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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 are creating a 2.5D illustration in Zbrush, and you want to quickly make copies of an object to populate a scene with it, you can use the Snapshot function to quickly do this, and I'm going to show this in the context of creating an actual 2.5D illustration. I have my canvas here. Let's zoom out, so dragging on the Zoom button, just so we can see the whole canvas, and I like to get a nice sky blue color in here. So I'm expanding the document menu, clicking on Back, and selecting blue color, nice and sky blue gradient, and I think that looks pretty good. So I want to create a desert floor.
So to do that I'll expand the tool library, and I'm going to choose the Terrain3D object, I have that selected, so I can draw it out on the canvas. Click T to switch to Edit mode, or press this button right here. Let's rotate so you can good idea what this looks like. I'm going to expand the initialized palette, and expand the horizontal profile, and a curve. Now it can actually start to change the shape of the Terrain just by moving these points on the Edit Curve.
So that's the horizontal access. If I expand the vertical access, it works the same way. Let's make a few lumps in here. Pretty good to start, I want to add few more lumps using the Sculpting Brushes. So if I paint on this right now, I get a warning. So what do I need to do? Well, ZBrush is giving me a good hint here; I need to make this a Poly Mesh so I can sculpt with the sculpting brushes. So I go to this button right here, press Make Poly Mesh 3D, there we go.
Now I have my Standard brush selected as a Sculpting brush, and I can go in here, maybe make some few more hills, this whole structure look more like an uneven ground. I can smooth these out by holding the Shift key, that activates the Smooth brush; here we go, that looks good. Let's divide it a few times, one more time, so this is nice and smooth, and I'm going to switch out of Edit mode, and pressing the Move button to activate the gyro. Now I can move this around on the canvas.
Let's switch to Rotate and Scale, back to move, until it all becomes a second nature. Just want to position this, so it looks like ground, and I'm getting a little bit of strange behavior. Sometimes it's easier to drag on the center of the gyro, rather than on these crossbars. Occasionally you get some kind of flipping, that will be a bit distracting. I want to change the material to BasicMaterial, and nice brown color, tan to make it look like sand, and one more adjustment, is to scale it down a little bit.
So I went and dropped the desert floor to the canvas, in other words it's now converted to the pixels. To do that, I switch back to Draw, and I no longer have Edit activated. So now I'm free to take another brush and start painting on the canvas, and this has been converted to pixels. So it is no longer a 3D object, it's essentially a large 2. 5D Paint Brush stroke, and I want to populate this desert floor with some robots. I already have a robot model created. So I'm going to load it. I go into the Tool menu, press Load tool, and I'm going to choose the robot_subtools model right here. When I select this, it loads into the tool panel, and now I can draw it on to the canvas.
I can start to position it on the canvas by selecting Rotate, or Transform Gyro appearance. Now I can rotate him around. Of course, he is the color and material as the ground. So let's change that by choosing -- let's try intensity metal, and give him more of a silver color. So now he is looking good in terms of his material and color, nice and robotic. He is a little bit large, so I'm going to switch to Scale to scale him down, and move very carefully with the move function of the Gyro, I'm going to position him, and rotate him.
Now what I want to do, is make a copy of him very quickly. So that can crate a snapshot, and the snapshot just makes the copy of the robot exactly in the same position. I can move that copy, and then the original robot will be dropped to the canvas. In other words, it will be converted to pixels, and I can no longer manipulate it as a 3D tool, that's exactly what I want. To make a copy I can expand the Transform palette, and click on this little camera, that makes the copy. Switch to Move, and now I can pull the copy to the side, and I can rotate him, and maybe move him forward, scale him up, bring him down, perhaps too far forward, so I can just drag back on the canvas here, a little bit of a rotation, some more movement, and you get the basic idea.
If you are big fan of using hot keys to make a snapshot, you press Shift+S, and then I can just intentionally position this guy, I'm just dragging him back and forth on the canvas, to move him back in space. You will notice that when I move him backwards and forwards in space, he is not actually changing size. He is just changing his position in terms of depth, kind of a strange thing to wrap your head around, because we are used to things appearing smaller as they recede into the distance.
But in the case of an illustration it actually, it works just fine. I can scale him separately from his position. And there we go. On my way to creating my army of robots. Shift+S to make the snapshot, appearing backwards on the canvas to move him back. And scale him down. Switch back to Move, carefully position. Remember if I drag right here, he is going to start flipping around which is fun to watch, but it can be little bit disconcerting. When I'm doing this what's happening, is he is rotating based on the normal of whatever is behind the object. So if I drag on the background of the canvas right here, he is just perpendicular, but it is very useful if I decided I quickly want to bring him in front of this robot, I can drag him on top of the robot, and then rotate him around, switch to Move, drag him down a little bit, and may we scale him upwards.
It takes little bit of practice, but after a while you will become an expert, positioning objects on the canvas. And there is our robot army, very quickly created using these Snapshot function.
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