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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.
One of the more powerful features of ZBrush is the ability to move between levels of subdivision when you are working on a sculpture. I'm working on this oldMan sculpture here in this file, its called oldMan_v02. The premium users can find this file with the other project files. You can also use the Demo Head model that comes with the ZBrush as an example if you like. I have basically blocked out the primary forms in this model and I'm ready to add a little more detail. To do this, I can subdivide the model. Now, the Subdivision controls are found in the Tool palette. So I have the Tool palette here on my tray, and I'm going to click on Geometry, and in the Geometry subpalette I find the controls for the various levels of Subdivision.
To add a level of Subdivision to the model all I have to do is click on the Divide button. What this does is it quadruples the number of polygons in the model. So if I turn on the Frame button, you can see the actual outline of the polygons in the model. So I just zoomed in by clicking and dragging on the Scale button, and you can see all the four-sided polygons that make up the model. I could move between levels of Subdivision using the slider in the Geometry palette. So if I move back down to 1, I can see my original starting Subdivision levels, and you can see this in the wire frame on the model. If I move up to 2, now they are quadrupled, each polygon is divided into four.
I can add another level of Subdivision by clicking on the Divide button. I'm going to turn Frame off for a second so it's easier to see. You can see each time the model becomes smoother and smoother as I add levels of Subdivision. I can keep going and going, adding levels of Subdivisions, making the models smoother and smoother. Now, why would I want to do this? Well, the reason is, when I use a Sculpting brush I can create very fine levels of detail. I'm going to divide it again, make my brush even smaller, and you can see I can make more and more detailed strokes.
As I divide the model it is going to take more and more memory, but you will be surprised at how many polygons you can get into a single model. If you like to know how many polygons are available at any Subdivision level, you can hold your mouse over the tool in the Tool palette and you will see some statistics about the model. The polygons for this one are already at about 2 million. If I move down to lower levels, you can see that detail is still there, even thought the number of polygons are fewer.
By using the slider you can create a nonlinear workflow, meaning you don't always have to start at a lower level of Subdivision to move up. In other words, if this was clay in the real world and I had established my primary forms on my sculpture, and then went into create a certain amount of detail and then decided that I wanted to make a major change to something like the nose. Well, I'm going to lose some of that detail, because I have to go back and make a major change to the clay. With ZBrush that's not the case.
As you can see, I have a high level of detail here. I can go move down to a lower levels of Subdivision; let's say Level 2. I'm going to increase my Brush Size by dragging on the Draw Size slider, and I'm going to sculpt right here. When I go back to my higher levels of Subdivision, that change is going to be there, but you can still see the high level detail still exists on the model. Let's take a look at the model that already has some high level details sculpted into it. I'm going to use the oldMan_v01 model.
In this one you can see I have actually spent some time carefully creating folds and wrinkles in the skin, even started to make some smaller veins. This model has five levels of Subdivision. I can move down to the lowest one and you can see the base level of detail in the model. I can move up and down on the slider, and I can sculpt on any level of Subdivision. If I want to work on Level 2 for a while, I can do that. I can move back down to Level 1, work for a while. Move up to Level 3, and to the highest level. It really makes for a very flexible workflow that you couldn't achieve using traditional clay.
Couple of other things I would like to point out very quickly. In some cases you can actually add a lower level of Subdivision. In other words, I added higher levels of Subdivision by clicking on the Divide button, but I can also move to the lowest level of Subdivision; this is sDiv 1, and I can press the Reconstruct Subdivision Level and this will actually divide the model by 4 and add a lower level of Subdivision below Level 1; takes a few minutes to update so that the higher level details aren't lost.
Before, I had 5 levels of Subdivision, now I have 6. The reason is I added a lower level of Subdivision below what was Subdivision Level 1. I can hover over this and see now that I have 2,000 polygons on this Subdivision Level. This won't always work; it will only work when you have a model that's evenly divisible by 4. If you get to the point where the model can no longer be divided by 4, ZBrush won't let you reconstruct the Subdivision anymore; nothing will happen when you press that button. But in some cases it can be very helpful.
A couple of other things that I would like to point is, if I wanted to delete all the Levels of Subdivision above this lowest one, I can click on the Delete Higher button; the model only has 1 level of Subdivision and the slider is no longer available. To add a level of Subdivision, I can just click the Divide button. But notice now, my detail has been lost because I obliterated those higher levels of Subdivision. So each time I divide I'm just going to be smoothing the models, I have lost all my higher levels of details. So be careful when you use that feature.
Finally, this Smt button means Smooth Subdivide. So it's on by default. If I turn it off and click Divide, the model is going to look fairly similar, even though it has been subdivided, it just did not smooth the edges when it subdivided. Divide it again and you can see. If I click on the Frame button, I have got a lot of polygons here, but I still have these hard edges that represent the original shape on Subdivision Level 1.
This can be very useful when you are creating less organic shapes. Say you are creating some kind of mechanical device or some kind of detailing. If you would like to increase the levels of Subdivision on the model without necessarily smoothing it, well, you can turn this Smt button to smooth the button off, divide the model, and then continue working at the higher Subdivision level. So that's the basics of working with Subdivision Levels. You are going to find that as you work on models you will have this subpalette open and you will be moving back and forth between levels of Subdivision fairly frequently, creating this sort of nonlinear workflow.
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