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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.
If you want to reposition strokes and objects that are painted on the 2.5D canvas, you are going to use the Transform Gyro. To demonstrate this, I have the robot_island document open. So I'm just going to open robot_island.zbr, and this is available for premium users. I have chosen my Sphere Brush from the 2.5D Brushes right here. I have got the Fast Shader material, and a nice red color. I'm just going to start painting right here on the ocean and part of the island. I'm actually painting in three dimensions to create this 2.5D stroke.
To move this, I can switch to Move and the Gyro appears, and of course, the stroke disappears. So what's happened is by switching to Move mode the stroke is actually zapped back a bit, behind the water. So if I just start dragging up with the Transform Gyro, I can see the stroke now. I can start repositioning it in the scene. If I want to rotate, I'll switch to Rotate mode, and I can start to rotate the stroke around.
Scale; I can scale it down. So let's take a close look at the controls of the Gyro itself, because this is the kind of thing that can trip you up when you are first starting to use ZBrush. I will switch to Move mode here, and if I want to move this upwards, I click on this crossbar right here, right at this intersection here. I can drag on the yellow part to move it backwards and forwards, and the green part right here. I can also drag up or down on the blank part of the canvas, away from the tool to move this backwards or forwards. So I'm just repeatedly dragging up to move backwards, repeatedly dragging down to move forwards.
The thing that trips up a lot of new users is, what happens when I start dragging here in the center of the tool? Well, I get this very strange behavior. What's happening is, this is actually very useful behavior, but it looks a little odd at first. It's actually repositioning the stroke based on the normals of what's beneath the stroke. In other words, as I drag it over the ocean here, it repositions it based on where the ocean water is facing. I drag it on the shark fin, you can sort of see, it's trying to reposition it based on the shark fin, and then again over the island.
What's useful about this is, if I have the stroke and it's positioned far away, and I want to quickly move it to the island, I can just drag it on top of the island, and there it is. That is a great way to bring this stroke forward very, very quickly, rather than having to drag like this repeatedly. But it does work in a really strange way, and it takes some getting used to. If I switch to Rotate mode; this is a little bit more intuitive, and I drag on this crossbar, I can rotate parallel to the canvas. So this gray circle here is the part that's parallel to the canvas. But I can also restrict the rotation by dragging on any of these other crossbars. Then if I want to free form rotate, just drag here in the center.
Scaling works in a very similar way. I can scale it non-proportionally by dragging on the crossbars, or proportionally by dragging in the center. So that works fairly simply. It's really just Move mode that takes a little bit of practice getting used to. The other thing that you should understand about the Transform Gyro is, as I'm repositioning in this, if I do Ctrl+Z to undo, nothing is going to happen. The problem is, is that, ZBrush considers all of the changes that you make while this tool is active as one action. So as I reposition it and switch back to Draw mode, then I can Undo; and generally it will just undo the stroke on the canvas altogether.
That's something else that takes a little bit of getting used to. It would be nice if you could actually undo the changes you make to the stroke while the tool is active, so it takes a little bit of practice. So I just drew another stroke onto the canvas using the Sphere Brush; I drew it on the island. When I switch to Move, it flipped all the way behind the island. So if I just drag here, I can get it back quickly. It's stuck to the island now, and now I can carefully reposition it by dragging on the crossbars of the tool. So practice the tool, and once you get the hang of it, it will start to make a little bit more sense, and you will find it's a great way to position objects in the scene.
For instance, as I worked on these clouds here, I just sat there moving them back and forward until I was happy with where they are. The same with each of the parts of the robot. If I dropped the tool to the canvas by switching to Draw mode, and choosing another brush, or painting another stroke onto the canvas, I'm no longer able to move this, this is now frozen in space, so it's dropped to the canvas. If I wanted to get rid of it, I could switch to the Eraser Brush, and then just remove it using the Eraser. Of course, I have to be careful, because I could start erasing parts of the ocean here. The robot has been rescued now.
Practice with the Transform Gyro until you get the hang of it, and just remember that the Move mode is the one that's probably going to cause you the most trouble when you are first starting, but if you are patient with yourself you will find that it does make sense.
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