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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 add shadows to your illustration while working in ZBrush, you can do this using Best Render Quality mode. The shadows in ZBrush are pretty accurate. They are not necessarily going to be the same kind of accurate shadow you get out of an advanced renderer in 3D package such as Maya but there are going to be a pretty good approximation and definitely something you can work with in lot of illustrations. I'm going to start by quickly creating a scene that can show off some of the shadow functions. So let's put the Tool palette here in the tray, I'm going to zoom out a little bit. Choose a plain 3D, switch to Rotate. Now you notice that the perspective of the plain seems kind of odd so I'm going to improve that by going to the Draw menu and clicking on Perspective. Now I have something that looks more like an actual perspective scene.
Switch to Move and go to Scale and Rotate it, so we have a flat plain there. Get down just a little bit and I want to choose a material that will react to lighting, FastShader should work pretty well here. Now let's pick an object to put on to the plain, Ring works pretty well. So I'm going to draw this on the canvas, the plain has been dropped and converted to pixels. So now I have Ring here, so I will switch to Rotate. You can also make this look more or like it's in a 3D scene by going to the Draw menu choosing Perspective. Scale this up and move it over. I just want something that's going to caste some shadows onto the plain. Okay, so that works pretty well.
So I'm going to open up the Light palette, click on this to put it into the tray. Now to change the light direction, I just move the light right here. If you have this kind of situation where it doesn't update the entire canvas, you can quickly fix that by switching from Fast back to Preview. Let's take a look at the shadows. By default, when you render in Best quality, shadows will be enabled. So when I switch to Best quality, I can see that there is very blurry fuzzy shadow right here at the edge of the ring based on my light direction.
So what I'm concerned about right now is increasing the sharpness of that shadow so it's a little bit more obvious. Now we are going to rendering a lot so one of the ways I can speed up my time while working is to just use the Cursor Render Option so I just render a small area of the canvas rather than the entire thing. To do that I'm going to click on Cursor and drag right here where I know there is going to be shadow. Of course, to do that I need to switch to Preview first and then make my selection. And I will render just this area in this square as Best render quality.
Whenever I want it to update I just click on cursor and it will update that area. So the Shadow controls are found in the Light palette right here in the Shadow sub-palette. Let's get rid of tool here by clicking right there. Now we can see more clearly. As you can imagine we have shadow intensity which is really self-explanatory, the overall intensity or opacity of the shadows. To increase the sharpness, I can lower the Aperture. Let's bring that down and click on Cursor, see how that looks. Now we are getting more of a define shadow and, of course, we can always put this down here so I don't have to keep going up there.
And then to Length of the shadow, again I feel that's fairly self-explanatory, how long this shadow is, decrease the Aperture even more. So we will have a sharper shadow. Let's see how it looks over here; definitely getting the shape there, that 3D object. Increasing the Rays is going to increase the quality of the shadow and in some cases it will add a little bit of length to the render time. The Zmode creates more accurate at 3D shadows. And most of the time you are going to want to have this on and then we have a few other controls like Blur and Unified Shadows. The Unified Shadow slider removes art effects in the shadows and can, in some cases, improve render time.
Let's try rendering a cursor thereafter increasing the Unified Shadows Length. And then if we decrease this, we can get some interesting effects and decreasing the number of Rays but Unified shadows is set to 90. Let's see how that looks. So we get some interesting art effects there. It can create a more stylistic look depending on what we are going for.
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