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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.
The surface quality of your 3D objects in ZBrush is greatly affected by the material applied to the object. Materials are found here in the Material Library and there are these two main types of material. There are the Standard Materials in the lower portion and the special MatCap Materials here at the top. I'm going to load an object here on to the canvas. I'm going to load greenMan_v01, draw it on to the canvas, press T to switch to Edit mode, and I have just pressed F to focus the model.
By default 3D objects in ZBrush have the Red Wax Material applied to them. I'd like to focus the discussion right now on these Standard Materials here on the bottom. So, I'm going to switch over to the FastShader. And if I want to start editing the material what you can do is open the Material palette and I'm actually going to click on the switch here to put it in the tray. Just remove the tool; we don't need that right now. The controls for these materials are found under Modifiers. The FastMaterial just has two basic controls very simple, the Ambient and Diffuse.
This material is very good when you are just working on the sculpture and you are working on the forms of this sculpture, maybe you just want something simple applied, there are no specular highlights so that won't turn distracting. Another extremely simple material is the FlatColor. I find this as actually a really good aid when working on the primary forms of a sculpture. I usually turn on the FlatColor, switch to a profile. I can switch to the Move Brush and now if I want to start experimenting with the character of the sculpture, I could just focus on the silhouette and you can see that you immediately start to get some changes to the character,to the silhouette or the gesture of the object.
A lot of traditional sculptors when they are working in the studio will actually work this way. They will set up a light behind the sculpture or put the sculpture up next to a bright window, and then they can focus just on the silhouette and they are distracted by nothing else, none of the other details and really create a lot of different characters that way. If I switch back to our Basic Material we are going to see the nature of our sculpture has changed quite a bit. I switched to the Basic Material and take a look at the Modifiers. Now I have a lot more controls.
This is the one that's found right here. We have our Ambient and Diffuse, but now we have a whole bunch of sliders. If you want to know what a slider does, you can hold the Ctrl key and hover over that slider and you will get a brief description of how it works. I'm going to show you how a couple of these work. Specular is the reflected highlights on the surface of an object, so right here. Specularity is actually a reflection of the light source. So I can increase the intensity of it or reduce it, and I can also use the SpecularCurve, this is the edit curve that controls the specularity. Now, I'm adding points to the curve and moving them around just to see how it changes the nature of the surface.
If I start to reverse the curve I can get some really interesting satin like effects. I'm going to make that nice and smooth one to get some really interesting things going here. I can even add a little bit of Noise to this specularity. Here I go and get that kind of effect, kind of interesting. I'm going to reset this curve, bring it back. Now when I start to edit materials, if I look in the Material Library the materials that I have edited are stored up here during the ZBrush session in the User Material.
If I come up with something that I really like and I want to use in other ZBrush sessions, I can save it. So you want this material to show up in the Material palette every time you open ZBrush, you can do this by saving the material to the Program Files/Pixologic/ Zbrush3/Zstartup/Materials folder. If I call this myBasicMaterial and save it, the next time I start up ZBrush I will see it there loaded and then I continue to use it. This is a great way to share materials with other ZBrush users as well because you can post these online or email them to your friends and experiment with different materials.
Some of the qualities of the material show up better when you have Best Render chosen. So I'm going to go to the Render palette and choose Best. Now we start to see a little bit more smoothness in the material and a little bit more detail. If I change the color of the surface in the Color palette, that's also going to show up as well. Now we have a combination of both the material and the color and they can work together. If I increase the Metalicity this actually adds a little bit of that red color that's applied to the model, to the specular highlights, making the object look a little bit more metallic.
I can also increase a Noise which adds variation to the material and the color. It's a little bit subtle there so I think I need to increase it some more. Here we go. That's much less subtle and I can increase the Noise Radius too. If I wanted to stop rendering, I can hit the Escape button, it will stop the rendering for the moment while I'm working on this. When I decrease the Noise slider, it will go back to Best Rendering Quality. So a lot of times, when I'm working on the material I switch to Best Render Quality and it sort of back and forths between hitting the Escape key and changing the slider. I think that works pretty well. I'm going to increase the Radius, hit Escape, maybe change the Noise Curve and change the Color bump which has a little bit of bump based on the variation and the noise, let me hit Escape and increase that even more, make it more obvious. There we go. That's pretty obvious.
So you can experiment with using some of these other sliders and remember to hold the Ctrl key to see what each slider does, give a nice description there. Let's switch back to Preview Render mode. Take a look at some of the other Shaders; I'm going to save this one, myBasicMaterial. If I choose some of these other materials, now these have the same sliders as the Basic material, but it's already set to different settings in there to create this kind of quality.
But that's not true with all of the shaders, some of them have different settings altogether. Let's see if we can find a good one here, here we go looking at the DoubleReflected Material. This has its own special sliders right here including a Texture Map which is applied to part of the Reflectivity. The other thing that this material has are these different channels. I have S1, S2 and S3. What this means is this material is actually a combination of several materials. So when I click on S3, I see the same sliders that we found in the BasicMaterial. When I click on S2, I see this Reflected Map and these Settings as well as Reflectivity Curve. Now when I click on S1, I see a different Texture Map and slightly different Settings. What's going on here? Well this S refers to shaders, so a material is actually at least one or more shaders that have been combined.
So we have these different shaders here. The more shaders that we have in here the more options we have. So this one has an awful lot of controls. Every single change I make will be reflected and updated in the material itself. So that means I have almost a bewildering array of options for this particular material. Now different materials have different numbers of shaders, for instance this NoisyMetal has only one shader. Some of the double shaders here that have two shaders applied. This is a very simple one and both shaders actually have the same settings. The reason is well not only can you change these settings and have different settings in shader 2 and see how that affects your shader, but you copy settings from one part of the material to another part of the material. So for instance let's turn the Ambient all the way down and Diffuse all the way up. I have these settings right here, I can copy this shader, select this shader and paste it and then it will replace this Shader with the same settings.
So once again, I have the same settings for both shaders, but I can also copy the shader, choose a completely different material and paste that shader in there and replace all those settings. So you can paste shaders from one material to another. The only thing I can't do is I can't add shaders to this one. This material always has one shader. If I want to make combinations of shaders in my own custom shader, I can choose something like the TriShaders. This one has 3 shaders with all the same settings but I can paste from one material in here, paste another one in here, and just start creating material out of combinations of shaders.
The other thing I can do is I can copy the entire material that's all the shaders and its settings, choose a completely different one and then paste the material over that. So you can swap different settings from one shader to the next, and save the ones that you like under their own name. You really have an infinite levels of adjustments that you can make to a material, yet another area of ZBrush it's easy to get lost in.
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