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Pixologic's ZBrush 3 stands at the forefront of digital 3D sculpting and 2.5D painting, a new medium that is taking the art and entertainment worlds by storm. Visual effects artist Eric Keller shares his expertise and talents in ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training. He presents the concepts behind digital sculpting, shows how to produce fantastic images using the unique ZBrush toolset and interface, and demonstrates the power of the Digital Clay and Sculpting brushes. To offer a richer understanding of the application, Eric gives a guided tour of the interface and addresses the most common problems experienced by new users. Exercise files accompany the course.
So you would like add additional items to an object such as clothing or creeping vines or something that conforms to the surface of the original sculpture. You can do this by extracting a mesh from the original object. I'm going to demonstrate this by creating some vines and some leaves on top of my greenMan sculpture. To do this, I'm going to load my greenMan_v01 model. So I'm drawing the greenMan out on the canvas, switch to Edit mode and I will press F to center the object, and I'm going to switch my material to the light-brown clay material just because I like it.
Now there is a couple of ways to extract meshes. One of the simplest ways is to do this using just a mask, this one painted on the surface. So I'm going to increase my geometry of my object to the 6 subdivision (6 SDiv) level. I reduce my Draw Size, and I'm going to start just by painting a simple mask on the surface. Let's turn Activate Symmetry off. I'm going to hold the Ctrl key and then just start painting my vines. Put some nice curls in there. I'm making my mask fairly thick. This makes it easier for the extraction to calculate because after I actually make the extraction, I'm going to spend some time editing it, so I can actually reduce the thickness.
You don't want your mask to be too thin or too highly-detailed to start with, I think then it will work okay. To actually make the extraction, I go to the Subtool sub-palette of the Tool palette, I go down to the Extract section at the very bottom of Subtools. I have a few controls here which will determine how the extraction looks. I have Thickness, Edge Smoothness, that's what E Smooth (E Smt) means and Surface Smoothness (S Smt). When you are using these you are going to have to do some experimentation.
There is no way to know exactly how it's going to look until you press the button. So you might have to do it a few times to get it right. Let's try this. See what happens. I'm going to press Extract, and it calculates, and after a few seconds, I have my extraction, and that seem to work pretty well actually. So I'm going to select my Extract subtool, it's a new subtool that appears here on the SubTool palette, I'm going to hide my original geometry, and there you can see, that's the extraction. And it's pretty neat, it's actually got some of the detail here that's on my original model. The denseness, the resolution of this mesh is going to match the resolution of the Subdivision level (SDiv) and I have my original object on. So it's already would be fairly dense, but that's fine.
I'm going to increase my brush size here and I'm going to start to edit this. I would like to use the Inflate Brush when I do this. I want to make a nice round vine. So I have Inflate just drawing in the surface, and I hold the Shift key to smooth, so it's going be a back and forth process. I can make the vines thinner by smoothing and then thicker in parts by inflating. Of course, if I hold the Alt key while painting with the Inflate Brush, that's another way to shrink the surface, but sometimes it gets a little bit extreme. I'd like to use smooth, I have a little bit more control over in that way.
I can turn my original object on here and see how the vine is looking. And if I want to make changes, go to the Move Brush, draw the size. So if I don't want to just cling exactly to the surface, I can drag it out here, do some smoothing, drag it, reposition it, and there we go, I'm on my way to making some interesting looking vines. To make some leaves, I can actually use some Alpha based on an actual photograph of a leaf. I'm going to use an oak leaf which I realize oak leaves don't grow on vines, but that's the image that I have. So we will put it on the other side of his face. So let me zoom out here. I'm going to go to the Alpha palette and I'm going to choose Import, and I have got my leaf image, it's just called leaf. I'm going to switch to the Standard Brush, and you will notice the Alpha disappears. But the Alpha is associated with the current brush. So in other words this Alpha is being applied with the Standard Brush.
If I switch to another brush such as Clay, that Alpha disappears. If I choose a different Alpha like this one, switch back to Standard. I have my Leaf Brush again. I'm going to make sure that the Stroke type is set to DragRect, so I can drag the leaf out, select my greenMan subtool, and now when I drag out here I have my leaf. Make a couple of them here. I could even make them overlap a little bit, so I have a few leaf shapes here.
I'm going to go to the Subtool palette at the bottom. These settings worked pretty well for the vines, so let's see how they do with the leaves. I'm going to press Extract, and give it a few seconds, and then my subtool appears and it looks like I did a pretty good job. So if I select Extract and hide these, there I have my leaves. This is the same process, I can go through here and start editing these. I'm going to turn my Alpha off, and if I switch to the Inflate Brush, make sure that doesn't have an Alpha applied, just start inflating and smoothing.
Another way to remove some of these details is to choose the Clay Brush, make sure there is no Alpha. Remember that the Clay Brush fills in depressed areas on the surface first. This is a great way to remove some of that detail. Remember that it's not adding geometry, it's just pushing geometry around. It's easy to forget that with a Clay Brush because it works just like clay. If I turn my original geometry back on and I can start editing, and there we go, I'm on my way to making some really interesting leaves that conform to the surface of the object.
And this is great for not only details like this, but if you wanted to add clothing like a shirt or pants to a figure, it's great way to add objects like that, anything that clings to the surface of your original sculpture.
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