Skill Level Appropriate for all
- One of the more difficult tasks in ZBrush is making different objects able to move together as one. In this video, I'll show you how to use NanoMesh to place one model on the surface of another model so that when one moves, the other moves just like you would expect. So let's see how it works. Okay, so here in our exercise file, you can see that we've got two different models, we've got a shark, and we've got a remora. And you might know about remoras, they're these little fish that have a suction cup head and they can stick themselves onto the body of larger animals like sharks and whales.
And you can see here, the remora is a separate SubTool, and so you might think that you could go into your move manipulator and move and position this remora in place. And that's fine, you definitely do that. However, if then you go and move your shark, that remora is not going to go along with it. So then you would have to reposition the remora to fit the position of the shark, and that can take a lot of time. So in stead, let's use NanoMesh, it's a way of creating a special copy of the remora that always follows around a particular point on the shark that you can identify.
So for this, let's go back to draw mode, and I'm going to select the remora, and let's get the shark hidden for just a moment, I'm going to just turn on solo mode here so we see only the remora. And what I want to do is get my Zmodeler brush. So hit B + Z + M, and now let's zoom in on the head. What I want to do is pick a point on the remora that's going to be an orientation polygon. So let's hit shift + f so I can see my wire frame better, and let's hover over a polygon and hold down the space bar.
So there's a lot of options here, but what I want to do is get Mesh to Brush. What this is going to do is it's going to identify a mesh to be a brush that we can then apply to the shark. And we want to pick the entire remora, so let's do All Polygons. And the last thing we want to do is align to clicked face normal. So what this means is, when we pick a polygon to be the representative of the remora, it's going to help us align that one polygon to the shark.
You'll see what we mean when we do it later on. Alright, releasing space bar, we can now pick a polygon, and I'm just going to pick one of these flatter ones right here in the middle of the remora. Okay, so you might notice up here in the brush, it created a copy of this remora model that's now a sort of copy of the remora that we can apply to the shark. So let's go ahead and zoom out here, going to get out of wire frame mode with shift + f. Let's go select our shark, still got it in solo mode so we don't see the remora now.
And now all we want to do is pick a place on the shark where that remora should be attached to. So, maybe somewhere right about here, we'll just hover over a polygon, hold down space bar, and what we want to do now is switch to the insert NanoMesh function. And what this is going to do is it's going to take that remora copy that it put into the brush and apply it to whatever part of the shark we want. Now, we want to apply just one of them, so I'm going to pick A Single Poly, but if you want to to, you could apply a remora to every single polygon of the shark, which would just be overkill.
There's lots of different options to play with, but for right now we just want to keep this on a single poly. Alright, just hover over a polygon and click and drag to create a remora. When it first creates it, it's kind of at a weird angle, it's not actually sticking on where you might expect. Something weird about the way this brush works is that the polygon that you select on the remora doesn't mean that that polygon is going to just be stuck on the shark, what it means is that polygon is going to be facing out and away from the shark. So there are some settings that we can use to control the position and placement of the NanoMesh on the shark.
Let's take a look at those now. Let's go down to the NanoMesh subpalette, and here is where we can make all of those adjustments. Let's zoom out a bit here. That remora is pretty small, so let's raise the size up. And you can see that its orientation relative to the shark is really off, so we want to use these controls X, Y, and X rotation, let's just see what this does. So with this rotation, what I want to do is get it so that it's facing forward. That's good. And let's see, the Y rotation, you want to flip it around so that the suction cup is facing the shark.
So I'm just going to do a -180 to flip that completely around. And you can see now that it's embedded inside the shark, so what we need to do is adjust the ZOffset. So this adjusts how close or far away from the shark body it is. We just grab this slider, we can move it in and out. I want to get it so that the suction cup is just touching the head. Let me zoom in so I can get a better look at this. Okay, so ZOffset, what you can do is actually click and drag on the top of this slider.
I know it's kind of hidden, but there's a hidden slider that actually lets you control with more accuracy, it just slides more slowly. So let's move it just so that suction cup is just touching the shark. Okay, good. I'll go ahead and zoom out here. Alright, let's see how this remora responds to modifying the shark. I'm going to hit b + m + v to get my Move brush, let's got a really nice, big brush here. And you can see, any edits that I make to the shark, that remora stays stuck on that some polygon that we attached it to.
I'll just hit control + z to undo this. And it's actually really impressive to see this effect when you go into the deformations. And let's just use Sbend here, and what I want to do is bend it on the y-axis, rather than the z-axis, and let's just see what happens. Okay, so we've kind of a swimming effect and that remora stays where it should be. It's also kind of fun to use the twist. Let's see how this works. Alright, stays right where it should be.
Now, this seems like it might be a solution to all our problems, and it's pretty good, but there are a few limitations to this approach. For one, if you try to subdivide this model, what's going to happen is that one polygon that was identified as the point where the remora should be stuck to will get divided into four polygons, and it will create a different remora for each polygon. Let me show you what I mean. Hit control + d to subdivide, you can see it's now created multiple copies. Then we hit control + z to undo that.
So what you could do is use dynamic subdivision. If you just hit d, what it does is it creates a subdivision preview without actually creating more polygons on your model. So now we're still with one single copy of that remora, but the shark looks a bit smoother, so that's one kind of work around, but there's still some limitations with this approach, it's not going to solve all of your problems. Now if we want to put another remora on, it's pretty simple, we'll just go back to our wire frame, shift + f, and we'll go back to the ZModeler brush, b + z + m, and we can pick another polygon to insert another NanoMesh.
I'm just going to click and drag one out, and then you go back through the same process we did before with NanoMesh, using the different rotation and ZOffset. I'll let you handle that for yourself. So, ZBrush doesn't have true parent-child linking, but this approach can overcome some of those barriers in certain circumstances.