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ZBrush is primarily used by artists and designers as a 3D modeling and sculpting program; however, it started out as a much different kind of software, upon which 3D sculpting was added. That's why so many functions within ZBrush may seem to be counterintuitive because they were originally designed to do something else. If something doesn't seem to make sense to you, don't doubt your sanity. Just realize that ZBrush is a much different program than it used to be, even though it still uses the interface and terminology of the earlier versions. This creates much confusion and makes ZBrush at first seem daunting to learn.
Oftentimes the explanation of why something in ZBrush works a certain way is so hard to communicate that it's just better to accept that that's the way it is and not wonder why. So the very first thing that you'll probably want to do in ZBrush is to get a 3D model to start sculpting on. In ZBrush, models are called tools. They're called this because in the early days of ZBrush you could use a 3D model as a tool to add depth to the canvas. Now ZBrush saves and loads models as tools in its own ZTL file format.
Let's go over to the Tool palette and click Load tool. And you see here we've got several tools that come with ZBrush to choose from. Let's grab the Dog.ZTL and click Open. Now nothing has popped up on screen, but if you look over here in the Tool palette, you'll see that there's a picture of a dog as well as a smaller picture of a dog and some other things in here. This is your current toolbox or toy chest. It's the models and tools that are currently loaded into memory. This bigger picture shows you the tool that is currently selected.
It's the one that will get placed in the canvas next. The way to actually start using this model is now to click and drag in the canvas. This positions and places a copy of the dog model on the canvas. Remember, ZBrush is based on a painting program, so we've actually just painted a stamp of the model on the canvas. If you click and drag again on the canvas, you'll notice that several other copies of the dog model will get created every time you click and drag. This is the part where most people give up and don't ever open ZBrush again because it just doesn't make sense.
Lucky for you, I am here to show you what to do next. I just want to clear all of these models off the screen so I am going to hit Ctrl+N. So it's back to the way we started. Now I'll just draw out another copy of the dog model. Now click on the Edit button up here at the top. This puts the model in Edit mode so we can actually get some work done on it. Remembering these few steps will get you started on almost anything you need to do in ZBrush. It's weird, I know, but once you get past this, all kinds of artistic possibilities open up within ZBrush.
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