By Rossi Fernandes Published Date
01 - Jun - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Jun - 2007

3D modelling doesn't demand that  you be a design guru

ZBrush has revolutionised the way we model 3D objects, and even more so for organic modelling. You no longer have to be a 3dsmax or Maya guru to know how to model things. A newcomer can pick up this software in a day or two and get the hang of things. We take a look at some of the things that should get you up to speed!

Creating Objects And Navigating
When you first run zBrush and run your mouse around the workspace, it draws in the same way you would in Photoshop with some depth, but that really isn't the core feature of zBrush. To create a proper model, click on the Tool icon in the left toolbar and choose a 3D shape-sphere, cube, cylinder, etc. These are primitives that you can create and then modify to make the object you want. Click and drag in the main workspace to draw the object. 

Easy access to the primitive objects toolbar

Pressing [T] enables Edit mode, where you can make changes to the model or navigate around it. If you click again without switching to Edit mode, a duplicate model will be created.

Clicking in the blank region of the workspace and moving the mouse rotates the object.

Pressing [Alt], clicking in the blank area of the workspace and moving the mouse moves the canvas around.

Pressing [Alt] while clicking in the blank area of the workspace and then letting go of [Alt] switches to zoom.

Importing And Exporting Objects
People often need to export their models into zBrush and make modifications there and export it back. Keep in mind that in zBrush, 3D models are considered as tools. So to import a model into zBrush you need to click on Tool in the left toolbar and then on Import. zBrush2 supports importing of OBJ and DXF files, so while exporting from a modeling application, export your model as OBJ or DXF. Choose your model and click Open. Now click and drag to draw the model by clicking and dragging in the workspace.

When you are done working with the model in zBrush and want to export it back again, click on Tool in the left toolbar and then on Export to save the file.

Modifying Objects
Once primitive or imported objects are added to their workspace, they need to be modified. While in edit mode, left-click on the model to add height to the object. Pressing [Alt] and then left-clicking on the object creates depth. These modifications aren't smooth and require some refining most of the time. To even out the changes, you can press [Shift] and left-click over the region that was modified to smoothen it.

Using The Move Tool Effectively
The move tool lets you stretch areas on a model whereas the draw tool creates height or depth. The move tool, which can be accessed from the top toolbar, can also be used to deform objects. The move tool's area of effect depends on the size of the brush. You may need to change the size of the brush by right-clicking or from the top toolbar. Left-click on the region of the model and move it around to make changes. This is useful for creating shapes like wrinkles.

Create And Switch Between Levels Of Subdivisions
Creation of subdivisions is required to create high-quality models, but working at high levels can really be too much for the best of systems to handle. So the best way to go about modelling is to create the subdivisions needed and then make the major changes on the lower levels, and as detail such as fine wrinkles and pimples come, switch to the higher level of subdivision. Press [Ctrl] [D] to add new subdivisions. Pressing [Shift] [D] goes down the levels, and pressing [D] goes up. The controls are also accessible from Tools > Geometry.

Change Brush Type And Size
While in Edit mode and sculpting models, switching to appropriate brush types and sizes is important to get good results. You can change the size of the brush from the menu on top or by right clicking. Altering the Z Intensity will change the amount of depth or height your brush delivers.

Masking Your Model
While working with models, sometimes, delicate regions are being altered while modifying the rest of the model. You can mask regions of the model to stop any tool from doing so. To paint a mask, hold down [Ctrl] and left-click and paint the region you don't want affected. To remove the mask, do the same in the blank region of the workspace.

Customising The Interface
The zBrush interface is unique compared to most modelling applications, and can be highly customised. There are spaces provided on the edges of the window to dock your most used tools and menus.

Toolbars can be docked all over the interface

Clicking on the divider opens blank spaces. Click on the menu of your choice and click on the icon at the top left of it and drag it to one of the blank spaces.  

Rossi FernandesRossi Fernandes