Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Modifying standard materials


ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training

with Eric Keller

Video: Modifying standard materials

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.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 27s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the example files
    3. Overview
      1m 11s
  2. 26m 18s
    1. Understanding pixols
      1m 58s
    2. Establishing canvas size and color
      2m 30s
    3. Positioning 3D objects
      4m 33s
    4. Working with trays and palettes
      2m 52s
    5. Sculpting models in Edit mode
      3m 12s
    6. Discovering sculpting brushes
      5m 29s
    7. Saving models
      1m 27s
    8. Managing memory in ZBrush
      1m 44s
    9. Setting interface preferences
      2m 33s
  3. 1h 52m
    1. Customizing the startup 3D meshes
      5m 44s
    2. Deforming 3D models
      5m 11s
    3. Activating symmetry
      4m 35s
    4. Creating armatures with ZSphere
      8m 28s
    5. Posing armatures with ZSphere
      8m 54s
    6. Working with levels of detail
      7m 33s
    7. Masking geometry
      5m 43s
    8. Hiding and showing polygons
      6m 29s
    9. Organizing geometry using polygroups
      8m 57s
    10. Extruding geometry with edge loops to make necks and ears
      10m 11s
    11. Creating sharp edges with the Crease tool
      4m 19s
    12. Adding parts to your model with subtools
      5m 18s
    13. Posing models with Transpose pt. 1
      7m 35s
    14. Installing the Subtool Master plugin
      4m 29s
    15. Posing models with Transpose pt. 2
      13m 52s
    16. Installing the Transpose Master plugin
      5m 7s
  4. 58m 51s
    1. Sculpting with brushes
      11m 22s
    2. Choosing stroke types
      2m 20s
    3. Using Lazy Mouse
      4m 28s
    4. Sculpting fine details with alphas
      5m 9s
    5. Creating alphas
      6m 46s
    6. Creating stencils from alphas
      9m 28s
    7. Storing morph targets
      6m 4s
    8. Isolating details with 3D layers
      6m 23s
    9. Building surfaces by extracting meshes
      6m 51s
  5. 1h 13m
    1. Picking colors
      3m 2s
    2. Applying textures
      4m 15s
    3. Creating seamless textures
      3m 8s
    4. Painting models
      7m 52s
    5. Mapping 3D model texture coordinates
      5m 32s
    6. Adding sculpture reference planes
      11m 21s
    7. Applying materials
      4m 10s
    8. Modifying standard materials
      10m 17s
    9. Applying MatCap materials
      2m 22s
    10. Creating MatCap materials
      9m 9s
    11. Creating bump maps
      5m 55s
    12. Painting with photos
      6m 31s
  6. 6m 8s
    1. Exporting models
      2m 30s
    2. Importing models
      3m 38s
  7. 1h 1m
    1. Getting started with 2.5D tools
      5m 10s
    2. Modifying paintbrushes with stroke types
      3m 42s
    3. Positioning strokes and models on the canvas
      5m 14s
    4. Using snapshots
      7m 32s
    5. Understanding ZSub and ZCut
      4m 2s
    6. Creating document layers
      7m 47s
    7. Applying transparency
      3m 23s
    8. Lighting the canvas
      9m 3s
    9. Rendering in ZBrush
      6m 10s
    10. Tuning shadows
      4m 53s
    11. Baking lighting into the graphic
      2m 15s
    12. Creating a sense of depth using fog
      2m 37s
  8. 7m 13s
    1. Recording ZBrush movies
      3m 23s
    2. Using macros and ZScripts
      3m 50s
  9. 20m 51s
    1. Can't rotate or move the model
      1m 0s
    2. Can't sculpt on the model
    3. Can't adjust the lighting
    4. Can't control disappearing strokes
    5. Can't move objects smoothly with the Gyro
      2m 2s
    6. Can't move the model on the canvas
      1m 40s
    7. Can't see some parts of the model
    8. Can't subdivide the model
      2m 27s
    9. Can't control the pivot of the model
      2m 2s
    10. Can't maintain symmetry
      1m 37s
    11. Can't control subtools
      2m 28s
    12. Can't rotate with Transpose without distorting the model
      1m 51s
    13. Can't activate the Transpose tool
      1m 0s
    14. Can't get rid of blurriness on the mask
      1m 27s
  10. 26s
    1. Goodbye

please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training
6h 9m Beginner Nov 10, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Building and posing digital armatures for sculpture
  • Importing models from other 3D programs
  • Learning how to sculpt a human head based on reference images
  • Detailing skin and surfaces using textures and stencils
  • Creating illustrations with depth, lighting, and surface materials
3D + Animation
Eric Keller

Modifying standard materials

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.

There are currently no FAQs about ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training.

Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


Upgrade to View Courses Offline


With our new Desktop App, Annual Premium Members can download courses for Internet-free viewing.

Upgrade Now

After upgrading, download Desktop App Here.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Start your FREE 10-day trial

Begin learning software, business, and creative skills—anytime,
anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts. provides
Unlimited access to over 4,000 courses—more than 100,000 video tutorials
Expert-led instruction
On-the-go learning. Watch from your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Switch back and forth as you choose.
Start Your FREE Trial Now

A trusted source for knowledge.


We provide training to more than 4 million people, and our members tell us that helps them stay ahead of software updates, pick up brand-new skills, switch careers, land promotions, and explore new hobbies. What can we help you do?

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.