Among the 3D fantasy art community, ZBrush 3 is probably the most eagerly awaited software release of the year. ZBrush has turned 3D modelling from a complex and technical job into an art form with all the subtlety and control of sculpture.
Its clever approach of providing paintbrush-style tools with which you can both carve and detail complex three-dimensional shapes, along with its ability to work on models with millions of polygons in real time, has taken the modelling world by storm.
Version 3 is a big update. The interface has been tidied and re-organised, and the program has been fine-tuned to make better use of multiple processors. Models of up to a billion polygons can now be worked on using HD sculpting (although you’re going to have trouble exporting them to any other package). ZBrush will only display a small area of an HD model, but you can use very fine sculpting to add detail that even Bump or Normal maps can’t match.
The Transpose tool is a great addition. In a couple of clicks, you can start to bend and pose your models, creating a realistic stance from a reference pose very quickly. You can also paint directly on to your model using alphas without entering Projection mode, so it’s a lot easier to generate surface details such as bumps, textures or wrinkles.
In addition, Zapplink enables you to work on textures in Photoshop without having to see them as unfolded flat objects. You can now see the textures as they appear on your model.
The new Mesh Extraction tool is great for creating objects that fit around other objects, such as clothes. Meshes can be divided into sub-tools – effectively like 3D layers – which can be turned on and off and worked on in isolation. You can also subdivide portions of your model, giving it more detail where it needs it.
ZBrush was way ahead of anything else before version 3, and this new release is a big update. If you have version 2.5 you’re definitely going to want version 3. If you don’t have ZBrush at all and you work in 3D, you should get this immediately. How have you managed without it?
- 3D modelling and sculpting
- 2D painting tools
- 3D alpha painting
- HD geometry
- Real-time modelling
- Import and export in popular 3D file types
- Work on multiple 3D layers
- Transpose tool for re-posing models
- PC: Windows XP, Pentium 4 processor or equivalent, 1,024MB RAM
- Mac: OSX 10.4