To mimic and achieve the moulded shape of a Bakelite handset I decided on created it using sculpting software, in this case Zbrush. First, I imported the two cylinder shapes for the ear pieces which I created in 3DS Max which had been positioned the correct distance apart. This allowed me to sculpt a handle which was to the correct scale of the real-life object.
The basic shape of the handle was created as a separate sub-tool from a basic sphere. This was manipulated with the grab / move tool to form the basic silhouette, further sculpting it using the clay, flatten, pinch and smooth brushes to match the reference images collected at the beginning of the project.
The handle was then positioned correctly between the ear and mouth piece and joined together as a single mesh using Zbrush’s “dynamesh” feature. Now the handset was a single mesh, I then used the same tools previously mentioned to blend the components together, resulting in the final moulded shape I aimed to achieve.
The downside of using “Dynamesh” is that it creates some strange topology which is not suited for purpose. However, Zbrush comes with another feature named “ZRemesher”, designed to re-topologises the selected mesh automatically by adjusting numerous sliders and options.
Sadly, I was getting some strange results using this tool, results I was not completely satisfied with. As a result, I decided to export the sculpted model back into 3DS Max and use its graphite modelling tools to re-toplogise the mesh manually. This was mainly achieved using the “conform to surface” tool, which positions any selected vertices onto the surface of a selected mesh. This is essentially like painting polygons onto a surface of a selected mesh. The final low poly mesh is displayed below:
Although, still quite high-poly, this topology will be easier to work with when removing polygons if necessary .