It's been a heck of a week and I almost 'threw in the towel', but I'll stick it out and see how complete a piece I can come up with in a short amount of time.
The retop has taken a lot longer that expected, but it will help make the next few steps in the process a little easier.
There have of course been a few setbacks along the way. I forgot that when exporting tools from ZBrush, any polygroups you have created will be broken up into separate meshes. One thing I liked about this (that I don’t think I knew before) was that hidden polygroups were removed from the mesh on export as I had some overlapping objects that this came in handy for.
Attempting to sort through and combine the meshes in Maya was not the best idea, so instead I had to re-export most of the meshes and make sure there were polygroups where I specifically wanted the mesh separated and not.
Some time wasted, but at least I’ll be sure not to forget next time.
Speaking of time wasted, I uncovered a fun issue in Maya. After exporting everything from ZBrush (more than once :/), I imported all the .obj’s into a Maya scene and converted them to alembic (.abc) format as this reduces/prevents any lag you might experience when working with large files. This does almost double the file size, though did I consider that working with a large file might be a problem (despite having a fancy new system). Turns out I was right. Maya 2018 hates binary files (.mb) over 2GB. The workaround I found was to save it out from a previous version as a .ma file, though this will drastically slow things down.
This didn't work in my case unfortunately and I did lose some of the retop work I had done on the face. It wasn't a Maya 2018 specific issue, as I tried to both fix and replicate the error in a few previous versions of Maya.
A few things to avoid this in future would be to save the file out in more than one format and I could have exported what I already retopologised separately as a bit of a safeguard also.
Now I'm moving onto what will hopefully be a quick unwrap of my model.