ZBrush 2020 announced

wow i had no idea about that … that the team is hardcore christians. A bit odd to put a statement up about it on their official webpage. Most professional companies keep it strictly business.

I agree, ZBrush is still a force to be reckoned with, and it’s still my second-favorite 3D tool, but in my humble opinion the shininess of ZBrush is starting to gather some dust. An important part of the new features consists of tools that reuse what has already been there for many years (like ZSpheres), instead of really innovating with new tools that significantly raise the standard for (potential) competitors. And I think this was already the case with ZBrush 2019.

I bought ZBrush around the release of 4R7, which introduced ZModeler. I think this was the last major innovation for ZBrush (ofcourse all other 3D editors already offered a polygon modeling toolset, but ZBrush is a sculpting tool, not a polygon modeler).

Right now I think Blender has much more development momentum than any other 3D tool. Blender is where the action is at the moment, proving the potential of open source more than any other piece of software. I’m eager to see where Pablo Dobarro and his fellow Blender developers will take Sculpt Mode.

They demoed all these features back in Sept at Zsummit and I wasn’t all that impressed. The standout feature for me here is sculpt/paint on Morph UVs. Of the last few releases Snapshot3D is probably the most powerful, but it is using the crazily designed Spotlight wheel and is pretty much a more refined version of the old Shadowbox feature. The Split Screen and real cameras are 2 very welcome features for me.

Th new history brushes workflow is the kind of genius concept that only the minds at Pixologic would devise and the ZSummit demo was very impressive.

As for the future of the program, there are some core workflows that are screaming for an overhaul. Priorities, for me:

A proper scene/subtool outliner like Max/Maya/Blender. The Subtool list system is a pain in the arse and the new folders doesn’t do much to change that(I’m sure this is a limit of the architecture as a saved .ZTL file fails to load unless you have a subtool not in a folder at the top of the list when you save) Organising your scene can be a fiddly nightmare when you have a ton of subtools. Also, you can’t even create a custom floating panel called by hotkey to help with this and the subtool list entries are huge so you have to keep scrolling up and down(I try to spend as little time as possible in ZB panels as I have everything assigned to custom floaters)

True paint/sculpt layers. Mudbox does this perfectly and in a very intuitive and familiar way that any person that has ever used Photoshop is used to. The old layers system in ZB is just another example of the weird design that is both ZB’s strength and weakness. Polypainting on layers is has been bugged for years to be avoided. Sculpting on layers is great and I use it all the time, but again, it is a weird workflow and new users won’t have a clue how to properly utilise it.

Having said all that, the power in ZB is IMMENSE. I spent a few days last week coming to terms with sculpt mode in Blender and then hopped back in to ZB and the difference in sculpting is just night and day. Zbrush’s Clay engine is just that: virtual clay. The feedback from the brushes is just beautiful and even though I’ve been using the program since V1.52B :laughing: I didn’t truly appreciate just how good a sculpting environment it is until spending some time in Blender Sculpt Mode. Not saying SM is horrible, but it is nowhere near ZB in terms of what an artist expects in a sculpting program.

So, even with all the bells and whistles being added to Blender SM, at its core the sculpting engine is just not up to scratch, imo.


They would have to pay me 1000$ to use their software again and not the other way around!

I prefer staying in one single application instead of playing the export/import nightmare with all the issues that come with them.

My workflow has improve a lot since i am modeling and sculpting in the same application.

For my work i don’t need all their gadgets and Blender is more than enough powerful for my current need.

Maybe someone working in high resolution for movie is going to be better off using it but if you are in gaming there is no real need.

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GoB. Boom! :laughing:


That’s a nice bridge to this subject, please feel free to join the discussion:

I don’t think this is a case of ‘feature fatigue’ though, it’s a case a creating an entirely new brush engine. Something I don’t think is going to happen. I’ll definitely check out the thread though.:+1:

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It has yet to become a thread, so I need your help. :wink:

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Hmm… Watching this video has warmed me up more for the new ZBrush 2020 features:


That’s a great demo!
There’s no better way to make marketing for a program release than ask experienced and great artists to use the new features hehe.


Yeah, good ol’ Mike does it again. As usual he makes clever use of the available features to speed up workflow.

While watching the video I was thinking about how I would approach the process in Blender, and while the workflow would be very different I think we’re close to having a very solid modeling/sculpting system. And by close I mean 4 or 5 more versions of Blender to get it right :stuck_out_tongue:
Right now I think the most needed things are:

  • A better/new multires system
  • A better/new vertex paint system
  • A better brush system
  • A better way to deal with masking/polygroups
  • A better/new transformation gizmo that doesn’t depend on the 3d cursor.
  • A way to add/modify geometry with a brush without having to go to a separate mode to set up a particle system (hopefully the everything nodes project can give us something like that).
  • And a lot of small UI and functionality fixes that would make the sculpting experience in Blender much more straightforward.

The recently added remesh options + the quadremesher addon are a very welcome addition to the toolset.

What I don’t think Blender (or any other program for that matter) will never get exactly right is the brush engine, the way brushes feel in Zbrush is just too good.


The’re stuck with their old 2.5d viewport tech. Creatng what would be a new software with a Pbr viewport can easily takes a couple of years. Especially if they want all the actual tools and brushes to be there.

This is an example of the ZB ‘ecosytem’ I go on about. The way that all the tools come together in often unorthodox ways to build new workflows. The strength of the ZB beta is that it is a collection of the most brilliant ZB users and artists(this timelapse was done by Pav during the 2020 beta) and they are given all these new tools to play with for months, and the result is all these great workflows and ideas that then get expanded upon when the rest of us get our hands on them. What Pav does’t know about ZB is not worth knowing. :smiley:

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I doubt we’ll ever see that. It would mean building an entirely new program, essentially. As it is, many of ZB’s top customers are from sectors of the industry where this doesn’t really matter to them: print, collectibles, jewelry, concepting. Even with film/vfx/games it doesn’t really matter as they’re only using ZB as part of the pipeline for specific tasks.

I would love to see the program rebuilt into a modern ZB version of Mudbox, but that’s probably not even possible if it wanted to retain its a lot of its unique tools and features that are purpose built for the 2.5D world it’s confined to.

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ZBrush is great. Blender is great.

Both are hugely imaginative, innovative and inspired, And both incredible tools for artists. I don’t see much sign either is slowing down nor running out of ideas.


Yeah, from what I understand the ZBrush ‘pixol’ technology is entirely CPU based and likely a bad fit for GPU’s. It’s clearly very flexible and the performance is amazing, so I don’t think they are in a hurry to transition to a GPU accelerated solution even if it was possible without sacrificing features (perhaps Vulkan is low level enough?)

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On the other hand, you’d think algorithms that were written in a time when computers were much slower could benefit a lot from super-fast floating point calculations of modern day GPUs. Recent ZBrush additions are already making use of GPU in a separate window, like PolyGroupIt.

I suspect next to postponing the drastic measures that would be necessary to rebuild the engine, the ZBrush developers are also cautious with too much UI change, because that could put off their trusty long-time user base, comparable to why Facebook still looks a bit 1990s. :slightly_smiling_face:

Yes, this is why we’re seeing these plugins run in standalone windows. Zscenemanager and Noisemaker being the first. Whatever weirdness is creating the magic on the 2.5D canvas has ultimately limited the environment in the long-run. It allowed us to use unprecedented tools back when we had 2 slow hyperthreaded cores and 2 gigs of slow ram…

I am one of those weirdos who has never had a problem with the UI - well, once I got my head around the canvas concept… :smiley:

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:grin: To be honest the ZBrush UI has grown on me as well, and I guess I would even miss the never-ending OCD optimizing of my custom UI. But that doesn’t mean I’m not dreaming of a 2020-worthy clear UI that would enable a number of UX improvements.

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