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1 Tutorials ZBrush Transpose, ZSpheres, SubTools, and Mesh Extraction em Sex Jan 28, 2011 11:11 pm


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This tutorial has been split into several parts, to avoid long load times for your browser. They are:

  • Part 1: Introduction, Creating a Figure with ZSpheres.
  • Part 2: Sculpting and Posing.
  • Part 3: Details, Texturing, Shading, Rendering, and Compositing.



  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 About Zbrush

    • 2.1 Basics: Tools, Editing, and Navigation in Zbrush
    • 2.2 Basics: Sculpting
    • 2.3 Basics: Hiding and Revealing
    • 2.4 Basics: Masking

  • 3 Using Z-Spheres To Create a Stick Figure

    • 3.1 Polygroups
    • 3.2 Polygroups Visibility
    • 3.3 Creating a Rough Shape from the Stick Figure

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This Project is going to guide you step by step, and to allow you to
create a whole scene with Zbrush 3 from scratch, to sculpt, texture and
finally render it.
This is an extensive tutorial, but there's still a lot I won't go into, such as interface configuration or ZScripts.
About Zbrush

Zbrush is different from other 3D and painting programs. It's a mix
between 2D painting, and 3D modeling software, with good rendering
capacities. In ZBrush, you don't have a 3D workspace, but a canvas. The
canvas can be painted on, and can also be sculpted in and out (like a
bas-relief carving, but with much greater depth). When doing pure 3D
modeling, you simply manipulate the model with a (usually) blank canvas
as the background. Your model can then easily be incorporated into a
previously painted scene, and lighting, rendering, and so on, will all
work to produce an illustration with true 3D appearance.
Of course, many artists use ZBrush as primarily a 3D program, and that's largely what we'll be doing in this tutorial.
Because of this integration, a model in ZBrush can be thought of as a tool, which also includes 2.5D brushes, a 3D primitives, ZSphere skeletons, and of course standard 3D models, which are normally referred to as polymeshes or meshes.
A new feature in ZBrush 3 is that a single polymesh can be split into multiple subtools, enabling you to work on multiple items at the same time.
To paint and sculpt a tool or the canvas, you will use 3D and
2.5D brushes, different kind of strokes, textures, alpha maps and
The picture on the left was created from scratch in Zbrush, all
the models are created, sculpted, posed, textures, lighted, and
rendered without (almost) the help of any other application. Before beginning this tutorial, let us have a look to the basic functions of Zbrush, as well as the main menus.

Basics: Tools, Editing, and Navigation in Zbrush

The Tool Palette (palette is another name for menu in ZBrush) is one of the most important menus. It's where you load, save and edit all of your models.

Select the Sphere 3d primitive and drag it on the canvas.

Near the top of the canva, you can find the Edit, Draw, Move, Scale
and Rotate icons. After you draw the Sphere, all these icons except
Edit are now active.

You can use the Move, Scale and Rotate tools (respectively : W, E, R keys) to transform the sphere, or stay in Draw (Q key) to draw other spheres.
For the moment, enter the Edit mode, and press the Make
PolyMesh3D button in the Tool menu. The sphere primitive is converted
into a standard 3d Mesh. Sculpting brushes will work much better with
standard 3D meshes (polymeshes).
Edit Mode mode will let you edit and sculpt the sphere. When this mode is on, the Draw, Move, Scale and Rotate icons will allow you sculpt, move, or pose your current tool.

In Edit Mode, to Move, rotate and scale the current tool,
you'll have to use the Transform icons, on the right of the canvas
area, or the following combos:

  • To rotate your Tool, just click drag on an empty area of your canvas.. (or on the Safe area around)
  • To move your Tool, press the Alt key and click-drag on your canvas..
  • To scale your Tool, press the Alt key, click-drag on your canvas, then, release the Alt key.
  • To center your Tool, press .

A safe area (one that you can drag on to do the above) appears
around the canvas that will help you to move rotate or scale your tool,
even if your model one fills all the available space on he canvas.

For now, activate the Local transformations. If will help to focus on the part of the model you're working on.

Basics: Sculpting

The various available brushes, which are going to serve you for
sculpting the model, are all in the Brush menu. Each has a different
effect, and can be combined with different strokes and alpha maps. Before beginning, take time to experiment with them.

On the top row, you can find the buttons to controls the color, opacity, and material of the tools when the Edit Mode is off, and the depth, color, opacity and materials of the 3d brushes when the Edit Mode is on.

  • Press S to change the Size to the brush.
  • Press U to change the Z intensity of the brush.
  • Press I to change the RGB intensity of the brush.
  • Press O to change the Focal Shift of the brush.
  • You can also show for a moment a Hotbox that includes all these options by pressing the Spacebar.

Image:Birth Symmetry.gif

You'll find in the Transform Palette the Symmetry
options. Symmetry will save you a lot of time. Symmetry in X, Y and Z
can be switched on and off by by pressing respectively, X, Y and Z
Basics: Hiding and Revealing

(Upper half of figure):

  • Press CTRL + Shift and drag a rectangle to keep visible a section of the sphere.

The remaining part of your model is hidden.
(Lower half of figure):

  • Press CTRL + Shift and drag a rectangle as previous. While you
    draw the rectangle area, release the SHIFT key. The rectangle becomes
    red, and the underlying part of the model is hidden.
  • To invert the model visibility, press CTRL + Shift and drag a rectangle on an empty area of the canvas.
  • To reveal all the model, press CTRL + Shift and click on an ampty area of the canvas.

  • The Lasso tool allows you to quickly create freeform selections by pressing CTRL + Shift and dragging out a lasso.

Basics: Masking

(Upper half of figure):

  • Press CTRL and drag a stroke to mask a section of the sphere.

(Lower half of figure):

  • Press CTRL+ Alt and drag a stroke to unmask a
    section of the sphere. In the same way as for sculpting, selecting an
    Alpha has an influence on the stroke.

(Upper half of figure):

  • Press CTRL and drag a rectangle to mask a section of the sphere.

(Lower half of figure):

  • Press CTRL + Alt and drag a rectangle to unmask section of the sphere.
  • To invert the mask, press CTRL + Shift and click on an empty area of the canvas.
  • To clear the mask, press CTRL, and drag a rectangle on an empty area of the canvas.
  • As with hiding faces, you can also use the lasso tool to mask them.

Now, go out of Edit Mode, and clear the Document, using CTRL + N. (If you're editing a tool, all but your current tool will be erased.)
Using Z-Spheres To Create a Stick Figure

To start, we will build a simple stick-model using Zspheres, which
are a quick way to create a stick figure, and to create a model from.
This model will be a template on top of which we will create the final
topology of our girl.

Select the ZSphere icon in the Tool palette, Click-drag it on the Document, and enter Edit mode.

Activate X Symmetry, using the X Key. You can also find the
Symmetry options on the Transform Menu. You can notice that your cursor
becomes green when it's over the symmetry axis.

Now, we will create the Spine and the head of our model.

  • Select the Draw icon, and start to add a first Z-Sphere. Pay attention to create this sphere on the axis of symmetry.
  • Go into Move mode (W key), and move it just above the original
  • Go into Draw mode and add 2 other Z-Spheres the same way.

To shape your Stick figure you can Move, Rotate or Scale each Z-Sphere individually,
or select the Link between each Z-Spheres, to transform the downstream hierarchy.
If you want to delete a Z Sphere, just Alt + Click on it.

It's time to add arms and legs to our model. Here is what the skeleton and the poly model should look like at the end.


You can preview your poly model, and go back to the Zsphere display at any moment by pressing the Preview button, in the Tool:Adaptive skin subpalette; or the A key

You can Switch on and off wireframe and polygroups display by pressing the Draw PolyFrame button, or Shift +F

Polygroups are just a quick and easy way to group part of your model, and to isolate these parts later.
Polygroup options can be found in the Tool:Polygroup
subpalette. The creation of these can be made according to UV sets, or
using to the visible polygons. If you import a model exported from Maya
in .OBJ format, which has selections sets, these sets will be converted
into polygroups.
In the same way, these groups will be preserved when you will export your model again.
Polygroups Visibility

Hold CTRL + Shift and click on a polygroup, or the junction of two polygroups: the rest of the model is hidden.
Revealing the model or inverting the visibility works as usual.

Have a closer look at the poly model, and especially at the hands.
You will notice that our poly model has multiple colored parts. Each
part is in fact a polygroup. A new polygroup is created each time the ZSphere hierarchy is split.
You'll have to add an additional Z-Sphere on both side of the palm, so that fingers have good topology.
When you will model your character, ensure every finger is in a separate polygroup. It will help us later.
When you have finished, save your model.
Because of the reddish clay shader, polygroups are not really visible.
You can switch to a more neutral shader, or change the Render mode to

Creating a Rough Shape from the Stick Figure

Let us look more closely at the Adaptative skin sub palette. You will there find all the needed options to controls the model we'll generate.

  • Press A key to preview your Poly model, and make sure that the Minimal Skin to child button (MC) is on.
  • Set the Density to 4.
  • Hit Make Adaptive Skin. A New 3d model is created and placed in the Tool Palette.
  • Switch to this new model.

The model we created has multiple subdivision levels. You can move
back and forth between these levels as you model, by using the Lower
Res and Higher Res buttons, or using D and Shift + D keys.

It's time to rough out our model.

  • Select the Standard Edit Brush. make sure the X symmetry is on
  • Just draw strokes on your model to Pull geometry. Pressing Alt key while you draw strokes, will push the geometry, and the Shift key will smooth the model.
  • At this stage of the sculpting, you can also experiment the Inflate and Move brushes.

Don't push the sculpting too far. A quick rough is enough for now.]

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