zbrush/blender sculpting

I know blender has a powerful sculpting tool but had my first look at zbrush site today and it seems more computer friendly. ie when sculpting with blender my computer startts to die. Zbrush seems to be able to handle billions of polys.

Do blender artists use zbrush? Is it a useful tool whe working with blender? is it worth looking into?

There is a demo of zbrush which you can try out http://www.pixologic.com/zbrush/trial/. This is not the latest version of zbrush so a lot of the new brushes and features are not included and it does not manage memory as well so you will not be able to achieve as many polygons as in the bought version. Zbrush does not rely on your graphics card but needs reasonable cpu and ram.
The interface can be confusing as there are doaens of options you can adjust, if you realy want to. I use zbrush instead of blender sculpting as I prefer the response your model has to the sculpting tools. Zbrush and blender work fine together with exchanging medels between the two as objs.

You’re far exagerating the number of polys it can handle. If you want tens of millions you need to use HD geometry which is not as usefull as proper geometry. You can have the high numbers if you split your model into different subtools.


Cheers Richard

Yeh had a look on pixologic at some of the tutorials already. Looks fantastic for what I’m trying to achieve in modelling terms. But if I import into blender to animate would the poly count be very high and tough on blender? I know i can reduce the poly count in blender but kinda defeats the purpose. Do you have tricks around this?

Z-brush can handle objects with 10-12 million polygons with ease on fairly “home grade” hardware… you can get several sub objects each with that sort of count with little problem…

The usual approach with this is to re-topologise the model and then bake normal and/or displacement maps… you can do that inside z-brush, in blender or using 3rd party tools like xnormal…

this is how anyone would do this in any package if doing a movie for example… in blender a combo of the subdividion surface modifier and displacement modifier will do the trick…

another possibility (blender specific) is to import the highpoly model into 2.49, then have a low poly retopologised version on another layer…

on the retopo one, add multires and subdivide up to a high poly count. then use the shrinkwrap modifier with the sculpted layer as the target… play with teh params until you get a good fit and then apply the modifier…

you will now have a multires version of your z-brush sculpt in blender… not much use as in 2.49 you can’t animate a multires objects with an armature for example…

Aha, but open the file in 2.5 and the multires gets turned into a modifier and you’re good to go! set a viewport level, a sculpt level and a render level!

This would all be smoother if you could do all the steps in 2.5 but sadly you can’t apply the shrinkwrap modifier now that multires is a modifier…(that can only be done in 2.49)

Don’t disregard blender though, the recent changes to sculpt mean I can sculpt a 6 million poly model on my crappy laptop with ease and good response speed…

the clay tools in z-brush are a thing of beauty! the one in blender is a bit broken really, but usable with a bit of luck and fiddling…

With any luck someone will work on the feel of the sculpting tools in blender, but Z-brush is worth the money as it has real breadth and depth in it’s tools for sculpting, layering, transferring data, resymmetrising, baking etc etc etc… if only it worked on linux!

Also seen this free software today

Sculptris: http://www.drpetter.se/project_sculpt.html

Not tried it myself yet but looks very good.

You’d have to do what you’d normally do with ZBrush though in baking normals etc.

Also Sculptris beta will feature hiding parts of the mesh for better performance. You can paint bump maps too. :slight_smile:

Sculptris is in a closed beta right now, but the Alpha version still beat Blenders Sculpting initiative hands down. The new Beta should be available for the masses before too long. This is an example of what is possible with Sculptris Beta4.


Sculptris is an interesting app.
I can only agree with “the clay tools in z-brush are a thing of beauty! the one in blender is a bit broken really, but usable with a bit of luck and fiddling…” as a zbrush user. My favorite is the flattener tool.
Lets not forget 3dCoat too. Learn what ‘voxels’ are. Another favorite app. I love it. Retopo is fantastic there. It also supports ‘ptex’, what’s your opinion about it? No UVs anymore?
But retopo in zbrush… a PITA.
Some better sculpt tools (pinch works fine) in blender and we can forget zbrush.

I tried the the ZBrush demo. I loved it, but there was so much more then I needed I couldn’t justify the price to my wife. Along with this & the lack of a REAL manual (could never find one) I tried sculptris. It’s awesome: simple, easy to use, great results. there’s many things it doesn’t do that zbrush does but for what I’M doing it’s prefect.

Sculptris is a lot of fun, and I decided to try the zbrush demo but the 3D view looks like a bad 16-bit video game. :eek: The computer I am using is a fast Windows laptop that can run most modern games with detail turned up. Any Ideas why zbrush looks so ugly?

looks like your document size is tiny… go to the document menu and check the width and height settings… (or just hit the “double” button unti’ll it’s a more reasonable rez

Last I checked, the import OBJ function of Sculptris was barely supported. That kind of kills it for me. I don’t want to start with a blob and sculpt… I want to start with a base mesh and add detail.

Right now, zBrush seems to be the only game in town for that – really.

don’t zoom in, move the object closer. It’s different. I think thats how you handle it.

well, it works but the objects can’t have any sharp edges. That messes things up. But besides that I haven’t had any issues importing some obj’s I’ve made.

Can you make a normal map from something built in sculptris?

…I haven’t used it (sculptris), but you can always diff meshes in xnormal or blender to bake a normal map…

I always found sculptris to be dogslow and un-resposive to the speed of stroke (input speeed) I draw at… 2.5 sculpt beats it hands down for me…

How can you of NOT used sculptris but be able to comment on it’s speed? :wink: Sculptris uses airbrush style drawing so the faster you go the less time over a surface so the less is drawn. Stay in one place it it keeps drawing there. Blender uses standard drawing. I’ve only been able to get the same results no matter what speed I draw at. I think both apps support tablets with pressure.

2.5 sculpting has some more options but overall it’s still slower on both machines I’ve tried it on. I use sculptris on a duel core laptop & it responds faster then 2.5 on my quad core.

Not used it for anything serious… it was too annoying for that!

Airbrush huh? that’s why I hate it then… long slow strokes are just the total opposite to how I want to draw (sculpt) 2.5 works as fast as z-brush for me up to around 6-7 millionpolys… but then you need to follow a few basic rules for it to work fast, luckily nothing draconic…

(I’ll paste again here)

1 )have a nicely subdivided base mesh (not a cube! this is because the brush is tested against how many patches it effects and then against the polygons within that patch… if you only have six patches you slow down as you’ll always be interacting with a huge amount of polys!

  1. turn off double sided (properties—>mesh---->normals—>double sided) it really goes faster!

  2. make sure the mesh is smooth shaded (edit mode, select all, face specials(ctrl-f) set smooth) not sure it affects speed much, but it will be quicker… also you get artifacts between patches when set solid!

  3. check how blender was compiled… on some systems OPEN MP (used for multithreading the simulations like water and smoke) will KILL sculpt performance so either compile or try a build with open mp disabled… If your hardware is affected this will make a HUGE difference to performance.

  4. Not certain on this one, but I think you need to turn VBOs off in the user preferences… that may be the other way around, but i remember thinking it strange… It may also be done in the background when sculpt mode is active these days…

Hi, just thought I’d join the conversation. Today I imported an .obj into Blender 2.5 from ZBrush and the mesh imported in 4 separate pieces. Does anyone know why? Does anyone know what settings work best for importing an .obj from ZBrush?


In the export settings fom zbrush I set as active Obj, Txr, Qud and Mrg. The other settings as off.
For the blender import I just use the default.


Thanks Richard. I did some tests last night and found that selecting “Mrg” is essential or the mesh will import as separate shapes. I also turn off “search” when importing into Blender or it seems to take forever to import anything.