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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.
You can use ZBrush to modify models that you have created in other 3D programs, such as, Maya, 3ds Max. All you need to do is import the model directly into ZBrush. You can import models in the OBJ format and in the DXF format. I prefer to use the OBJ format because it includes things like UV information. All I need to do is go to the Tool menu, click on Import, I'm going to select the hovercraft3 OBJ model, this was actually recently created in LightWave.
When you import a model into ZBrush, you may get a warning such as this one. It's basically telling you that the model as it stands has a few polygons that have more than four sides or non- standard polygons. ZBrush prefers to have four-sided polygons as much as possible and occasionally three-sided polygons are okay, but it really doesn't like polygons with more than four sides. So ZBrush is asking me if it minds if it divides the model for me. I'm going to say, go ahead and make quads and triangles and then now I can draw the model onto the canvas. Switch to Edit mode and you can see this is a vehicle that I created in LightWave. If I want to, I could go in and start painting the model, using the Texturing tools. I can modify the model. Few other things I can do is, you can see this currently is just one single object, one mesh. When I originally created, of course, I made it out of a bunch of different objects and then combined them together and export it as a single OBJ file.
So if I wanted to split this up into sub tools so I could work on each part of the model individually, I can do this. First to switch on Frame, you can see it's right now one Polygroup, but if I go to the Polygroup of menu and then click on Auto Groups, now it makes Polygroups for all the different parts of the mesh. It's still a single mesh that has no sub tools yet, but it has been split into Polygroups. Now I can go to the subTool menu and press Groups Split and now the model is made up of all the individual parts. So I can just concentrate on one part at a time. So if I take main part of the model here, I'm going to go down to Display Properties. Remember, if parts of the model look invisible, remember to click Double to make it double-sided. You can turn off wire frame and I'm going to subdivide the model so I can add a little bit more detail to it.
When I subdivide I can turn this Smooth button off. If I divide, just by clicking here with Smooth on, it's going to smooth the model, which is not too bad. In this case, it worked rather well, I didn't lose too much of my nice crisp lines. But if you want to keep those crisp lines, sometimes you can turn Smooth off and then divide. Let's go back and test this out. We then delete the higher resolution, Smooth is off and I'm going to click Divide. The model will be divided, but notice that the edges do not change at all, not even slightly. That's another technique you can use. I will turn Smooth back on, divide it another time. I wanted to start creating some damage for this model, it's been some kind of dogfight, I'm going to choose the Gouge brush. It is a good one to quickly make some holes in a model, lower my Draw Size and then to start carving away at this side.
So when you are finished making changes to the model, you can export it as an OBJ and then bring it back into your 3D animation program, ready for animation and rendering.
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