Objects React to Other Objects

Instead of pixels, ZBrush uses a unique technology called "pixols". Every pixol remembers not only its position and color, but also its depth, material, and orientation. This results in a painting experience like nothing else!

For example, draw a sphere on the canvas with a noisy pattern material. Then start drawing other objects onto the sphere using the same material. Each object is drawn perfectly aligned to the sphere's surface, without the need for time-consuming adjustments and rotations. In addition, the material pattern flows naturally from object to object.


Traditional 2D Paint Tools -- With a Twist

Anyone who's familiar with a 2D paint program will immediately be at home with many of ZBrush's paint tools. However, ZBrush's revolutionary pixol technology gives old tools new tricks!

Clone depth and material, in addition to color. Paint with depth in a variety of ways. Brushes can also alter hue, intensity, saturation, color and even shadows and highlights. Even though the brushes are painting in 3D space, your results are displayed instantly, rendered in real-time!

Each paint tool has unique modifiers for greater control. The Clone Tool, for example, can clone shaded or unshaded colors and textures, from one layer to another, with or without depth enabled, from each mouse click or from a defined center, and more.


Unique 2.5D Tools

If there is one thing about ZBrush that captures people's imaginations immediately, it is the completely unique set of 2.5D paint tools. These blur the boundaries between 2D painting and 3D modeling with extraordinary results.

One favorite, the Snake Hook Brush, pulls pixols from the canvas out into 3D space, curving and twirling with your mouse or tablet pen. Tentacles, tree branches and vines are but a few of the ways this tool can be used. Another tool, the Fiber Brush, paints anything from a single hair to a swath of hundreds of blades of grass with each brushstroke. This tool's modifiers put you in charge of things like fiber density, thickness, length, randomness, direction and even gravity.


Paint With any Combination of Color, Depth and Material

Every pixol in the ZBrush canvas contains information about color, depth, material and orientation. You can choose to use any of these factors in any combination, to any degree.

The Draw palette lies at the heart of ZBrush and provides total control over brushstroke dimensions, depth of imbedding into the canvas, whether the stroke uses color, depth and/or material, how much color and/or depth is applied, and many more factors.

For example, imagine drawing a modeled head onto the canvas, with a base material, and some texturing and color applied. Next, mottle the skin by painting with only color at a low intensity so that everything blends nicely. Add glossiness to the lips, by creating a new material with more specularity, and painting over them with just the material (no color). Make the cheeks more prominent by turning off colors and materials altogether, and turning on ZADD to paint extra depth right onto the figure. These are just the basics -- many more such applications are possible!

The bottom line is, ZBrush gives you complete control over how you paint. Use any combination of the existing materials, textures, brush shapes and objects, or create your own. If you can imagine it, ZBrush enables you to paint it.


Alpha Shapes for Custom Brushes

Nearly every paint tool is modified by a grayscale alpha shape to provide total control over the way it behaves. Standard alpha shapes give your brushes soft or hard edges, bumps, cracks, bullseyes and more. More alpha shapes can be custom-made in moments by painting them and grabbing them from the canvas. Still more can be imported or converted from images and textures.

These alpha shapes can also be used in many other ways within ZBrush. Convert an alpha to a stencil, use it as a mask for modeling, take total control over fog or global lighting, even convert it to a texture and use it to modify a material. The possibilities are endless.


Stroke Types

Brush strokes can be applied in dots, dragged alphas, freehand, straight lines, and even styles designed specifically for ZBrush's unique 2.5D approach.

Draw a line starting on an object's surface, loop it up and out into space, then back again to its starting point. Constrain your strokes to a single plane, or to a line that is perpendicular to an object's orientation. It's even possible to record strokes and replay them, or to "spray paint" objects onto the canvas.



In addition to offering the same kind of paint control you'd get from a real-world cardboard stencil, ZBrush stencils provide much more flexibility. Stencils are grayscale images and patterns which mask all painting and modeling actions in variable intensity. A portion at 50% gray, for example, masks the action at 50% intensity.

Stencils can even wrap onto the image's surface with a controllable flexibility. Other controls make it easy to move, resize and rotate the stencil. Any alpha image can be used as a stencil, so you can easily assign, create or import them from any source for truly unique effects.

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