I was trying to import a texture into ZBrush from an object I had created and UV mapped in Blender. The above shows an example of such an object, looking all nice and dandy in Blender.
However, when I imported it into ZBrush (after figuring out how to do that), I was shocked to see how ZBrush displayed my texture. Take a look:
That’s neither funny nor necessary. I’ve tested the same principle in DAZ Studio, Carrara and Poser and they all played ball, displaying the texture without a hitch. Only Hexagon wanted the texture flipped vertically, but – just like Carrara – offered handy tick boxes as to which direction an imported texture needed to be mirrored.
Zbrush also has such an option, but it’s not next to where you select the texture.
In this article I’ll show you how to import and apply a texture in ZBrush, to an object that has been created and UV mapped in another application. Let’s do this step by step:
ShadowBox is an interesting feature with which we can create 3D geometry from three intersecting masks. Let’s see how to get started with it step by step in ZBrush 4R7.
Select any tool to begin, perhaps something that can serve as a starting point. I’ll use the Dog tool. To do this, hit the COMMA key to open the toolbar, select Tools, and then select Dog.ztl. Drag one dog out on your canvas, then enter Edit mode.
Now head over to the Geometry tab and open the ShadowBox option, then click on the box ShadowBox button. It should light up orange. This will replace your Dog tool with the ShadowBox tool.
Notice how the shape of the dog changes to something much less detailed. That’s because the dog is projected onto the walls of the ShadowBox, and as such, some details are lost. We can combat this to a certain extent by increasing the resolution slider next to the big ShadowBox button. I’ll leave mine at the default of 128 for now.
You can turn the ShadowBox off at any time, and as a result you’ll be left with a new 3D tool (the less-detailed dog in my case).
To modify the 3D geometry in the centre of the ShadowBox, use the mask tool to draw on any of the three sides (the mask tool is activated by holding down CTRL). This part probuablytakes a lot of practice and patience: I haven’t been able to come up with something sensible using ShadowBox. I hope you’re having better luck than me.
To clear the entire ShadowBox, simply drag outside of the box with the mask tool.
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).
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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).
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.