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When you're working on a 3D model in ZBrush, it's nice to have the flexibility to test out various ideas on the model before committing to them. You can use 3D layers to do this, to make changes to your model, see how they look, and decide whether you're going to keep them or not. It's another way that you can have several levels of undo when you're working on a model. 3D Layers are found here in the Tool palette and there is a sub-palette called simply Layers. Now this is not the same thing as this Layer palette right here.
This Layer palette right here are document layers and they have a completely different and unrelated function to 3D layers. So we want to make sure that you don't get those two parts of the interface confused. We don't have to worry about these layers at all right now. We are only concerned about layers here found in the Tool palette. I wish they were called 3D Layers that would make things a little bit easier but you can see that they are call 3D Layer here in the actual palette. So what is a 3D Layer? A little bit similar to morph targets in that they allow you to make changes on the model and then either remove those changes as a whole if you want to later on or keep them. I have my femaleHead_v01 model loaded on to Zbrush and I'm in Edit mode, and I'm going to move Geometry, let's make it even more dense by clicking on the Divide button.
When you work with 3D Layers, you want to stay on the same level of SDiv and 3D layers are best used when you are finished with your basic modeling and you are ready to make details, to fine details like pores and wrinkles. They work best for very small detail changes. They don't work very well when you're making large changes like if you decide to completely change the shape with this ear and make this woman some kind of alien or something like that. You probably want to stick to morph targets if you are going to be playing around for that kind of idea.
But for small changes 3D Layers have work really well. So let's create a new layer. To do that expand the Layers palette in the Tool palette and press New and we can rename this layer, let's call it pores. I'm going to zoom in to the model, and from my Alpha's I'm going to choose Alpha 23. I'm going to choose the DragRect style and bring the Intensity down so that the changes aren't so drastic.
I know that I'm going to be doing a lot of smoothing, so I'm going to select my Smooth brush momentarily, bring the Intensity down to 20. It's good to get into the habit of changing the Intensity of your Smooth brush, when you first start working in a session in ZBrush. Now if I switch back to the Standard brush, I still have my Alpha, I still have my stroke style and I'm ready to start some pores. So let's start dragging here, hold the Alt key to press into the model, let's zoom in a bit, so you can see what's going on and I'm making my changes there. Smooth this out a little bit using the Smooth brush. But let's give her some rather drastic details just for the sake of making it more obvious what's going on.
Now all these pores that I have made up in nose and on her cheek here, I should say they are no longer pores but they are definitely some kind of skin damage. They are stored on this 3D Layer and I can change the intensity of the layer and drag it up and when I do that the intensity of the changes increases each time I nudge this over. Likewise I can reduce the intensity of the changes, let's go down to zero and I can make it much more subtle, so now I just have a very slight change.
So all of these changes are stored on this layer. If I click on the Visibility here, you don't see them at all but it's still there. But I have just removed the visibility of those changes just like turning off a layer in Photoshop. Let's add another layer and we'll call this one wrinkles, this is going to turn into the opposite of a skin care commercial. I apologize in advance. I'm going to choose Alpha 13, just a nice small circle and then we are going to switch to the Free Hand Stroke and bring my Intensity down, I want to make straight lines, might be a good idea to turn on Lazymouse. So I have Lazymouse on and then when I draw again nice straight lines, just bring the Intensity up a little bit.
So let's quickly make some wrinkles here, maybe little bit of crow's feet, rotate to the side, so you can see the changes that I'm making there. Hold the Alt key to dig in. Now ideally I would probably want to sub-divide the model one more time. But for the purpose of demonstration this work is fine. And now when I turn this off I no longer have wrinkles and I could see what it looks like with and without the wrinkles, with and without the pores; with both of them off.
I can store these 3D Layers with the model but if I decide that I want to commit these change to the model permanently, I press Delete. That deletes the layer but it doesn't delete the changes. It makes the pores a permanent part of the model. So now I can no longer turn those on and off. If I want to remove the layer entirely, set this to zero and then Delete. So set the Intensity of the layer down to zero and then delete it and that removes the changes altogether. Now you can see how using 3D Layers is a great way to create a non linear workflow. If you like me and you don't like to commit to anything straight up after that, start playing with 3D Layers, make your changes, test them out.
Maybe I have several different versions of the pores on the model and I can see how they work together in combination or individually. Once again it's just another powerful tool that you can use in ZBrush when you're working on a model.
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