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Pixologics ZBrush 2

A unique 2D/2.5D/3D application By Leif Buckley

If you havent heard of Pixologics ZBrush, its time to take a peek down a new avenue of 2D and 3D design. With only its second full version release ZBrush 2 has made great advancements in the CG industry, and its just getting better.

What does it do?
ZBrush is a 2D/2.5D/3D application that is truly unlike any other program out on the market today. You can create extremely high detailed models, as in several millions of polygons. If you use a pen and tablet youll find painting and sculpting detail and textures onto your object much easier than using a mouse and much more natural feeling. And if you like to paint 2D scenes with rich textures and vibrant colors, it can do that, too! ZBrush has a unique building block called Pixols, which are similar to pixels except they also contain depth, orientation and material.

ZBrush doesnt have much animation ability (Spin It is cool), however, you are supplied with a nice, fast rendering engine with many volumetric and shading options. Theres also a cool new Fiber material shader that can be used for hair, foliage and more. You can definitely start and finish your entire scene in ZBrush, but keep in mind your placement and orientation of objects and shapes is not quite the same as in traditional 3D space. Activating the Gyro will enable you to transform your objects and strokes, but it is a cumbersome system a times. Once you start adding objects, ZBrush becomes more like a 2D program allowing you to place your objects and models on different layers to composite a final scene made from many integral parts. A major difference here is that your shapes will retain depth so you can sink objects into one another.

Some common questions about ZBrush Ive come across are ?who uses it and ?how hard is it to learn? You will find a vast array of artists using ZBrush -- its not just for 3D professionals working in game studios and major motion pictures. Traditional artists such as sculptors and painters have taken to this program as well as people who are completely new to CG art and design. When you see what artists are doing with it, you want to know more.

As far as a learning curve, it is different in several ways, but familiar in others. This makes it a little hard to describe and compare to any other application. I can say that for me it is easier than most ?traditional types of 3D applications, but the way you go about making those same shapes is definitely different. At first this can trip you up and even frustrate some, but that is generally because many have some experience with another 3D application and they are trying to think in those terms. That is where you may need to let go of some standard 3D methods and start adopting the workflow of ZBrush.

Note: ZBrush has gone to great lengths to aid new users in learning their program. Simply press the Control key while hovering over tools & icons to see a pop-up explanation and description. ZBrush 2 also includes several ZScripts (automated scripts), which walk you through step-by-step tutorials. A new Practical Guide and helpful user community at are also quite handy and worth looking into. 

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Related Keywords:Pixologic, ZBrush, 2D, 3D design

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