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
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.
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
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)
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].