My foray into zBrush - Part 1

I'm making an effort to try to learn zBrush, and no, not in the 'I'll open zBrush for a few seconds, tinker around, become scared and flee away from it much like my dog does when you make a sudden movement - no Poppy, I'm not about to harm you.'

My previous attempts have been met with loading up zBrush, trying to import my models, coming across some weird thing that happens that I don't understand and then closing it down; followed by opening steam or something to escape the fact that I'm rubbish. I get scared of zBrush because of this reason. Up until now I have always found that I tend to adapt and learn new software very quickly and on the fly, I'm not kidding when I say that I think my brain can't physically learn this piece of software..

I recently was met with a situation at my place of work where I was asked to show some models in the video game engine we are using (Unity) right away. Pressure was on and I had to figure out how to import models, apply textures, bring them into the scene etc all on the fly. I winged it, and luckily it all paid off, thankfully too because I was getting the real sweats when I was asked to deliver what I had been working on! This doesn't happen with zBrush - It feels very counter intuitive and clunky. There's subTools and then there's Polygroups and god knows what else. It's all very confusing, and just the task of bringing a model into the software becomes a project in and of its self.

In fact, I'm going to do my best to document what I'm learning as I go, as a way to spark up conversation with other people or even get their perspective on things. Hopefully I'll learn things along the way.

I've found that it's hard to find documented hot keys for the basic functions for beginners. Just wanting to move around the perspective view is a nuisance. If you're zoomed in so far on your model that you can't see the background of the scene, then you can no longer rotate without putting your mouse pointer into the border (or so it seems.) and actually, the hotkeys feel so backward; I've never encountered hotkeys like this before. I'll list the basic hotkeys that I've managed to figure out so far. I find this software even harder to use with a graphic tablet pen, as some of the hotkeys involve the middle mouse button click. So I'd suggest remapping your pen to include this.


Hold left mouse in the canvas and drag.

Hold Alt and left mouse drag.

Zoom In
Hold Alt > hold left mouse > let go of Alt and drag (I know, it's so backward to hold 2 buttons and then have to release one.. Why is it like this? Clunky!)

Snap to View
Hold Shift if you need to snap to specific angles - If you want view your model from front view/side view etc just hold shift and drag your mouse to snap it round.

Perspective View
Press P to switch to perspective view and again to go back to the Isometric view.  This removes perspective, essentially turning things into a flat, orthographic view.

That's the basic hotkeys that I have figured out. My next post is going to cover the importing of models into zBrush. It's very weird as it involves both Polygroups (Multiple objects becoming one object in zBrush) and then converting those Polygroups into subTools (Making those objects into seperate tools that you can hide and subdivide).

No comments:

About Me

My photo
I am a video game artist at Dovetail games, working on Train Simulator 2014, 2015 and an unannounced title. I also graduated from the CG Arts course at UCA in 2010 with a First Class.