There were plenty of Spider Men, and Women, at Denver Comic Con this year, but there was only one Spider, a machine that allows users to create digital sculptures with ZBrush, industry-standard animation software.
The Digital Animation Center (DAC) from the University of Colorado Denver has set up the Spider every year at Comic Con, and attendees are given the chance to create their own sculpture on touch screens, with the help of students from the DAC.
"It's a digital lump of clay that you push and pull to form a sculpture," explained Howard Cook, the director of the DAC. Bringing the Spider to Comic Con has been a great way to recruit new students and show the public what the center does.
Students of the DAC use ZBrush to produce short animated films. This year's eleven-minute-long film, I Need My Monster, was based on a children's book. Fifteen students worked for a year and a half to produce it. One screen from the Spider is dedicated to showing the films, highlighting what the students can do with ZBrush.
To give you a sense of what can come from the digital sculpting program, all of the monsters in the first two Hobbit movies were made with ZBrush technology. Along with film, the program is used in the video game and 3D printing industries.
Outside the media world, the art of anaplastology, the creation of body parts, uses ZBrush to sculpt prosthetics. Cooke attended the international conference on anaplastology several weeks ago and helped the attendees create an ear.
DAC student Nerissa Clerk, who was volunteering at Comic Con, enrolled in the CU program because she liked what she saw in video games and movies and wanted to be able to do that herself. The program at CU Denver is one of the top in the nation. Clerk likes that students of Graphics and Animation learn a bit of everything in their program. She's currently leaning towards applying her skills in the video game industry.
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Anyone was welcome to come play around on one of the six monitors. Kids of all ages created beauties and monsters alike using ZBrush.