Describe the quality of the facilities, computers, instructors, etc.
Andy: Beyond expectations.
We also got a chance to talk to Andy’s mom, Joni Hoffman.
DMA: As a parent, please describe your experience with DMA.
Joni: My son Andy has been interested in Video Game Design since he was 10 years old. He attended several local video game creation computer camps offered in Houston. We found that Andy knew more than the instructors, even at a young age. He would ask questions they simply could not answer. We soon learned that Andy needed a more serious and rigorous program than what we had locally. I was thrilled to find DMA. It has been an incredible experience for Andy. This summer will be his 4th summer and unfortunately his last. He will be a senior. However because of DMA he is pursuing a degree in Video Game Design. The portfolio he has created from what he learned at DMA has helped him become a serious candidate for scholarship money at several universities that offer Video Game Design as a degree.
DMA: Do you feel that DMA is your typical camp? Explain.
Joni: NO. Living on the Stanford campus was an incredible opportunity.
DMA: Do you feel that DMA has opened your son’s eyes to know which career path he wants to pursue?
DMA attracts kids literally from all over the world who have a similar passion and interest. Andy has had roommates from the UK, Canada and France. These same kids may even reconnect someday once they are in the real world pursuing their dreams of being in the gaming industry.
DMA: Would you recommend DMA to others?
DMA: Anything else you would like to comment on about DMA?
With the state of the economy, many “stable” degrees no longer offer a guarantee of landing a good job after graduation. It’s more important than ever to pick from degrees that are going to have jobs available. The video game industry is booming and probably only going to get stronger. I think Andy is fortunate that his passion for this industry has great potential for a very successful career as an adult.
I truly believe that DMA helped shape Andy’s future and his DMA experience has definitively given him a competitive advantage in the college admissions process. Not to mention he had a blast. Kudos to the staff and counselors at DMA!
DMA offers fun and creative learning for the whole family!
Have you ever wished that you could attend a summer camp just like your children? Well now you can. This summer, Digital Media Academy’s adult, teen, and kids summer programs will allow both you and your children to learn the latest in creative technology. And while youre busy producing digital movies, creating web sites, or designing games, you’ll also get to share in your child’s learning experience-first hand. Imagine what dinner conversations will be like instead of the typical, So what did you do today?”
Digital Media Academy: Creative Technology Immersion
The Digital Media Academy provides adult learners, including teens and kids, college students, K-20 educators, and industry professionals with a weeklong learning experience in a summer retreat or camp environment. In addition, participants can earn 4 quarter units of Stanford Continuing Studies credit. Courses include 3D Animation, Web Design, Strategies of Game Design, and Digital Video. Digital Media Academy attracts award-winning instructors such as Ben Waggoner (“world’s greatest compressionist”), New York School of Visual Arts’ Steve Adler, and veteran ABC producer and best-selling Final Cut Pro author, Tom Wolsky among others.
Digital Media Academy is recognized as the premier summer camp for youngsters, teens and adults. The whole family can enjoy learning the latest digital art and media techniques from top instructors in an encouraging project-based environment using state-of-the-art equipment.
Palo Alto, CA March 1, 2008 — Digital Media Academy is recognized as the premier summer camp for youngsters, teens and adults. The whole family can enjoy learning the latest digital art and media techniques from top instructors in an encouraging project-based environment using state-of-the-art equipment. The 5-day courses for kids and teenagers can be taken individually or combined for multi-week certifications at prestigious college and university campuses that includes University of Chicago, Stanford University (San Francisco area), Harvard (Boston), George Washington U. (Washington, D.C.), U of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Brown (Providence, RI), Dartmouth (Hanover, NH), University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), UC San Diego, UC Berkeley and more. At DMA, your child will be taught how to design and create video games, movies and websites, while developing lifelong passion and skills that translate directly to careers in design, engineering, computer science, and more.
DMA has something for each member of the family with its diverse offering of courses. Digital Media Adventures summer computer camps cater to ages 7-13, with day and residential camps in robotics, game design, web design, filmmaking and cartoon and comic creation, taught by professionals and teachers with a passion and talent for inspiring young minds.
Teen summer tech courses for ages 13-18 are offered at beginning to advanced levels with an optional residential pre-college experience. New for 2009, DMA has partnered with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus (www.lennonbus.org) to offer a music and video production course that is sure to attract students from around the world. Adults can take professional level courses in film, web design, photography, animation and more.
What better summer experience than channeling your family’s creativity and passion for video games and technology into an exciting educational experience? DMA is offering a Spring special discount off each 2009 course for everyone who registers by March 31, 2009. Visit www.digitalmediaacademy.org for details.
News from HQ by Philip Harding
Written by Jaime Walden of the John Lennon Bus
Today is a wonderful day. Thanks to the Digital Media Academy, I will now be traveling in style with my new MacBook Air. Or, as Brian calls it, “Our first MBA!” MACGyver and myself will be taking our first trip together to Palm Springs, CA for CUE 2009 March 5-7. Over the course of our days there, we’ll be conducting a high school recording session and video premiere, giving tours, and holding “Ask the Expert” video production, web design, iLife, and special effects demos with the Digital Media Academy at our booth. Stop by and say hello, MACGyver and I will be the two smallest ones there.
On Mama’s Jukebox: Elliott Smith – “Ballad of Big Nothing”
Inspired by President Obama’s speech on the Congressional floor, Digital Media Academy would like to support our troops and veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan by offering a 50% discount to their summer consolidated courses taught on a number of college and university campuses across the country, including Stanford, University of Chicago, Harvard, Brown, University of Texas, Austin, Johns Hopkins in Maryland, George Washington University in Washington D.C. and more. Both residential and non-residential programs are available. A full list is available on the website, www.digitalmediaacademy.org.
With jobs decreasing steadily in the mainstream, DMA would like to help refuel the economy by encouraging teens and adults to learn new skills in the world of digital media, one field that continues to thrive. DMA course offerings include web design, video game creation, 3D animation, digital photography, robotics and music and video production (a course created in conjunction with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus project). As an Apple Certified Training center, DMA also offers industry certification in Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, helping open doors to those entering or re-entering the work force.
All that will be required to be awarded this special offer is proof of service status in the U.S. military. For more information, those interested can call 866-656-3342.
News from HQ by Philip Harding
Have you ever wanted to know how to make a music video like professionals in the music industry?
Digital Media Academy is offering a week-long Music Video Production training course at many prestigious universities across the U.S. Get involved with the multi-billion dollar music industry. Get a jump start in your career! Mix beats, record samples, and create a sweet video production in just one week. This 5 day class will teach you the techniques of making music and making videos – then mixing the two skills together.
Learn the skills to make music videos like you’ll see on MTV and VH1. Work on the latest computer equipment, video equipment, audio recording equipment, production software and cameras. The only limit is your creativity at DMA summer camps!