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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 if you would like to create your own MatCap material, you want to start with a photograph, because that's where the colors and the material qualities are sampled from. To start with I'm going to get photograph here in ZBrush and show you the basic workflow for creating your own MatCap material. So, I'm going to turn Edit mode off, press Ctrl+N to remove my greenMan model from the canvas. Let's go to the Texture palette and choose Import, and I'm going to choose the tomatoes image here. And once I open it, it loads in the Texture palette, and I'm going to use Crop and Fill to basically replace the entire canvas with the image.
When I do this, I want to make sure to choose the Flat Color material, otherwise this material color will affect the way the photograph looks. It's something that I almost always forget, so just remember, when you want to put a photograph onto the canvas, choose Flag Color first, then go to the Texture palette and choose Crop and Fill, and this replaces the entire canvas with my photograph. So the canvas will be of the same size of the original photograph. So I'm going to say Yes, zoomed in very close, so I'll just drag the Zoom button here to zoom out of the canvas. There we have our tomatoes. And we are going to create the material by sampling colors from the photograph. When I do this, I like to have a 3D object on the canvas so that I can see the material update as I'm working.
So for a starter material I'm going to go to the Materials palette and I'm going to choose MatCap White01. So this is my starting basic capture material. Once I have it, I'm going to choose Sphere3D from the Tool palette. Draw this onto the canvas, switch to Edit mode and maybe just reposition it a little bit. Now I'm ready to start making my material. Since I have the MatCap White01 already applied to the object, as I start to adjust the material you will see it update right there on the canvas. So I'm going to switch out of the Edit mode, go to the Tool palette and choose the special MatCap tool here at the bottom of the Tool palette.
I'm going to start the material off by selecting just a basic red color from the center of the tomato. When I do this I get a little arrow. What this arrow is doing is, it's helping me decide which direction this color will be applied to. Now, this is hard to visualize until you have a few samples already, so I'm going select the first one and then I have got basically red applied to the material. Now take a look at this again to see how it works. I have this dark area right here on the tomato, I want to sample this color so I click in the dark area, and now I position the arrow, and the arrow is basically telling ZBrush, all the parts of the 3D model that face the same direction as this arrow, make those parts this dark red color, there we go. Once again I'm going to sample some of this lighter red area up here, so click on this area, reposition the arrow. So just imagine the arrow was a pin coming out from the center of the tomato, and now it's applied to similar areas on the sphere. Do a couple more, let's get some of this pink color here. So I going to select that pink color, and position the arrow and there we can see it's sort of coming out here. We notice that ZBrush has a little preview here, but I find that it doesn't always update precisely, so that's why I'd like to have a 3D object on the canvas already so I can see it update.
Usually spend some time making a bunch of different samples. Let's get something that looks right. I do have some shadowing here, this is part of the material already. Once I have got a basic red color going, looks similar to the tomato, I can start sampling the specular highlights. Specular Highlights are the reflection of the light source. In this case it's a sunlight coming through some trees and being reflected on the surface of the tomato. So to do this I start in the same way, I select my highlight by clicking on it, and then I change my arrow, so it faces about where I think that it should be coming from, and then I hold the Ctrl key and drag, and you can see that I'm creating the tightness of that highlight on the surface, depending on how far I drag. So right about there looks good, and now we see it right on the surface there. Let's do a couple more. Select the highlight, position the arrow, hold the Ctrl key and drag. I'm going to make this one a broader highlight, there we go, another one right here, it looks very broad but I actually kind of like it, it's sort of to look at the reflected light in this scene, so let's do another selection right there.
As I go through sampling the image, I can sample from any part of the image, I can sample the plate, the wooden table, the green wine, any one of the tomatoes. But the whole point of this is, if I want to integrate a 3D object into the image and make it look like its part of the image, that takes a fair amount of work and a lot of tweaking, but that's the eventual goal of this exercise. If I decide that I need to change one of the sample points, you'll see as I'm hovering over the photograph here, you see these little points, these are the sample points I made. Once I've hovered over exactly that point that arrow will appear, I can now click on it and drag, and make it change to how I sampled the image.
This is true for the color samples as well as the specular highlights, I decided to want to make that highlight, broad, I can just hold the Ctrl key and change it. I made it a little tighter there, but that's the basic idea. Where the highlights coming from, maybe I decided I don't like it, so I'm changing it over here. And that's a basic for getting started and creating your own MatCap materials. Once you have something that you like, you will probably want to save the material. To do that go to the Material palette and choose Save. I'm going to save this into the C/Program Files/ Pixologic/Zbrush3/Zstartup/ Materials folder. So that's Program Files/Pixologic/Zbrush3/ZStartup/Materials.
When I do this every time I load ZBrush I'll see the material there in the library. So I'm going to call it tomato. I'm also going to make this material available for download for premium users. There are some modifiers for MatCap materials. Opacity blends between the material and the color applied to the object. So if I change this to green color, you can see it in the Material Sample here, so it's kind of like a blend between the currently selected color, and the material itself.
The color is already a part of this material I prefer to keep that at 100%, but sometimes you can sort of change the quality of the object just by lowering this. These other sliders here are some of the more advanced controls, you can use them with some caution. Making slight adjustments to these controls can affect your material and some interesting and sometimes unexpected ways. I like to start making material just by relying on the way that I've sampled the photograph and see how far I can get with that before playing with any of the modifiers.
So let's quickly take a look at how this tomato material looks on a 3D object. So I'm going to clear the canvas by pressing Ctrl+N, my Document Size right now is fairly large, so let's make it Half, so I'm just pressing the Half button, and say, Yes and we're zoomed up and it actually did make the document it's now half the size just to make it faster when I render the object in best quality. So I'm going to choose my greenMan_v2 model, draw it onto the canvas and we can see our tomato is applied to the object already, and I press F to center the object.
In this case so tomatoes are looking a little bit more like a red paint, but with some extra time spent on the material, I think I can get a very convincing tomato guide. So let's render this in best quality, see how looks. It already looks pretty interesting. I'm a sculpture who works in tomato, that's my medium. There we go, I already have an interesting material going, and once again the lighting, all this lighting is baked into the material itself, it's not dependent on the lighting in this scene. Some of the shadowing will change when you reposition the light, but you will see the direction of the Specular Highlights does not change.
You can share these materials with other users, go to zbrushcentral.com and see what other users have created using their own photographs to make your own MatCap materials.
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