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Understanding surface normal direction

From: ZBrush 4 Essential Training

Video: Understanding surface normal direction

Occasionally, you may find that models that you import from other programs will appear to be inside out. This is because polygons have two sides: a front and a back. The direction that the front side faces is called the normal, which is a mathematical term. It doesn't mean what the word 'normal' normally means in this context. Sometimes ZBrush will get confused about which side is which. Since the back side of a polygon is invisible by default, the model can seem to be inside out. This problem is easily corrected.

Understanding surface normal direction

Occasionally, you may find that models that you import from other programs will appear to be inside out. This is because polygons have two sides: a front and a back. The direction that the front side faces is called the normal, which is a mathematical term. It doesn't mean what the word 'normal' normally means in this context. Sometimes ZBrush will get confused about which side is which. Since the back side of a polygon is invisible by default, the model can seem to be inside out. This problem is easily corrected.

Let's open up the DemoSoldier and expand the Display Properties sub-palette. Right now, there's no problem with the normals. But if we click the Flip button, the active subtool looks like it's backwards. You see now we're seeing the inside of the model. This is because ZBrush has just flipped which side of the polygons are front and which are back. Clicking Flip again will set the Normals in the correct direction.

Let's hit Flip once again in order to see what Double does. Double makes both sides of the model visible instead of just the front-facing side. One situation where you would want to flip normals is if you're sculpting a cave. I am just going to make a Sphere3D primitive to work with and let's click Make PolyMesh so that we can sculpt on it. I am going to hit F to zoom in. All right, so let's switch to the Move brush. I am going to hit B+M+B, and I am just going to start making this sphere look a little bit more organic, kind of like a cave would look naturally.

Now if you want to start sculpting details like stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave you'll want to see it from the inside. Reversing the normals allows us to see and sculpt from within the model. It really comes down to your preference whether you flip your normals or double them; however, it might make a difference if you export the model to a different program, since some softwares interpret normal direction differently.

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This video is part of

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ZBrush 4 Essential Training

63 video lessons · 16315 viewers

Ryan Kittleson
Author

 
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  1. 5m 13s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Using the exercise files
      59s
    3. What is ZBrush?
      1m 47s
    4. A note on screen resolution
      1m 32s
  2. 19m 17s
    1. Making sense of ZBrush
      2m 39s
    2. Understanding the interface
      2m 29s
    3. Using Light Box
      1m 23s
    4. Navigating the canvas
      2m 2s
    5. Using Perspective and Floor
      1m 51s
    6. Understanding local centering
      1m 9s
    7. Trying different materials
      2m 7s
    8. Activating symmetry
      2m 15s
    9. Viewing your work in various ways
      3m 22s
  3. 19m 59s
    1. Understanding polygon-based models
      1m 45s
    2. Creating ZSpheres
      4m 21s
    3. Using ShadowBox
      2m 15s
    4. Making a ZSketch
      2m 47s
    5. Extracting from an existing mesh
      4m 0s
    6. Using primitive 3D meshes
      3m 24s
    7. Importing from other programs
      1m 27s
  4. 23m 43s
    1. Understanding brush settings
      2m 45s
    2. Inverting brush effects
      1m 9s
    3. Switching to Smooth mode
      2m 35s
    4. Setting the stroke properties
      4m 14s
    5. Working with alphas
      2m 34s
    6. Using the Move brush
      2m 51s
    7. Using the Clip brush
      2m 58s
    8. Learning a few more common brushes (Polish, Clay, Flatten, Inflate, Tracks)
      2m 14s
    9. Saving and using brush presets
      2m 23s
  5. 26m 53s
    1. Working with tools and projects
      1m 52s
    2. Working with subdivision levels
      3m 4s
    3. Masking off parts of your model
      2m 28s
    4. Masking based on cavity and occlusion
      4m 23s
    5. Selecting and hiding parts of a tool
      2m 51s
    6. Working with polygroups
      2m 0s
    7. Using deformation
      1m 59s
    8. Mirroring geometry across an axis
      1m 49s
    9. Restoring symmetry
      1m 45s
    10. Creating morph targets
      2m 31s
    11. Understanding surface normal direction
      2m 11s
  6. 8m 57s
    1. Learning the basics of subtools
      2m 37s
    2. Making new subtools
      3m 12s
    3. Combining subtools
      3m 8s
  7. 7m 20s
    1. Masking with Transpose
      1m 49s
    2. Adjusting the Transpose Manipulator
      1m 46s
    3. Moving, scaling, and rotating with Transpose
      3m 45s
  8. 20m 25s
    1. Understanding how ZBrush uses color
      2m 36s
    2. Learning the basics of Spotlight
      3m 37s
    3. Painting and texturing with Spotlight
      2m 56s
    4. Texturing a head: A practical approach
      11m 16s
  9. 21m 14s
    1. Drawing new edge flow for retopology
      7m 52s
    2. Tips for making good edge flow
      5m 14s
    3. Creating new topology
      3m 55s
    4. Transferring detail from the old model to the new
      4m 13s
  10. 13m 28s
    1. Understanding the UV maps
      2m 47s
    2. Installing the UV Master plug-in
      1m 47s
    3. Using UV Master
      3m 46s
    4. Creating texture maps
      5m 8s
  11. 6m 36s
    1. Preventing problems
      1m 42s
    2. Recovering a corrupted model
      2m 28s
    3. Recognizing and fixing common problems
      2m 26s
  12. 4m 54s
    1. Examples of ZBrush work
      3m 16s
    2. Goodbye
      1m 38s

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