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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.
Another way to get started with your 3D sculptures in ZBrush is to use the Deformations sub palette in the Tool palette. You can apply a number of deformers to a 3D tool to come up with your own unique shapes. I'm going to start by selecting the Ring3D tool from the Tool palette so I'm just clicking on the main tool icon here. This opens up the library and I'm selecting Ring3D. I'm going to draw that onto the canvas and switch to Edit mode by clicking on this button. Once I'm in the Edit mode I can just drag on the canvas and start rotating and I know I'm ready to start working. I'm going to press the F key to focus. I'm going to have a nice view of the model on the canvas.
Now the first thing I want to do before I start applying Deformations to my model is, I want to increase the number of sub divisions so that I have a nice and smooth model to work with. I can find this by clicking on the Initialize sub palette right here. So I'm in the Tool palette, I have this in the tray, and here I have Initialize. I'm just expanding it by clicking on it. Right down here I have SDivide and LDivide. LDivide is the longitudinal sections, so if I drag this down it's really obvious. It's the number of divisions going around like this. The SDivide are the number of divisions going around this way along the cross section.
So I'm just going to increase these sliders here and I'm just going to pick a high value. If I want to put a precise value in a slider, I just highlight the value in the slider and type on my keyboard. So I'm typing 120 there and let's say, 80. Now I'm just picking a high value, there is nothing special about these numbers, it's just I know that they will produce a smooth model. So now to get started playing with this thing, I'm going to make it a PolyMesh3D, which converts the parametric model into something that I can sculpt on. Once it's converted, I expand the Deformation sub palette and lo and behold I have a lot of sliders.
Each one of these sliders is a different deformer and they all do different things to the model. If I want to know what each one does, I could just hover over; hold the Ctrl key and I get a nice little description here. But once again, the Deformations are kind of a very experimental process. It's a fun way to just get something started, start playing with it like a lump of clay and see what happens. That's the best way to use deformers. After you become more and more familiar with how each one works, then you will know when to apply and inflate as opposed to a squeeze and so on and so forth.
But there is no better way to learn them than to just start playing with them. Most likely you are going to break anything, so go ahead and have some fun with it. Let's just play with it and start seeing what happens. I'm going to choose the SSkew, that's the Smooth Skew, and to apply it I just start kicking up the slider on the deformer, and all of a sudden I have a very interesting shape going. If you will notice each time I nudge this slider, I'm adding more and more change to the model. In other words, this is not picking a precise value, it's just ramping it up each time.I can even go in the negative direction to bring it back or even to move in the opposite direction.
You will also notice that there are three buttons right here. These determine what axis the deformer is applied to. So if I switch from the X axis to the Y axis, I'm going to get a very different result when I start moving this slider up. You can see it's kind of an interesting shape already. Let's see what happens if I do Z. There we go. Of course, you can also use any combination. So let's see what happens when I start applying the Smooth Bend to the tool. I'm already getting a really interesting shape going and once again it's just a very experimental process, it's just something you can play with. We have some modern sculpture. I know there are some ZBrush users out there that actually use ZBrush to design jewelery, which is an interesting application. This goes to show that it's a very versatile program, not just for making monsters.
The Noise slider is interesting. I can add just a little bit of noise to it and already get kind of a texture that's actually sculpted right into it and its applied overall, over the entire model. Inflate adds a little bit of thickness to it, Spherize can create some very interesting shapes, and there you go. That's modern art. When you have a shape you like, always remember to save it, because you never know when you could use it in a future project. I'm going to save it as deformerExample; this is saved in the ZTL format.
So deformers are a great way to get ZBrush session started. It allows you to get the creative juices flowing and see what you can come up with in a very experimental way.
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