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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.
Subdivision is a central feature of ZBrush that allows you to sculpt intricate detail on your models. It breaks down a polygon mesh into smaller and smaller polygons. Depending on your computer's resources, you can have millions of polygons in a single model. Let's open up the SuperAverageMan project. So I just want to go into the Geometry sub-palette. We can look at all of our subdivision settings here. As it is, this model already has two subdivision levels. We can just grab the slider to go through them. You see that one is lower density and the other is a little bit higher.
It's actually four times as dense. You can also move up and down through your subdivision levels without going to this palette. You can just hit Shift+D to go down or just hit D to go up a subdivision level. Sometimes it can be helpful to turn on PolyFrame to see your polygons more easily. Hit Shift+F to turn that on. So now if I go down a subdivision level, you can see that more clearly. I am going to turn PolyFrame off now, Shift+F. The detail that you sculpt on a model can only be as fine as the mesh is dense.
If I zoom in and sculpt, you see that we're just pushing big polygons around-- not much fine control here. I am going to increase the subdivision level to the highest one. Now, we'll create even more subdivision levels by clicking Divide. Each time we do this it splits every polygon into four smaller polygons. Now that the mesh is much more dense, we can sculpt finer details. I am going to shrink the brush down so that we have that finer control and zoom in a little bit.
One of the great things about subdivision levels is that you can sculpt fine details in a high subdivision level and then if you want to make really broad sweeping changes, you can go down to a lower subdivision level, change things, and all of the fine details will still be there when you subdivide again. I am going to grab this and just drop all the way down to the lowest subdivision level. I want to increase my brush size and just make some really big changes to the shape of the body here. I'll hit D a few times to go up to the highest subdivision level.
Notice how all the fine detail is still there, but it's conforming to the new shape. If it turns out that you really don't need as many subdivisions as you've made, you can delete the higher ones. So go to the highest subdivision level that you want to keep, let's say 4 and you hit Del Higher. This is just going to remove the higher subdivision level. You could always divide again to re-create it. You can also delete lower subdivision levels. So let's say the lowest one that I want to keep is level 2. If I hit Del Lower, now that is the lowest subdivision level that we have.
The ability to make adjustments on any level and have those changes update what happens on other levels is one of the most powerful features in ZBrush. It gives you the freedom to make big changes to a model on low levels without losing detail on high levels.
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