ZBrush is a graphic program of the company Pixologic, which uses a hybrid technology of 2D and 3D.

It is used both as an ordinary paint program for 2D graphics and 3D modeling and texturing. The first version appeared in 1999. Fundamentally different from other graphics programs ZBrush stores in each pixel not only RGB or alpha, but also depth information from. Hence the name: the variable Z is commonly used in spatial coordinates for the depth component. These special pixels are labeled according to the company name as Pixols.

In this way you can on the virtual canvas not only flat colors of paint, but also create reliefs on it. The process thus resembles the plastic modeling. It can now be on these 3D data lighting and material simulation algorithms apply as in polygon -based 3D models in conventional 3D programs.

May, in addition to also use such polygon -based 3D models either as a brush to insert it into the relief structure, or you can use the models themselves as canvas and " paint on " with all sorts of tools, a surface structure on these ( Displacement Painting, also often referred to as Sculpting ). The software is primarily used for organic models.

ZBrush is also ideal for modeling of 3D polygonal objects. You can either import an existing model in OBJ format and then process in ZBrush, or directly create a new model in ZBrush. For the latter, a number of basic objects such as sphere, cube, cylinder ... available, but also ZSpheres, a modeling tool that lets you create a skeleton -like structure, which is then converted into a polygon object.

The advantage of ZBrush compared to conventional 3D software is that even at very high polygon count (several million, in HD mode even hundreds of millions ) can be operated smoothly and interactively. Moreover, the kind used in ZBrush to model, namely with a brush, at least in the scope of ZBrush, faster and more intuitive to move as single points. The disadvantage is that, apart from the function of dividing each polygon into four polygons only rudimentary tools available to change the polygon structure ( is meant, not only change the position of the elements, but for example, new insert edges, elements fuse, etc.).

An object in ZBrush can be edited in different subdivision levels. When importing an object with 1000 polygons, for example, you can let it divide ZBrush in 4000, 16,000, 64,000, 256,000, 1,024,000, etc. polygons ( at each step, each polygon is divided into four polygons), to edit it richer in detail can, where you can change to levels with less polygons after the subdivision again.

Due to the function described in the preceding paragraph ZBrush is often used to provide an existing model with details. A typical modeling workflow would be:

  • Base model in conventional 3D program to create (some 1000 polygons)
  • Import model in ZBrush and very detailed model
  • Can generate difference between the base model and ZBrushmodell as displacementMap (supported by ZBrush )
  • Apply the displacementMap on the base model in the original program

One thus has the advantage that you have a model with relatively few polygons, which is very rich in detail during rendering. You can animate well the basic model, despite the wealth of detail and has a good performance during the work, which would not be possible in a model with several million polygons.

Alternative Products

Meanwhile, there are some free alternatives to programs like ZBrush:

  • SharpConstruct is an open source approach for a free sculpting program, yet it provides basic functionality.
  • Blender3D has a special sculpting mode with many possibilities (version 2:43 newly added by the developer of SharpConstruct, in version 2.5 again much improved).
  • Sculptris is a pure sculpting program that supports dynamic tessellation.

Commercial Program:

  • Provides Mudbox sculpting, texturing and posing
  • Silo offers from version 2.0 also rudimentary Displacement Painting.
  • Modo waiting since version 301 with a sculpting department that builds on the existing paint engine.
  • ClayTools provides topology independent Sculpting and Texturepainting on Voxelbasis.
  • Freeform as a big brother of ClayTools offers more features in Voxeleditierungsbereich.
  • 3DCoat, formerly 3DBrush, Sculpting, Texturepainting, Bumpmapeditierung, Retopologisierung and Voxeleditierung offers.
  • Curvy 3D promises easy and fast to create 3D objects by sculpting and other methods.