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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.
ZBrush has a special material called the BumpViewerMaterial. It's located here in the lower right-hand corner of the Material Library. This material is useful when you want to create a Bump Map for a 3D character. Now when you are creating a Bump Map, it's a texture that you use in another 3D program such as Maya or 3D Studio Max to add a fine level of detail to an object, but you can create the texture here very easily in ZBrush and then export it for use. I'm going to show you how to do this using the femaleHead_v01 model, which is available to premium users. You can also use one of the demonstration models that comes with ZBrush.
So now that it's loaded I want to draw it onto the canvas. Press T to switch to Edit mode, F to center it on the canvas. I'm going to expand the Geometry palette and move this all the way up to the highest level, which is 4, for this model. This model has maybe about 100 ,000 polygons on it. So I'm going to divide it at another time to get a little more resolution. Now if you remember PolyPainting, if I choose just the standard material and I turn Zadd off and I have just RGB on and I go to Texture and choose Colorize.
Now I can choose a color and paint it on the surface of the model. I want to use the BumpViewerMaterial. I'm doing the same thing. However, when I paint on the model, look what happens. Instead of seeing a color, I'm seeing a bump. It looks like I have Zadd and I'm sculpting into the model. Of course, it's not quite as extreme, but in reality if I turn so you can see the profile.
I will zoom in a little bit. You can see this depression is not actually reflected in the actual profile of the surface. It's just something that shows up when the light hits the surface, and we are looking on it face on. Now the purpose of a Bump Map in a 3D program is to allow you to add extra detail to a model without having to have the density the model required. You don't actually have to model that as part of the geometry. It's a cheat basically that allows you to create the impression that there is more detail than there actually is.
So when I'm creating a Bump Map for a character, I like to set my Color Picker to a medium value, and then I fill the object with this medium value. So that means everything above this value lighter colors are going to look like bumps coming out and darker colors are going to look like depressions. If I turn to the Basic Materials you will see that this medium gray has been applied to the whole object. If I turn to the BumpViewerMaterial, it looks just white. I want to select a darker color here, I want to set the Stroke type to Spray, and maybe a small Alpha like this.
Now I can turn the Zadd off, because I'm really only painting color. I will start painting on the model. It's a very unfortunate skin problem for this lady. So I'm going to bring the RGB Intensity down, so it's not so extreme. There we go. If I switch back to a Standard Material, you will see I'm actually painting color on here, but with the BumpViewerMaterial it looks like an impression on the surface.
Now what's interesting is I can actually hold the Shift key which normally smoothes it out and this acts like a blur. So now I'm blurring the color on the surface. If I choose Basic Material, it's more obvious. I'm not smoothing the geometry, I'm blurring the texture. I switch back to BumpViewer, you can see when I'm talking about that. If I switch to a lighter color, I want to get bumps. It looks like it's protruding out. If I switch my Stroke type to FreeHand, bring this all the way down to a darker color. If we turn on Lazymouse, I bring my Draw Size down. I can start to create lines on the surface.
Now the quality that you are going to see of the bumps, in other words whether it's jagged or not is going to be determined by the number of polygons you have in your object. So this object right now has about 4,000. So if I divide it again it's just like PolyPainting, the more polygons you have, the more resolution you have, so the better your details will look. You take a look out here using the Basic Material, that's what it looks like.
When I'm finished and I want to export it as a texture, I can go to the Texture palette and do Color To Texture. Before I do this, let me set the resolution of my texture. Right now it's set to 256x256 which is pretty small. Let's try 1024x1024, and now when I do Color To Texture, it's going to convert the color on the model to a texture and place this in the Texture palette. There we can see it's actually a color texture, and it's 1024x1024.
I can export this PSD, bitmap or TIFF format and then bring that into my other 3D program and apply to the model and the Bump Channel and when I render the model it will appear as a bump on the surface.
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