Tag Archives: ZBrush

How to add thickness in ZBrush using Panel Loops

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 12.54.35

I have previously shown you how to add thickness to an object using the ZBrush Move Tool. While that method may have had its uses in the past, it is hugely cumbersome and can’t really be used on a complex object.

So today I’ve learnt how to achieve the same thing using something called Panel Loops. It a nutshell, with this feature ZBrush splits the whole model into separate little objects, adds thickness to them and merges if all back together again. It even adds Polygroups for all those little bits too.

Panel Loops can be used to create the backside of an otherwise single sided object (for example, a dress exported from Marvelous Designer).

Let me show you how to use it briefly.

Continue reading How to add thickness in ZBrush using Panel Loops

How to extract geometry from an existing mesh in ZBrush

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 08.36.52

One way of making clothes in ZBrush is to paint a mask onto an existing model, and then extract that mask as a new sub tool for further sculpting. The possibilities are limitless for any object that needs to fit onto another one.

Here’s how to do it.

Continue reading How to extract geometry from an existing mesh in ZBrush

How to add thickness to an object in ZBrush using the Move Tool

While other 3D apps usually have an option to bring thickness to an otherwise flat object, ZBrush does not. Hurra.

Here’s an extremely fiddly and imprecise way to add thickness to a flat object (such as a 2D plane) using a Morph Target trick I’ve learnt from BadKing the other day.

First, bring in a flat object into your otherwise empty document. The Plane_3D primitive will suffice nicely for this demonstration. Drag it out, enter Edit mode and turn this thing into a PolyMesh 3D.

Turn the object on its side and hit Move (right next to the default Draw).

If you held down SHIFT while looking at the plane from its side, you’ll notice that you don’t see your object anymore – only the Move Tool. That’s just fine. It’s all part of the “fun” of using ZBrush. Have you used the Move Tool before? It takes a bit of getting used to. But I digress…

Click on the little blue circle on the right and you’ll see the tool change, expanding itself to the right. That’s excellent because we’ll move our invisible plane ever so slightly to the right in just a moment.

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 17.31.33

So in my screenshot, where the green line is, that’s the side of my plane. Feel free to turn the view around a little so we reveal the plane like so:

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 17.35.15

Continue reading How to add thickness to an object in ZBrush using the Move Tool

How to cut holes in ZBrush

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 10.52.43

Sometimes we need to cut holes into an object. Every other 3D app under the sun would call this a Boolean Operation – except for ZBrush of course, where this problem is solved with a (totally unintuitive) DynaMesh trick.

While the ZBrush manual mentions that this is easily achieved, they’ve missed out the part on how to actually do it.

Let me explain that here before I forget (which is probably tomorrow). Continue reading How to cut holes in ZBrush

How to select multiple parts of a brush in ZBrush

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.54.28

Several brushes in ZBrush insert 3D meshes into your object rather than sculpting it. Some of the default brushes are named IMM in the brush menu, but you can get dozens of others from sites like BadKing.com.au (check it out – they’re phenomenal).

IMM stands for Insert Multi Mesh, and such brushes can be created with several geometries under the hood. Imagine a brush that inserts buttons: there may be more than one button style one might need, and such styles could be stored in the same IMM brush. Very handy! Try it out with the IMM Parts brush: draw an object, enter edit mode, use the shortcuts B-I-A to select the brush and drag to insert a default button on your object.

To see the other brush styles, hit M. This brings up a pop-up menu with anything else this IMM brush has to offer. Pick another part and drag again to insert it.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.30.31

Once dragged out, use the space bar to move the position of the inserted mesh. You can constrain the new mesh to its original size by using the CTRL key.

IMM is a huge topic though, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of what can be done with it. Check out the ZBrush docs for more details:

How to enable the Magnifying Glass in ZBrush

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 18.28.12

On some systems it can be hard to read the plethora of menu items that ZBrush presents. It’s hard enough to find the one you need, but it’s even harder to do so without straining your eyes.

ZBrush has a lovely solution that can help us, both for modelling and viewing menus: The Magnify Glass option.

To enable it, head over to Preferences – Magnify Glass. You’ll have all kinds of options to tweak the look and feel of the loupe it brings up, a circle in which everything on your screen is enlarged by however many percent you want.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 18.32.28

Try it out and see if it works for you. It’s a little weird to get used to, but can be a great help for fine tuning those tricky details on your models.

How to create seamless texture tiles in ZBrush using the elusive Tilde Key

There is a convenient way to create seamless texture tiles in ZBrush using the oft neglected 2.5D functionality. Like many things in ZBrush, it’s extremely easy – if you know how to do it. The principle is just like the Photoshop Offset filter.

Before we start, it’s probably a good idea to resize the current document to something square, from its default 4:3 aspect ratio. To do that, head over to Document, de-select Pro (which would otherwise constrain the proportions of the document) and type in a size of your liking. 1024×1024 for example. Now hit Resize.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 11.32.28

If there’s anything on the current canvas, select Document – New or hit CMD+N to clear it. Now start drawing what you need with 3D tools, leaving a bit of space around the edges. Perhaps something artistic like this:

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 11.44.39

To offset the image and draw more assets across the seams of our tile, hold down the Tilde Key on your keyboard while dragging the canvas. You’ll see the image loop in on itself when you do.

Note that the Tilde Key can be elusive on anything other than a US keyboard; it’s the little wavy line we never use for anything (~). Here is its location on a US Mac Keyboard:


On a UK Mac keyboard, it’s in the same position as above, but it’s labelled with a plus/minus and paragraph icon (±§). On international keyboards it’s in a totally different position (see Dimitri’s link at the bottom of this article).

Now fill in the blank areas with other assets and save out your image via Document – Export. You can use your creations as alphas, textures, surface noise tiles and anything your heart desires.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 12.01.09



Further Reading

How to remove polygons from your model in ZBrush


In Hexagon you can simply select a face (polygon) and hit the delete key, but things are slightly more complicated in ZBrush. Here’s how to remove one or several faces of your 3D object in ZBrush.

First, select the desired polygons. In my example above it’s the flat side of a cylinder, so I’m rotating the object while holding SHIFT to make to snap to the exact side view. Then I drag a mask with CTRL+SHIFT, which will select only those faces and hide the rest of the model.

I’m using rectangular selection for this, but depending on your model you may need something else. Hold down CTRL and choose the appropriate selection method on the right hand side of ZBrush.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 09.46.52

Next I’ll invert my selection. This is done by CTRL-SHIFT dragging on an empty part of the screen, showing the previously unselected part of the model and in my case hiding the bottom faces.

To remove all hidden parts of the model, head over to Tool – Geometry – Modify Topology and choose Delete Hidden (or Del Hidden as the button reads).

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 09.48.29

If you’ve accidentally (and inadvertently) hidden parts you didn’t meant to, you can make them visible again using the Visibility menu (also under Tool). Select ShowPt to bring hidden sections back.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 09.51.21

Getting started with the ZModeler in ZBrush

The ZModeler is is a new feature in ZBrush 4R7. With this new gadget we can perform polygonal vertex modelling, something that was not possible before the introduction of this brush.

The term “brush” is a tad of an understatement if you ask me: this “minor addition” gives ZBrush abilities that are worth about $1600, which is what other polygonal modelling packages of this caliber cost. Existing users are getting this feature for free!

Like everything in ZBrush, the ZModeler takes a bit of getting used to. Here’s how to get started.

Add a new 3D tool to the canvas. You must start with something, and it doesn’t matter what it is. Let’s take the dog, the soldier, even a cylinder. Anything will do, as long as it’s a Polymesh 3D. Enter Edit mode as if you’d like to sculpt on this very object.

Select the ZModeler brush, either by picking it from the list, or by using keyboard shortcut B-Z-M.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 22.24.49

Once selected, head over to Tool – Initialize and find options to create a QCube, a QSphere or a QCylinder. These are low-poly primitives.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 22.25.37

Choosing any of these options will replace the current 3D object. This action is not undoable. Specify the resolution per axis to define how many polygons you’d like to start with. Let’s try a default QCube:

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 22.36.13

Watch what happens when you hover over a polygon, an edge or a point: the text changes depending on what action is set per selection. It’s a reminder of what will happen when you click-drag the current selection now. The default with a polygon is “QMesh a single polygon”.

Press the SPACE bar while hovering to bring up a context menu. This will let you select a target and an action that will be performed on your selection. This context menu will be different for polygons (pictured below), edges and points.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 22.36.48

This looks very scary, and it all sounds a bit confusing too – but trust me when I say this is an extremely intuitive and quick way of modelling low-poly meshes.

Let’s stick with the polygon example: the top of this menu, labelled actions, defines what you’d like to do to your polygon (extrude, bevel, bridge, etc). The target section lets you choose on what the above shall act: a single polygon, all polygons, all polygons that are quads, all polygons in front of the current polygon, etc.

Try it out with the default QMesh on a single polygon: hover over one, then click-drag. It looks like an extrusion at first, but when you select a polygon next to the previous one, the edges are pulled up. Some intelligent magic is happening:


Think of QMesh as an “intelligent extrude” – if it’s not what you’re looking for, feel free to switch back to the standard extrude option. Enjoy all the other options this brush has to offer, there’s a LOT to explore here!

You can select multiple polygons/edges/points by holding the ALT key.

Mask areas of your mesh by holding CTRL as usual.

Happy ZModelling!

Painting textures with 2D tools using ZAppLink in ZBrush

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 12.28.24ZAppLink is a ZBrush feature that allows you to use 2D painting tools to paint the texture on a 3D object, as it’s seen in the workspace. Rather than exporting, editing and re-importing textures, drawing on awkwardly layed out UVs, or solely relying on 3D painting tools, you can simply frame your object and draw on it – with anything that supports the PSD file format.

This is different to using GoZ which relies on 3D features of a painting app (such as Photoshop Extended – which I don’t have). ZAppLink allows you to use other 2D tools in your pipeline such as SketchBook Pro, Manga Studio, Corel Painter and many others.

Here’s a quick guide on how to use ZAppLink in ZBrush 4R6.

Continue reading Painting textures with 2D tools using ZAppLink in ZBrush