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Dynamic Character Poses in ZBrush: Evoking Motion and Grace in Fine Art Sculptures


Deryck Pelegrini

Hello! My name is Deryck Pelegrini, and I’m a 3D artist from Brazil. I reside on a small island near Sao Paolo, where I find joy in both creating 3D art and indulging in my passion for surfing the waves.

Professionally, my focus lies in developing 3D characters for games. However, in my personal projects, I enjoy sketching and exploring dynamic poses for moving characters. It brings me great satisfaction to see some of my work featured on ZBrushCentral, and I have had the opportunity to discuss these pieces on ZBrush LIVE a couple of times. I am truly passionate about sculpting and using shape and color to narrate stories through my art. Consequently, I love experimenting with “digital clay” in ZBrush, where I can explore fluid shapes and incorporate new techniques into my projects.

Lately, I have been dedicating a lot of time to practicing with new tools. In this article, I would like to share my latest creation, “The Three Dancers,” and discuss how I utilized the new Pose Tool Plugin for ZBrush, developed by Reallusion, the creators of Character Creator (CC). With this plugin, I was able to create a series of unique poses using a single mesh, and I am excited to share my process with you.

Design Concept

The concept behind my latest piece was to create a visually striking artwork that embodies the essence of a museum exhibit. As a sculptor, I thoroughly enjoy experimenting and pushing the boundaries of my craft by exploring new sculpting and painting techniques. One aspect I particularly love to explore is the pose of the character, as it brings the artwork to life and allows me to envision the character in a pivotal moment of action. I strive to create sculptures that possess a sense of freedom and fluidity, leaving room for the viewer’s imagination to fill in the gaps as they observe the piece. This approach enables a more interactive and engaging experience for the audience.

Pose Tools for ZBrush

The plugin’s name is CC Pose Tools for ZBrush. It is a free plugin that enables you to easily create and switch between various poses for your character with a single click. With Pose Tools, you can seamlessly send your model from ZBrush to Character Creator for rigging and posing through Pose Link.

Additionally, you can take full advantage of the extensive library of motions and poses, effortlessly sending them to ZBrush with just a few simple clicks.

My Sculpting Process

Step 1 – References

When I envision dynamic poses and movement, dance is among the first things that come to mind. The graceful and fluid motions of the human body can make it appear as light as a feather and as flexible as bamboo. Here are a few references that have served as inspiration for this project:

Step 2 – Selecting the Base Mesh

To maximize the potential of your sculpture, it is highly recommended to ensure that the mesh has a well-balanced distribution of polygons. This allows for uniform levels of detail when subdividing the geometry in ZBrush. For this particular project, I will be utilizing the “Male Neutral” base from Character Creator, which features a commendable human topology. The mesh consists entirely of quads, making it ideal for subdivision and achieving high levels of sculpting detail. As a result, the base mesh is already prepared for subdivision, providing an excellent starting point for this project.

Step 3 – Sculpting the Base Mesh

Prior to embarking on our initial pose creation, I will begin with a sculpting pass to establish the bone structures and muscles of my character. This initial layer of sculpting will be fairly rough, serving as the foundation for all subsequent poses to be developed.

Step 4 – Creating the First Pose

To commence, we will utilize the Pose Tools Plugin. In order to create a new pose, we will employ the “Record a New Pose” option.

After clicking on the button, we will be asked to name this new pose.

There are various methods available to store your poses using Pose Tools. For this particular project, I utilized Pose Tools in conjunction with the Transpose tool and the Mask Brush to achieve the desired pose.

Once you have moved, rotated, and pulled on the character to achieve the desired pose, it is time to save the pose within Pose Tools. The process is incredibly straightforward, requiring just a simple button press and your pose will be promptly saved in the plugin under the previously chosen name.

To revert back to your base pose, simply deselect the Pose Tools pose slot. By doing so, you will seamlessly return to the original base pose, allowing you to proceed to the next pose with ease.

Step 5 – Editing the Poses

However, my pose was not yet complete. As a result of the movements I made on the character, there were several artifacts present in “Pose01”. Fortunately, Pose Tools offers a straightforward solution to address this issue. By clicking the “Edit Current Pose” button, we gain the ability to re-sculpt and modify our mesh, allowing us to rectify any undesired artifacts.

Now comes the phase of sculpting and refining the sculpture. My objective here was to imbue the model with a unique essence, accentuating the bony landmarks to add a certain allure and ensure a clear definition of the character’s shapes. To achieve a clay-like finish, I employed one of my preferred brushes known as “Clay Layer Strong”, crafted by the talented artist Pablo Munoz Gomez.

Step 6 – Creating the Second Pose

To create “pose 02”, I followed the same steps as before:

1. Begin from the base pose.
2. Choose the “Record New Pose” option.
3. Assign a name to the new pose.
4. Utilize the Transpose and Mask Brush to position the character in the desired pose.
5. Save the new pose.

Once the pose was blocked out, I proceeded to sculpt the model once again using the “Edit Current Pose” feature. This allowed me to rectify any distortions that may have occurred due to the initial pose the character was placed in. By employing this function, I was able to correct these distortions and finalize the sculpture with the same level of quality achieved in “pose 01”.

Step 7 – Creating the Third Pose

Following the previous steps, I employed Pose Tools once again to create “Pose 03”. I began by establishing a rough initial blockout for the pose.

Afterward, utilizing the “Edit Current Pose” feature, I addressed any imperfections and completed the sculpture in a manner consistent with my approach mentioned before.

Step 8 – Colors

Lately, I’ve developed a strong interest in incorporating color into my sculptures, and this project was no exception. Another exciting capability provided by Pose Tools is the ability to apply different color schemes to the same mesh using PolyPaint for each pose slot in your file. To achieve this, simply select the desired slot with the corresponding pose, enter “Edit Current Pose” mode, and begin painting the geometry using ZBrush’s PolyPaint feature. By employing this method, I successfully created a series of three poses, each adorned with its unique color scheme, while utilizing the same underlying geometry.


The Pose Tools plugin offers the flexibility to easily manipulate both the pose and color of your model using a shared mesh, allowing for swift changes with just a single click. This highly optimized plugin seamlessly integrates with the ZBrush layer system, delivering exceptional speed, while boasting an intuitive and functional interface. It serves as an excellent tool for generating diverse pose variations of a character and exploring different possibilities within a single piece, all while maintaining editing control. Keep in mind that there are multiple ways to utilize this plugin; the aforementioned approach is just one example. I encourage you to enjoy the creative possibilities it presents!

For a CC-to-ZB Roundtrip Solution

The Character Creator Pose Link is a specialized plugin designed to facilitate the creation of various poses for your characters. With this powerful tool, you can effortlessly switch between different poses with just a single click, streamlining your workflow and saving valuable time.

Pose Tools even offers seamless integration between ZBrush and Character Creator 4 (CC4), allowing you to easily transfer your models back and forth. Furthermore, you can leverage the extensive library of poses available in the CC Pose Library, providing a wealth of options and serving as an excellent foundation for your projects. Transferring these poses from CC4 to ZBrush is a breeze using ZBrush Pose Link. With just a simple click, your selected poses will be stored and easily accessible within Pose Tools.

Learn More

Free Download ZBrush Pose Tools
Pose Link Plugin: Character Creator and ZBrush Roundtrip Workflow
Character Creator Base Mesh
Character Creator

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