5 ZBrush TIPS I learned last year
These 5 tips are a bit random but they might be useful
I’ve been working with ZBrush for a looooooong time and one of the things that I love about it is that it keeps surprising me. In this quick guide, I’m sharing 5 very cool tips and tricks I learned recently that I think you’re going to like too!
Getting to know the various ZBrush features, is a relatively easy task, the hard part is to learn how to use the tools in a creative way to address the challenges that your project might present. When you begin to experiment with the tools in ZBrush and discover new workflows, that’s when you start to create very interesting objects and see your own art evolve.
The following tips are a bit random but I’ll briefly explain why I like them and why I find them useful…
1. Dragging custom UI space
I first saw this trick on a video from another artist but I can’t remember where the video was (if you know let me know so I can give him credit).
Basically, the trick is that not only the ZBrush UI is completely customisable, but also has ‘infinite space’. When you customise you ZBrush UI, you can add all the elements you want to the bottom section of the screen for instance.
All you have to do to ‘slide’ the UI elements is to hold Ctrl + Click & Drag. I’d suggest you leave an empty space between elements so that it is easier for you to click an empty area to perform this action.
I have a set of custom palettes where I access most of my macros and buttons, but where I find this trick useful, is if I am working with my custom UI in a smaller resolution screen or if both of the ZBrush trays are open.
2. Actual Size doc and AAHalf doc shortcuts
This is probably the most trivial of all the tips I got on this list and you probably already know it, but I think is an important shortcut that is rarely used. You can press the number “0” on your keyboard to set the full-size view of the document, or “Ctrl+0” to see the AntiAliased half document.
I like these set of shortcuts because they are similar to the commands I’m used to in Photoshop for a similar action on the document (Ctrl+0=fit on screen and Ctrl+Alt+0=Actual size). Another cool thing you can do is to set up a macro using the full doc and AA half doc buttons, include a quick render and a change in materials. Once the macro is ready, you can quickly swap between ‘sculpting mode’ with a grey matcap at full size and ‘quick preview mode’ with a clay matcap and render at half doc:
The ‘Quick render test’ and ‘Back to sculpt’ are buttons that I made for each macro. If you want to read more about how to customise the ZBrush UI with a purpose here is a quick guide you might like.
3. Editing how Polygroups and the Polyframe is displayed
ZBrush allows you to customise a lot of things, even how the polygons are displayed on your model. This is a rather simple thing to do, but I found it to be quite useful in some particular cases. Under the ‘Draw’ menu from the preference palette, you have a few options to change the look of how ZBrush displays the polyframe and the polygroups. So you can, for instance, change the wireframe lines from black to white and make the polygroups very saturated to so they are easier to identify.
I found this feature very helpful when tweaking the geometry of a model that had a dark polypaint pass:
4. Enable tablet gestures for quick zoom in and out
Ok, I have to say that this particular tip is not necessarily useful if you are well acquainted with the navigation system in ZBrush, but I think is a cool way to zoom into an area. Under the ‘Edit’ subpalette from the preference palette, you can turn the ‘enable gestures’ switch on. This will allow you to ZOOM IN and ZOOM OUT with gestures. To zoom in, hover over your tablet with your pen, hold shift and ‘wave’ the pen back and forth. ZBrush will zoom in into the area where the mouse was. To zoom out, do the same thing but ‘wave’ the pen in circular motions:
Like I said, this might not be the most groundbreaking tip you’ll learn, but it is cool!
5. Draw polygon density
To wrap up this list, I wanted to show you one more interesting thing that ZBrush allows you to do. There is a switch under the Transform palette that allows you to activate a visual representation of the polygon pixel density.
In other words, when you enable this switch, ZBrush will display your model with a kind of ‘heat’ RGB map, where the red colour represents low density and blue is high density (green is somewhere in between).
This is very useful when you want to produce a high-quality render or screenshot.
This colour coded visual feedback gives you an indication of what areas you’ll be able to see the polygons (red) and which ones will appear smoother (blue).
That’s it. Let me know what you think about this tips in the comments section or if you have found something new I’d be keen to learn it too!