Art Director | Model Supervisor
I went to college to get an education, not a job, Zack Petroc advises. A good school will present you with a plethora of opportunities. Its up to you to sort through them, and make the choices to achieve your goals. A graduate from the Cleveland Institute of Art in Fine Art, the journey has taken Zack Petroc to become a prominent modeller working in feature film effects. Recently completing a stint as Model Supervisor for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Zack Petroc believes that artists can carve opportunities for themselves anywhere, You dont need to be in a school to find opportunities; it might just take a little more effort to seek them out.
Zack Petrocs work on Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow had him supervising the models and digital assets, including modelling some of the final models for the film. Sky Captain was a unique experience, explains Petroc. It was the first collaborative project Ive been involved with that didnt leave me wanting to work on my own pieces at home at the end of the work day. Kevin and Kerry Conran wanted all the artists involved to feel a sense of ownership in the final film. I think they succeeded.
Id describe my visual style as the contrived offspring that would occur from Matt Barneys Art making it with a Marvel Comic. I enjoy designing characters and objects relative to specific narratives. When deciding on character or environment traits, I prefer to use the storyline as a means of choosing which designs might be more appropriate for each scenario.
Petrocs workflow begins with a sketch on paper, then on to Pixologic ZBrush where he digitally sculpts the models using ZBrush’s intuitive tools. I begin the form development with an unorganised mesh trying not to worry about the underlying geometry, instead focusing on the formal elements of the sculpt. If it works, Ill continue to refine the form and create an organized mesh when the design sculpt is complete. If not, Ill go back to sketching and repeat the process. I use ZBrush, FreeForm, Maya, Silo, and RenderMan.
"The understanding of human anatomy is crucial for the creation of believable characters. A 3D environment, like ZBrush, is a great medium for experiencing the formal elements of weight, mass, and balance applied to a sculpt as it develops from a basic block-form.
Contributing back to education, Zack Petroc is releasing a training DVD on modelling human anatomy using ZBrush and Maya. Published by The Gnomon Workshop, the DVD covers the anatomical modelling of a human using the paradigm that ZBrush offers, while maintaining true to the art of sculpture. I wanted to present an approach to digital sculpting that outlined technical discussions and featured formal techniques like adding life and realism to a character, explains Petroc. This DVD lecture covers a Maya to ZBrush workflow but unlike other software training DVDs, it focuses on creative decisions and techniques as opposed to specific tool techniques. I hope it puts the art first.
The intended audience for this lecture is everyone wanting to strengthen their understanding of human anatomy and form development. This is the type of lecture I searched for years ago when I was not satisfied with my art, but could not really identify what was missing. My approach was to clarify the true forms of human anatomy. The viewer experiences the form development of the entire figure, from scratch, in an uninterrupted and continuous method.
The digital medium is young, and thats why the majority of pieces created with it display the artistic prowess of a Chicken McNugget, jests Petroc. I believe that many of the current software workflows have a tendency to restrict the fluidity of the creative process adding to the staleness of a piece. I know my art suffers from it. There are a handful of artists who are overcoming these issues and Im still trying to understand how they do it. With tools becoming more intuitive and more people becoming comfortable with them, its a matter of time before the potential of the digital medium is fully realized.
Zack Petroc is now part of Unit Eleven, a small team of artists making feature films. He calls it a live action Pixar. His “Digital Sculpting: Human Anatomy” DVD is available from The Gnomon Workshop.
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