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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 on a digital model in ZBrush, you may want to make variations on the model. The variations can be used for animation or a number of other purposes. To do this, you can use Morph Targets. Morph Targets are a very versatile tool. To demonstrate how they work, I'm going to load the oldMan_Painted model. I'm going to draw it on to the canvas and then remember, you want to switch to Edit mode. You can also press the T button to do this. I'll press the F key to center the model and then when you want to store a Morph Target, you simply go to the Tool palette and expand Morph Targets and all you need to do is press Store MT, that's storage for Morph Target. When you see these buttons available, then you know you have a Morph Target stored.
You can always store one Morph Target at a time for any particular model, but now that I have the Morph Target stored, I'm going to switch to the Move brush and zoom in and if you want to make your old man angry, all you need to do is start to drag down on his eyebrows, maybe bring these up. I have Symmetry on, so that you know that both eyebrows are raised at the same way on the outside and brought down at the same level on the inside, let's bring this.
I will raise it up a little bit, make him look really angry. Now I have made these changes, but if I want to switch back to the original version, I can just press the Switch button and this toggles between the two versions of the model. I can also use the slider. If I drag to the left, this start to exaggerate the morph and if I drag it to the right, this lessens the amount of the morph and if I want to freeze the changes that I have made to the model, I can Delete the Morph Target and that removes the Morph Target from memory and stores the changes as a permanent part of the model.
I'm going to undo that, so that I have my Morph Target still available. Another way that Morph Targets can be useful, if you remember, as you start a session working on a model, you probably want to store a Morph Target from the very beginning. Now one of the reasons you might want to do this is, so that you can use the Morph brush. The Morph brush actually allows you to paint the changes between the model and the stored Morph Target. So I have a Morph Target stored, I can tell because I have these buttons available and I can lower the brush size here and as I start painting on the model, what's going is it's actually painting back to the original shape of my model.
I'm going to undo those changes. The Morph Target can be thought of as an undo brush. As I make changes to my model, I can lower the intensity and then very selectively paint and undo on the model. Let's say I wanted to make a change just to that part, now I have that available. So this is a one reason why you probably want to store a Morph Target right when you start working on a model. Because if you have made a change, let's say I have made something with the Standard brush, I'm going to switch to Standard and I'm going to make just a radical change here and I have decided that I like the parts of the stroke and I don't like others. I can switch to the Morph brush and paint out the parts that I don't like. You kind of wish that every program had this kind of ability to sort of paint, undo on to the surface of the changes.
I think it would be hard to implement it in something like excel, but I'm sure somebody can figure how to do it. Then we go, I have erased all those changes. ZBrush is a great way to create blend shape targets. If I decide that I want to animate this character into program such as Maya, I can first create my initial sculpt with a neutral pose, like this and then store a Morph Target and go through and make changes to just isolate the parts of the face. Most animators will prefer that their blend shape targets, their various facial expression models have only one change to part of the face at a time. In that way, they can switch between the different parts of the face and blend those together to make expressions. So if I bring my neutral pose in here and store a Morph Target and then start to make changes to just, say the eyebrows, I can save this version of the model out, and say, eyebrows up and hand that over to my animator and make about 20 or 30 other blend shape targets, very quickly.
I have actually made probably 30 blend shapes in a matter of hour using ZBrush. The same amount of work in Maya would take a lot longer. But a lot of animators prefer to have isolated at one side of the face, so they like to have the symmetrical eyebrow raise, but they only need one at a time. So to do this, I can actually mask off half of the face, then use the Morph brush, turn the Intensity all the way up, and carefully, paint out the changes made on this side of the face when I remove the mask. So I'm going to the Masking palette and pressing Clear. Now I have the character that has an eyebrow raised of one side of the face and now you can go back, I can save this out as left eyebrow raised, hit Ctrl+Undo a few times and then just do the other side, so I can mask this out.
Choose the Morph brush, paint on this side and now I can save this version out with his right eyebrow raised. Of course, I'm talking about his right eyebrow and from his perspective. So that's a great way that Morph Targets and the Morph brush can be used together to quickly make blend shape targets for your model and like I say, you will find that it makes the workflow for something like facial expression models, much more pleasant and much, much faster.
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