ZBrush Summit – 2014!

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Pixologic Inc. announces the ZBrush Summit Live! – 3 days of LIVE presentations streaming around the world.

 The ZBrush Summit  happens live from Los Angeles and will be streaming around the world on August 8th, 9th and 10th, 2014. It will present artists from leading studios in the 3D graphic arts community and will feature live presentations showcasing ZBrush and its use across a wide range of industries from VFX to video games, toys and illustration.

The ZBrush Summit will feature a sneak preview of the newest version of ZBrush and audiences will see presentations featuring Pixologic Inc. 3D Product Development Manager, Paul Gaboury and Creative Development Manager Joseph Drust.

The event will allow on location attendees to see artists in action while opening up the potential for interactive Q&A sessions.  In a first, the show will stream live across the internet providing a global audience HD access to the ZBrush Summit and instant connectivity to industry leaders and artists.

The ZBrush Summit will host the likes of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Legacy Effects, Ubisoft, Red Storm, Section, Elastic, Hasbro and 3D Systems/Gentle Giant. With exclusive never before seen content, the ZBrush Summit presents a unique opportunity to see a collection of talented artists in action, along with panel discussions and interviews.

The ZBrush Summit is the natural extension of our efforts to showcase the magic of seeing ZBrush in action. By incorporating LIVE streaming, we have an opportunity to do this while reaching a global audience. It’s an exciting endeavor and allows for more people to engage with ZBrush in a new way.

Pixologic Inc. Brand Manager Louie Tucci

The ZBrush Summit will be held in Los Angeles on the grounds of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects inside the Television Center Building Complex.

ZBrush 4R5 Released

We are pleased to announce the release of ZBrush 4R5!

Combine the new Panel Loops with the power of QRemesher (released earlier this year in ZBrush 4R4) and the possibilities for creating complex and efficient parts become endless. ZBrush 4R5 includes usability upgrades including Dynamic Brush Size control, Mouse Wheel support, Quick/Auto Save functions and much more.

With ZBrush4R5, you’ll gain the ability to generate cleaner topology faster than ever before.  ZBrush 4R5 also includes powerful rendering enhancements, including a Posterization setting which creates illustration effects similar to a Photoshop painting.

These are just a few of the highlights in ZBrush 4R5 to see more information click hereZBrush 4R5 is a FREE upgrade to existing registered users.

Click here to purchase ZBrush

ZClassroom Videos – Military Character Assets with Joseph Drust

In this series of ZClassroom videos, Joseph Drust walks you through the steps to create a picatinny, a “molle”, a radio, and more. You’ll learn how to use the updated functions within DynaMesh as well as Insert Mesh, NoiseMaker, Decimation Master, and Mirror and Weld.

Joseph has over ten years of experience working in the video game industry as a character artist with a focus on modeling and sculpting. He has created character assets for games including Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, Ben 10 Alien Force, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, and most recently Ghost Recon Future Soldier. Joseph currently works as a lead character artist for Ubisoft Entertainment (Red Storm Entertainment) in Cary, North Carolina. Joseph is also a beta team member for Pixologic’s ZBrush and a certified ZBrush Instructor. In his free time Joseph kit bashes Kidrobot’s Munny Vinyl figures and gives demos on ZBrush to local schools.

From the outset, you’ll quickly notice Joseph’s incredible attention to detail and commitment to accuracy. His approach is unique and makes for extremely close replicas of the real deal. Joseph utilizes military gear reference photos and precise schematics. Most importantly, these videos are in real time, allowing Joseph to clearly outline every function he uses in ZBrush 4r4 to create these digital assets.

To watch Joseph Drust’s ZClassroom videos click here.

 

 

ZBrush 4R4 Patch

A patch is now available for ZBrush 4R4

If you have not yet upgraded to ZBrush 4R4 (free upgrade to registered license holders), please follow these instructions instead:
https://www.pixologic.com/zbrush/downloadcenter/instructions

This patch addresses the following:

  • Fixes inconsistent behavior of customized UI buttons and palettes.
  • Updates HD geometry read/write functions.
  • Adjusted ‘Simple Brush’ rendering of applied alpha.
  • Option to turn off LightBox ‘Open at Launch’ setting is now enabled.

How to Update

  1. (PC Users, Only) Browse to your ZBrush 4R4 folder and delete updater.exe, if present.  Do NOT delete ZUpgrader.exe!
  2. Run ZUpgrader or launch ZBrush and click Zplugin>Auto Update>Check new updates.*
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions.
  4. When update completes, launch ZBrush and activate.  The ZBrush title bar will now say “ZBrush 4R4 P2“.

*Note: For some users, depending on user permissions and network security, the “Check new updates” button may return a script error.  If that happens, simply run ZUpgrader in your ZBrush 4R4 folder.

SIGGRAPH 2012!

Don’t forget the 39th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques

You and more than 20,000 creators and users of computer graphics and interactive techniques, in Los Angeles at the SIGGRAPH 2012 Exhibition for five full days of world class technical presentations, creative exploration and the industry’s largest marketplace of products and services.

Booths we recommend  you visit:

Register Now – FREE Exhibit Hall Only Pass Code – sig2012…

Exhibition Floor Plan…

Mass Effect 3 – Behind the Scenes with Pixologic!

Pixologic recently interviewed the amazing Bioware team that’s behind the spectacular game, Mass Effect 3. The artists talk about the progression within Zbrush that has helped move the process faster for them and the new and improved tools that have contributed towards these fantastic characters. Here is some of what they had to say…

Of course, the software industry moves at lightning speed, so the tools have evolved dramatically since you began work. How has that impacted you the most?

Herbert: Polygon limitation is now a thing of the past because now most software can handle millions of polygons without any major lag. My primary modeling tool for hard surface modeling is XSI and a lot of my models are millions of polygons in my XSI scenes. There is a lot of software to choose from and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example there are now great tools for generating AO, UV’s, etc. It is because of this that I feel character artists spend less time dealing with technical issues, allowing them to focus more on the art creation process.

Rafael: Tools that have been developed which speed up the process affected the pipeline a lot. ZBrush tools like Decimation Master, SubTool Master and UV Master are very handy on every model. Most recently, DynaMesh is a very amazing tool that helps a lot when sketching a new idea for a character.

Rodrigue: The biggest impact was on time and quality. We can now really go to town with the details on our characters. ZBrush and 3DS Max allow us to work faster, yet also put more and more details and love into our characters with a lot of flexibility. (Layers, etc.) But of course having great high-res models is not enough and you need a good engine with nice rendering and nice shaders to really show all the hard work put into the high-res models. On that side we were very lucky on ME3; we had a very nice budget for the polycounts of our characters and I was able to re-work some of the shaders to add more reflection and sweetness to our armor. If you compare the rendering between ME1, ME2 and ME3 you can see a big jump in terms of character details and quality between each installment.

Tools and tech are very important but on top of it the biggest impact for us came from the Art Director and the concept artists. It’s a great feeling to see a new concept and think, “Wow! This guy looks awesome I want to work on it!” and you know that ZBrush and the ME3 engine give you all the tools you need to deliver it without losing quality.

You’ve also seen significant advancements in ZBrush since you first started using it. How have those changes affected you?

Herbert: Greatly! I remember the first ZBrush version that I used was 2.5. I had to sculpt my characters in pieces because of the polygon limit and there was no SubTool Master or Decimation Master at the time. I sometimes like to generate my normal maps outside ZBrush and my AO with Mental Ray. Without decimation master, getting the best results outside ZBrush was very difficult. The new selection of brushes is awesome as well. With each update, sculpting in ZBrush feels more like sculpting in real clay but with symmetry, undo and “save as” enabled!

Rafael: I kind of adapted my workflow when I first started using ZBrush, so all the changes haven’t really impacted my work. But for sure tools like the new DynaMesh, SubTool Master and Decimation Master, sped up my pipeline like crazy.

I use DynaMesh a lot to concept new characters and ideas. Decimation Master is a must now for the pipeline in all my projects.

Rodrigue: Again, speed. The workflow is getting smoother and all the new brushes and layers give us so much flexibility and creative freedom. One of my favorite parts is the sculpting feel. I don’t feel like I’m moving points around anymore. Now I feel like I’m actually sculpting. That feeling is great and because it’s so fun I try to stay inside ZBrush as much as I can.

How much were you able to carry forward from ME2? Was there anything that you significantly re-worked like what you did for the Salariens with Mordin?


Rafael: We had to re-work almost all the assets we used from ME2. I had the pleasure to re-design the Keeper and Rachni Queen. I did this by using the same base model and with ZBrush I changed all the details and textures. For other models like civilians and romance bodies we added more details on top of the existing models using ZBrush and re-working normal maps and textures.

 

How did you use ZBrush for Shepard and his squad? How was it beneficial for things like armor?

Herbert: For the humanoids armor, ZBrush was used mainly for the cloth and rubber areas.

Rodrigue: We used ZBrush on all the faces, but also on most of the armors for the cloth and leather parts. In ME1 all the folds were modeled in 3Dsmax and were very basic but with ZBrush we were able to bring greater realism to our more organic parts.

What are the advantages to using ZBrush for concept creation as opposed to traditional methods like going from a drawing to the game’s base mesh and then finally to detailing?

Rafael: With ZBrush it is really easy to play with shapes and try different designs. The best thing about doing concept creation in ZBrush is that you have a base to start modeling on top of or a 3D feeling for how the character will react later with skinning and with the other characters in the game. On the other hand, it’s really slow to do a lot of major variations. So if you don’t have a base idea to start sketching in 3D the work can become useless in the hands of the art director.

Rodrigue: I used ZBrush on some armors to quickly test designs as well as different shape and size variations. It’s really fast, especially when the team is not sure about a specific design. With ZBrush you can quickly make 3D propositions to show to the Art Director and the rest of the team. Seeing the design in 3D helps to make decisions; a 2D concept can be interpreted differently depending on who looks at it but with a 3D model it’s easier to get everyone on the same page.

With the various Reapers you really got to go all out creatively. How did ZBrush help with that?

Rodrigue: These guys were a lot of fun. We had concepts but they weren’t precise. The team really wanted us to have more room with these guys and they are the characters that the 3D artists changed the most. We really had the opportunity to just let loose in ZBrush and let the sculpt talk. After so many armors, it was great to be able to go with an all ZBrush sculpt on these creatures. The Cannibal, the Banshee and the Brute had multiple revisions based on gameplay requests. Using ZBrush, we were able to quickly make them and propose different solutions.

What techniques in ZBrush do you find work best for detailing characters?

Rafael: ZBrush has a lot of brushes that truly help the detailing process. I don’t find myself playing a lot with alphas and other tools. Only brushes and patience are needed to handle the job.

Rodrigue: Like Rafael, I mostly use simple brushes and a lot of work and patience. But I would say that sculpting layers are still my favorite tool in my pipeline. I sculpt almost everything on different layers. With that I can boost or reduce the effect of my sculpting or delete it and do something different. Or I can close the mouth of a character or re-size the arms and quickly show the difference to the Art Director. I do use alphas and Drag-Rect once in a while. Or in the case of faces I texture them and then convert the texture to a mask and use that mask to add some details. When I do use these two techniques I always do it very subtly and add most of my details by hand. It’s just the best way to get exactly what you want.

This is probably your last chance to speak as a team to the ZBrush community. Is there anything else you’d like to say while you have our attention?

Hertbert: Big thanks to Pixologic to keep updating ZBrush with awesome new features, ZBrushCentral is a great forum for people to get inspiration and feedback to keep growing as artists. So keep posting!

Rafael: ZBrushCentral for me is one of the best communities online. All the tools you need to learn are available online. Keep studying and building your portfolio because we always keep an eye on ZBC!

Rodrigue: Keep rocking, Pixologic! Every new release is amazing and the ZBrush community is huge and full of awesome artists. What you do is great, so continue doing it.

And to all the characters artists out there: like Rafael said, we always keep an eye on ZBC.

 

To read the full interview click here.

If you are interested in more information on this product or to buy ZBrush click here.

Behind the Scenes of John Carter with Kevin Hudson and ZBrush!

Pixologic recently published another great example of just how important ZBrush is to the design workflow within a live action film and an amazing effects studio. Kevin Hudson talks to Pixologic about how he and his team at Double Negative use ZBrush to create the fantastic characters in the recent sci-fi fantasy film, John Carter.

How did you come to be involved with the John Carter project? What was your role in the production?

I was recruited by Double Negative Visual Effects in London from Los Angeles to head up the modeling effort on this major Character piece. To date, it was the largest project they’d tackled. While in California, I first tried out ZBrush while working on Ghost Rider. I expanded its use to build the sixteen Zombie creatures for I Am Legend. I then used it to sculpt Dr. Manhattan for Watchman. But with over forty characters, John Carter was going to be the largest scale ZBrush character project that I’d ever attempted. It was also going to be Andrew Stanton’s first foray into live action film making, which meant we had to do an outstanding job.


What was the overall pipeline for your work on this project?

We received ZTools of character concept sculpts from Legacy Effects that had been developed with Andrew Stanton in California. We then took these and retopologized them in Maya using some basic Maya shrinkwrapping tools. I don’t use anything tricky for my retopologizing, but use Maya’s World Space Transfer Attributes tool to shrinkwrap my retopologized model onto the concept sculpt.

We then used ZBrush’s Projection tools to extract as much data as possible from the initial concept sculpt. The model was then reposed into a more standard pose and we began resculpting with an eye for preserving as much of the concept sculpt’s intentions as possible. Everyone would have a say at this point and often revisions to the anatomy to better serve rigging would be done.

We also made modifications to proportions based on animation tests using the basic model. All of this would lead us towards our final production models and sculpts.

ZBrush did a great job when reprojecting new topology onto our sculpts over the many generations of revisions throughout the show. I found that by taking the Blur setting down to 1 we preserved a lot of good detail. Andrew, who had spent a lot of time with Scott Patton at Legacy Effects, was very much in love with his characters and was always there to smack us if we varied too much from the original concept.

Was ZBrush used for environments at all?

The Environment team — headed by Guy Williams — also used ZBrush to touch up all the environments to give the stone a weathered and chipped look. They built intact structures, then used the Clipping brush to chip and flatten sections in order to make them appear old and broken. These chunks were then retoplogized before more subtle weathering was done.

What character posed the greatest challenge for you?

Tars was the biggest challenge and a lot of modelers all had an impact on Tars. He is on screen a lot, and there was a lot of talk about the character looking like Willem Dafoe, or at least his essence. We did a lot of exploration on how much it should look like Willem Dafoe — at one point we did a reworking of Tars to incorporate a lot of Willem Dafoe’s facial characteristics. This was often refered to as the “Eleven” version. Ultimately, we backed off from this almost completely and returned to the original concept.

In the film industry, this process of coming back to the original concept isn’t uncommon. Sometimes, the director needs to explore all the variations to confirm that the original inspiration was the best. Or at least, what they really wanted.

The White Apes were a technically challenging character because of their size and ZBrush poly count. I really took ZBrush to the limit and ultimately had to break the model up into separate UDIM pieces in order to export the displacement maps. For the most part, all of the characters were able to be exported using the Multi Map Exporter from ZBrush, but because of the high poly count on the Apes we couldn’t do this. I used the Group UV tool to create separate groups for each of the UDIM tiles. I then then used the Groups Split tool to break the White Ape mesh up into separate SubTools. Even with splitting the model up, it was a challenge exporting the maps, as I maxed out the RAM on my machine.

To read the full interview in detail click here.

ZBrush.. Did you know?

With this article, we begin a series of posts taking a closer look at ZBrush – and specifically what it can be used for. ZBrush is one of the most versatile packages available. From a consumer perspective, it can look a little expensive; however, from a business perspective, it is one of the best value applications available.

While most people consider ZBrush a modeller, they may simply associate it with character modelling. Although this is one of ZBrush’s strengths, in the last couple of years, Pixologic have evolved ZBrush into something much more capable.

ZBrush is a 3D application that is more intuitive to use for most designers than traditional 3D packages. Most designers from product design, industrial / transport design, furniture design, jewellery design and a wide range of other design disciplines are familiar working with materials, moquettes and models. Coming from this background, ZBrush can feel immediately familiar. Plug in a Wacom tablet and you find yourself fully emerged in the virtual equivalent of a clay studio or workshop.

ZBrush is an efficient polygonal modeller – much more so than most 3D applications. It makes very efficient use of model data to provide detail whilst keeping overhead to a minimum. This means that users can continue modelling and adding detail without expecting increases in lag as the depth of data increases.

A couple of the key principles/features:

Dynamesh – the underlying technology that allows continuous reshaping, modelling and extension of the initial polygons. In ZBrush, sculpting results in a contstant, intelligent rebuilding of the underlying model. There’s simply no need to worry about the number of polygons or their integrity under reshaping. Think of it as ‘digital clay’.

Fibermesh – this technology provides very impressive tools in the creation of fibres and fibre-like media such as hair, fur and grass. Fibermesh can be used to create a much wider variety of fibrous or strand-like surfaces and models. For example, Fibermesh is ideally suited to the design of fabrics, soft furnishings, toys and such like; realistic plants can be created to reside in interior design products; in fact – Fibermesh becomes invaluable in a range of situations where existing modellers and renderers fail. Genuine 3D topography is much more convincing than bump maps.

Rendering – with a powerful, and realistic built-in renderer, ZBrush not only makes your pipeline simpler, it also reduces costs further.

Why not take the time to get familiar with ZBrush if you haven’t already? Visit the ZBrush product page and use the download button to trial ZBrush today.

Zbrush 4R3 Release Imminent !

Zbrush 4R3 is to be released on the 28th February!

New features of 4R3 include:

FiberMesh.
Significant advancements to the FiberMesh settings provide you with greater control and flexibility. Curve modifiers have now been  added to a number of FiberMesh settings including: Length, Coverage, Gravity and Color Profile. Revolve has also been added as a new setting.  Textures applied to FiberMesh and MicroMesh objects can now be transparent (true black pixels will be hidden), allowing even greater diversity in their use. FiberMesh settings can now be saved and loaded as needed it. In addition, various FiberMesh presets will ship with ZBrush 4R3. These presets can be pre-viewed in Lightbox, as well as modified and shared amongst ZBrush artists.  Once you have styled your FiberMesh to perfection, export the fiber guides to other applications for further use. Moreover, fibers can also be exported as unique vector displacement maps to be rendered in external applications.

Vector Displacement Maps.
ZBrush 4R3 will export both 16-bit and 32-bit Vector Displacement maps, providing  you with a powerful and easy way to export your sculpted details to other programs for rendering. Take full advantage of the capabilities inside rendering engines by using maps to displace the surface in any direction, including undercuts.

BPR to Geo.
You can now convert your MicroMesh and FiberMesh renders into actual geometry with a single click. The resulting geometry can be further edited. With the additions of the dot preview and Spin Edge features, control the direction of any MicroMesh before rendering or converting into geometry for future edits.

NoiseMaker.
We are pleased to be releasing the NoiseMaker plugin. This powerful enhancement to ZBrush 4R3 allows you to create a wide variety of noise and patterns.  With over 25 parametric generators, limitless combinations, and the ability to work in both 3d and UV mode, NoiseMaker is sure to help get the job done. NoiseMaker, will now use interpolated masking per polygon for an accurate display of noise and patterns even on lower polygon meshes. Furthermore, NoiseMaker features ZBrush navigation style, a larger preview window and new masking capabilities to provide multiple scaling options to your noise.

Interface Enhancements.
Sub-palette sections will allow you to control the length of each sub-palette simply by collapsing or un-collapsing sub-sections. Show what you need, when you need it! Moreover, a new Magnify option allows you to zoom into portions of the canvas or interface.  This is especially useful when recording videos or turntables.

Auto Updating.
ZBrush 4R3 will include a new web-enabled update feature. Enjoy “click of a button” access to check if new updates or plugins are available from Pixologic. Never miss a new plugin or enhancement!

ZBrush 4R3 will also include further enhancements and fixes for items reported and identified in ZBrush 4R2b.

ZBrush 4R2b Now Available – New Fur and Hair Functionality

Pixologic this week announced the release of ZBrush 4R2b which offers hair, fur and fiber capabilities amongst other features. The new FiberMesh will enable quick and intuitive creation of hair and other fibrous materials. The FiberMesh function will generate fully sculptable Polymesh 3d objects. This means your fur and fibres will behave as sculptable geometry when using any of ZBrush’s 3D sculpting brushes.

Users will benefit from having control over density ranges where meshes are concerned. Polygon numbers will span a wide range from minute to millions, whilst retaining exportability. These features will be joined by further developments to the BPR (Best Preview Render) system. The added functionality in the BPR system will see ZBrush users benefit from the ability to have even more control in the creation of highly detailed final rendered images.

ZBrush 4R2b Feature List

  • FiberMesh to create real 3d fiber, fur and hair geometry with export capabilities.
  • New set of dedicated FiberMesh “Groom” brushes and corresponding Brush settings.
  • MicroMesh support to render fibers or single polygons as separate 3D objects.
  • New set of BPR filters and operators to greatly improve your final ZBrush renders
  • BPR Global Shadow and Ambient Occlusion settings simplifying shadow management.
  • New Cavity Mixer used to define different material shaders based on the mesh cavities.
  • Improved small details creation through Alpha and Mask. Alphas may be placed using TransPose.
  • Surface Smoothness feature detects mesh curvature for Mask creation.
  • New global deformation with Transpose Curve deformation and UnClip.
  • Improved Mask operations with Shrink and Extend.
  • Topology editing additions: Group Mask and Edgeloop Mask Border.
  • New JPEG Exporter with Crop, Preview and adjustment settings.
  • Numerous improvements such as storing shadow information based on the camera point of view, preview of mesh Extraction, Auto Adjust Mode for perspective… and a lot more.