3 min read

ZBrush 4 Sculpting for Games: Beginner’s Guide

ZBrush 4 Sculpting for Games: Beginner's Guide

Sculpt machines, environments, and creatures for your game development projects

Q: Why do we use ZBrush and why is it so widely used in the game and film industry?
A: ZBrush is very good for creating highly detailed models in a very short time. This may sound trivial, but it is very sought-after and if you have seen the amazing detail on some creatures in Avatar (film), The Lord of the Rings (film) or Gears of War (game), you’ll know how much this adds to the experience. Without the possibilities of ZBrush, we weren’t able to achieve such an incredible level of detail that looks almost real, like this detailed close-up of an arm:

ZBrush FAQs

But apart from creating hyper-realistic models in games or films, ZBrush also focuses on making model creation easier and more lifelike. For these reasons, it essentially tries to mimic working with real clay, which is easy to understand. So it’s all about adding and removing digital clay, which is quite a fun and intuitive way of creating 3D-models.

Q: Where can one get more information on ZBrush?
A: Now that you’re digging into ZBrush, these websites are worth a visit:
http://www.pixologic.com. As the developers of ZBrush, this site features many customer stories, tutorials, and most interestingly the turntable gallery, where you can rotate freely around ZBrush models from others.
http://www.ZBrushcentral.com. The main forum with answers for all ZBrush-related questions and a nice “top-row-gallery”.
http://www.ZBrush.info. This is a wiki, hosted by pixologic, containing the online documentation for ZBrush.

Q: What are the most important hotkeys in ZBrush?
A: The following are some of the most important hotkeys in ZBrush:

  • To Rotate your model, left-click anywhere on an unoccupied area of the canvas and drag the mouse.
  • To Move your model, hold Alt while left-clicking anywhere on an unoccupied area of the canvas and drag the mouse.
  • To Scale your model, Press Alt while left-clicking anywhere on an unoccupied area of the canvas, which is moving.
  • Now release the Alt key while keeping the mouse button pressed and drag.

Q: What is the difference between 2D, 2.5D, and 3D images in ZBrush?
A: 2D digital Images are a flat representation of color, consisting of pixels. Each pixel holds color information. Opposed to that, 3D models—as the name says—can hold 3-dimensional information. A 2.5D image stores the color information like an image, but additionally knows how far away the pixels in the image are from the viewer and in which direction they are pointing. With this information you can, for example, change the lighting in your 2.5D image, without having to repaint it, which can be a real time-saver.
To make this even clearer, the next list shows some of the actions we can perform, depending if we’re working in 2D, 2.5D, or 3D:

  • 3D – Rotation, deformation, lighting,
  • 2.5D – Deformation, lighting, pixel-based effects
  • 2D – Pixel-based effects

A pixel-based effect, for example, could be the contrast brush or the glow brush, which can’t be applied to a 3D-model.

Q: How can we switch between 2.5D and 3D mode?
A: We can switch between 2.5D and 3D mode by using the Edit button.


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