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ZBrush

A Beginner's Guide to the 3D sculpting program, ZBrush

Getting Started

WHAT IS A POLYMESH?

polymesh is a 3D model that is composed of polygons. A polygon is a shape that is enclosed by a number of points connected by edges. The polygons are connected to each other to form a sort of net (or ‘mesh’) that defines the shape. The whole shape can be open, where some edges belong to only one polygon, or closed, where all edges belong to two polygons so that the mesh is watertight.

 

1. Open ZBrush

2. Close the Menu Bar by clicking "Hide" or , key


3. Do not draw directly on the canvas, as you do not have a mesh yet

4. On the upper right-hand toolbar, select an object from the menu and drag to create on the canvas

5. Click "Edit" or T key

6. On the upper right-hand toolbar, click "Make PolyMesh3D"


IMPORTING A MESH

CONTROLS:

Move/Pan = option + right mouse button
Rotate = right mouse button

Scale = option + right mouse button + LET GO of option key, dragging right mouse button


VIEWPORT HOTKEYS:

Hover over icon + CTRL = see function of key

Shift + Rotate = Snap to Orthographic View

F = Frame (view)
P = Perspective View
Wireframe Mode

 

VIEWPORT PREFERENCES:
 
Re-color the Model:
  • Material —> MatCap Gray

Turn Off Background Gradient:

  • Document —> Range => 0


 

SAVING:

File —> Save As

NEVER Document —> Save As (only saves a snapshot of the viewport, NOT the full file)

RESTARTING:

Initialize ZBrush restores all palettes and document data to their default conditions

DYNAMESH

DynaMesh is ZBrush’s newest base mesh generation tool. DynaMesh is a perfect solution for free-form sculpting because it removes all need for focusing on topological constraints. It’s possible to change the overall shape of any DynaMesh by pushing or pulling, adding various pieces of geometry to combine into one, or even removing geometry in a manner similar to what you can do with Boolean operations. DynaMesh has been designed to create low and middle resolution sculpting stages, making it a perfect way to create your base mesh before diving deeper into all the powerful traditional ZBrush sculpting and editing tools.

A character created with the DynaMesh, started from a simple DynaMesh sphere. Model by Mariano Steiner.

DynaMesh is truly analogous of sculpting with traditional real-world clay. As you add volume to clay by stretching out details or laying on strips of new clay the actual consistency of the material remains exactly the same. So no matter how much volume you add, you still have the same capacity for sculpting. DynaMesh accomplishes the same thing, maintaining the uniform resolution and polygon distribution of your mesh. This is very unlike traditional sculpting methods which result in stretched polys if you push the surface too far – something that hampers your ability to do anything more with the surface in those areas. DynaMesh will truly free your sense of creativity.

DynaMesh is a mode which can be used with the primitives in ZBrush. You can also convert any existing geometry into a DynaMesh , but remember that DynaMesh is for designing during the beginning stages of a sculpt rather than once serious detailing has begun. The detail of the converted mesh will be defined by the DynaMesh Resolution slider. Once any geometry is converted into a DynaMesh you will have entirely new geometry which is evenly distributed across the mesh. This is perfect for sculpting but naturally removes all pre-existing topology layout from the original model.

Once you have a DynaMesh you can sculpt it with any of ZBrush’s array of sculpting tools. This will naturally result in polygons becoming distorted in some places as you make significant changes to the base shape. At any point during this sculpting (and as often as you wish), simply hold CTRL and drag on any open area of the document. ZBrush will instantly retopologize your DynaMesh to restore a uniform geometry distribution. Even if you have stretched geometry to extreme measures, the result will be a uniform mesh that you can easily continue sculpting.

Every time you reorder the geometry with DynaMesh, ZBrush will only adjust the surface that has been edited. This means that areas that already had nice polygon distribution will keep them even after the retopology operation.

 

4R5-Tool-Geometry-DynaMesh

Turns on Dynamesh for the selected SubTool, remeshing for the first time. Dynamesh is a remeshing operation that creates new topology for your model. The topology is primarily composed of evenly distributed quads, optimized for sculpting. At any point during sculpting (and as often as you wish), simply hold CTRL and drag on an open area of the canvas. ZBrush will instantly retopologize your model to restore a uniform geometry distribution. Even if you have stretched geometry to extreme measures, the result will be a uniform mesh that you can easily continue sculpting.