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In ZBrush 4 Essential Training, Ryan Kittleson introduces ZBrush to artists making a transition from another sculpting program or who may just need some help with the finer points of this powerful digital arts package. The course covers the most popular tools and techniques for digital painting and sculpting in ZBrush, and explains how to export the models and texture maps to other programs for use in games, film, fine art, or 3D printing. The course also highlights the new features in ZBrush 4, such as ShadowBox, clip brushes, and LightBox. Exercise files are included with the course.
All kinds of surface qualities can be extracted from the model and translated to 2D maps that are used in other applications. Color of course is the easiest to understand. There are other map types, like normal maps and displacement maps, that can re-create falling details from the high subdivision levels and then make them visible on a lower-resolution model. Now let's open up the Texture Map sub-palette. To make a color texture map, we are going to take the polypainting that already exists on the model and transfer it to a 2D image based on the UV map.
Let's click New From Polypaint. The result we get is a low-detail map. This is because the model is currently at a low subdivision level and the texture map will only pick up whatever color is currently visible. Let's go up to the highest subdivision level and try again. One thing you might notice is that since we are on the highest subdivision level we should be seeing all the fine detail, but we're not.
That's because Texture Map is on. Let's turn this off. The texture map was covering up the Polypainting. Now with that off we can see all the detail that's inherent to this model. Now let's create a new map from Polypaint. Now that has much more detail in it. Another way to generate a map is by masking. So let's turn off this texture map and I also want to get rid of the color for now. So open up all the Polypaint and turn off Colorize, so we just see the model itself without any polypainting on it.
Now let's make a mask based on cavity. I am just going to use the default settings and click Mask By Cavity. So you can see what it's done is it's created a mask in any place where there's a crease or a depression or any sort of a cavity. You could see how it's darker. That means it's masked off inside of those creases. Now let's go down to the Texture Map sub-palette and click New From Masking. So now we've got a new map that was generated from all the crevices and creases in this model.
This type of map is really useful for rendering in other types of programs. You can use it to automatically darken crevices, tell it not to be shining down inside those creases. It really is a nice way to bump up the level of realism in a model. Let's make this map go away for now too, and I am going to hit Ctrl+Shift+A to remove all the masking. Let's talk about normal and displacement maps. Those are maps that are used to make a low-poly model look like it has all the detail of a high-poly model.
The settings you use depend on how you plan to use them and what programs they will be used in. So, for example, let's open up the Normal Map sub-palette. Unless you know what you're doing with these settings, it's best to leave them as they are. Let's make a normal map by just clicking Create NormalMap. Now we get this little pop-up. It tells us that the map cannot be created while the highest subdivision-level is active. That's because normal map and displacement map compare the highest subdivision level to the current subdivision level.
If I'm currently on the highest subdivision level, there's nothing to compare. So let's go down with the lowest subdivision level, and we'll try that again. So now you get this really cool, funky, colorful map. This is going to tell other programs like Maya or 3D Studio MAX how the high- resolution information should look. So you can map this onto a low-poly model and it will look like it has all that high-texture detail.
Let's do the same thing for a displacement map. ZBrush actually turns on the texture map every time you create a new map. Even if it's not a texture map, if it's a normal map, ZBrush will just turn this on. So I am going to turn that off again. Let's make a displacement map and it creates DispMap. Displacement map is similar to a normal map except that it's telling a 3D program how much the surface detail is pushed up or pushed down relative to the low-poly model.
Now once you've got a map, it's not very clear what to do with it or how to save it. There should be a Save button in all of these palettes, but there's not. The way you save it is by clicking the Clone button. So in the displacement map case, it's Clone Disp. You could also do Clone Texture up in the Texture Map or Clone NM in the Normal Map palette. What this will do is it will transfer the map over to the Texture palette. Then you can click Export and save it in any of these formats.
Most uses for a ZBrush eventually result in models and textures being exported for use in other programs, so learning the map-creation process is crucial. Maps can then be further processed in Photoshop.
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