You know whats always fun? If you answered "a pile of skulls," then you're correct!  Recently I worked on a small project where I was making a pile of skulls and for the project I wanted to test out a few new tools:

  • Dynamesh in Zbrush: I had never used it to retop a model before decimation master.
  • 3D Coat: I've used it for unwrapping a model, but yet to really delve into the retopping process from a highpoly reference mesh.
  • Marmoset 2.0: it looks gorgeous, I've had some of my stuff rendered in it, but I've never actually touched it myself. 
So without further ado, my process!
The actual forming of the skull wall was actually fairly easy. Sculpt a skull in zbrush, make a bunch of instances of said skull, add a bone here or there and throw them in a pile! Looks great, totally natural, and no actual human heads were harmed in the process. Two thumbs up... but wait 1.5 million tris... uh oh.

Taking that mess of a high poly model, I decimate in Zbrush and head over to 3D coat! From there, after getting the initial hang of navigation (because no two 3D programs apparently work the same), I really actually like how 3D coat retops a mesh. Its smart, easy to adjust and much quicker than Zbrush ever was (less painful too).

3500 tris hmmmm?... Lower poly: check. Clean (enough) and the silhouette is still good: check. But for the purpose that I want to use this skull wall, 3500 tris was still far too large.  If I'm going to populate a scene and make a number of "walls" from this guy, I decided further cleanup was needed, so I continued to merge polygons and verts by hand, keeping the silhouette and texture space, but lowering the polycount to ensure optimal use of the model.  

Some texturing in photoshop and dDo, a bit more tweaking of materials, and I was pretty happy for the time I had spent on it, and from my first time using a number of tools I had recently learned so much about. Not perfect by any means, but I definitely learned a lot, which should always be the goal from any project! Not to mention, I can definitely see the benefits of both Dynamesh and 3D coat as tools. :D