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In ZBrush 4 Essential Training, Ryan Kittleson introduces ZBrush to artists making a transition from another sculpting program or who may just need some help with the finer points of this powerful digital arts package. The course covers the most popular tools and techniques for digital painting and sculpting in ZBrush, and explains how to export the models and texture maps to other programs for use in games, film, fine art, or 3D printing. The course also highlights the new features in ZBrush 4, such as ShadowBox, clip brushes, and LightBox. Exercise files are included with the course.
Another way to create basic geometry in ZBrush is through primitives. Primitives are simple objects like cubes, spheres, and cones that you can start with, rather than having to model them from scratch. ZBrush also gives you the ability to modify the attributes of primitives to create a wide variety of starting shapes. Primitives are created from the toolbox. Start by clicking on the Sphere3D up in the toolbox. Sphere3D is one of the primitives, but to see the others just click on Sphere again and you'll see this 3D meshes palette.
You can see there's standard objects like cubes, cylinders, and rings. There are also a few more exotic things like terrain and gears. I am going to pick Helix3D and just click and drag in the canvas to create it and then go into Edit mode. So you can see what we have here is kind of a spring object. There's lots of ways to modify this helix before we sculpt on it. All of the primitives can have their attributes set in the Initialize sub-palette. So down here is Initialize. I am just going to click and expand that. These settings control all of the math that goes into making this helix.
Various controls for shape, length, thickness, and curvature of this helix are all here for us to modify. So let's say I want to change the thickness of this. So I am going to click on Thickness, and what we get is a graph that pops up. You can change the points on this graph to change how the shape of the helix is made. So just by dragging these around, you can make one end thicker or thinner, and if you grab the other end, you can make that end thicker or thinner. It's really fun to play with. You can also click in the middle of this line to create new dots.
So you can make thin on both ends and thick in the middle. You can also remove dots by dragging them off the graph. Most primitives also have controls that affect how many polygons make up the surface. So let me move this down a little bit so we can see the bottom. Here's SDivide and LDivide. Let me zoom in a little bit, so we can see the effect more clearly. So SDivide changes the number of polygons that make up the circumference of the helix, and LDivide changes the number of polygons that are down the length of the helix.
There's really no set number of polygons that you should use. It really comes down to your preference of how dense you need this helix to be. Experiment with all the different graphs and sliders to see what kind of results you can get. Each primitive has its own controls and settings that you can work with. Now I could go through every single primitive and show you how every single control works, but really it'll be more fun for you to just play with them all and learn through experience how they work. When you're happy with how a primitive looks and you want to be able to sculpt on it, you need to convert it to a polymesh.
As it is, a primitive is a set of mathematical instructions that can't be sculpted on. So the way to make it a polygon mesh is up here in the top of the Tool palette, Make PolyMesh3D. When you click on that, it just creates a new tool that is now raw polygons instead of mathematical instructions, and this can be sculpted on. You'll find yourself using primitives to start all kinds of models. If the shape you need can be created based on the different shapes you can get through primitives, you'll save time by making it this way rather than trying to build it from ZSpheres or ZSketching or some other more organic method.
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