How to import multiple OBJ files in ZBrush

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Ah yes ZBrush. The app that makes difficult things easy, and the basics almost impossible. Here’s one such example of ingenious software design: the simple act of importing OBJ files, let alone multiple ones. There’s no File – Import dialogue like on literally every other 3D app. Instead we use the import option in the Tool Menu (red in the screenshot). No problem so far.

This will load a single OBJ that needs to be drawn out in the viewport. When we enter Edit Mode (T) we can manipulate it. However, doing this a second time does not import a second OBJ… it overwrites the existing one!

See the thing is that each OBJ is loaded into one of those little preview spaces (green in the screenshot), and the import button replaces whatever is loaded onto the current space. What we need to do is pick a different and completely unrelated object first (say the star or that terrible SimpleBrush), then import another OBJ. This will leave our original OBJ on its own space (albeit no longer visible in the viewport).

With both OBJs loaded, let’s head over to the Subtool Palette and hit the Append option. This will pop up another mini-lightbox panel from which we can select our second OBJ. Make sure to grab your second OBJ from that little mini palette, and keep hovering, or else it’ll disappear. It’s all carefully designed to put people off ZBrush. They don’t really want anyone using this software. It’s all designed to test your inner zen.

Now you can append another OBJ, or switch between the tools you have loaded as you see fit. This is great if you have a character and a separate item in your scene at the same time, like clothing or an accessory.

Using SubTool Master

Knowing about the above workflow, imagine you had to load 50 separate OBJ files. Disaster is the word that springs to mind. Thankfully there’s a plugin that can facilitate this without with less headaches called SubTool Master. You can find it in the Zplugins menu. We can use the Multi Append option to select several OBJ files that will be loaded and automatically appended to our current tool as sub tools.

Joseph Drust explains it all in this video:

Filed under: INSANITY

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2 thoughts on “How to import multiple OBJ files in ZBrush”

  1. OMG this gave me a good chuckle. This has to be the most insane piece of software I’ve ever attempted to “learn”, and I’m barely scratching the surface.


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