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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.
When you are working on a model such as a character, you may find that you are repeatedly masking or isolating parts of that model, so that you can go in and make changes to it. This can get a little bit tedious after a while. For instance, if I decide that I want to isolate the lower lip from the upper lip, I can do this using my Selection tools. I'm using the femaleHead_v01 model. Premium users can load this model from the downloaded example file. So you can also use some of the example models that come with ZBrush.
I'm going to have the model here and I want to isolate the lower lip from the upper lip. To start with, it's a little bit easier to do if I lower my Geometry Resolution. I'm going to bring this down to Level 1, that makes the polygons a little bit more obvious. I'm going to turn on the Frame button so I can actually see the wire frame of the polygons. Now I can see how the model is actually organized. I'm going to zoom in by dragging on the Scale button, and I'm going to rotate to the side, press the Shift key so that it snaps into place, move the model over by dragging with the Alt key depressed. I'm going to turn on the Lasso Selection.
I'm going to hold Ctrl+Shift and drag a selection around the mouth area right here, and then release the pressure from the tablet. Now, I just have the mouth right here. I'm going to zoom in. In the Transform menu here, I have Point activated. This makes the selection a little bit easier, so I can just select a corner of a polygon and it will become selected. So I'm going to hold Ctrl+Shift, drag a selection here, let go of the Shift key, this polygon will disappear.
You can see why it's a good idea to practice using the Ctrl and Shift selection technique, because it is something that you will do fairly frequently. Just this little part of the upper lip is still visible. So Ctrl+Shift, release the Shift key. There we go. Once again, Ctrl+Shift, drag around selection, release the Shift key, and let go. One more time right there. Then these polygons over here; Ctrl+Shift, drag around, release the Shift key. These, Ctrl+Shift release the Shift key, and there we go, we have our lower lip area.
I'm just going to do a couple more over here, and then again down here, Ctrl+Shift, release the Shift key, and let go. So now what I can do is I can go to my Masking palette right here, its part of the Tool palette, to load it right here. Masking is available right here. Do Mask All; I'm going to Ctrl+Shift+Click so I can see the rest of the model. Press the F key so I can zoom out, and do Invert.
Now I have this area available for working, it's been isolated, and I have the rest of the model is masked, so it won't be changed. For example, if I make my changes to my lower lip and then I clear the mask, and then I suddenly realize, oh, I would like to make some more changes to that lower lip. Well, now I have to repeat that entire process again, what I just went through, to make that selection, and that can get very, very tedious. The solution to this problem is to use Polygroups. When you create a Polygroup, you organize part of the model, and that organized group is always there for you, available to isolate or to hide as needed.
To create the Polygroup you start by using the same technique. I'm going to zoom in again, and let's create a Polygroup just for the mouth area. So I'm going to hold Ctrl+Shift and drag my selection just around the mouth area here, let go of the pen from the tablet. Now I have the mouth isolated. I just go to the Polygroups subpalette, which is right here, beneath Masking. I will hide some of these so it's a little bit easier to see. So I will go into Polygroups, and I just do Group Visible, and you will see the color is changed. This doesn't actually change the color on the model; if I unhide the rest of the model you will see what's going on here. I will press Ctrl+Shift+Click on the canvas, and there we go.
If I turn Frame off, you see the color is still all the same. When I turn Frame on, the color coding lets me know which parts of the model are in which groups. So if I want to isolate the mouth again, I don't have to repeat that entire process, all I have to do is Ctrl+ Shift and Click, and now the mouth is isolated. If I Ctrl+Shift and Click on it again, now I have everything that's not in the group visible and the group is invisible. If I Ctrl+Shift, Click on the canvas, back to having both of my groups visible.
I'm going to go through the process one more time, maybe we will do the eye area here. So Ctrl+Shift, start to make my selection on the canvas, and let go. Now I just have my eyes visible here. That flipping is just a quirk of ZBrush. It happens on pretty much all computers. I'm going to press Group Visible. Now, I Ctrl+Shift, Click on the canvas, now I have three groups. I have the mouth area and I have the eye area.
If I want this to be isolated, I just Ctrl+Shift, and there we go. Ctrl+Shift+Click again, it's inverted. Ctrl+Shift+Click on the canvas, I have everything available. Now, any polygon that's part of the model can only be in one group at one time. In other words, if I decide to make a group for the nose; Ctrl+Shift drag this area here, and I will get some of this group too, and then I'm going to let go, so just have the nose area. So I have this area and these two areas, which are in three different groups. If I do Group Visible, a new color is applied. I Ctrl+Shift, you can see I have three groups. It's a little bit more obvious to change the color. So I Ctrl+Shift +Click there, do Group Visible.
So what I'm showing you right now is every time I press Group Visible you see the nose changing colors. This is a good technique if you decide that you don't like the color that's been assigned to your group. One reason why you might not like the color assigned to the group is that it's too similar to the other Polygroups. But now it's a little bit more obvious. I have this fuschia group, this purple group, and this green group, and sort of the orangish golden group, but you will notice what has happened is, these polygons that were part of the green group have now been overwritten with the fuschia group. So polygons can only be part of one polygroup at a time.
When I'm working on the face and something that I'm going to be creating, facial expressions for instance, if I'm making morphed targets for an animation program, such as Maya from a face model, I will usually start by organizing the entire model into polygroups based on what I know I'm going to be working with a lot. So I will isolate the upper lip from the lower lip, I will isolate each eye into its own polygroup, parts of the cheek, the chin, the eyebrows, and so on and so forth. Then I will save the model, because the polygroups are saved with the model.
Every time I load this model I will see the same polygroups. Then I can quickly go in and isolate those sections. So if I want to work on the eyebrows, I can just click on that. I just Ctrl+Shift+ Click on part of the polygroup. Maybe I will do Mask All. Ctrl+Shift+Click on the canvas, invert the mask. Now, I can just work on this area without worrying about changing any of the other parts of the model. It's just this part that's been isolated.
Polygroups persist on different Subdivision Levels. So I'm going to clear the mask here and just increase the Subdivision Level by going to the Geometry palette and moving the slider up. You can see, Polygroups are still there. A lot of power and a lot of options there for working with the models. The main purpose of Polygroups is just to organize your model so that you can reduce the amount of selecting and masking on the same parts of the model. I would recommend taking some time to practice with the Selection tools and practice organizing a model into Polygroups, you will find it in the long run, it's a huge time saver.
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