ZBrush 2020 announced

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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And let’s not forget ZBrush FINALLY got 64bit support just a few major releases ago. :smile:

As for the UI, I don’t have a problem with it at all. Slowly reaches for tab. See, I fixed it.

I will say, though, that they have a tendency to throw some controls into odd places. I’m pretty sure when a new feature comes along, they have a poster size printout of the UI that they throw darts at to decide where it goes.

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Most searched query ever: why can’t I sculpt on my model with Spotlight on…?

Answer: Brush palette>Samples>turn off ‘Spotlight Projection’…

Of course! That was going to be my next guess…

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Back when I used to create those Zbrush tutorials I used to get a ton of people requesting my custom UI, almost daily. I ended up just creating an in-depth tutorial on how to customise every aspect of the UI with hotkeys/floating panels/etc…but STILL they would ask. :smiley: Nowadays I have a COMPLETELY different UI than I had back then.

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pretty exiting for me anyway,i myself have been so busy trying to keep up with blender.
i dont really sculpt in blender.i have z-brush for that.i have had it since 2012.
2019 is quite much better!
2020 will be nice.i have only recently dusted off z-brush to use with blender,so yeah!
good times.
stuff just gets more gooder every day!

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Very recognizable. I guess my custom ZBrush UI becomes almost completely changed every few years. I guess it’s a logical consequence of an ever-evolving workflow, frequently shifting to new tools and techniques.

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Yes, I was thinking why I keep going back to ZBrush, even with the current Blender Sculpt Mode developments. My argument would be the coherence of ZBrush. There’s one canvas, and all tools are balanced to work together on that canvas.

In Blender you need to switch to Edit Mode for polygon operations, using a number of the same keyboard shortcuts for different purposes. Then switch to Vertex Paint mode to paint, switch to Object Mode to select and move objects around (with pivot point), switch to the Texture editor to work on UVs, and so on. And each mode has its own rollouts in several places. It can be a bit confusing at times.

Other arguments in favor of ZBrush are of course the impressive amount of polygons it can handle and the convenience of having on-screen tools for slicing, clipping and trimming. I also really miss Polygroups and the related toolset in Blender, I miss the volume-preserving alternate smooth brush, the Polish slider, ClayPolish, and so on. Even a simple tool like pressing the ‘1’ key to repeat the exact same brush stroke multiple times is something I miss in Blender Sculpt Mode.

Then there’s the add-on thing. :slightly_smiling_face: If you want to have it all: efficient hard-surface modeling, smooth organic sculpting and everything in between, it’s advisable and sometimes necessary to make use of a number of add-ons in Blender, while in ZBrush you almost need no plugins, and the ones you need are integrated. Another thing that makes workflow in ZBrush a little easier and clearer.

Ofcourse Pablo is doing a tremendous job rapidly improving Sculpt Mode, so I’m keeping a close eye on the developments.

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When I first saw PolyGroupIt and that early GPU window section I thought this has to have a much bigger potential in mind than just another method to poly group things. It seemed a lot of effort to go through just to have another poly grouping methodology when what is there already works so well anyway.

Then they reveled the up dated manual UV tools last year and yet it’s not made either of the proceeding version releases. People keep asking too and they keep saying ‘ Still under development.’

My guess is that it’s going to be far more ambitious than just the UV tools and the most logical conclusion is that it will involve in the not too far future at least, some sort of new manual re topo tools. Partly combining the best of the automatic workflows too ? But this is all just pure speculation on my part.

I’ve been looking more closely at some of the new features and they are looking great. I think the potential of … XTractor, HistoryRecall and Infinite Depth brushes will be massive. even though they don’t at first glance have the immediate NEW and differentness of ZModeler or Sculptis Pro.

ZBrush is used massively in model toy and 3D print production. And I’ve been using it a lot recently for 3D print and display models myself so I am glad to see improvements in this area.
I’ve also been doing a lot of large scale and very detailed historical site 3D scanning work recently too and don’t know how I would manage without separate by groups and UV Master.
Although interestingly Blender 2.8 together with the incredible UVPackmaster addon is the only app that seems able to easily pack and organize these massive UV sets once the mesh is re merged. I am doing all of the texturing and rendering / animating of these massive scans in Blender too. Together with some texture paint in 3D Coat.

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Good points, @Toka, I fully agree.

Yes, I guess my expectations have been unrealistically high the past few years, hoping for some amazingly innovative game-changer. But once my initial disappointment has faded, I’m starting to warm up more and more for the new features.

I guess it’s comparable to new gadgets like smartphones. Every now and then there’s a revolution, but usually it’s just evolution, which is also valuable.