Pixologic ZBrush 4

Stuart Keam
15 August, 2011
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Pixologic ZBrush 4

Pixologic, www.pixologic.com


Use of timeframe for animation; Working on 2.5D depth canvas; integration with other 3D modelling software and Adobe Photoshop


Use of timeframe for animation; Working on 2.5D depth canvas; integration with other 3D modelling software and Adobe Photoshop



Pixologic’s ZBrush is the most widely used 3D digital sculpturing software in the world, and is the tool of choice for famous projects likeAvatar, Assassin’s Creed, Lord of the Rings and Tron.

Now ZBrush 4 has taken it to the next level, packing in heaps of new features like GoZ, Spotlight, PolyPainting layers and Timeline.

ZBrush allows you to sculpt and manipulate 3D models and paint and work with 2D images, but also combines both concepts in a unique, depth-enabled ‘2.5D’ workspace.

In Pixologic’s words, “With a depth enabled canvas and the rendering engine artists are able to create a ‘3D’ illustration that can be seen from a single point of view. Since this illustration can only be seen from one point of view we call this 2.5D painting.”

‘Pixols’ are the core of ZBrush’s 2.5D canvas. They contain material, colour and depth information and interact with ZBrush’s real-time 2.5D rendering engine to create images.

One of the most exciting and versatile new features is ShadowBox, a method of creating geometry inside ZBrush by painting contours from front, side and top views within a cube. You can simply define the shape with a masking brush and see the geometry take form or even use spotlights to project a shadow of complex shapes.

When used with the matchmaker tool, ShadowBox takes one piece of geometry and conforms it to another without distorting the original shape. It’s incredibly useful for conforming plates of armour, machined panels, or any other details that you want to lay perfectly against each other.

ZBrush 4.0 has developed its own tools for working with hard surfaces, including Clip brushes. These allow you to define hard, machined edges by simply dragging a curve or marquee to define where you want to slice through the geometry.

The Clip brushes will slice off parts of the mesh at perfect, curve-defined angles.

These shapes can be further refined using the Trim brushes, to create complex bevels and fillets with the ease of freehand sculpting.

Another major innovation is Timeline. This tool enables you to record frames with changes, over time, among any number of ZBrush settings. This not only makes it possible to create elaborate animations, but also it allows you to essentially replace the layers menu with an infinite number of variations.

Savable settings in ZBrush include document size, camera position, material, textures and Timeline keyframes. With the GoZ update, you can seamlessly connect ZBrush projects with other applications.

Integration with Photoshop will be beneficial to those not used to a CAD-style modelling and opens a world of opportunity with the new compatibility of Adobe CS5.5 with iOS mobile devices.

Macworld Australia’s buying advice.

I could go on for days about all the ZBrush features. I am continually learning more and my imagination can go as far as it wants. There can be a steep learning curve, but once you become familiar, you’ll find your productivity and creativity increasing. The ZBrush forums offer a great deal of technical support and there are many video tutorials out there to bring you up to speed. This program truly is the closest thing to working with traditional clay while having all the benefits of digital effects.

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