Zbrush to Blender migration need some help please for keen artist


Im new here, and Im a Zbrush user for a very long time. For the past several weeks I introduced a keen traditional artist to the world of 3D in the direction of learning human anatomy by means of digital sculpting, my natural choice was Zbrush as this is the software I know well.

It wasn’t long before the Demo ran out and there was no way this person could afford to make such a expensive commitment to Zbrush in such a short time, if ever. Zbrush core has a nice price at the cost of loosing some very important features.

This put me on a search for a alternative, but not a alternative that completely changes the workflow he was starting to get used to. I had to try several alternatives myself both free and paid for and didnt have much luck.

I ended up trying Blender 4.8 beta, the layout was nice, and saw the potential there for him. While I would love to delve into Blender my self to help him, Im hoping in this thread I can get some answers to get past this initial tough period of migration from a Zbrush workflow to a Blender one, so it makes sense to tell you what workflow I use and why, then maybe you can point me in the right direction to making this migration as seamless as possible.

Base mesh, Low to high:

As this traditional artist is new to 3D, I wanted him to concentrate on working with digital sculpting without the technical restraints that one faces having to learn modelling, topology and edge flow.

In Zbrush I can start with a low polygon sphere and take advantage of a low polygon mesh to quickly grab large volumes to get the initial forms in place. I do not for this reason like to start with a high polygon Voxel base, this offers far too many polygons at beginning stages and produces a lumpy surface.

I need to be able to move up and down through sub division levels, this workflow is important so large changes can be made on lower poly levels, while higher levels are for primary then secondary forms.

Layers, and history:

I need layers with blend control, or to use as a means to undo or delete a layer leaving the mesh at its previous state. It would be nice if there was a history stack or some kind, In Zbrush I can move a slider at the top of the UI to go back in time.

Remesher/Auto retopo

At some point the edge flow just wont hold up, and its either go the route of voxel based sculpting leaving behind the low polygon mesh, or to remesh with symmetry. In Zbrush we use Zremesher, it does a very good job of following the contours while producing a reasonable new low to med polygon mesh for better sculpting use. I normally keep a copy of the high polygon version and project this onto the new remesh model at its higher sub d levels. At this stage I get a smooth sculpting mesh ready to move on, no lumps or bumps.

Brushes, Alphas

I use very few brushes, for the most part we have found the basic ones, but I do wonder if anyone has developed brushes that are closer to Zbrush.

Move/Grab this is fine for large volume adjustments, but Zbrush has a topological Move brush which takes into account the areas topology and moves only polygons that are needed, good for separating lips, eyelids, or areas like this.

Clay build up in zbrush is one of my go to brushes along with clay tubes, they both feel different, and are nice form builders , iv not found a close alternative yet.

Dam Standard in Zbrush acts as a type of crease, slice brush with a slight pinch. Handy for creases, or adding a edge to areas such as eye lids and lips.

Smooth surface. Zbrush has the normal smooth which can be destructive that softens volume which can be a good thing, but has a secondary function which smooths the top layer of detail only, good for removing pols, and surface bumps and details.

Inflate, basic brush which is so needed for fingers, small areas, quite self explanatory.

H polish: This one is very nice to develop flat plane surfaces, it helps one develop important planes, even mimic hard surface forms.

Clay Polish is not a brush but a tool and acts like the H polish but goes over the whole mesh and pushes the planes you have hinted at much harder, this can save allot of time.

At the core of all this I dont want him to take the voxel, dynamesh, dynamic sub d route at the beginning stages of the sculpt. Remesh yes if this produces a low polygon object based on the forms he has laid down. I did give 3dcoat a go, and we both run into the same issue, not knowing how to quickly find like for like workflows and functionality.

He has spent some good time in Blender now and is hitting many problems and neither of us can find fast solutions as we are working in a new unknown application, more so for him as he is totally new to all this, and being in the beta version which has more order to its layout but having to try to translate from tutorials for the old layout, to the new, thus getting further away from what we should be doing, sculpting, and learning anatomy.

My questions are is there a paid or free set of videos that takes the Zbrush user in a migration process that covers the workflow I used to using?

Can Blender even support for such a workflow?

I see many good works come from Blender, and have seen its community really show some great learning paths, and feel if he can get past this migration period he is better off in Blender as he can move into other areas later on if he chooses such as modelling, surfacing, rigging e.c.t. Iv been tempted myself to get into blender but have much load on me already working with the likes of Cinema 4D, Modo, Substance Painter, Zbrush, Unfold3d, Marvelous Designer.

Thanks for any help for these questions.


Fair warning: I’ve never used zbrush, though I have watched many hours of pixologic streams on twitch.

There’s this: https://gumroad.com/l/VHMCw zbrush to blender intro.

Brushes: https://www.blendswap.com/blends/view/86419 and https://github.com/IIK3D/Sculpt_Brushes

Also, brushes are just brush alpha’s so many greyscale brush textures work just fine.

As for keeping control of your poly count at the early stages, you can use the multiresolution modifier to establish general forms before going anywhere near dynamic topo. You can even stay multi-res all the way through for many things.

zremesher and dynamesh are a little harder to replicate… Blender has decimate and a remesh modifier, but it’s not as nice. So dynamesh would require boolean operations and decimate/remesh. There’s some recent addons working on this aspect, but I haven’t given them a try. There is the ability to duplicate the high poly, decimate/remesh, then add a multi-res and shrinkwrap to the higher poly, though it’s a bit more complicated than zbrush to actually do. It does allow you to control the density, however. You then store the detail in the multi-res modifier so you can step up/down the resolution while working on the different objects.

Retopology for baking is a whole beast unto itself, but I think with the right addons it’s better in blender than zbrush.

History: I use an addon called blendgit which allows you to save versions without making a bunch of files with different names. The versions are stored in a git repo inside a folder in the same directory as the blend file. Each version can have a comment so you can make a note about that particular saved version.

And starting with 2.8 might sound nice, but… It’s not even in beta state. It still crashes and it is not recommended to save anything important due to instability and the fact that you can’t open the blend file with the stable 2.79 builds (and maybe not even 2.8 later on!). Also, the API isn’t locked yet, so nobody is working on addons for it and blender without addons is like you going back to an old version of zbrush before zremesher was a thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love much of 2.8, but I can’t use it to get actual work done, yet. Maybe next year sometime. As a fun example of save file nightmares, I tried to open a project to do renders and it crashed every time. I had to export to fbx in 2.79 and import in 2.8 to do renders with eevee recently.

Thank you for your time and detailed answer, you brought up some good points about the beta. I started using the beta as I found it to be more like other apps UI.

Am I right in thinking that Multimesher triagulates the mesh, I d like to work with a standard sub d workflow?


No, multiresolution modifier will not triangulate. It’s quads. Sub d workflow protected :wink: