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In ZBrush 4 Essential Training, Ryan Kittleson introduces ZBrush to artists making a transition from another sculpting program or who may just need some help with the finer points of this powerful digital arts package. The course covers the most popular tools and techniques for digital painting and sculpting in ZBrush, and explains how to export the models and texture maps to other programs for use in games, film, fine art, or 3D printing. The course also highlights the new features in ZBrush 4, such as ShadowBox, clip brushes, and LightBox. Exercise files are included with the course.
The ability to project 2D images onto 3D models has been in ZBrush for several versions now, but with Spotlight the process has gotten easier than ever. Let's get the DemoRhino ready for painting. I am going to turn Colorize on in Polypaint, and I also want to subdivide the model a few times by hitting Ctrl+D. This will give us more polygons and more detail to work with. Now, we can import an image to paint with through the Texture palette. Let's go to Import, and I am going to find an image inside ZTextures, and we've got some images that come with ZBrush. And I am just going to scroll down till I find image 4823.
It doesn't have much to do with rhinos, but it's got a nice variation of color and texture. Now we bring this into Spotlight by clicking on the texture again, and click the Spotlight button. The Light Box popped up, and it's just in the way, so I am going to kill that. There's one weird thing you have to do before you start painting, and that's to set the Spotlight Radius. It's basically just a preview of what you're going to be seeing before you paint. So, if you click the Spotlight Radius button and click and drag, you'll see a circle increasing and decreasing in size.
This is just the size of the preview on the model that we are going to be painting with, so just set this to a nice medium size and release the mouse. Now we need to switch Spotlight from Image Editing mode to 3D Painting mode. You do this by hitting the Z key. Now as you move the brush around, you see a preview of what will be painted. I am going to hit F to get the rhino up here closer, and let's just move this around to the side. So, right now, ZBrush is in Sculpt mode by default, as you can see with the Zadd button active.
Spotlight uses light and dark areas of the image to determine how much sculpting gets done. So any area that's light will get pulled out more and any area that's dark will have less of effect on the model. You can use all the same brushes, stroke settings, and alphas in combination with Spotlight sculpting. Now let's paint with color. Turn off Zadd and turn on RGB. Now, as you stroke, you'll be painting with color only. Be aware the color resolution will only be as high as the polygon density of the model.
If the result is blocky, try subdividing the model a few more times. So you can see if we move the model around, we've got all that same density of texture information that was in the image now transferred onto the model. Let's hit Z to go back into 2D Editing mode. If you're done with Spotlight, you can just hit the X button and that'll close out of Spotlight mode. Take some time now to experiment with all the things you've learned about Spotlight. Combine different settings and recognize the potential for some really creative effects.
Spotlight is an indispensable tool for creating all kinds of textures, patterns, and colors. You'll use it all the time to bring that extra level of realism to your models.
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