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Masking based on cavity and occlusion

From: ZBrush 4 Essential Training

Video: Masking based on cavity and occlusion

In addition to painting masks by hand, ZBrush can generate masks based on the structure and detail of a model. Masking by cavity means that ZBrush identifies which vertices of a model are depressed inside creases and cracks, and masks them automatically. Masking by ambient occlusion is similar, but it masks off areas where the surface is close to other surfaces. It's like surrounding an object with lights and masking parts where the object cast shadows on itself. Let's open up the DemoRhino to have something to work with, and let's also make its color pure white, so that we can see the mask more clearly.

Masking based on cavity and occlusion

In addition to painting masks by hand, ZBrush can generate masks based on the structure and detail of a model. Masking by cavity means that ZBrush identifies which vertices of a model are depressed inside creases and cracks, and masks them automatically. Masking by ambient occlusion is similar, but it masks off areas where the surface is close to other surfaces. It's like surrounding an object with lights and masking parts where the object cast shadows on itself. Let's open up the DemoRhino to have something to work with, and let's also make its color pure white, so that we can see the mask more clearly.

I also want to increase the subdivision levels a few times, so that we have more detail to work with. Just clicking it twice should be good enough. So let's go down to the Masking sub-palette. The first thing I want to talk about is masking by cavity. Let's zoom in on the rhino and identify what areas are actually cavities. A cavity is any area where there is like a depression or a crease where the model goes inwards. So you can see right here on the knee or the ankle, or whatever this is, there is a depression inwards.

Some cavities are more intense than others. This one right here at the shoulder is much deeper of a cavity, and you can control how ZBrush interprets the depth of cavities. You can experiment with Intensity to make the mask stronger or less intense. I'm going to leave it at 10 for now, but go ahead and experiment with that if you are having any issues with the masking process. One thing I want to open up is Cavity Profile. This is how you tell Zbrush how intense a cavity has to be before it's masked. I think by default ZBrush over-masks.

So what I want do is tell ZBrush to make only the more intense cavities masked, and the way you do this is you could just kind of drag up right here. By adjusting the curve like this, it's going to mean that a surface has to be even more in cavity before it will be masked. All right, let's click Mask By Cavity to see the result. So you see ZBrush went and looked inside any areas where there is a depression and masked it off. Now if we were to sculpt on this, those masked areas are going to be protected just like any other mask.

Let's undo that, and let's get rid of that mask as well by hitting Ctrl+Shift+A. Mask by Ambient Occlusion is similar. Now Ambient Occlusion is going to look at parts of the model and see if there is another surface of the model that is nearby. One area that it really likes to look at is like legs. Let's see if I can get a good view on this. These two legs are close to each other and would probably cast shadows on each other in real life. Ambient occlusion is going to look at that relationship and mask off the areas where one leg would cast a shadow on another.

I like to bump Occlusion Intensity up to about 2 or 2.5 to get a more intense result. Changing AO ScanDist, or Ambient Occlusion Scan Distance, can give you different results. I like to set it to something more like 0.5. This is basically looking at the distance between objects. So the greater the distance you'd set it to, the farther the ZBrush will look from one part of the model to the next to see if it's in shadow. So let's see what we get.

I'm going to hit Mask Ambient Occlusion now. Be aware that the more polygons you model, the longer ambient occlusion takes to calculate. You can usually experiment with the result on a lower subdivision level, and then when you like it, you can go up subdivision levels and mask again. You'll get a smoother result at higher subdivision levels, but it will take longer. On the lower levels, you can experiment more quickly. Now let's zoom out, Hit F, and see what it looks like. So it might not be entirely obvious what has been masked off. One way to get a sense of that is to unmask it and hit Ctrl+Shift+A to clear everything.

Then you can see by what changed, what is actually masked. To bring the mask back, simply undo. Hit Ctrl+Z. So as you can see, ZBrush has masked between different surfaces of the object. It sort of simulates how an object would cast shadows on itself. There are many reasons to mask by cavity and occlusion. You may want to use it to help paint darker colors and crevices to accentuate them. You may want to sculpt scratches on the surface of something, but keep recess areas protected from them like they would be in reality.

I'm sure there are many other creative uses for the style of masking that haven't even been thought of yet.

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This video is part of

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ZBrush 4 Essential Training

63 video lessons · 14964 viewers

Ryan Kittleson
Author

 
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  1. 5m 13s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Using the exercise files
      59s
    3. What is ZBrush?
      1m 47s
    4. A note on screen resolution
      1m 32s
  2. 19m 17s
    1. Making sense of ZBrush
      2m 39s
    2. Understanding the interface
      2m 29s
    3. Using Light Box
      1m 23s
    4. Navigating the canvas
      2m 2s
    5. Using Perspective and Floor
      1m 51s
    6. Understanding local centering
      1m 9s
    7. Trying different materials
      2m 7s
    8. Activating symmetry
      2m 15s
    9. Viewing your work in various ways
      3m 22s
  3. 19m 59s
    1. Understanding polygon-based models
      1m 45s
    2. Creating ZSpheres
      4m 21s
    3. Using ShadowBox
      2m 15s
    4. Making a ZSketch
      2m 47s
    5. Extracting from an existing mesh
      4m 0s
    6. Using primitive 3D meshes
      3m 24s
    7. Importing from other programs
      1m 27s
  4. 23m 43s
    1. Understanding brush settings
      2m 45s
    2. Inverting brush effects
      1m 9s
    3. Switching to Smooth mode
      2m 35s
    4. Setting the stroke properties
      4m 14s
    5. Working with alphas
      2m 34s
    6. Using the Move brush
      2m 51s
    7. Using the Clip brush
      2m 58s
    8. Learning a few more common brushes (Polish, Clay, Flatten, Inflate, Tracks)
      2m 14s
    9. Saving and using brush presets
      2m 23s
  5. 26m 53s
    1. Working with tools and projects
      1m 52s
    2. Working with subdivision levels
      3m 4s
    3. Masking off parts of your model
      2m 28s
    4. Masking based on cavity and occlusion
      4m 23s
    5. Selecting and hiding parts of a tool
      2m 51s
    6. Working with polygroups
      2m 0s
    7. Using deformation
      1m 59s
    8. Mirroring geometry across an axis
      1m 49s
    9. Restoring symmetry
      1m 45s
    10. Creating morph targets
      2m 31s
    11. Understanding surface normal direction
      2m 11s
  6. 8m 57s
    1. Learning the basics of subtools
      2m 37s
    2. Making new subtools
      3m 12s
    3. Combining subtools
      3m 8s
  7. 7m 20s
    1. Masking with Transpose
      1m 49s
    2. Adjusting the Transpose Manipulator
      1m 46s
    3. Moving, scaling, and rotating with Transpose
      3m 45s
  8. 20m 25s
    1. Understanding how ZBrush uses color
      2m 36s
    2. Learning the basics of Spotlight
      3m 37s
    3. Painting and texturing with Spotlight
      2m 56s
    4. Texturing a head: A practical approach
      11m 16s
  9. 21m 14s
    1. Drawing new edge flow for retopology
      7m 52s
    2. Tips for making good edge flow
      5m 14s
    3. Creating new topology
      3m 55s
    4. Transferring detail from the old model to the new
      4m 13s
  10. 13m 28s
    1. Understanding the UV maps
      2m 47s
    2. Installing the UV Master plug-in
      1m 47s
    3. Using UV Master
      3m 46s
    4. Creating texture maps
      5m 8s
  11. 6m 36s
    1. Preventing problems
      1m 42s
    2. Recovering a corrupted model
      2m 28s
    3. Recognizing and fixing common problems
      2m 26s
  12. 4m 54s
    1. Examples of ZBrush work
      3m 16s
    2. Goodbye
      1m 38s

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