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Sculpting fine details with alphas

From: ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training

Video: Sculpting fine details with alphas

When you want to create fine detail on your model, such as skin, pores, or wrinkles, or other texture elements, one of the great ways to do this is to use what ZBrush calls Alphas. Alphas are simply two dimensional, grayscale textures. The name Alpha is a little bit confusing at first, but that is what ZBrush calls it, and so that's how we are going to refer to them. But you can see the Alphas are located here in the Alpha Library, and these are all the Alphas that load when you first start up ZBrush. So let's take a look at how we can use these.

Sculpting fine details with alphas

When you want to create fine detail on your model, such as skin, pores, or wrinkles, or other texture elements, one of the great ways to do this is to use what ZBrush calls Alphas. Alphas are simply two dimensional, grayscale textures. The name Alpha is a little bit confusing at first, but that is what ZBrush calls it, and so that's how we are going to refer to them. But you can see the Alphas are located here in the Alpha Library, and these are all the Alphas that load when you first start up ZBrush. So let's take a look at how we can use these.

I'm going to load the oldMan_Painted model, and this is available for premium users. Here is my oldMan character. I have drawn him on the canvas; I'm switching to Edit mode, so now I can rotate him around. Let's take a close look at him. He is already a fairly dense model, but I'm going to increase the geometry even a little bit more. So I'm going to do that by expanding the Geometry palette. I'm going to click on the Divide button once. Let's give him five levels of subdivision, and then once again; it takes a few seconds but you can see when I hover my mouse over the icon in the Tool palette, you can see from the statistics, he is now got about three million polygons, which should be enough, but you can create even more if you have a powerful computer.

So to use the Alphas, I can expand the Library here. By default, there is no Alpha chosen, but I'm going to choose Alpha 33, which is this arrow. I have the Standard brush selected, and I'm going to switch to DragRect. So when I drag you can see very clearly that an arrow appears. So this arrow is like the end of the tip of the Sculpting Brush, as in the shape. It's very similar to when you are creating custom brushes in Photoshop or Painter even, when you create different nozzle ends for your brush, it's the same kind of idea.

So now he is looking like some kind of a superhero. When I switch my Stroke Type to Free Hand; I'm going to reduce my Draw Size and paint on the surface, and you can see now that arrow shape is at the end of my brush. I get a long snaky arrow on his face. If I switch my Stroke Type to Spray, when I paint, now I have got dozens of little arrows that quickly create a texture on his face.

So the Standard brush alone in combination with Alpha, I already have at least three variations that I can work with. So let's create something a little bit more elegant. I'm going to press Undo a few times to get rid of the arrows, and I will see how we can actually create pores on his face. I'm going to zoom in now, and I'm going to switch the Alpha to Alpha 23, and I'm going to choose DragRect again. I'm going to lower the Intensity of the brush, so it's not quite so strong. I'm going to hold the Alt key and then start dragging on his nose to create some pores.

I can vary the size by the amount that I drag, but the DragRect stroke Draw Size doesn't really do anything, the size of the brush depends on how large it is when you finally let go of the stroke after dragging it out on the surface. If I want to make bumps, I can just release the Alt key and drag. By releasing the Alt key I'm now in Z Add mode, so I'm actually pushing out from the surface. I can smooth these out by holding the Shift key and lightly brushing over them. I could do some on his nose.

Now, when I work I like to lower the Intensity of the Smooth Brush. So I'm going to select the Smooth Brush. By default its set to 100, so I'm going to lower this down to around 18 or 20 is fine. I want to switch back to the Standard Brush. You notice when I switch back the settings are still the same for this brush; I still have my Alpha loaded and its still set to the DragRect style, so now when I drag out, I continue to make bumps. Hold the Shift key and smooth. I just continue to do this on the surface. It's somewhat of a hypnotizing process.

Hold the Alt key to press end of the surface. So you should experiment with using the different Alphas that come with ZBrush, combine them with the different stroke types and even the different brush types and see how many variations you can come up with. It's a lot of fun to work with and there is an awful lot of creative potential in using Alphas on your sculptures.

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This video is part of

Image for ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training
ZBrush 3 for Windows Essential Training

80 video lessons · 10383 viewers

Eric Keller
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 27s
    1. Welcome
      30s
    2. Using the example files
      46s
    3. Overview
      1m 11s
  2. 26m 18s
    1. Understanding pixols
      1m 58s
    2. Establishing canvas size and color
      2m 30s
    3. Positioning 3D objects
      4m 33s
    4. Working with trays and palettes
      2m 52s
    5. Sculpting models in Edit mode
      3m 12s
    6. Discovering sculpting brushes
      5m 29s
    7. Saving models
      1m 27s
    8. Managing memory in ZBrush
      1m 44s
    9. Setting interface preferences
      2m 33s
  3. 1h 52m
    1. Customizing the startup 3D meshes
      5m 44s
    2. Deforming 3D models
      5m 11s
    3. Activating symmetry
      4m 35s
    4. Creating armatures with ZSphere
      8m 28s
    5. Posing armatures with ZSphere
      8m 54s
    6. Working with levels of detail
      7m 33s
    7. Masking geometry
      5m 43s
    8. Hiding and showing polygons
      6m 29s
    9. Organizing geometry using polygroups
      8m 57s
    10. Extruding geometry with edge loops to make necks and ears
      10m 11s
    11. Creating sharp edges with the Crease tool
      4m 19s
    12. Adding parts to your model with subtools
      5m 18s
    13. Posing models with Transpose pt. 1
      7m 35s
    14. Installing the Subtool Master plugin
      4m 29s
    15. Posing models with Transpose pt. 2
      13m 52s
    16. Installing the Transpose Master plugin
      5m 7s
  4. 58m 51s
    1. Sculpting with brushes
      11m 22s
    2. Choosing stroke types
      2m 20s
    3. Using Lazy Mouse
      4m 28s
    4. Sculpting fine details with alphas
      5m 9s
    5. Creating alphas
      6m 46s
    6. Creating stencils from alphas
      9m 28s
    7. Storing morph targets
      6m 4s
    8. Isolating details with 3D layers
      6m 23s
    9. Building surfaces by extracting meshes
      6m 51s
  5. 1h 13m
    1. Picking colors
      3m 2s
    2. Applying textures
      4m 15s
    3. Creating seamless textures
      3m 8s
    4. Painting models
      7m 51s
    5. Mapping 3D model texture coordinates
      5m 32s
    6. Adding sculpture reference planes
      11m 21s
    7. Applying materials
      4m 10s
    8. Modifying standard materials
      10m 17s
    9. Applying MatCap materials
      2m 22s
    10. Creating MatCap materials
      9m 9s
    11. Creating bump maps
      5m 55s
    12. Painting with photos
      6m 31s
  6. 6m 7s
    1. Exporting models
      2m 30s
    2. Importing models
      3m 37s
  7. 1h 1m
    1. Getting started with 2.5D tools
      5m 10s
    2. Modifying paintbrushes with stroke types
      3m 42s
    3. Positioning strokes and models on the canvas
      5m 14s
    4. Using snapshots
      7m 32s
    5. Understanding ZSub and ZCut
      4m 2s
    6. Creating document layers
      7m 47s
    7. Applying transparency
      3m 23s
    8. Lighting the canvas
      9m 3s
    9. Rendering in ZBrush
      6m 10s
    10. Tuning shadows
      4m 53s
    11. Baking lighting into the graphic
      2m 15s
    12. Creating a sense of depth using fog
      2m 37s
  8. 7m 12s
    1. Recording ZBrush movies
      3m 23s
    2. Using macros and ZScripts
      3m 49s
  9. 20m 50s
    1. Can't rotate or move the model
      1m 0s
    2. Can't sculpt on the model
      59s
    3. Can't adjust the lighting
      47s
    4. Can't control disappearing strokes
      52s
    5. Can't move objects smoothly with the Gyro
      2m 2s
    6. Can't move the model on the canvas
      1m 40s
    7. Can't see some parts of the model
      38s
    8. Can't subdivide the model
      2m 27s
    9. Can't control the pivot of the model
      2m 2s
    10. Can't maintain symmetry
      1m 37s
    11. Can't control subtools
      2m 28s
    12. Can't rotate with Transpose without distorting the model
      1m 51s
    13. Can't activate the Transpose tool
      1m 0s
    14. Can't get rid of blurriness on the mask
      1m 27s
  10. 26s
    1. Goodbye
      26s

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