Learn tips on how to optimize using ZBrush. Ryan Kittleson explains how to use 3D form modes, hot keys, custom layouts, grids, stamp brushes, and more.
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- I find that many of my freelance clients are looking for ways to create objects with intricate mesh-like patterns on the surface. With 3D printing these kinds of patterns are actually very doable. In this video I'll show you some tips and tricks for making these patterns, as well as how to spot potential problems. So we've got a T-Rex skull here and there's several different ways that we could get a pattern onto the skull. We could start painting one directly on, but for this video to speed things up I'm going to start by wrapping on an existing 2D pattern as a texture map.
So let's go into our Tool palette here and open up Texture Map, and go ahead and click on the empty swatch, and we're going to Import an image. So in our Exercise Files let's go into the filigree folder and get the filigree texture here. And once we open this up let's take a look at here. If I just hover my cursor over this swatch you can see it's kind of a lacy pattern. If you want to find your own image through Google Image search or something you could look for lacy patterns and find something kind of similar to this.
Now you can see that the pattern is actually applied directly onto the model right now, and this is because I have my UVs laid out. If you're working on a model that doesn't have UVs laid out it's pretty simple. Just go up to Zplugin, and then go to UV Master, and just simply hit the Unwrap button, and you should get a nice UV layout then and your texture should apply. So this is a texture map. If you see if we go down in our subdivision levels by hitting Shift + D you can see this is a pretty low poly object in I zoom in here, but you can see that the texture is actually a higher resolution.
So what I want to do is convert this texture map into polypainting. So let's go up to our highest subdivision level again by hitting D a few times. And what we can do is convert this texture map to polypainting. So let's go into the Polypaint menu here, and go to Polypaint From Texture. And we're just getting a little warning here, ZBrush wants us to be in Rgb mode here to use this, so let's try that one more time. Polypaint From Texture. Okay, great. So now if we go down in our subdivision levels you can see that the resolution of the texture is the same as the resolution of the mesh.
Now let's take a closer look at all of this pattern around the model. You can see that there's probably some areas that are going to need some cleanup. The way I figure this is that all the black areas are going to be solid and the white areas are going to be cut out. So if there's any black areas that are just kind of floating by themselves or not very well connected to other black areas these areas will fall out and they won't be connected to anything. So what I want to do is paint in different areas to connect these different parts. So let's get a smaller brush here and let's make sure that we turn off Zadd, so that we're not sculpting, we're just painting.
So if Rgb mode is on then we're good to go. And we've got two colors here. I want to hit V on the keyboard to switch to the black color and actually let me change this Focal Shift here, I'm just going to drag this all the way to left, so I get a harder edge on that. And let's see how that works. A little bit better. I'm going to decrease the Draw Size a bit more. So what we can do is just kind of go through here and just make a few artistic decisions about how this pattern might connect here. There's probably a lot of areas that are a little bit weird like this, so I'm just going to hit a few of the ones that I see that are most prominent.
But you'll probably want to take a look through and see if there's more areas. Just painting with black here anything that looks kind of weird. So going around connecting all these parts might take a little bit of time, so I'm going to skip ahead now. And what I'm going to do is come down to the teeth and what I want to do is color the teeth all black, because they're kind of these fine spindly shapes and not all of the teeth have any of the filigree pattern on them. So what I want to do is make sure that they come out completely solid. So what I'm going to do for this is turn of Perspective mode, so that we can look at this perfectly from the side.
And I'm going to hold down Shift, so our view snaps to a perfect side view. And then what we can do is more easily just paint all of these black. I want to make sure I've got Symmetry mode turned on. Let's go to Transform, Activate Symmetry is turned on, it's in the X-axis. Actually look from the side here we can see we've got symmetry. So let's come back to the side view, holding down Shift to snap it. Maybe I'll get a little bit of a bigger brush here, and just want to paint these teeth black.
And actually I'm going to come into the gums a little bit, so that I know that all the teeth are connected to each other. And the same thing down here. Alright, let's take a look around and make sure everything's okay. Actually I missed a little bit, the brush was too small to get the inside, so I'll just come through and do that here. And just want to look at it from a couple different angles, make sure I'm getting everything. We'll just come in and finish it up down here too. Okay, good. One other thing I want to do is I want to make sure that the rim around the eye sockets and these different hole sockets is solid.
And what I could do is come in here and just manually paint a solid edge around this, but what I'm going to do is something a little bit more precise. What I can do is mask the same distance onto each of these edges at once by masking the edges. So I'm going to go down subdivision levels by hitting Shift + D a few times. Let's go into Masking, and let's turn off Groups and Crease and MaskBy Border. So you can see it added a little bit of mask around the edge here.
And let's just increase the coverage of that mask a little bit, so I'm going to go into GrowMask, hit that once, and then we'll hit SharpenMask, just kind of go back and forth between GrowMask and SharpenMask just to kind of grow that mask out a little bit. Looks pretty good. I'm going to hit D a few times to go up in my subdivision levels. I'm going to hold down Ctrl and click in an open area to invert the mask. And now we can just go to Color and FillObject. Now let's go to Clear mask.
Alright, so you can see we've got a solid black rim around all of the open borders. That'll just help everything be a bit more solid. It's also going to make it easier to visually see this shape in the structure. So now that we've defined all the positive and negative shapes with paint let's actually cut out the shapes. So we can do this by converting the paint to a mask. And we can do this by going into our Masking subpalette, Mask By Color and Mask By Intensity. Now it might not seem like a lot changed, because we're seeing the mask and the polypainting overlapping each other, so let's go to Polypaint and just turn off Colorize.
And with Colorize off it's filling everything with the black, which is the currently active color, so I'm going to hit V to swap that with the white. Now we can see that everything that was painted black is now masked. So we could hit Control + X, however the mask is what we want to keep as solid, so what we want to do is invert the mask first, so I'm going to hold down Control and click in an open area. And now we can hit Ctrl + X to delete everything that's masked. So let's zoom out and see what we have here. Alright, looking pretty cool.
Something else I want to do is a trick to make sure that there aren't any floating parts. Some of these little bits of filigree might be floating and we want to make sure that they're not floating. So what I want to do is hold down Ctrl + Shift and just select some area, like the teeth, then we can use a feature up in Visibility called Grow All. And what this is going to do is it's going to add to the selection everything that's connected to what's currently visible. And now to see if there's anything that got missed I'm going to mask everything by holding down Ctrl and just clicking once in an open area, and then I'm going to hit Ctrl + Shift and tap once in an open area to bring back anything that's hidden.
So now that we've got some of it masked we can see that there's some pretty obvious places where there's some floating bits. So the way we can deal with this is to kind of remember where they are, like here on the chin, and then a couple places on the back of the jaw, back of the head, up here, a few other places. So what we can do is I'm going to hit Control + Z to go backwards to before we deleted, and then we can go ahead and paint more of a mask in here to connect these parts.
So let's see, we'll bring the Draw Size down a little bit, and we'll just draw some more masking in here to connect these parts. Maybe I'll draw a mask right here. And then you can look for the other places, like there's a little spot right here that's not connected. I'm not going to go through everything, but just to save time I'll just leave it right here for now. So we can go through and delete again, so I'm going to invert the mask, Control + X to delete that. Something else I want to do is decimate the mesh.
Right now there's a lot of polygons in the mesh. If I zoom in here and hit Shift + F you can see it's pretty dense. So I'm going to hit Shift + F again to turn that off. And so we can get rid of these unnecessary polygons by going to Zplugin, Decimation Master, and Pre-process Current, and this'll just take a couple minutes, or even a few seconds to analyze the mesh and see what polygons are expendable and which ones need to be kept. Alright, let's go to Zplugin again, and actually lock in that decimation, so you can set this percentage of decimation pretty low and Decimate Current now that it has pre-processed.
So let's look at this. Actually that might have been a little too far. If I hit Shift + F you can see it actually put a few notches and things, so I'm going to hit Control + Z to undo that, go back to Zplugin, and maybe not decimate quite so much. Okay, good. Alright, now we want to 3D print this, but as it is right now there's no thickness to any of these filigree patterns. So in order for something to be printed it has to be solid. Before we add thickness however what I want to make sure I do is I want to know exactly how big this object is.
So let's go up to Geometry, and we'll open up the Size palette here. And let's say this skull should be eight inches long in the longest dimension. So I'm just going to bring this up to about eight, or I could type in eight here. Now let's set the thickness. I'm going to go into EdgeLoop. One thing you could do is use the macro we made in a previous video, but I'm just going to go ahead and do it the old-fashioned way by setting all of my settings here. Let's see, we'll bring Loops down to one, we'll set the Thickness to something like .04 inches, which is pretty good for a laser sensor nylon material.
.04 inches is about one millimeter, so that should be good. We'll set the Bevel all the way down to zero, and the Elevation to negative 100, so that extrusion goes inwards. And we'll turn Polish to zero as well, because we don't want to change the shape or have it smooth out any details. Okay, great, let's hit Panel Loops. So you can see it added thickness to everything. Let me zoom out. Alright, looking pretty fancy. The last thing we have to do if we want to get this 3D printed is export it.
So we'll go into Zplugin, we'll open up the 3D Print Exporter, and let's Update the Size Ratios for inches. Go back into Zplugins, since it disappeared. Looks like good, it's pretty much eight in the longest dimension. And so we just want to Export the Visible SubTool and we'll export this as an STL. And I'll just go ahead and save this on the Desktop as trex filigree 8incheslong, and Save.
So that is ready to get 3D printed. So there you have it, it's a pretty quick way to make something with a really intricate pattern. Looks like it took a lot longer to make. And it'll look pretty handsome when it's printed as well.