3D Printing and Character Posing with ZBrush and Character Creator 4


Good day, colleagues! My title is Óscar Fernández, and I’m a digital sculptor specialised in figures for printing. I’d love to indicate you a workflow that actually adjustments the sport relating to producing figures for board video games. I’m speaking a couple of new Reallusion plugin referred to as Character Creator Pose Instruments, which permits us to attach ZBrush with Character Creator 4 (CC4) to rig our character and pose it with unprecedented ease. What’s extra, it preserves all our subtools, subdivision ranges, and the power to proceed modifying the character even after posing, making it simple to regulate the anatomy, add particulars, or incorporate variations.

This might be our full workflow:

preliminary Concept / fast 2D sketch

Let’s begin the undertaking with an excellent fundamental idea of the character. Earlier than we start sculpting, I’ve created a fast 2D sketch to deliver to life what was as soon as simply an thought in my head. That is solely an preliminary idea to get began with, and it’ll most likely evolve as I start working in 3D.  

There are some parts that I’m positive might be current within the character’s design, corresponding to:

  • Horns or a helmet that integrates with the form of the pinnacle.
  • Armor for the torso with sharp parts to make the character extra menacing.
  • A robust anatomy that showcases the power of our character.
  • Some materials to check how dynamics work in CC4.
  • Three fingers as a substitute of 5 to check AccuRIG’s auto rigging.
  • Lastly, bull-like hooves or one thing just like give our character a hybrid look with out being precisely a minotaur.


When beginning a brand new character, I all the time like to start by defining how the pinnacle and face will look. I normally don’t proceed with the entire growth till I’m happy with the shapes. So, progressively, we’ll construction the facial anatomy by including a few spheres for the eyes and incorporating different parts corresponding to ears or a beard, which can significantly outline our character.

As soon as all the weather are in place, I start refining the shapes after performing a ZRemesher and making use of subdivision ranges. Afterwards, I can add the fangs, beard particulars, and, lastly, the horns.

In the long run, I opted for a extra natural construction for this half, creating horns as a substitute of a helmet. As soon as we’re happy with the pinnacle’s form, we are able to proceed shifting ahead.


To hurry up the method, we’ll use a CC4 avatar as the bottom mesh for the physique. We put it in A Pose and use the sliders to switch the proportions. Since our character can have 3 fingers, I take the chance to create an analogous construction that I’ll later modify in ZBrush. With a easy click on, we deliver it into ZBrush.

In ZBrush, let’s make additional modifications to the proportions and fasten the beforehand created head. By adjusting the dimensions of the pinnacle to match the physique we introduced in from CC4, we make sure that the mannequin’s measurements are optimized for later use in CC4. Nonetheless, that is one thing we may simply repair afterward if wanted.


Certainly, the communication between ZBrush and Character Creator has been obtainable earlier than, however in model 3, we couldn’t modify the topology of the bottom mesh, which was fairly restrictive for character creation. With the arrival of CC4, we are able to now use all the standard ZBrush sculpting strategies to make any vital modifications. So, let’s begin by making use of DynaMesh to create these bull-like hooves and outline our character’s anatomy. Having the fingers positioned collectively earlier will even velocity up the method of making the hand.

After attaining anatomical shapes that we’re happy with, we’ll merge the pinnacle with the physique utilizing DynaMesh. Then, we’ll carry out ZRemesher to have a extra organized mesh, and we’ll undertaking the main points onto the completely different subdivision ranges. This course of will assist us create a extra refined and cohesive mannequin, combining the pinnacle and physique seamlessly whereas preserving the intricate particulars.


It’s time to create the equipment for our character. We’ll primarily use ZModeler with a low polygon depend to realize cleaner and extra polished shapes. Our purpose is to design items of armor with the intention of 3D printing, so we’ll intention for totally strong items each time potential or with a barely thicker thickness than they might be in actuality to keep away from points with printing and to make sure the piece just isn’t too fragile.

On this case, creating the materials just isn’t very advanced, as they’re only a pair of flaps that cowl a part of the legs. Utilizing the belt as a base, we apply an extrusion, preserve the half we’re fascinated with, after which modify the form till we obtain what we’re in search of. We’ll use dynamic subdivision to work with a airplane however get an thought of the thickness the ultimate piece can have.

As soon as the materials are made, we have now the entire blockout, so if we’re happy, we are able to transfer on to the main points. Since we have already got an accurate topology, it is sufficient to subdivide the place vital so as to add imperfections, dents, scratches, and many others., and thus give somewhat extra realism to our items.

We might solely want so as to add a few weapons to our buddy, so utilizing the identical strategies as for the armor, we’ll create a battle axe and a defend which might be merely… huge!


Let’s put together the mannequin to take it to CC4. Though this step just isn’t vital, it is going to improve its look in CC4. We’ll begin by creating UVs for the completely different items and producing regular maps.

For the UVs, we’ll make the most of the brand new characteristic in ZBrush 2023 that enables us to make use of creases to outline slicing strains and create our UVs rapidly with no need to go away this system. We’ll modify them throughout the grid and guarantee every thing is ok by making use of a take a look at texture. As soon as the UVs are set, we are able to additionally generate the conventional maps.

Auto rigging / accurig

Now we have now every thing able to take our character to CC4. Though we are able to ship every thing without delay, I’m going to go slowly and, for now, I’m going to isolate solely the physique to ship it to CC4 utilizing the “Seen” possibility. As soon as the character is transferred to CC4, we see that we have now the entire character in a single aspect, however preserving every of our subtools inside it, so I’m going to load the conventional maps to make every thing look somewhat higher.

I used to be wanting ahead to this second! Now’s after we’ll witness the magic of AccuRIG, the automated rigging instrument in CC4. I need to confess that I don’t know about rigging, and this instrument looks like pure wizardry to me! We press the AccuRIG button, and the instrument begins analyzing the mesh, robotically inserting the joint factors in a reasonably approximate method… Now, all we have now to do is modify the location of these factors by clicking on every one in all them and following the diagrams we have now on the high. We will use the symmetry perform to work sooner or deactivate it if our character isn’t symmetrical. We outline the variety of digits for our character, on this case, three, and hit “Generate Skeleton,” and voilà! The skeleton is generated in actually 2 minutes.

The following step is to configure the finger format. We modify the place of the little dots on every joint and likewise outline the course of a particular level on the thumb that signifies its rotation. We be sure every thing is about appropriately after which press the “Bind Pores and skin” button. This system will robotically calculate the pores and skin weight round every joint so that every one deformations happen easily. As soon as the entire skeleton is generated, we’ll examine it with an animation to see the way it behaves. The anatomy of this character is a bit distinctive, and I feel I didn’t place the purpose of that joint in essentially the most right place, inflicting the shoulders to be too forward-heavy, however that’s not an issue; we’ll settle for it.

Utilizing “Pose Offset,” we are able to additional fine-tune these particularities that rely a bit extra on the morphology of our particular character. So, I modify the place of the shoulders, the lean of the torso, or the separation of the legs manually. As soon as every thing is ready, we are able to save our CC4 undertaking.

For somebody like me, who’s used to working with static figures, seeing your character come to life is actually superb!


Let’s proceed bringing equipment into CC4 as if we had been dressing our character from the within out, so now it’s time for materials. As soon as once more, working with this sort of aspect is tremendous easy. First, we have to work with planes and outline the components that can deform and those who gained’t, merely utilizing polypaint. It’s just like utilizing a masks in Photoshop or Substance. We’ll paint your entire piece in white and defend the components we don’t need to deform by portray them in black when making use of dynamics. Since we’re working with a excessive polygon depend, we are able to obtain clean gradients by simply softening the paint somewhat. We’ll unwrap the UVs for each bit and create a texture map from the polypaint.

We launch the flaps once more utilizing the “Seen” button. In CC4, we are able to import them as particular person equipment and modify them to the physique. We delete the colour map, hyperlink all of the items to the hip, and take a look at that every thing works appropriately. Excellent! Now, we solely must activate the physics for each bit and cargo the load maps we simply generated with polypaint.

Our items now behave like materials, however we have to outline which components of the character they are going to collide with. So, we choose the physique and outline the collision volumes for the hip and legs on this case, deforming the “capsule” with the gizmo.

For now, it’s sufficient… let’s go for the armor

armor / onerous floor equipment

To deliver the armor items to Character Creator 4, we observe the identical course of: isolate the items we would like and press ‘Seen’ once more. We import every subtool as a brand new accent after which head to the feel panel to load the conventional maps for every of them. I need to say that this step isn’t actually vital, however it makes every thing look a bit higher.

Since I’m importing the weather in several phases, I’ve to place them manually and hyperlink them to their corresponding joint, which wouldn’t be vital if we imported every thing collectively, as this system would calculate it robotically. In any case, it’s tremendous fast… simply choose every aspect, press the ‘Choose Guardian’ button, and click on on the joint to which it must be linked.

We activate the materials once more to have all of the equipment seen and examine how they behave with the strolling take a look at animation we’ve been utilizing to this point. I can’t assist however admit that I really feel like Dr. Frankenstein: ‘It’s alive!’

So as to add the weapons, we observe the identical course of: isolate the axe in ZBrush, make it seen, after which import it into CC4 as a Prop. On this case, we’ll have a single aspect however with all of the subtools inside.

Subsequent, we set the pivot level to the middle of the axe, place it within the hand, and examine the way it behaves throughout the animation.

Finishing the character’s tools, we observe the identical steps for the defend, and now we’ve completed the entire course of… every thing is prepared for taking part in with poses.

Posing in CHARACTER CREATOR 4 / Freedom has arrived

Everyone knows that posing a personality in ZBrush is completely potential however might be fairly time-consuming and effort-intensive, making it a tedious job to create a set of a number of poses for a similar character.

Due to CC4, AccuRig, and the Character Creator Pose Instruments plugin, we now have seamless communication with ZBrush. Making small adjustments or creating fully new poses turns into not solely extremely quick but in addition fulfilling.

Along with manually posing our determine, we are able to make the most of ActorCore, an intensive library of pre-made actions prepared to make use of in CC4. In our case, we’ll use some animations from this library, and the perfect half is that we are able to seize particular frames from the animation to create distinctive and dynamic poses. We will save these precise frames and create our personal library of poses inside CC4.

We’re going to make use of the animation as a common base for our pose, choosing that precise second we need to immortalize. Then, we make changes utilizing the pose editor. I consider it’s price highlighting how simple it’s to pose the fingers, shifting every phalanx in a fast and tremendous intuitive method. We will even save hand gestures to make use of them in future poses or immediately use any of those obtainable within the library to streamline the method.

RETURN TO zbrush

To start with, let’s create a fast base to put the character on. I all the time attempt to make the bases inform a narrative that goes past what the character itself conveys, however on this case, we’ll preserve it easy only for taking part in round.

As soon as we’ve completed the poses, it’s time to deliver all of them into our ZBrush undertaking—sure, you heard it proper, all of them in the identical undertaking. We apply the pose, choose all the weather, go to plugins, and inside ZBrush Pose Hyperlink, we select to ship the present pose. Routinely, the plugin begins analyzing the correspondence between the weather in CC4 and the subtools. It’s essential that not one of the subtool names have been modified and that they’re precisely the identical as in CC4.

All of the subtools deform and transfer to the proper place robotically, permitting us to proceed with the following poses. What’s really taking place behind the scenes is that every pose corresponds to a ZBrush layer created for every subtool, the place all of the adjustments are saved. The completely different poses are displayed on this layer rack, and we are able to rename them. Clicking on every pose prompts its respective layer, exhibiting the adjustments.

We will individually edit every pose, not solely to place it appropriately but in addition to make changes to the anatomy or minor adjustments within the place of equipment. Every of those adjustments is saved individually for every pose.

As soon as we save the file as a undertaking, after we open it in a subsequent session, it would look like we’ve misplaced the poses. Nonetheless, we are able to see that the layer data stays lively, and by clicking the refresh button for the pose listing, we are able to have all of the poses obtainable once more. Within the layers panel, we are able to observe that every subtool has a layer with a reputation akin to the pose, and it’ll robotically activate after we choose the linked pose.    

That is the results of our work… As soon as the determine was posed in Pose A, I feel the method of producing the 4 poses and making an attempt out at the least ten extra that I finally discarded didn’t take me greater than an hour. Moreover, I additionally created a bust based mostly on one of many figures I already had. Subsequent step: Printing.


Now, we solely want to organize the figures for printing. First, we’ll add thickness to the flaps since, as we talked about earlier than, physics in CC4 requires us to use them as flat equipment. As soon as we add the thickness, we apply the feel, and it’s prepared.

Subsequent, I’ll make sure that your entire determine is a strong mesh and that there aren’t any gaps between the completely different subtools. I’ll convert every subtool right into a single polygroup, merge all of the subtools right into a single mesh utilizing “Remesh by Union,” after which separate the items utilizing polygroups. I’ll shut any holes that will have remained, and now we are able to create the joints. As soon as the joints are created, we’ll barely inflate the subtools with the male joint and create the ultimate items utilizing Boolean operations. We’ll carry out decimation to cut back the polygon depend and facilitate the switch to the slicer with none points. We’ll add a strong defining the dimensions for all of the figures and export them as STL recordsdata.

We’re going to use Chitubox so as to add helps and slice the items for printing. Each time potential, I attempt to add the helps manually. It’s an excellent boring job, however it ensures that the items have fewer marks when eradicating the helps and that they’re solely the place they’re actually wanted. In case I’m not involved about marks when eradicating the helps from the piece, I add computerized helps. As soon as the printing is completed, we take away the items from the printing plate, glue them along with cyanoacrylate, and that’s it!!

That is the ultimate results of the items already printed. I’ve printed the figures at what could be the usual 75 mm measurement, which is significantly bigger than the figures for tabletop video games, however it’s a measurement that many painters demand.


That’s all from me. As I discussed firstly, this workflow can fully change the sport relating to creating units and even armies for board video games or wargames. One of many issues that held me again as an artist was that in earlier variations of Character Creator, we had been depending on the topology of the bottom mesh. However now, with ZBrush+AccuRIG+CC4, we have now all the liberty on this planet to create our creatures, pose them, and proceed creating variations.

Undoubtedly, ZBrush+AccuRIG+CC4 is a unbelievable system for growing productiveness whereas sustaining full freedom and creativity.

Obtain English PDF:

Obtain Español PDF:


Observe Óscar Fernández: