Entry 11/10/2016

ZBrush as my 3D Texturing Tool:

On first glance, Zbrush’s user interface seemed nightmarish, given it didn’t

share the same commonality as Mudbox and 3DS Max, I was

jumping into the deep end. It wasn’t as bad as not knowing anything as I could

reference my knowledge of 3DS Max and MudBox, but on the surface, Zbrush is

undoubtedly complex.


To begin, I felt it most important to understand the basics of sculpting, painting,

camera movement and the general GUI of the program. I followed a beginners

tutorial in Zbrush with a basic introduction to sculpting (Edge-CGI. 2016), after

understanding the controls and general layout, the workflow began to become

familiar again. In simpler terms, sculpting broad detail at the lowest sub-division

level and working up sub-divisions, working in greater detail. The highest level

is where all the stamping tools are used to match skin textures; the poly count

was around 7 million at this stage. I experimented with a multitude of brush

effects and sculpting tools, the most useful being the clay build up tool and

smoothing tool.Figure 1.(image) Just these two combinations of tools allowed

such incredible detail when I didn’t have a conceptional idea and certainly no

idea of the outcome.


Figure 1: Preview Material Preset (Red Wax)

I ended up with a strange, peculiar alien creature with a Predator style mouth.

For a first attempt I was impressed with the detail I was able to achieve, from

my initial object, a sphere, to my outcome, proves the power of Zbrush.


In the first run at a PBR workflow, I just wanted to create some quick textures

to gauge the difficulty on exporting these textures; I followed Kevin Burgess

tutorial on this matter. (Kevin Burgess. 2016) Since I started the model inside of

ZBrush, and not in 3DS Max, I needed to do some importing and exporting to

get my UV’s unwrapped. Zbrush needs a set of UVs to use the poly paint tools,

after painting in RGB, exporting your diffuse from here is simple, using “new

from poly paint” gives you the UV’s with the diffuse texture.


Normal maps work the same as in MudBox and make a comparison between the

lowest and highest level subdivision levels; Displacement maps work in the very

same way. Creation of specular maps operates in the same manner as diffuse, in

poly painting white for reflective and black for non-reflective. AO maps on the

recommendation of the tutorial are best done in 3DS Max using the projection

tool; I had to import the lowest and highest models into Max to use this tool.

Placing the two models over one another and projection mapping allowed the

greatest models AO map to be set to the lowest.Figure 2.(image) This process

took a lot longer, mainly down to the 7 million polys which all had to be scanned

32 times to find where the shadows fell.


Though the render is of the Low poly version, all of the maps in the PBR

workflow, bar a diffuse in this one, bring it up to the quality of the high

poly.Figure 3.(image) Given more experience, I feel I can create greater detailed



Figure 2: Monster AO Map


Figure 3: AO and Plain Yellow Diffuse Layer


Now that I’d worked through one example, it was time to turn to the initial

proposal I set out in the 3D texturing tool blog and create a hangar floor

surface, this time in Zbrush.Figure 3,4,5&6.(image)My PBR process was a lot

more refined on this second attempt, and so I was able to focus better without

getting lost in the program. I used a tiling technique utilised in a tutorial

(Arch Viz Camp. 2016) to help define my texture and give it some structure. Here

are the maps I used to create the next renders.Figure 7&8(image)


Figure 3 : Diffuse Concrete Layer


Figure 4 : Concrete Normal Layer


Figure 5 : Concrete Displacement Layer


Figure 6 : Concrete Specular Layer


Figure 7 : Render 1 Hangar HDRI Image


Figure 8 : Render 2 Hangar HDRI Image

Ease of Use at the start using Zbrush was certainly daunting, and I might have

come to the conclusion that this was not worth the time given its apparent

difficulty. But I’m glad that I’ve taken a chance to explore both pieces of

software, I feel more experienced because of it. Zbrush has a wealth of tutorials

for all eventuality’s, and I think with that and the quality of renders I was able to

produce I want to progress with Zbrush for my dissertation.



Arch Viz Camp. (2014). How to create simple yet realistic floor tiles in 3ds max – Arch Viz Camp. [online] Available at: http://archvizcamp.com/create-floor-tiles/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2016].

Burgess, K. (2016). Exporting Textures out of Zbrush. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8yKb5MBKqc [Accessed 11 Oct. 2016].

Edge-CGI. (2016). Zbrush for Beginners Tutorial – Essentials to get Started with Sculpting HD. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PO–0h8XHiw [Accessed 11 Oct. 2016].