‘Painting’ Geometry resolution in ZBrush

Add geometry resolution without Dynamesh or subdividing your entire model

This is going to be a super quick guide. More like a quick tip, but with a little extra info on how and when it might be useful to use this technique.

Ok, here it is: You hold ‘Ctrl’ and start masking an area of your model. Just before you let go to finish your mask, hold ‘Shift’ and release the click. When you finish, check your wireframe (Shift ‘F’).

Here is the magic of this trick working:

painting_geometry_resolution_the-good

NOTE: This won’t work if you already have subdivision level

You can achieve the same result by masking an area, inverting it and simply use the good old ‘Ctrl+D’ shortcut to subdivide. When you perform this action, with a portion of your model masked, ZBrush will only subdivide the unmasked area.

painting_geometry_resolution_the-bad

Also, you can do the same thing by hiding an area of your model and use the subdivide shortcut again. ZBrush will subdivide only the visible part:

painting_geometry_resolution_the-ugly

So, you probably already knew about this feature, but the ‘Ctrl+Shift+release-click’ trick to add geometry is a hidden gem. It might not be the cleanest of processes, but it certainly is a fast way to add more polygons just when and where you need them.

The good, the bad and the ugly

The good: This technique could be very useful in some cases. For example, if you don’t want to Dynamesh the entire model, but want to add mode details in a particular area of your model. It works with Dynamesh enabled or just over a ‘low-poly’ model.  

painting_geometry_resolution_dynamesh

painting_geometry_resolution_low-poly

The bad: As you probably guessed, the process of adding localised geometry resolution in this manner, produces a topology that is not very clean. If you’re modeling for animation or to bake some maps, you’ll probably need to clean the model up at the end.

painting_geometry_resolution_the-bad

The ugly: ZBrush is adding more geometry in a specific area, but also trying to keep the rest of the model’s topology as it is. This process could produce some triangles to transition between big polygons to small polygons. Performing this action multiple times could give you problems if you decide to subdivide the model again.  

painting_geometry_resolution_the-ugly

To sum up, hold Ctrl + click to mask. Before releasing the click, hold shift and then release. 

That’s it for now. If you find another good use for this trick, feel free to share it in the comments below.

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