ZBrush sets the industry standard for digital sculpting and painting. Its features enable you to use customizable brushes to shape, texture and paint virtual clay in a real-time environment that provides instant feedback. When you use ZBrush you’ll be empowered by the same tools employed by film studios, game developers, toy/collectible makers, jewelry designers, automotive/aviation designers, illustrators, advertisers, scientists and other artists the world over. In fact, we have even received an Academy Award for the technology that powers ZBrush.
In short, ZBrush is an art tool created by artists, for artists. It allows you to create models and illustrations limited only by your imagination, at a speed that allows you to stand out in today’s fast paced industry.
You can opt for ZBrush or ZBrush Core depending on your modeling and budget requirements. Scroll down to check out the feature comparison.
As with anything else in life, where you can go is usually determined by where you begin. Having a great finished model requires a quality base mesh. ZBrush provides an arsenal of tools to assist with this task, ensuring that no matter what you have in mind, there is a way to get the perfect base to then take to the next level. The best known of these systems are explained here.
Ignore the constraints of polygon distribution and simply – sculpt! Sculptris Pro will dynamically add (tesselate) and remove (decimate) polygons wherever and whenever needed. It does this during your brush stroke in a real-time process called Tessimation. This frees you to focus entirely on the look you’re trying to achieve.
DynaMesh is a perfect solution for free-form sculpting because it removes all need for focusing on topological constraints. Change the overall shape of the model by pushing or pulling, adding various pieces of geometry to combine into one, or even remove geometry in a manner similar to what can be done with Boolean operations. Where Sculptris Pro dynamically adjusts the triangles in your mesh as you sculpt, DynaMesh redistributes the model’s polygons as quads on command.
While ZBrush is best known for organic sculpting, its hard surface capabilities should not be underestimated. The ZModeler system is designed specifically for low poly modeling with easily accessed and highly intuitive controls for creating holes, adding edge loops, extruding polygons and much more.
Many models are really nothing more than a set of shapes that combine to form a more detailed shape. Live Boolean takes this concept and runs with it, providing a way to easily add models together, subtract one from another and more. What makes the system in ZBrush unique is that this operation happens in real-time, letting you see exactly what you’re going to get before committing to the actual merger. This provides both exceptional ease of use and unprecedented control.
If you’ve ever added clay to a wire armature then you know exactly how ZSpheres work. Draw a simple skeleton/stick figure and ZBrush will then flesh it out with actual topology.
An evolution to ZSpheres is the Mannequin system. With a wide variety of both humanoid and animal figures in the library, Mannequins are an easy starting point as you explore the scene that you wish to create, before even beginning modeling.
As you have read through the features listed above you may have found yourself wondering about the kind of topology that is created. The beauty of ZBrush is that you don’t need to worry about that! Feel free to explore and just let your imagination take you where it wants with the knowledge that once you have your design ZBrush can nearly instantly convert its polygons into a usable base mesh with clean edge loops and polygon flow.
Whether created in ZBrush or imported from elsewhere, once you have your base mesh it is time to start detailing. ZBrush features a robust suite of tools to accomplish this. Those listed below are just the tip of the iceberg.
The inherent problem with traditional 3D modeling methods is that once you divide your mesh you are locked into the design thus far. There is no way to go back and make changes at the macro level without sacrificing everything that has been done at higher resolutions. ZBrush does away with that restriction through multi-resolution subdivision editing, the feature for which it received an Academy Award. With this system you are free to move between subdivision levels at any time, making changes wherever they are most appropriate. Those changes then automatically ripple across all other levels of your model.
The main workflow for creating with ZBrush is based on a system of brushes which can also be modulated using pen pressure from a graphics tablet. ZBrush will reproduce the natural feeling of a real paint brush or sculpting tool, using the pressure applied to the pen tip to transform your digital stroke in a variety of ways. There are brushes to pinch, move, build up the surface, chisel into it, slice through the model and much more. You can even use other 3D models as brushes, inserting their geometry into your surface.
n addition to being able to add detail by hand, ZBrush provides a system for procedurally generating surface detail through noise patterns. Choose a detail type, adjust a few simple parameters, then apply that pattern to your model in its entirety or by restricting it to a certain region. You can even combine different noise types to create highly complex effects. The Noise system is ideal for both hard surface work and organic details.
ZBrush is easily able to handle models in the range of 20 million polygons on most computers, and up to 100 million on a high end machine. That is more detail than can be held by an 8K map. But sometimes you want even more, and this is where HD Geometry comes into play. With this feature, ZBrush can work with models of up to 1 billion polygons. Let your imagination run wild!
Because ZBrush works with tens of millions of polygons in real-time, you can paint directly on the surface of the model without first assigning a texture map or UV’s. This offers significant advantages compared to a standard workflow. The resolution of the texture map does not need to be decided in advance. This is particularly valuable if you find you need more detailing on an area than you thought you would. Instead of repainting a new, larger texture map you can simply transfer the existing surface detail to that larger map without any reworking. You don’t even need to do UV unwrapping before you begin this painting. In fact, thanks to the way that ZBrush can project details (both sculpted and painted) from one model to another you can have a fully painted model before you even have a finalized animation mesh. Instead, you can copy everything to the final base mesh once it has been signed off on.
In order create or use a texture map, a model first needs UV’s. These are 2D coordinates that tell all 3D applications how to apply a texture to your model. With most programs, creating those UV’s has been a time consuming challenge that requires a high level of technical expertise and has little room for creativity. With UV Master you are able to create very efficient UV’s for your model – in most cases with a single click. If you need more control over this automatic process there are features that refine where seams will be placed or increase the amount of pixel space given to certain regions of your model. It’s both intuitive and fast, letting you get back to being creative with minimal fuss.
Whether you are using ZBrush by itself as an illustration tool or as part of a production pipeline for animation, you will at some point want to show your work to others. ZBrush makes this possible through a powerful rendering system called BPR (Best Preview Render).
Use your favorite panoramic images as a background in ZBrush and integrate your model into the environment’s lighting and coloring at render time. Whether your image is 8-bit or full HDRI, using it as an environment is one click away.