3D sculpting is a method used by many digital artists to make realistic images. This method is usually carried out by using an advanced software to make it seem like it is molded in clay. The programs allow an artist to create a 3D sculpture from a base model or from scratch. That is to say, it could either be a copy or an original. They make use of complex, detailed calculations to create polygon meshes that seem like actual clay. The software is used to properly pinch and smooth out edges like a real-life sculptor would do. This article will be focused on throwing more light on one of such software, called ZBrush. It would explain what exactly it is, how it is used, and why everyone should get on the bandwagon.
So, why do you need to learn ZBrush?
Well, if you aim to build a career as a computer graphic designer then you should. The world of visual development and video games evolves rapidly, and you would need the knowledge of ZBrush for the following reasons;
In every industry that’s worth some amount of money, time is a huge factor that comes into play. As a digital artist, you should know the importance of speed in your industry. So, if you aim to be a faster digital artist, then ZBrush is the way to go. ZBrush comes with a set of tools that allows you to get certain procedures done within minutes. A good example is the Transpose Tools and Move Brush, which allows artists to alter a silhouette in minutes.
This is a function other digital artists can only dream of. Also, posing a model in Maya is a long process, as it requires you to build a rig, skin the mesh, and modify vertex weights. However, with ZBrush, it takes literally 20 minutes.
Allows Modelers To Explore And Create
Modelers usually “model” after an original character, game assets, and environment concept. This means, as a modeler, you couldn’t have your own creative theme, because it wasn’t easy. As a matter of fact, prior to recently, a 2D artist could get a character ready before a modeler could create a base mesh. However, with ZBrush, you don’t have to worry about that. ZBrush allows you to be a creative modeler, as well as, a designer.
What’s even more unique about ZBrush is the fact that you can do this, whilst maintaining a speed goal.
Gives Artists The Freedom To Get Creative
A major pro every graphic designer gets when using ZBrush is that they are not limited. They are allowed to alter and properly design characters and environments in their world. ZBrush gives you more freedom in your low and middle resolution when creating your base mesh. During sculpting, it allows you to add volume while maintaining uniform resolution and polygon distribution in your mesh. This allows you to explore different creative routes and make your own designs. There are plenty of online courses you can take that will teach you how to create amazing characters and terrifying creatures. In my opinion, the courses taught by Justin Goby Fields, who is a renown 3d character and concept artist, are probably some of the bests.
Simply put, ZBrush is the future of graphic designing. The available tools and methods allow every designer’s break free from limited artistry. It allows you to be you creatively, whilst giving you the best options at the same time. Plus, their updates make it easier for every user to hone even more skills and become a master of his own in no time.? ZBrush is such a versatile program and can be used by literally any graphic designer to perform a lot of functions. However, before we get into what exactly ZBrush can be used for, it is important to know some basics.
What Is ZBrush?
Z-brush is a program designed for sculpting high-resolution 3D models. Unlike other programs where artists create 3D objects manipulating edges and vertexes one by one or in groups. ZBrush is the digital equivalent of clay modeling applied to 3D meshes.
ZBrush allows you to carry out many functions at once. The earliest forms of the ZBrush program came with 30 brush tools that allowed the artist to carry out a lot of processes. The processes span across; pulling, pushing, scraping, or manipulating digital clay. It, also, gave them more control and allows them to create complex images, fit for movies and games. It could be the scales on a dragon or wrinkles on a human face. Usually, these types of processes are difficult to achieve using other complex programs. However, ZBrush makes it easy to create highly detailed structures on any digital media, without hassle.
The use of ZBrush, however, isn’t only limited to the bodily features of human and animals. It can also, be used to create structures like vehicles and weapons. It has also, changed the 3D animation industry as well. Back then, designers would typically need to make a mock-up of their idea. This low-resolution version is created in a separate 3D package and is known as the base mesh. The good news is that now, artists can work on and finish their designs in one program. This makes the job easier and faster. The fact that artists can work with a high-resolution character immediately instead of improving on a lower resolution, is phenomenal.
It also, tells that there is a brighter future ahead compared to now because it can only get better. ?Since you are now enlightened on what exactly ZBrush is and why you should use ZBrush, the next big question is how it works. Knowing exactly how it works would help you understand better how valuable this program is, especially for graphic designers.
How Does ZBrush Work?
It is already established that ZBrush allows you to work easily and effectively. Plus, it lets you work faster compared to other programs. ZBrush prides itself in employing a workflow that is non-linear; this means that it is easier for graphic designers to get their jobs done.
The first thing to note about how the ZBrush program works is the fact that it allows artists to feel like they are working on clay. The brushes are designed to make it seem that way, this is as a result of the ZBrush digital sculpting interface. This feature extremely adds to the precision and overall outcome of the finished job. This is unlike any other digital sculpting program and very unique.
To properly understand how the ZBrush program works, the following key components of its procedures should be taken into consideration.
Digital Sculpting Interface
As mentioned before, this digital sculpting interface allows an artist feels like he is working on real, organic clay. Although it looks like a lot of work at first, after a few trials, it becomes easier and faster. A first look at the digital sculpting interface will present you with a lot of tools. However, you wouldn’t necessarily need all of them, as with time you would eventually get your favorites. ?The following are some of the most important portions of the ZBrush interface every graphic designer should get acquainted with;
The Brush Menu is filled with every brush and tool you would need while working with ZBrush on the document window. It comes with a variety of brushes and even though this might get you confused at first, it is all useful. This variety of brushes allow you to carry out several functions promptly at a time. A lot of these brushes are not necessarily used for 3D sculpting. As a matter of fact, some of them are not meant for 3D sculpting at all. ?A good example is the Simple Brush. This brush, although great, is not meant to be used for sculpting purposes at all. It is basically used for a 2.5-dimensional painting instead. The following are some of the sculpting brushes you should use instead; The standard brush, Move brush, Elastic brush, Snake Hook brush, Magnify brush, Inflate brush, Smooth brush, Layer brush, and Move Elastic.
Another essential part of understanding how the ZBrush works is learning about the modifier options available. The ZBrush modifier menu allows you to implement modifications to the stroke of your sculpting brush. This leaves a perfect finish and accuracy to your finished work.
The following are some modifications you can apply to your illustrations as you go;
- Auto Smooth: This feature automatically smoothens the surface of your 3D sculpture as you work. This, however, depends on what exactly you’re working on, as not all 3D sculptures need to have a smooth surface.
- Tilt: This feature tilts the direction of your brush and gives the desired effect sought out by you.
- Trail: The trail option is a feature that allows you to make copies of the strokes made by your brush. This is very similar to the LazyMouse effect on other 3D sculpting programs. However, what makes the trail effect of the Z-brush better, is the fact that it evens out the brush stroke after creating copies. Thus, leaving a professional and clean finish.
This feature has to be the best brush feature available in the ZBrush sculpting program. Nothing screams wanting you to be your own boss, than this feature. The custom brush feature lets you create your own brush with your desired features. ?As you begin to progress as an artist, you will find that you hone some skills along the way. Think of this feature as a shortcut for implementing your skills, without worrying about a long process.
All you need are a few adjustments in a smooth brush, coupled with the help of the brush manager. This will help you create your very own brush.
The clay brushes are very different from the other brushes because it takes sculpting to the next level. Although the other brushes can be used to sculpt on a high poly material, the clay brushes are special for one reason only. These brushes are designed in a manner that allows the artist to feel like he is working with organic clay. As mentioned before, this adds to the professional finish after a job is completed. There are a few brushes under this category; claytube, Clay, Snakehook, and Rake brushes. All of these brushes take sculpting to the next level.
Sculpting Using The ZBrush Program
After getting acquainted with the various brushes, the next thing to know is how to sculpt with the ZBrush program. Following the procedures involved will help to comprehend it easier;
Import A Mesh
For sculpting or creating a 3D character, a base mesh is required as a model. You can easily import a mesh from other 3D programs like Maya. However, the base mesh will be turned into a ztools format immediately, it enters the ZBrush program. Ztools are more advanced in retaining the polygon memory of a base mesh.
Optimize Your Mesh
There is always a problem with an imported mesh into the ZBrush program, as a result of poorly space polygons. This leads to a dense formation (bad topology) in the ZBrush program. However, this can be fixed by making sure a sculpted object is ready using the ZBrush topology tools. You need to make sure the polygons are even and the edges are properly distributed. ?This helps to cut down the time needed in crafting accurate shapes. Also, for a perfectly sculpted finish, try using the Alpha menu. It makes it easier to properly alter their texture and geometry for your desired finish.
What Is The ZBrush Program Used For?
The ZBrush program can be used to sculpt 3D illustrations for different applications like video games and movies. They are amazing when it comes to creating lifelike illusions of mystical characters, as well as, machinery. With proper expertise, a graphic designer will be able to do make magic with this amazing program, and on time too.
This is arguably one of the best 3D sculpting programs, and if you’re a creative graphic designer, you should definitely try it out.