Binding to a ZSphere Armature

An armature is like the wire or metal skeleton that a clay sculptor would use to build form upon – or the posable skeleton used under the surface of stop-motion characters in film. With ZSPheres, we can quickly create such armatures. We can then go into ZSphere sketch mode (SHIFT + A) and build up form atop the armature.

Here, for example, I’ve created a basic armature for a xenomorph (Alien species). Creating such an armature is just a matter of starting with a single ZSphere from the tools palette. You drag on the canvas to create the initial ZSphere. Click to go into Edit mode and then use a combination of Draw, Move, Scale, and Rotate to build out the armature.

Once you’ve got an armature, you can press SHIFT + A to go into ZSphere sketch mode and paint additional ZSpheres onto the armature to build out form.

Pressing SHIFT + A to toggle in and out of sketch mode is the equivalent of pressing Edit Sketch button under ZSketch in the Tools palette.

When not in the sketch mode, we can still pose the armature. But notice that after we’ve painted some ZSpheres onto the armature in sketch mode, reposing the armature does not automatically carry the sketched form we added on top.

Press SHIFT + A and CTRL + Z to undo this change. We’ll learn how to bind the sketched ZSpheres in a bit. But first, take a look at the ShowSketch button under Tools > ZSketch. Pressing this displays a ghosted view of the form surrounding the armature.

Now, at this stage, we can also click the Bind button under Tools > ZSketch.

Now, when we rotate the ZSphere on the shoulder to move the arm, we can see that the form is bound to the armature and moves with it.

If you continue to sketch in more form with additional ZSpheres in sketch mode, you’ll have to click the Tools > ZSketch > Reset Binding button to get those new ZSpheres bound to the armature for posing.

The SoftBind slider, beside the Bind button allows us to soften the bind to the underlying armature. The value 0 specifies the hardest bind, while higher values soften the bind, giving a looser transition of the sketched ZSpheres on the underlying armature.