“It is one of our articles published in Digital Arts magazines published in 2008.”
CG (Computer Graphic) world, though it has become a major industry in the world say the same thing for Turkey unlikely. Of course, we have relatively more developed sectors served by CG. Advertising sector comes first among these. Although our cinema industry has developed rapidly, it has only recently benefited from the share of the CG world. Like the game industry, it has not developed yet, and it is in our infancy. Turkey began to increase in needs in the CG field, showed that trained, people do not have experts in the field, if you have gone to abroad. People who can meet this need gain in value as time goes on and naturally attracts many people. However, specializing in this field requires a lot of effort and skill. Despite this, accessing information has become that much easier.
When I look at Digital Arts magazine, a decade ago passes before my eyes. Finding information and resources was very difficult. Wherever I saw an article about 3d animation, even a tiny clipping would be happy to find a treasure and add it to my archive. At that time, Turkey will be a magazine and more content will be completely CGI, did not even dream possible. Now it is in your hands… My only advice is to make sure you make good use of this information. Because these are very valuable information, moreover, in Turkish. In this context, I personally tried to share my knowledge as much as I could for years. After that, I will continue to share with you in this magazine.
It is certain that the most difficult part – from my point of view – will be the subject selection in such a wide-ranging CG field. Of course, there are subjects that I am an expert on. Frankly, I would like to make an accurate ranking from what I know best to topics I know relatively less. But I know that needs gain more importance in this regard. Therefore, I think ZBrush3.1 will be the best choice (upon request from the magazine). Why did I say ZBrush3.1 and not ZBrush, with emphasis? Because its evolution in version 3.1 is amazing. I will talk about it later in the topic of ZBrush Development Adventure.
Now let’s introduce the ZBrush program in general terms and in our next article, we can specialize in our subject by modeling a detailed mind and if you want to have an enjoyable “workshop”, maybe we can also refer to the developing “mudbox” software and make comparisons.
What is “Sculpting” with ZBrush?
If we explain the word sculpting a little first, it will be more understandable. Sculpting is a word used to mean sculpting, carving, sculpting or modeling like mud kneading. When modeling with the “Sculpting” method first emerged as a new approach to the modeling method, many people did not even guess that the incident would reach this point.
Since we need pressure sensitive tools to shape by kneading / chipping, the use of a tablet pen is definitely recommended for ZBrush use. Modeling with a mouse will be really difficult.
ZBrush Development Adventure
ZBrush announced its first version in 1999. Although it does not experience a rapid development process between 1.0 and 2.0 versions, it has made a breakthrough with the 2.0 (2004) version and it has become much easier and more powerful with the latest version, ZBrush 3.1.
ZBrush has become one of the most used and indispensable programs worldwide with its version 2.0. Especially for realism, detail and high polygon numbers were reached. Therefore, we started to see incredible detail and quality works and models in the internet and printed publications since this date.
But when we look at Turkey; Due to the fact that it is not developed in the sector, we see that ZBrush and Mudbox software are not used much and Turkish resources are very limited.
What can / cannot be done with ZBrush? Where to use?
Besides there are some areas and topics where the ZBrush program is very strong, there are also parts that are not yet developed, as they are still in development. I don’t know if these will develop in the future or are needed, but it is certain that ZBrush is still in its development deadline.
ZBrush is currently used extensively in the game industry (for low poly it is used as a normal, color, bump and displacement map by “project or bake”) and in the film industry (for realism).
Let’s look at what can be done with the ZBrush program. I think it would be more correct to list the titles with the items and explain with examples later. Because it will not be possible to explain all of them in detail, at least in this article. Thus, we will gradually enter the program and examine it more technically.
Modeling with Sculpting
- A base model can be created with ZSphere.
- Modeling can be started thanks to ready-made primitive objects.
- Modeling can be started by importing base models. These models can be purchased from an external program or can be obtained from the free internet environment or from the library in ZBrush.
- I think it is appropriate to be included in this category, and you can interact with the model by making 2.5D painting.
- Texture painting: It is very easy to paint with the help of advanced brushes and alphas. It is like a 3-dimensional texture painting program. At the same time, variations can be made to the painting with the help of effect brushes. You can easily export the painted texture.
- Shading (Material format, shading): The MatCap library that comes with the new version and working with real-time shadows and lights on the stage is one of ZBrush’s strongest features. It also contains many ingredients. These materials can also be viewed simultaneously in the viewport.
- Render: ZBrush offers limited rendering. It can give a little bit of a better version of what we usually see in the viewport. Although many settings are offered to us when rendering, the basic ones are; Lights can be adjusted, fractures can be removed with Antialiasing, we can get a softer shade, details are better shaded and seen thanks to the fill light.
Of course, it is possible to reproduce what I mentioned above, but basically ZBrush is a sculpt and texture program in general. No rendering or animation is done with ZBrush. (very limited) There is no need anyway. From which he takes his strength; It is best to be able to enter high details easily and progress on the ease of painting.
So where can I use these highly detailed models? How do I import / export? You might ask, like most people. Animation programs cannot work comfortably with such high polygons yet. Yes, but there are ways to do this. Thanks to an exported model with low polygon and maps imported for high details (eg displacement, bump…), we can only calculate details during rendering. I’ll also try to explain how you can communicate with other programs when appropriate.
Meeting the ZBrush Interface
Of course, I cannot explain the interface of the whole program in a few pages, but I will mention some tricks and details that many users may encounter. First of all, it is necessary to open a file before starting a new work, or a new file should be created, but ZBrush may be a little different in this regard. There are three things to know before starting work. Document, Custom UI and Tool.
To start modeling in ZBrush, you must first open a Document that has been saved before, if not, you can set yourself. Document is your working screen. If you have an object or picture in the background (bacground) before, this will come with the document, it cannot be edited.
TIP: You can create an area that fits your screen perfectly with the document menu. The wider this area, the more comfortable your work will be.
Custom UI (Optional Interface)
ZBrush has “Custom UI (user interface)” creation features, which is also very powerful. For example, with Interface Color and Interface Layout in the upper right corner of the latest versions, you can easily put it into many ready-made interface formats. It is possible to change it according to the way it works.
TIP: You can easily take the menu aside by pressing the icon in the upper left corner of the scrolling menus at the top, and you can close the side menu at any time. In this way, you can ensure that the menus you will work with are always open. Only the Tool menu will appear in the Default UI.
TIP: You can also make “Tools” and “Palettes” with the tools you use with Preferences> Custom UI. For example, I collected the brushes that I use frequently while Sculpt in an area that I can easily access at the bottom. For this, it is enough to use Enable Customize and drag and drop method.
Later, if you want your last changes to be active at every startup, you need to Save and Store from Preferences> Config menu.
You can start with an externally called object with Load (own file format .ZTL) or Import (only .OBJ and .DXF) from the Tool menu, or you can start with some special objects already in it or ZSphere.
In addition, after creating an object on the screen, the Tool menu expands and the auxiliary menus, where almost every step of the modeling can be done, becomes active. I will explain the most important of these menus as necessary.
Frequently asked questions, details and tips
- Aligning the object to the screen: Holding the Shift key while creating the object on the screen will make it easier for you to align on the screen. Shift key is used to fix the 90 degree views of the object to the screen.
- Flip error: If your imported object is rotating or reversing, remove the iFlip – eFlip settings from Preferences> Importexport from the selected location.
- Editing: You must click the Edit button to work with the created object. If it is not pressed, the selected object will be created when you touch the mouse again on the screen.
- Clearing the screen: You need to click the Layer> Clear button to delete objects or paints on the screen that are not in Edit status. Shortcut key Ctrl + N.
- Entering details: To increase the detail of the model, you need to make Tool> Geometry> Divide (Subdivision) or you can use Ctrl + D. As can be done from the same menu, D and Shift + D shortcuts can be used to increase and decrease the detail.
- Using the workspace: You have to press the F button to center the object being worked on the scene on the work screen. While you are working, you can rotate by left clickl to the space left on the screen, and also move by pressing the alt key and scale by releasing the alt key (left mouse button is still pressed).
It can also be done with the help of the screen control buttons (move, rotate, scale) on the side. Double clicking on the buttons helps align them to fit the screen.
TIP: If the work screen is full, there is no space, you can use the small frame around the work screen to control the work area.
- Layers (layers) and their return: In order to keep the changes made in the model in memory and return again, it is possible to delete them with the Morph brush if desired, by doing Tool> Morph Target> StoreMT. But it takes up memory, it is best to use it as needed.
Again in the new version, with Tool> Layers, you can keep the changes of certain stages in the memory in the form of layers and can be played again with changes in the future. (both morph and Layer are valid only for the studied SDiv)
TIP: Speaking of memory, you can set the memory usage (ram) with Compact Mem from the Preferences> Mem menu. It is necessary to raise it in high level subdivisions.
Important notes for UV: Before an object is imported into ZBrush, it is important that the UV map has been made with modeling programs. Care should be taken not to have overlaped (overlapping points) parts in the UV. These parts overlap in ZBrush, and the texture and painting to be done will be problematic. It also creates a problem for the displacement map to be taken. To test it, Tool> Texture> Uv Check shows it as color.
TIP: Maps to be exported from ZBrush will be problematic if UV is not done. It is possible to do UV before export, even after the work is completed. I’ll explain this under Creating Textures later.
Making changes to the base model: If you want to make changes to the base mesh, while 1 is in subdivision (SDiv = 1), the exported obj file is opened with any 3d program. Here, the desired deformations or UV changes are made and saved with the same name again, returning to ZBrush and importing this obj file, and the changes are automatically applied to the object. The thing to note here is to make this change without damaging the topology of the object, adding or removing polygons.
Object Topology is important: Like the UV map, the topology of the objects to be imported or created in ZBrush is also important. For a problem-free model, attention should be paid to the fact that the model consists of quadrilaterals completely. Triangles or polygons become problematic divides. In addition, polygons should be concentrated in areas where more details are to be entered, and polygons should be reduced in parts with less detail, so that you can work comfortably in optimum division.
In models made with ZSphere, it is also possible to rearrange the topology with the help of Tool> Topology menu.
TIP: With ZBrush, it is good to have no holes in the object for both working comfort and for the correct texture and displacement-normal map to be exported. For example, the eyes, nose and ear holes in a head model should be closed.
- Mask and hide / unhide operations: Masks are very useful tools for working. It is very easy to apply deformations to defined areas by painting with masks. The masked area freezes and other areas may be deformed. See the hotkeys below to reverse the selection. Distortion (Tool> Deformation) or transforms also apply to the unselected area. To mask, you need to know some hot keys;
- If the object is painted while holding down the Ctrl key, the mask will be painted.
If drawing is made by pressing Ctrl + Left click from a space on the screen, a rectangular selection area is created.
After selecting the mask, press Ctrl + Left once on the object to soften the mask area.
Ctrl + Left click on the screen blank to reverse the selection (inverse).
In order to clear the selection, drawing is made in the blank of the screen by pressing Ctrl + Left click. (without touching the object)
Hide / Unhide is an ideal procedure to work on a specific part of the model and increase speed. Especially essential when working with large objects (eg fullbody). Screen performance is also very high. But only for this process, the ram can wait a while during the filling and unloading process. Again, we need to know shortcut keys like Mask. Now let’s explain them;
- Ctrl + Shift + Left Click hides all but the selected frame.
- If Ctrl + Shift + Left click is clicked on the object once, the selection is inverted.
- If Ctrl + Shift + Left click is clicked on the blank screen once, the entire object is displayed.
Brushes and Alphas: Brushes become much more useful with a pressure sensitive tablet pen. To use the brushes in deformation, it is necessary to press the edit button on the object. Pressing the Alt key while editing reverses the brush effect and pressing Shift can also be Smooth. You can paint and deformations in the form of “freehand”, “scatter” “spray” by choosing various brushes, as well as many 2.5D brushes to be applied on painting when texturing.
Alpha are auxiliary tools when painting and deformation. Several uses:
- Painting with brush effect or distortion as the currently selected alpha image
- The easiest way to save a made mask is to convert it to alpha. An Alpha Map is created by clicking the Create Alpha button from the Tool> Masking menu. If you want to use it in the future, the desired alpha is selected and then it is recalled with Tool> Alpha> Mask By Alpha.
- It can be converted to the selected alpha Stencil with Make St in the top alpha menu. When the Stencil is activated from its own menu, this alpha is displayed on the screen and the deformations made are made based on this map. (eg: alpha in the form of skin tissue made for use in the skin tissue of a face)
Creating Textures: It is easier to work if the UV of the object is opened properly. However, if the UV has not been done until the last moment (which is sometimes necessary to correct the UV when radical changes are made in the model.) When SDiv = 1, the model is exported and UV corrected with other software and the renewed UV is taken by importing it to ZBrush with the same name. (See: Making changes to the base model)
TIP: But one thing to be aware of here is that before import / export, it is necessary to store the model with Tool> Morph Target> Store MT and to make a Tool> Morph Target> Switch after the import in order to avoid a problem.
To start the texture, the “texture map” dimensions can be adjusted from the Texture menu at the top. (eg: Recommended for a typical head model is 2048 * 2048)
There are also several methods for texturing, either one of them can be used or all of them can be used:
For a model without UV map, you can create UV in ZBrush. For this, a UV can be created from scratch by clicking Tool> Texture> GUVTiles or Tool> Texture> AUVTiles buttons. But the resulting texture is in a coordinate that ZBrush understands. It is incomprehensible to us.
In order to paint the model with the “Poly Paint” method, first of all, Zadd and Zsub are closed. (in the default UI above menu) Rgb button opens. Then, once you click on the object on the screen, you are in painting mode. Painting is done by changing the color from the color palette. Alphas and brushes can be changed. After the painting is finished, the painting is converted into texture by pressing the Tool> Texture> Col> Txr button. To continue painting, it is necessary to continue by choosing “Texture off” instead of the created texture. These steps are then repeated.
TIP: If you want to “make the brush texture” (the brush that paints a map); It is necessary to make Tool> Texture> Disable UV. But if you do so, the UV you have prepared with other programs will disappear. To avoid this, export the object first and then import it as I explained above.
Projection Masterparty is a plug-in. The reason it has become more popular lately is its speed. It also provides 2D 2.5D painting and interactions with the model. If you press the “Drop Now” button while the “Colors” cross in “Projection Master” is highlighted, you can paint on the image displayed on the screen (you cannot flip it, do not symmetry it). To project the coloring to the model, click on the “Projection Master”> Pickup Now button.
TIP: Why is it being used so much despite all these restrictions? Because it is extremely fast. Can be used with 2.5D Brush and Brush effects (eg: glow, noise, sharpen).
You can appreciate that it is very difficult to sum up too many titles in one article, I have been able to deal with some subjects in detail, some very superficial subjects. I hope this has been a useful post for those new to ZBrush and those who are afraid to get started.