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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 with a 3D digital sculpture in ZBrush, you will need to constantly rotate and reposition the 3D object while you are sculpting on. ZBrush has some very simple and intuitive controls for doing this. I'm going to start up ZBrush here and when I have the Startup Screen loaded, I have a number of objects that I can use for testing and experimentation and learning. I'm going to click on the Demo head model here and when I do that it loads up on the ZBrush canvas and it's ready for sculpting. Now to rotate the model around, so I can see different views, all I need to do is drag at a blank part of the canvas and you'll see I'm rotating the model, any area that's not directly on the model.
If I drag on top of the model, I'm going to actually make a change to it, so I want to avoid doing that if I'm just repositioning the model or rotating it. If I want to move the model around the canvas, I hold the Alt button and drag in a blank part of the canvas and these repositions it. If I want to zoom in so that I can get a closer view of some of the details, what I do is I hold the Alt button and drag on the canvas and then let go of the Alt button. And after I do this when I drag down, I zoom in and when I drag up, I zoom out.
So once again to do that, I press the Alt button and click on the canvas, I let go of the Alt button and I drag up or down. Now these controls are designed to work with a digital tablet and I'm using a Wacom tablet. It makes it a very intuitive way to work on the sculpture and I highly recommend that you use a digital tablet when working in ZBrush. You can use a mouse and the controls work the same way. But sculpting with a mouse in ZBrush is a lot like sculpting clay with mittens on. But you can do it and it's possible but it's not going to be a terribly enjoyable experience and you are going to get a lot more out of using ZBrush with the tablet. So a couple of more controls that you can be aware of. If I want to rotate to a side view, I can hold the Shift key while I drag on the canvas and then model will automatically snap.
It actually snaps to the closest with a graphic view, so in another words as I'm rotating from a front view to a three quarter view and hold the Shift key, it automatically snaps to a side view, and rotating back to a front view snaps to the front view. Same with the top, same with the bottom, same with this side and the back. It takes a little bit of practice and there are some quirks about how ZBrush works when you are rotating. Sometimes you will notice that the model starts to flicker around like that or flip, that happens on pretty much every machine with ZBrush. A couple of other controls that are useful, if I press the F key I automatically center the model on the canvas. It's kind of like going to home base, it's very useful when you have been zoomed in for a while and you want to quickly view your sculpture from afar.
Another useful button is the Local button. Now, when I have the Local button off and I rotate, ZBrush uses a default pivot point for the model. If I turn Local on, the pivot point now becomes the most recently edited part of the model. So if I touch on the shoulder here with my brush and then rotate with a Local button on now the shoulder becomes the pivot point for the model. If I touch on the end of his nose, now his nose is the pivot point. The tip of the ear, same thing. And this is very useful when you are working on detailing the model because it keeps you centered always on the part that you are working on. When I sculpt in ZBrush one of the first things that I do, is I turn the Local button on, so that makes sculpting much easier and I'm always focused on where I'm most concerned.
Manipulating a 3D sculpture using these controls quickly becomes second nature but it does require a little bit of practice at first. They work very well with a digital tablet. If you have buttons on your tablet, it's a good idea to map them to the Shift and Alt keys so that you can work with just the tablet and not have to constantly reach for the keyboard.
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