ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training
Illustration by Don Barnett

Creating stencils from alphas


ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training

with Eric Keller

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Video: Creating stencils from alphas

Another way you can use Alphas to add details to a model is to convert the Alpha into a Stencil. A stencil is like a filter through which you can paint strokes on to the model to add detail. So this is the greenMan_v02 model which I have loaded on my canvas and this is available to the Premium users. I have added a certain amount of stony detail to it to make it look like it has been carved into stone and I have added some damage, a little bit of weathering and some cracks. I have done this all using a Stencil.
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  1. 2m 27s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the example files
    3. Overview
      1m 11s
  2. 26m 18s
    1. Understanding pixols
      1m 58s
    2. Establishing canvas size and color
      2m 30s
    3. Positioning 3D objects
      4m 33s
    4. Working with trays and palettes
      2m 52s
    5. Sculpting models in Edit mode
      3m 12s
    6. Discovering sculpting brushes
      5m 29s
    7. Saving models
      1m 27s
    8. Managing memory in ZBrush
      1m 44s
    9. Setting interface preferences
      2m 33s
  3. 1h 52m
    1. Customizing the startup 3D meshes
      5m 44s
    2. Deforming 3D models
      5m 11s
    3. Activating symmetry
      4m 35s
    4. Creating armatures with ZSphere
      8m 28s
    5. Posing armatures with ZSphere
      8m 54s
    6. Working with levels of detail
      7m 33s
    7. Masking geometry
      5m 43s
    8. Hiding and showing polygons
      6m 29s
    9. Organizing geometry using polygroups
      8m 57s
    10. Extruding geometry with edge loops to make necks and ears
      10m 11s
    11. Creating sharp edges with the Crease tool
      4m 19s
    12. Adding parts to your model with subtools
      5m 18s
    13. Posing models with Transpose pt. 1
      7m 35s
    14. Installing the Subtool Master plugin
      4m 29s
    15. Posing models with Transpose pt. 2
      13m 52s
    16. Installing the Transpose Master plugin
      5m 7s
  4. 58m 51s
    1. Sculpting with brushes
      11m 22s
    2. Choosing stroke types
      2m 20s
    3. Using Lazy Mouse
      4m 28s
    4. Sculpting fine details with alphas
      5m 9s
    5. Creating alphas
      6m 46s
    6. Creating stencils from alphas
      9m 28s
    7. Storing morph targets
      6m 4s
    8. Isolating details with 3D layers
      6m 23s
    9. Building surfaces by extracting meshes
      6m 51s
  5. 1h 13m
    1. Picking colors
      3m 2s
    2. Applying textures
      4m 15s
    3. Creating seamless textures
      3m 8s
    4. Painting models
      7m 52s
    5. Mapping 3D model texture coordinates
      5m 32s
    6. Adding sculpture reference planes
      11m 21s
    7. Applying materials
      4m 10s
    8. Modifying standard materials
      10m 17s
    9. Applying MatCap materials
      2m 22s
    10. Creating MatCap materials
      9m 9s
    11. Creating bump maps
      5m 55s
    12. Painting with photos
      6m 31s
  6. 6m 8s
    1. Exporting models
      2m 30s
    2. Importing models
      3m 38s
  7. 1h 1m
    1. Getting started with 2.5D tools
      5m 10s
    2. Modifying paintbrushes with stroke types
      3m 42s
    3. Positioning strokes and models on the canvas
      5m 14s
    4. Using snapshots
      7m 32s
    5. Understanding ZSub and ZCut
      4m 2s
    6. Creating document layers
      7m 47s
    7. Applying transparency
      3m 23s
    8. Lighting the canvas
      9m 3s
    9. Rendering in ZBrush
      6m 10s
    10. Tuning shadows
      4m 53s
    11. Baking lighting into the graphic
      2m 15s
    12. Creating a sense of depth using fog
      2m 37s
  8. 7m 13s
    1. Recording ZBrush movies
      3m 23s
    2. Using macros and ZScripts
      3m 50s
  9. 20m 51s
    1. Can't rotate or move the model
      1m 0s
    2. Can't sculpt on the model
    3. Can't adjust the lighting
    4. Can't control disappearing strokes
    5. Can't move objects smoothly with the Gyro
      2m 2s
    6. Can't move the model on the canvas
      1m 40s
    7. Can't see some parts of the model
    8. Can't subdivide the model
      2m 27s
    9. Can't control the pivot of the model
      2m 2s
    10. Can't maintain symmetry
      1m 37s
    11. Can't control subtools
      2m 28s
    12. Can't rotate with Transpose without distorting the model
      1m 51s
    13. Can't activate the Transpose tool
      1m 0s
    14. Can't get rid of blurriness on the mask
      1m 27s
  10. 26s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training
6h 9m Beginner Nov 10, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Building and posing digital armatures for sculpture
  • Importing models from other 3D programs
  • Learning how to sculpt a human head based on reference images
  • Detailing skin and surfaces using textures and stencils
  • Creating illustrations with depth, lighting, and surface materials
3D + Animation
Eric Keller

Creating stencils from alphas

Another way you can use Alphas to add details to a model is to convert the Alpha into a Stencil. A stencil is like a filter through which you can paint strokes on to the model to add detail. So this is the greenMan_v02 model which I have loaded on my canvas and this is available to the Premium users. I have added a certain amount of stony detail to it to make it look like it has been carved into stone and I have added some damage, a little bit of weathering and some cracks. I have done this all using a Stencil.

So I'm going to load the greenMan_ v01 on to the canvas. This is the model before I have added those changes. I'm in Edit mode, so the model just switches over from v02 to v01, but they are both available in my Tool palette. To create a Stencil, I'm going to go to the Alpha palette and I'm going to select Alpha 53 which is this French curve. I have it loaded and I'm going to go to Alpha, Make ST, Make Stencil, and when I click on this, we see the French curve on the canvas. It's basically a mask.

I can reposition the Stencil by holding the Space key and I get this little coin controller. This coin controller, if I drag on the MOV, the bottom part, I can move the Stencil around the canvas. If I drag on SCL, I can scale it. The H and V allow me to none proportionally scale the Stencil. H meaning horizontal, V meaning vertical. I can also move by dragging right here and it will move perpendicular to the surface of the model. Then I can rotate the Stencil. I can rotate it in three dimensions or I can click on Z. Z stands for parallel to the canvas, parallel to Z depth.

There are a few other controls to the Stencil in the Stencil menu. For instance, I can turn on Wrap mode, and now the Stencil actually conforms to the surface of the model. I can invert the Stencil by clicking on this button and I can increase the Wrap Resolution and some of the Wrapping Smoothness. It helps smooth out the edges as it wraps around the 3D surface. In this case, I'm going to turn Wrap mode off and I'm going to zoom in. Notice when I zoom in that the Stencil stays the same size. Just to demonstrate some of the uses for the Stencil, I'm going to add a curve to the face of the green man.

I'm going to invert the Stencil so that the dark area is the part of model that I can paint on, the lighter area is masked. So I'm going to switch to Clay brush, then set my Stroke to Freehand and reduce the Draw Size and bring down the Intensity. So changes to the model are not so dramatic. I'm just going to start painting on the surface of the model. You can see that the Stencil does a great job making a nice, smooth curve along the surface.

Sometimes the display of the Stencil can get in the way of your ability to see the changes. So you can click on the Show button. The Stencil is still activated, so when I paint up here nothing happens. When I paint here, I get a change. But the display of the Stencil has been removed and this just allows me to see the changes because I'm making them a little bit easier. Now notice I have Symmetry on. So there is another brush on the other side, but it's not making any changes, because that area has been masked out. Remember, that I can restore symmetries. So if I add this curve and I decide that I like it, I can restore Symmetry to the model using the Smart Resym button right here after masking a part of that out. That's demonstrated in another movie.

So when I turn the Stencil off, I select my Smooth brush, reduce the Intensity down to about 10 and then smooth out that edge. So some of the jaggedness of the Stencil does not come through, and maybe sharpen the edge by selecting the pinch brush dragging along the surface. Let me turn Symmetry off.

So that's a great way to add some detail there. I have a whole, new curve. Smoothness right here. If I turn the Stencil On and turn the Show on, I can see these nice curves in the French curve work really well for creating some of these details. If I want to add a stony texture to the model, I can actually use a photograph. So let me turn the Stencil off and maybe go to the Alpha palette and I'm going to import my own texture. This is one that I call stuccoAlpha and it's just created from taking a picture of some Stucco on a wall and then I brought that into Photoshop and converted it to gray scale image.

Now I have it in my Alpha palette. Let me switch to the Standard brush. I'm going to choose stuccoAlpha. I'm going to go to Alpha Make ST. I click on that. Now I have my stucco Stencil here. I will scale it out somewhat. Let me move out a little bit. Press the Space button to bring up the coin controller so that I can move it and rotate it.

I have the Standard brush activated. Now, a common problem, and this is something that I always do, is I have the Alpha loaded here. Remember, the Alpha is being applied to the brush right now. I loaded it so that I can make a Stencil. You should remember to after you have made the Stencil, turn this Alpha off otherwise you will get the brush stroke with the Alpha and the Stencil as well, which in some cases can be exactly what you want. So in other words, I can increase the stoniness by using a different Alpha painting through the Stencil.

So let's see what happens when I paint through the Stencil. Let's try it with -- now Alpha. There we go. It's a bit strong. So let me undo that. Bring down the intensity and start painting. There we go. Now we are getting a nice, stone looking texture on the model. Let's see what happens when we turn the visibility of the Stencil off. It's still active. I'm just hiding it so that I can see the changes a little bit better. Hold the Alt key to stroke in some depressing strokes on to the model.

I'm pushing in to the model through the Stencil. It's a good idea when you really want to create something that looks organic and natural, to make variations. Don't always use the same stroke function. Vary between pulling out and pressing in, change the Draw Size, change the size of the Stencil, so I can overlap strokes. It makes it much more convincing.

In this case, sometimes it's useful to have Wrap mode on. Let me show the Stencil. So I have the Stencil visible again by pressing the Show button. I'm going to turn on Wrap mode, so this will wrap around the surface. You can see the details in the Alpha and then when they are transferred to the actual model. To create some of the damage, I chose the Gouge brush which is always set to Z Sub by default. It really can make some holes in your model, when you put it through the Stencil. I may undo that. It's a little bit extreme. You can see some distortion there in the model. So I'm going to bring this down, raise the Draw Size, and then just poke a nice hole in there so we have some nice damage to the stone. That looks really interesting.

Turn off the Stencil visibility by pressing Show. You can see we have some really nice damage going in there, looks like it is made of stone. So the Stencils are another way you can extend the power of Alphas. By using them creatively, you can create new details on your model like this curve or you can create texturing effects like the stone texture you see here. This is what I came up with after applying strokes through the Stencil on the whole model. I'm going to increase the level of subdivisions here. So when I do that, you will see -- there we go. Now we have a nice detail. It's like we have a nice stone statue here.

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