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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.
So digital sculpting and grading sculptures on the computer is what ZBrush is all about. So how do you go about creating a digital sculpture? Your primary tools for sculpting this virtual clay are the Sculpting Brushes. These are found here on the left shelf in the Library of Sculpting Brushes. So I have my greenMan_V01 model loaded on the canvas, and this model is available to premium users. You can also experiment with some of the models that come with ZBrush. I have the model in Edit mode, and when Edit mode is enabled, then I can get my Sculpting Brushes.
If you see this button grayed out, it's because you are not in Edit mode. So you have just got to remember to turn that on, and now I have all the brushes available to me. So this is my toolbox, and these are all the brushes I'm going to use. Each brush has its own personality, and you are going to find as you work in ZBrush that some of them are going to be your favorites and some of them you may never actually use, but that's entirely up to you as you work and as you develop your own personal artistic style. I'm going to show you some of the ones that I'm sure you will be using a lot of when you are first starting. The Standard Brush of course, aptly named, is the most commonly used brush. So I have this in Edit mode. I have the Standard Brush selected. I'm going to move my Draw Size down a little bit, and I'm just going to start sculpting the model by painting directly on it. I'm just dragging on, and I can see I'm already making changes at three dimensions right on the model.
I don't know if they are changes for the better, but you can see how the brush actually works. The strokes are additive, so the more I draw in one more particular area, the more it puffs out. The Standard Brush pushes out the geometry of the model and it sort of averages the direction of that push. So you get sort of a nice, very easy to work with, stroke out of it. If I want to carve into the model as opposed to push out, I could turn on ZSub, and this carves into the model.
If I have ZAdd activated, by default this is going to push out, but if I want to carve in, instead of constantly going up to here and pressing the ZSub button, I could just hold the Alt key and then paint on the model, and then it pushes out. Another sculpting brush that you will use a lot is the Move Brush. The Move Brush is kind of like a giant magnet, and you can use it to push parts of the model around. I'm going to increase the Draw Size. I have the Move Brush selected, and I'm just going to start dragging on the model. You can see, I can make changes to the model very quickly. I can change his personality quite a bit actually.
A really great way to develop characters is to switch to the Profile mode, use the Move Brush, and then just start making changes. It's almost impossible not to have a storyline start appear in your head as you make changes to the model. If I have the Move tool enabled and I drag in the model while holding the Alt key, it sorts of bumps out perpendicular to the surface of the model, otherwise it just follows the brush wherever I go.
The Inflate Brush is one of my favorites. Like the name implies, it's similar to the Standard Brush but it actually bulges out sort of evenly around the stroke. So if I wanted to fatten something up, like his lower lip here, the Inflate Brush is a really great way to do that, and of course if I hold the Alt key, it inflates inward. The Pinch Brush is a great way to create sharper lines on the model. It pinches them in. So if I wanted to refine the detail on some of these swirls here, I can lower the size. I'm going to turn your Local button on. If I scale in, I zoom in right to that part of the model. You can see, I can quickly refine the edge, get rid of some of that softness, that's sort of very typical in a ZBrush model, and it starts to look more like it has been curved into stone or into wood.
I'm going to press the F key to quickly zoom out. I think those four brushes are the ones that you use most often. Once again, that's the Standard Brush, the Inflate Brush, the Move Brush, and the Pinch Brush. One other brush that is extremely useful is the Smooth Brush. If I click on it here, so I have it selected, and I'm going to raise the size of the brush. Now when I start to paint on the model it's like its melting away the details, its averaging the position of the vertices on the model, but all you really need to worry about is the fact that it's just smoothing out, it's eliminating detail on the model.
By default, the Smooth Brush is always at Z Intensity 100, but I find when I worked that that's a bit too strong. You want to make a lot of small changes when you get to the point of detailing, rather than using everything at full intensity. So if I just lower the intensity on this, I get much less smoothing, and so I can sort of sit here and just gradually paint the smoothing into the model. It might be a little bit harder to see, it's easy to see there. If you have this at full Intensity, a lot of times you will go to smooth something in, you will lose it entirely, that might not be your intention.
If I have the Standard Brush enabled and I'm painting on the model, if I hold the Shift key, I activate the Secondary Brush, which is by default the Smoothing Brush. This is a very convenient way to work. So if I'm making changes to the model, and then I want to smooth that out a little bit, I just hold the Shift key. So I draw, I make my change, hold the Shift key, and then smooth out that change. That is an extremely common workflow. Make some kind of change in here and then smooth it out.
If you have ever worked in actual clay, a lot of times you will use water to sort of smooth out the details, and the Smoothing Brush can be kind of be like applying water to the sculpture. If I lower the Subdivision Levels; I want to lower this all the way down to 2, and I smooth out some of these changes. It looks like its erasing them entirely, but its not quite doing that. If I move back up again you will see that those details are still there but it's almost like I put water on them to smooth them out a little bit more. This is sort of another common way to work with details on a sculpture.
I would like to show you a couple of other brushes, but if you ever want to find out what a particular brush does, if you have it loaded, just hit the Ctrl key and you will get a brief description of the brush. Some of the really fun ones are the Snake Hook Brush. This allows you to pull out tendrils in 3D. It works better with a very dense model. As you will notice, it's exactly sharing the geometry at some points. So if you want to use this brush a lot you want to sort of develop a way to use it with care, and make sure that you are using it on a high level model. It's obviously an awful lot of fun to play with.
You can come up with really disfigured characters rather quickly. Certainly the Medusa comes to mind. I'm going to undo some of those changes, so we can get back to more reasonable looking sculpture. The Clay Brush, what's nice about this brush is it actually fills in lower areas, it fills the cavities in the models first before making changes to the higher levels of the model. I mean, it actually feels like you are applying clay to the model. If you can imagine yourself pulling off stripes of clay in your hand and then putting it on the model and smoothing it with your finger, that's what the Clay Brush really feels like.
So you can see it fills in those gaps, and is a great way to level off some of those details, or just to fill it in. A very, very useful brush. It's so intuitive, it's easy to forget that it's actually digital. It really feels like actual clay. There is a number of brushes that behave in this way. Also, ClayTubes is kind of a variation on this brush, it feels more like putting tubes of clay on the model. The Flatten Brush has recently become one of my favorite brushes, especially in this particular model. Well, I have destroyed a lot of these details, but you can see some of it right here, where I'm trying to achieve the look of something that's carved into stone or into wood, and the Flatten Brush helps me to do that, it helps like the Pinch Brush, it can give a sharper edge.
If I use it in conjunction with the Smooth Brush, it starts looking more like -- it gives less of that puffy look and more of something that's been carved. Another one that is like that is the Layer Brush. This brings everything up to a certain layer. It kind of averages it. If I use that in conjunction with Smooth and also Flatten; I mean, I'm just demonstrating these brushes now, but a lot of these parts of the model started out as the layer, in sort of a spiral fashion, and then I have edited them using the Flatten, Smooth, and the Standard Brushes, and it's just a lot of back and forth and working like that, but it's a wonderful brush to use.
Most of these brushes are sort of variations on a theme. The last one that I would like to show you is the Rake Brush. If you have actually sculpted in the real world with clay the Rake Brush is going to feel very much like working with actual clay. I'm going to hold the Alt key and I'm just going to start to drag in here. Real sculptors, when they are roughing out the primary forms of a sculpture, they will pick a rake and they will drag it across the clay like this, and its a great way to define the planes of the face, or parts of the model.
The Rake Brush works best on high density models; models that have a lot of polygons. You can see, I can carve eye sockets in here really quickly. I can remove the Alt button and go back in Add mode and then add clay back on top of that. It's a fantastic way to just ruff out a model. Like I said, if you are a real world clay sculptor this is going to make you feel like you are actually working with clay. I can quickly put in the zygomatic right there, and dig into the cheeks here.
Then once I'm done with that I can start to smooth; I'm just holding the Shift key as I paint across here. Smooth out those changes and just build it up like levels of real clay. The best way to learn how to use the Sculpting Brushes happily is to just start playing with them, just a get a model onto the canvas and experiment, start playing with each brush and see how it behaves differently.
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