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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.
Rendering in ZBrush refers to the quality of the display of the objects on the canvas as well as the strokes. By default when you are working in ZBrush, you are in Preview Render mode. Now what does that mean? Let's take a look at the Render settings here. So I have expanded the Render menu and I want to click on this switch to move it to the tray and you can see we have Preview selected and that's the default mode. Preview gives an approximation of the material and also some simple preview shadows. I can change the Random mode by clicking on these buttons. If I change to Flat, you will get the color that is applied to the canvas and nothing else. It's right now I have just the white color. Let's switch to red. Do you see the red color on there? So I'm changing the color of the object.
If I expand the Tool palette and I'm going to go down to Texture, click on Colorize and then just quickly paint some color on here and you will see, I'm just seeing the color of the object and nothing else. I will turn Colorize off to remove that and switch back to white here and change my render quality from Flat to Fast. Fast is very simple render quality. It doesn't necessarily show much about the material but it does show basic light interaction. And as the name implies, it's a fast render mode to work in especially if your canvas gets very complex.
We have Preview, we also have Best and Best gives more accurate shadows and a better depiction of the material properties. There is also a lot of adjustments we can make to have best render quality works. If I want to refresh the render in ZBrush, I can always click the Render button and that will instantly re-render the canvas. If I switch to Preview select Cursor and drag down here, it will just do a best quality render of a region around the area where I picked.
Some other options, I have in here are Soft RGB if I want to improve the antialiasing quality, the quality of the edges here like I can see there kind of jaggy there. If I turn on Soft RGB, it will help to smoothen out when it renders. SoftZ does the same with the depth information. It just improves the quality of the depth rendering when you in best render quality. When you are working on illustrations, one way to improve the antialiasing of these edges because you can see even when I have Soft RGB on, it still little jagging. As a general rule, illustrators in ZBrush select to work it twice their final resolution and then half the size the resolution. You can do that by clicking this button or the half button in the Document palette.
When you do that that sort of, helps ZBrush deal with antialiasing around the edges of 3D objects and doing the half these strokes. I will go back to Actual here. Here are few more antialiasing controls down here that allow you to improve the quality. You can adjust the quality of Preview Shadows when you are in Preview mode. We also have a few overall color adjustments so that you can make. Turn that on by clicking Adjust and I can change the Brightness and Contrast and I even have Add a Curves, for some of these qualities.
Our reflectivity with certain materials is something that you will see better when you are in best quality mode. So let's take a look at that really quickly. I'm going to switch to the ReflectiveMap material and you can see that we have a nice reflective material here and we also have a texture which is determining what's being reflected. I'm actually going to go quickly to the Materials palette and take a look at the Modifiers for this material. So we will go to Materials and I have click on the Switch to zap it over here.
I have ReflectiveMap selected. I'm going to expand Modifiers and what I'm concerned with this the actual image that's used for the reflectivity and to find that, scroll up here. This particular material has two shader in it. This one which has all the slider controls, Shader 1 which actually has the reflection controls. I can change the texture by clicking on this and choosing a different texture here. And then I can adjust the amount of reflection by moving these two sliders and I have additional reflection controls in the second shader, Shader2.
In addition to reflectivity, I also have Environment reflectivity, that's the slider right here. So why I do have two reflection curves or sliders? Well this one actually is related to the textures in the Environment section of the Render palette. If I turn this to Texture, and let's say change to this, just a little more obvious. I can start to actually combine different textures to make different reflection qualities.
The Environment reflection, as you notice, has added right after the rest of the object has been rendered. So it's, sort of, a post render action that's applied and you can choose to reflect the objects in the scene, texture, the simple color. I will just turn it off altogether. But remember when it's off and you go to adjust Environment Reflection, you won't see any change because Environment Reflection is turned off. So that's the basics of working with render quality when you are in ZBrush. With this object, it's fairly complex but it only takes a few seconds to render but that doesn't mean that it's not possible to make a scene that will take 25, 35 minutes to render. That's certainly possible. I know I have done in enough times and when you are in that situation where you render times, start to get long, make sure you save the document as often as possible. That's going to happen most often when you are creating complex illustration as oppose to actually doing sculpture.
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