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ZBrush 4R8 - Welcome

ZBrush 4R8 What’s New Guide

ZBrush 4R8 - Welcome


Welcome to the What’s New documentation for ZBrush® 4R8. While much of
ZBrush® 4R8 is very similar to other releases in the version 4 series, there are quite a
few new features to help make your ZBrushing even more productive and creative. We
hope that the information you find here helps you understand the differences between
this release and previous versions of ZBrush®.

This document only covers what’s new in version 4R8. To learn more about the
features introduced in previous releases of ZBrush® 4, we invite you to read the other
ZBrush® 4 What’s New Guides, located in your ZBrush installation’s Documentation

You’re invited to visit our ZClassroom for a huge database of free high quality movies
explaining all the main features of ZBrush®. Here you will also find the Artists Spotlight,
where famous 3D Artists explain how they use ZBrush®, helping inspire you to create
like the pros.

Don’t forget to subscribe for free to our ZBrushCentral community with over 300,000
members to discover tips, view artists’ creations, locate useful help for all things related
to ZBrush® or post your works-in-progress!

We encourage you to regularly visit our ZBrush® Blog as well as our social media
outlets where you will find all the news related to the ZBrush® universe, from the most
recent Interview to new plugins or gallery additions.

ZClassRoom Portal:

Artist Spotlight:



Pixologic Social Media: Facebook - Google+ - Twitter - Pinterest

The Pixologic Team

© 2017 Pixologic, Inc. All rights reserved, Pixologic and the Pixologic logo, ZBrush, and the
ZBrush logo are registered trademarks of Pixologic, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of
their respective owners.

ZBrush 4R8 - Welcome

Mac OS X & Windows version of ZBrush®

Instead of the Windows Ctrl key, the Macintosh uses the Command (Apple) Key. This
documentation will always refer to using the Ctrl key name, although it may sometimes
list both as Ctrl/Command. When the Ctrl key is mentioned anywhere in the documenta-
tion a Macintosh user will want to use the Command key instead.

The same is true for the Windows Enter key, which the Macintosh calls Return. When
seeing the Enter key mentioned anywhere in this documentation, a Mac user will want to
use the Return key instead.

The Close/Quit, Hide, Minimize and Maximize buttons are located on the top right in
Windows and at the top left on Mac OS X.

ZBrush Documentation Guide - version 1.00

This documentation has been written by Thomas Roussel, Joseph Drust and Matthew Yetter
For all documentation questions and inquiries, please contact us at documentation@pixologic.

ZBrush 4R8 - About

About ZBrush® 4R8

ZBrush 4R8 continues our tradition of creating digital sculpting tools that enable an
artist to design with immediate response, even with digital sculptures that have significant
amounts of detail. The new features in ZBrush 4R8 provide increased freedom while

Live Boolean offers a powerful new workflow for building complex models with great
freedom. Meanwhile, the new Vector Displacement Mesh feature will allow your brushes
to sculpt the model in ways that were previously impossible, creating overhangs with a
single stroke. ZBrush 4R8 introduces a new transformation tool, the Gizmo 3D. It also
includes a 3D text generator that will allow the artist to create text and logos with real-time
adjustments. New deformations, interactive primitives, Lazy Mouse 2.0 and many other
enhancements combine to speed up your workflow, making it a joy to create whatever
you might imagine.

Guardian 2.0 - ZBrush Artist: Cki Vang

ZBrush 4R8 - About

1. Live Boolean

For all their power, Boolean systems have historically required a lot of trial and er-
ror before finally getting a satisfying result. With Live Boolean, artists gain the ability to
combine multiple sculptures together and see in real-time what the resulting mesh will
look like. Any model can be subtracted from another, regardless of their polygon counts.

You can even use Live Boolean with the existing instancing systems in ZBrush such
as NanoMesh and ArrayMesh. While Live Boolean is active, you can even sculpt on your
models while previewing the Boolean results.

All of these options can be combined together to provide new sculpting workflows
that are unique to ZBrush.

2. Vector Displacement Mesh

Expand your Alpha arsenal with a new library of Vector Displacement Meshes
(VDM). These are 3D sculpts used as brush building blocks that will allow undercutting
when drawing on a model’s surface. As an example, you can draw a nose complete with
nostrils in a single brush stroke. Or an ear with complete front and back sides. Or a bent
finger, scales with a raised angle or even an open mouth. All of this without lost depth
or detail.
Vector Displacement Mesh creates real overhangs as you sculpt. Push the details of
your model with precise placement on sculpts with millions of polygons.

3. Gizmo 3D

The Gizmo 3D provides the artist with a new, simple UI element that will allow
sculpts to be manipulated and transformed with precise control. Gizmo 3D can be eas-
ily placed at any location or orientation to perform accurate transformations. You can
instantly change the pivot point for Move, Scale, or Rotation. There are options to rotate
relative to the surface normal or world axis and much more.

The new Gizmo 3D transformation tool will allow multi-selection and manipulation of
SubTools. Select as many SubTools as you want, then move, scale, and/or rotate them
as a unit. This makes it even easier to pose hard surface models!

ZBrush4R8 takes making large, broad adjustments to any sculpt easy with the new
deformation modifiers. Bend text around a curved surface with the classic Bend on Curve
modifier. Twist a sculpt along any axis. Use the Free Form Deformation box (FFD) to
completely adjust the silhouette for any model. Also included are the unique, powerful
deformers like Extender and Multi-Slice.

Design rapidly with simple geometric shapes. Artists can freely adjust the geometry

ZBrush 4R8 - About

that defines the shape, even after the shape has been applied to the surface. Convert a
smooth cylinder to an octagon, adjust a sphere to have flat poles or change a cone into a
pyramid - all in real-time. Using this system, a few primitives can be turned into a whole
library of sculptable shapes.

4. Alpha 3D

Convert any sculpture or shape into a 2D alpha with the click of a button. Once the
shape or sculpture has been captured, you can reposition, adjust, or even rotate the
alpha to any axis. It’s a fast and interactive way to create uniquely different alphas for
surface sculpting.

Similar to the Insert Multi Mesh (IMM) brushes, the new Multi Vector Displacement
Mesh system allows you to build custom brushes with a variety of vector displacement
meshes and switch between them on the fly.

Not only can a brush chisel into the surface to create overhangs, complex objects
can be drawn - complete with back surfaces - in a single brush stroke. Imagine being
able to texture a dragon with overlapping scales, or draw a fully formed ear without need-
ing to re-sculpt it for every model.

5. Lazy Mouse 2.0

Our Lazy Mouse system was designed to draw with smooth, precisely controlled
strokes. Now an artist can guide any stroke’s angle and length before applying the result
to the surface. You can even keep a stroke on a consistent elevation level with no buildup
when the stroke path crosses back over itself.

Ever want to apply a pattern continuously around a sculpt without any break in the
design? The new LazySnap addition to Lazy Mouse makes it possible to start a stroke,
stop to rotate the model, then continue the brush stroke from where you left off without
breaking any pattern associated with the brush.

6. 3D Text and Shape Creator

ZBrush 4R8 comes with a complete generator for creating 3D text in real-time. This
makes it possible to create individual words or small phrase in 3D. You can also use an
SVG file to create your own custom logo for placement on any surface.

Combined with the new Live Boolean system, this 3D text creator is an easy way to
engrave or emboss your surfaces with text. Thanks to the new deformers you also have
powerful ways to adjust the text or even change the silhouette of your logo.

ZBrush 4R8 - About

7. Multiple Language Support

ZBrush 4R8 is now available in several languages: English, Chinese (Simplified),

French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. You can switch from one language
to another at any time. Beyond the officially supported languages, it is even possible to
create your own custom translation which can be shared with others.

While the ZBrush interface has been translated into these languages, customer support from
Pixologic remains English, only.

ZBrush 4R8 - About

ZBrush Artist: Marco Plouffe - Keos Masons

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation




All the steps you need to install or upgrade ZBrush, as well as to leverage its activation system.

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

This is the useful information that you will need to know when installing and up-
grading ZBrush® on your computer. This chapter also describes the activation and de-
activation process. Understanding how the activation system works will help you avoid
difficulties should you upgrade your computer, reinstall your operating system, etc.

I System Requirements

• Operating System: Windows Vista or newer. Mac OS X 10.7 or newer. (32-bits
or 64-bits for either platform.)
• CPU: Pentium D or newer (or equivalent such as AMD Athlon 64 X2 or newer)
with optional multithreading or hyperthreading capabilities.
• 6 GB recommended.
• Disk Space: 750 MB for ZBrush, plus 16 GB for the scratch disk.
• Pen tablet: Wacom or Wacom compatible.
The scratch disk may be a different drive from where ZBrush is installed.
Having ZBrush and its scratch disk running on an SSD drive will result in improved perfor-

Minimum System Requirements:

• • Operating System: Windows Vista or newer. Mac OS X 10.7 or newer. (32-bits

or 64-bits for either platform.)
• • CPU: P4 or AMD Opteron or Athlon64 Processor. (Must have SSE2 -- Stream-
ing SIMD Extensions 2. All CPU’s from 2006 or later support SSE2.)
• • RAM: 1024 MB (2048 MB required for working with multi-million-poly models).
• • Disk Space: 750 MB for ZBrush, plus 8 GB for the scratch disk.
• • Monitor: 1280x1024 monitor resolution set to 32-bits or Millions of Colors.

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

II Installation and Activation

ZBrush installation is based on an installer application, which is similar on both Win-

dows and Mac OSX operating systems.

After downloading the ZBrush installer you can run it to be guided through the activa-
tion process.

For all the information about the process of the installation and activation, please
read the “Install_and_activate_ZBrush.pdf” located in the ZBrush documentation fold-
er or available to download at our Download Center: or visit our online
documentation website;

It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you make a backup copy of the installer after
you have downloaded it. Download links are valid for two downloads or seven days,
whichever comes first. Our Support staff is happy to renew your download link at any
time but we also know from experience that people often need to reinstall on an evening
or weekend when there is nobody available to assist you.

Special notes for Mac users:

1. The download is a Disk Image (DMG) file which mounts to be like any other disk
on your computer. In some cases, a Finder window does not automatically open
after mounting the DMG. If that happens, you will find it within your Devices list.
Opening that will then allow you to run the installer itself.
2. Upon running the installer you may receive a message to the effect that it is from
an unknown publisher. In this case you will need to disable Gatekeeper before
you will be able to run the installer. Apple explains how to do this here: http://

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

III Upgrading

Depending on your current ZBrush version and what you need to upgrade to, there
are two upgrade paths available:

• Using a full installer to perform a “clean” install of a fresh new copy of ZBrush.
This does not require any earlier version to already be on your computer.
• Using an upgrader (downloaded from our Download Center or through the Auto
Upgrader system) which will duplicate your current ZBrush folder and then up-
grade the copy without affecting your current installation.

The full installer takes longer to download, but is greatly preferred. Using it avoids
any possible permissions issues. Also, if there are any problems with your current
ZBrush installation (even those you might not be aware of), an update will copy those
problems to the new installation! The full installer avoids that possibility. You will still be
able to manually copy any desired files from the old installation to the new one.

If you do wish to use the update process instead of the full installer, please read the
Auto Update chapter of this section.

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

IV Auto Update

ZBrush includes an Auto Update system which can check with the Pixologic® serv-
ers at your request to see if a new update is available.

This will support a variety of updates: Any upgrades ZBrush itself, the release of a
new plugin, changes to existing plugins, GoZ upgrades, documentation changes, etc.

This process is initiated manually and is voluntary. It is recommended that you run
it from time to time to see if a new update is available.

1. Auto Update In Action

The Auto Update is a separate application named ZUpgrader.exe (.app for Mac us-
ers), located at the root of your ZBrush folder.

This program can be executed by itself and when you wish to check for a new up-
date or upgrade. Make sure that ZBrush is closed, then simply double-click ZUpgrader
to run it.

An installer-like window will open. From there, simply follow the steps to check for
any available updates. The application will tell you whether or not something is available
for download.

• If no update is available, the software will automatically quit.

• If an update is available, the software will start the download. When the up-
date has finished downloading, it will be launched automatically and guide you
through the installation.

Auto Update in action.

The update installer is similar to the ZBrush full install process. Just follow the steps
to install the new components. The Auto Updater will automatically place all files in their

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

proper locations. When installation is finished the updater will close and you can launch
ZBrush to enjoy the new features or changes.

You will also find the update’s installer as a new program in the root of your ZBrush
folder. You can keep it for future use or simply delete it. We recommend that you keep
the most recent update and delete any older ones.

Each new update will include all items since the most recent ZBrush version release. This
means that if you’ve just installed ZBrush you will not need to download multiple updates – a
single download will be all that’s necessary to bring your installation up to date.

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

V Summary of the Activation Process

For new installations of ZBrush (and some upgrades) this step must be completed in
order to run ZBrush successfully.

The single-user ZBrush license allows you to have ZBrush activated on two of your
computers, provided that both copies are not actually used at the same time. For ex-
ample it may be activated on a workstation and a laptop. Please keep in mind that only
one copy of ZBrush should be run at any given time.

Volume licenses allow only the number of activations for which seats have been

Floating licenses do not use activation and can ignore this section.

For all information about the activation process, please read the “Install_and_ac-
tivate_ZBrush.pdf” located in the ZBrush documentation folder. It is also available for
download at our Download Center: or by visiting our online documen-
tation website;

ZBrush activation window.

• Launch ZBrush.
• From the splash screen, select your desired activation method.
• If your computer is connected to the internet (or can be temporarily connect-

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

ed), use Web Activation. This activation method is faster and more accurate.
• After ZBrush has displayed the End User License Agreement window, your web
browser will be opened to a page that requests your serial number, the email
address associated with your account, and a description that you can use to
identify this computer (should you ever need to see a list of your activations.)
• Upon submitting this form you will be given an activation code.
• Click the button to select the code, then press Ctrl+C (Windows) or Cmd+C
(Mac) to copy it.
• Switch back to ZBrush and click the button to “Enter Activation Code”.
• A new window will open with a red text line.
• Click in that line and press Ctrl+V (Windows) or Cmd+V (Mac) to paste the
activation code.
• Now press Enter/Return to complete activation.

The Web activation form

• If your computer cannot be connected to the internet, use Phone Activation.
• After ZBrush has displayed the End User License Agreement window, a new
screen will open with your request code and a phone number to call. Please
have your serial number ready before calling!
• When you call you will be asked for your serial number, request code, email ad-
dress and desired computer description.
• An activation code will be created and sent to the email address on record for
your account. If you cannot conveniently check your email, the phone represen-
tative will be able to read the 32-letter activation code to you.

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

• To enter your activation code into ZBrush, click the option to “Enter Activation
• Click in the red text line within the window that will open, type your activation
code and press Enter/Return to complete your activation.

• Instead of calling, you may follow the steps above but write down the request
code that ZBrush gives you.
• You may then shut down ZBrush.
• From any computer that has internet access you can submit a Support ticket at
• In your ticket, provide the following information: The request code from ZBrush,
your serial number, your email address, and your desired computer description.
• You should receive a response to your Support ticket within one business day
(often within one or two hours) containing your activation code.
• At that point, launch ZBrush and choose the option to “Enter Activation Code”.
Do not start a new Phone Activation
• Click in the red text line within the window that will open, type your activation
code and press Enter/Return to complete your activation.
• Once activated, ZBrush will start immediately.

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

VI Deactivation

If you plan to move ZBrush to a new computer or if you are going to reinstall your
operating system, you can make everything easier by first deactivating your current in-
stallation of the software.

To do this, launch ZBrush and go to the Zplugin >> Deactivation menu. There are
two options: Web Deactivation and Manual Deactivation

The Deactivation plugin in the ZPlugin menu.

Deactivation process:

If your computer has internet connection, use Web Deactivation. This will
launch your browser to a page that asks for the email address associated with your ac-
count. Submit that form and then click the confirmation button to instantly complete your
deactivation of ZBrush.


If your computer cannot be connected to the internet, you will need to use Manual
Deactivation. In this case you will be given a deactivation code. HAVE SOMETHING
HANDY TO WRITE THIS CODE DOWN – it can’t be copied and pasted, and attempting
to do so will cause its window to permanently close. You may either call the number on
the screen to deactivate by phone (only available during normal business hours of 9:00
am to 5:00 pm Pacific Time, Monday through Friday) or you may submit a Support ticket
at Please note that by either method you will also be re-
quired to provide the email address that is associated with the account.

Once deactivation has been started, it is not possible to stop it. The moment you confirm
your desired deactivation method, ZBrush will shut itself down and will not be able to be restarted
without a new activation. However, the deactivation will not be credited back to your serial number
until you have submitted the Web Deactivation form or contacted Support with your manual deac-
tivation code.

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

VII Activation Troubleshooting

“Activation Failed” after entering activation code:

• Disable antivirus software. Such programs can prevent ZBrush from writing
its license information successfully. If they were perfect and never made mis-
takes, they wouldn’t give you a way to disable them!
• Make sure you are not trying to use your serial number as an activation
code. Serial numbers are 16 characters in length, with both letters and num-
bers. Activation codes are longer and have all letters. You will never enter your
serial number directly into ZBrush. It is always used via Web or Phone activa-
tion to create an activation code.
• Make sure you are not trying to use an outdated activation code. Any time you
install ZBrush you must begin with a new Web or Phone activation to create a
new activation code. Codes from previous activations cannot be reused.
• Make sure that your system clock is set to the correct date, including year. If the
date is wrong, activation will fail. After correcting the date you will need to start
the activation process over from the beginning.
• Make sure that you are logged into the computer as an administrator when in-
stalling and activating ZBrush. After it has been activated it may be run by any
user on that computer, but the initial installation and activation must be done
under an admin account.
• (Windows Users) Right-click the desktop shortcut for ZBrush (or the ZBrush.
exe in your ZBrush folder) and choose “Run as Administrator” from the context
menu. This launches ZBrush with elevated permissions which help resolve
most activation issues. Simply being logged into the computer under an admin-
istrator account does not automatically elevate the programs you run to admin-
istrator-level permission. After choosing “Run as Administrator” you should see
a pop-up message from Windows asking if it is okay to proceed. If you do not
see this message, go to the Windows Control Panel’s “User Account Control
Settings” section to ensure that its slider is set to the default setting of “Always
Notify”. Without the user account control pop-up, Windows doesn’t actually give
administrator-level permission to the desired program, even though you specifi-
cally chose the “Run as Administrator” option!
• (Mac Users) If you launch ZBrush and immediately receive an error message
(such as a virtual memory error) that must be resolved before activation can be
done successfully. This error is typically caused by permissions. For most en-
vironments, simply get info on the ZBrush folder. Unlock permissions and then
assign Read & Write permission to the “Everyone” user group. Next, click the
gear icon underneath the users list and choose the option to “Apply to Enclosed
Items”. When the process completes you should be able to launch ZBrush
without an error message and may then proceed to activation.

If the above troubleshooting items do not resolve your issue, please contact Pixolog-
ic Support for assistance. Make sure to state from the beginning that you have already

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

tried activation and it failed. Phone activation uses the same system as Web activation,
so if Web activation failed you will have the same problem with Phone. We need to re-
solve the issue rather than just trying under a different method.

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

VIII Un-installation

This process completely removes ZBrush from your computer.

Un-installation process:

1. In the ZPlugin menu, choose Web Deactivation and proceed with license de-
activation as explained above. If you do not deactivate prior to un-installation,
the un-installed machine will continue to count against your serial number and
potentially prevent you from reactivating!
2. On Windows, use the Windows Control Panel uninstall utility and follow the
steps. On Mac OS X, simply move the Applications/ZBrush folder and the Us-
ers/Public/Pixologic folder to the Trash.
3. During the un-install process, depending on the Version of ZBrush you are us-
ing, the Uninstaller may ask you if you want to keep your GoZ files. Always
answer “Yes” if you are removing an older version of ZBrush after having up-
graded. If you answer “No”, GoZ won’t work anymore because most of its com-
ponents will be deleted by the un-install process.
4. After the un-installer has finished, check the location where ZBrush had been
installed. There will often be extra files which remain. You can delete those fold-
ers if you do not intend to use ZBrush on this computer again.
With the exception of GoZ and the various files in the ZBrushData shared/public folder, ZBrush
doesn’t write files outside its own directory.

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

IX Support Registration

It is required to have a current Support account at http://support.pixologic.

com in order to receive technical support for ZBrush. This account is free.

If your purchase was of ZBrush 4R5 or earlier, you won’t have a Support account un-
less you specifically created one yourself! Having activated an earlier version of ZBrush
is not the same as having a registered Support account. The Support system is an inde-
pendent platform. It does not use any existing log-ins that you might have for ZBrushCen-
tral, Cleverbridge or any other ZBrush-related sites.
Purchases of ZBrush 4R6 and later required having a Support account to be able to complete
the purchase or get your serial number. If your first version was ZBrush 4R6 or later, you will have
a Support account already and can skip this section.

If you have not already registered on the Support site:

1. Go to
2. Click the Register icon.
3. Enter your email address and whatever password you would like to use for the
Support site. These will become your login info for the future.
4. Fill in your system information. We need this info in order to respond to your
support requests more efficiently.
5. Also provide your ZBrush 4x serial number for your copy of ZBrush. This infor-
mation identifies you as someone who has actually purchased a ZBrush license.
(If you have upgraded from an earlier version of ZBrush 4, your serial number
will remain unchanged. All versions of ZBrush 4x use the same serial number.)
6. After you submit the form you will receive a confirmation email at the address
you used to register. Follow the instructions in that email to complete your reg-

If you have already registered on the Support site:

You do not need to change any information.

At any time, you can go to to view your past tickets or

create a new one.

ZBrush 4R8 - Installation, Upgrade and Activation

X Backward Compatibility of ZBrush Files

ZBrush files are not backward compatible, which means that your files created with
the most recent version of ZBrush won’t be compatible with any older version.

For example, if you have a file that you’d been working on with ZBrush 4R3 and then
save it using ZBrush 4R7, you will no longer be able to open it in version 4R3.

Different versions of ZBrush can be used together with GoZ due to the fact that its
main components have remained the same, but it’s not possible to work on the same
project between multiple versions of ZBrush at the same time. Once a file has been
created or saved in a newer version of ZBrush, it will not be able to be opened by any
earlier version.

GoZ cannot get around this restriction. It can be used to open files from earlier ver-
sions of ZBrush but it cannot be used to send files to an earlier version. The only way
to get a file into an earlier version of ZBrush than it was last saved in is through the OBJ

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations


True geometry additions and substraction for complex creations

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

An example of a complex model produced with the Boolean operations.

Model courtesy of Joseph Drust.

ZBrush includes a complete Boolean system in addition to its other Boolean-style

features like DynaMesh and Remesh All. These features all use the SubTool operators to
define if a SubTool will be used as an Addition, Subtraction or Intersection model.

This Boolean tool is composed of two main elements:

• The Live Boolean mode found in the Render >> Render Booleans sub-palette
lets you preview in real-time the results of Boolean operations on your SubTools. You
can move, scale, rotate, duplicate, change the operation mode and even sculpt in this
mode. In the default ZBrush UI, the Live Boolean switch is readily accessed to the left
of the Edit mode button.
• The Make Boolean Mesh function, found in the Tool >> SubTool >> Boolean sub-
palette converts all Boolean operations to a new Tool. These results can be reused for
further Boolean operations inside of ZBrush or exported to other 3D applications.

This Boolean tool has been optimized to be ultra-fast. A model composed of several
millions of polygons can be converted from the preview to real geometry in just a few
seconds, although highly complex models can take up to a few minutes.

The Boolean function will work with almost all ZBrush features, so long as the mod-
els are some form of PolyMesh 3D. DynaMesh models and those with multiple subdivi-
sion levels will work perfectly, as well as low polygon models created using the ZModeler
brush. Advanced features like ArrayMesh and NanoMesh are supported as well since the
resulting models are PolyMeshes.

3D Primitives, ZSpheres ZSketches, or other render-time effects (such as Micro-

Mesh) are not supported by the Boolean system until they are converted to PolyMeshes.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

I Important Notice about Boolean Operations

ZBrush is well known for its ability to work visually without considering the underlying
topology of 3D meshes. This is particularly true with core features like DynaMesh. The
way of working with Boolean operations is slightly different and you need to respect some
simple rules to ensure successful results. The Boolean real-time preview engine is not
impacted by these constraints.

Avoid coplanar faces

When you are building models, avoid polygon surfaces that are directly on top of
each other. A simple example would be two stacked cubes where the polygons in contact
between the two meshes are strictly on the same plane. To fix the coplanar faces, mov-
ing one of the cubes slightly will offset the two polygon surfaces so they are no longer

An example of coplanar faces: On the left, the two separated cubes. On the right, the two cubes
have been put on top of each other, creating coplanar faces (see the tip of the arrow).

Work with volumes

As with DynaMesh, the Boolean tool is designed to work with volumes rather than
single sided surfaces. When performing a Boolean operation, it is strongly advised to
work with watertight meshes to produce the results you are looking for.

Mesh density consistency

The Boolean system is only going to modify the topology of the meshes where the
Boolean processes happen. Try to avoid combining really dense models with low poly-
gon ones. The results from these two types of meshes can produce long and thin tri-

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

angles which may be problematic if you attempt to perform another Boolean operation
on this model.

Notice the variation of density between the two models. Although the Boolean operation will be
performed without any errors, the result may be problematic if you perform extra Boolean opera-
tions on the resulting mesh.

Reduce Dynamic Subdivision levels

When working with the ZModeler brush and/or low polygon models, you may be
used to using Dynamic Subdivisions. It is very common to select high smoothing values
with Dynamic Subdivision as it doesn’t slow down ZBrush and it can increase the visual
quality of your models. However, the Boolean process will convert these Dynamic Subdi-
visions to real geometry before processing. This can produce elongated polygons on the
borders of the original topology after processing. These triangles may generate topology
issues if you attempt to perform another Boolean operation with the resulting mesh.

It is strongly advised to use lower Dynamic Subdivision levels when possible.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

On the left, the model with Dynamic Subdivision enabled. On the right, after being converted as
raw topology. Look closely at the very long and thin quadrangles which will become very thin
triangles when intersecting with other models during a Boolean operation. Reducing the resolution
of the Dynamic Subdivision is advised.

Non-manifold edges must be removed

Behind this barbaric name is a common 3D topology issue which consists of an edge
sharing more than two polygons. This issue can happen when importing models from
other software.

The Boolean engine includes a cleaning process which will try to fix these non-
manifold edges but in some scenarios, it won’t be possible. For best results stay away
from using meshes with non-manifold edges when using the Boolean system.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

II Boolean Process

The process of creating your model using Boolean operations is easy and works in
a similar way to the DynaMesh Boolean and Remesh All features. To determine if you
want to use an addition, subtraction, or intersection object you just need to activate the
corresponding operator on the SubTool. These are the small circle icons found on top of
each item in the SubTool list, to the left of the eye icon: Add, Subtract and Intersection,
plus a “Start” flag.

The SubTool operators, with from left to right: Start flag, Addition, Subtraction, Intersection.

Prepare your models and for each SubTool, set the operator. Then enable the Bool-
ean preview and when ready, produce the resulting mesh.

The Boolean settings and functions, found in the Render >> External Render sub-palette.

1. Linearity of the Boolean operations

The Boolean process is performed in a hierarchal fashion from the top to the bot-
tom of the SubTool list. The first SubTool will be in Addition or Start mode (read the next
section about Start groups) and the following SubTools will be added subtracted, or inter-
sected depending on the selected operator. Only the visible SubTools will be processed.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

In this screenshot, you can see the SubTool list. The top SubTool will be the starting point and then
each SubTool located below will be added or subtracted in this top to bottom order.

2. Start groups

To simplify the creation of complex model, you can specify a Start group of SubTools
which can be processed together and create a separate SubTool in the resulting Tool.
You can create as many Start groups as needed and for each group, the Boolean pro-
cess will generate as many SubTools as you have defined Start groups.

To create a Start group, you need to click on the arrow found on the right of the
SubTool preview icon. It will add a “Start” flag, defining this SubTool as the first one of
the group. The group will include all the SubTools found below until another SubTool is
set as a Start group.

The Start flag in the SubTool list, toggled on and off.

By clicking again on the Start flag, you will revert the Start group back to a regular
SubTool which will be processed like all others which are not part of a group.

The Tool >> SubTool >> Auto-Collapse function (located below the SubTool list) can
be enabled to keep only the current SubTool Start group open, collapsing all other groups
until you select a new Start group.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

III Data Support and Preservation

The Boolean operation can preserve some of the data included in the original Sub-
Tools and will propagate that to the resulting SubTool(s). Some data types are not sup-
ported and it is important to keep them in mind. Please check the list below.

Supported data:

• PolyMesh 3D and associated topologies: subdivision surfaces, ZModeler, Dy-

naMesh, etc.
• ZSphere models: only if they are in Preview mode, by pressing the Tool >>
Adaptive Skin >> Preview button (A hotkey). The Adaptive skin can be in Subdi-
vision mode or DynaMesh mode.
• ZSketch models: like ZSpheres, are only supported if they are in Preview mode.
• ArrayMesh, NanoMesh and other instance tools. ZBrush will convert them to a
mesh during the Boolean process.
• FiberMesh: Even if the FiberMesh in Preview mode it is not supported, it is
strongly advised to converted fibers to geometry and only use 3+ sided fibers.
Using 1 or 2 sided fibers will produce unexpected results.

Unsupported data:

• HD Geometry: This type of data is not supported and won’t be taken into con-
sideration by the Boolean process.
• 3D Primitive (parametric) models: All the 3D primitives found in the Tool >> Tool
Selector cannot be processed. You must convert them to a PolyMesh 3D before
being able to use them with Boolean operations.
• Render time objects: Any topology which is only generated during a BPR ren-
der, like MicroMesh and surface noise cannot be processed. All these process-
es need to be converted to real geometry first.
• Partially visible meshes: during the process, all openings created by the hidden
polygons will be considered as holes and will be removed using the Tool >>
Geometry >> Modify Topology >> Close Hole function. It is strongly advised to
make your polygons visible before using the Boolean operations.

Propagated datas:

• Original topology: Only the parts which are affected by the Boolean opera-
tion will be triangulated. All the other areas will keep their original topology. Of
course, subdivision levels will be collapsed to the current level and Dynamic
Subdivisions will be applied only if the Boolean DSubdiv mode is enabled.
• PolyGroups: Each PolyGroup in the original SubTools will be preserved in the
resulting SubTool(s), including at the areas where the Boolean operations took

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

• PolyPainting: The PolyPaint from each original SubTool will be preserved in the
resulting SubTool(s), however, some loss of quality may be visible in the area
where the Boolean operation connection took place. If a PolyPainted model with
a high density of polygons is connected to a low-resolution model, the difference
in resolution will produce a connected area which will lack enough resolution to
preserve the original PolyPaint quality. Subdividing the low-resolution models
before performing the Boolean operation will help prevent this.

The PolyPaint has been preserved on the left, but the difference in density didn’t produce a clean
result. On the right, the top part has been subdivided prior to the Boolean operation, producing a
better PolyPaint result.

Removed datas:

• UV’s: UV’s from each SubTool are completely removed by the Boolean opera-
tion process. Even SubTools without major modifications will have their UV’s
removed. This is because UV mapping depends on the model’s point list and
any Boolean operation automatically changes the number of points.
• Textures: Because UV’s are not propagated, texture will be removed.
• Subdivision levels: Because the Boolean operation only operates on the result-
ing SubTool geometry, the current subdivision level will be used for the process
and all other levels discarded.
Reconstructing Subdivision levels after a Boolean operation is impossible because of the
topology change.

Please keep in mind that applying smoothing/subdivision levels to the result of a Boolean
operation will produce visual artifacts where the meshes intersect. This is because the opera-
tion produces multiple triangles and topology that is not optimized for smoothing. It is advised to
smooth your model prior to performing the Boolean operation.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

• Creased edges: The creasing is removed during the Boolean operation.

• 3D Layers: Only the current topology of the model is processed by the Boolean
operation and so all other layers of the model will be removed.
• Masks: They have no effect on the Boolean operation process and are removed
after processing.
• Surface Noise preview: Because it is only a rendering effect, Surface Noise
won’t be taken into consideration by the Boolean operation. You must first apply
the Surface Noise if you want to keep it.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

IV Live Boolean Mode

Boolean operations are mostly composed of multiple models flagged for addition
or subtraction mode, stacked on top of each other in the SubTool list. Because of the
way they are used, it can become difficult to visually understand what the final model
will be like. To resolve this common problem, ZBrush includes a Live Boolean mode
which previews the result of the current Boolean commands as they would affect the final
processed model. You can even modify the models, duplicate them, change ArrayMesh
settings, sculpt and much more while still previewing the final Boolean result in real-time.

The Live Boolean process in action with (from left to right): the original model, the added joint
SubTools and the result. Model courtesy of Joseph Drust.

Another example of a Live Boolean mesh with the original SubTools on the left and the preview of
the Boolean process on the right. Model courtesy of Joseph Drust.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

1. Activation of the Live Boolean Mode

Click Render >> Render Booleans >> Live Boolean mode to enable it.

If none of your SubTools are set to subtraction or intersection mode, you shouldn’t
see any difference until you enable one of these modes.

2. Live Boolean Mode for Final Mesh Creation

Before processing the final model as a true 3D model, you must enable the Live
Boolean mode. Both operations are tied together since you must be able to anticipate the
resulting SubTool(s). When Live Boolean mode is on, the Tool >> SubTool >> Boolean >>
Make Boolean Mesh function will be available.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

V Basic Boolean Process in Action

This process will explain all the steps for a simple and basic creation using the Bool-
ean features.

1. Load the PolySphere.ZPR startup project which include only one SubTool.
2. Click Tool >> SubTool >> Duplicate (CTRL+Shift+D) to create a new SubTool
based on the original Sphere. You should have two spheres overlapping each
3. With the Gizmo 3D, move and scale the second SubTool so that it intersects
with and is smaller than the first SubTool. The goal will be to subtract this sec-
ond SubTool from the first one.

The two SubTools next to each other.

4. In the SubTool list, click on the second Boolean operator: Subtraction, then turn
on Render >> Render Booleans >> Live Boolean. You should automatically see
the preview of the Boolean operation with the second SubTool subtracted from
the first one.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

The preview of the boolean operation

5. Feel free to move, scale and rotate the second SubTool to see in real-time the
result of the Boolean operation. Of course, you can pick a sculpting brush and
use it on the second SubTool, seeing the modification happen in real-time.

The second sphere has been scaled non-uniformly and rotated with the Gizmo 3D. You can see
the results of your operation in real time thanks to the Live Boolean mode.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

6. Click Tool >> SubTools >> Boolean >> Make Boolean Mesh. After a few sec-
onds, a new Tool will be created in the Tool palette, which will be the result of
the Boolean operation. Select it view the results. This model can be exported to
other software as needed.

If the Make Boolean Mesh function is not available, it is because the Live Boolean mode is
not enabled or because your Tool is composed only of one SubTool.

The result of the Boolean operation on the left, and on the right, the corresponding PolyFrame.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

VI Advanced Boolean Process in Action

This advanced process will be very like the basic one, except that it will introduce the
usage of Start groups. The goal is to generate multiple SubTools from a single Boolean

1. Load the NutAndBolt.ZPR project, located in the Project tab in LightBox. You
should see multiple cubes everywhere.

The project when loaded. It includes all the parts which will be added or removed during the next

2. Turn on Render >> Render Booleans >> Live Boolean so that you can preview
your future Boolean operations. Notice that most cubes are now hidden as they
are considered to be subtractive meshes.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

Now we see the preview of the Boolean operation

3. Look at the SubTools list in the Tool palette. Notice two points: Rode_bolt and
Bolt head have the Start operator enabled (the icon is an arrow going left then
down) and each of these SubTools are flagged as additive.

The Start flags, in the SubTool list.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

4. Play with the visibility of different SubTools to understand how each part is
made. Eventually, enable or disable PolyFrame mode to change the way that
the subtracted models are displayed.
5. Select the “ArrayMesh Negative Head” SubTool and with the Gizmo 3D or
TransPose enabled, change the position, scale or rotation of the ArrayMesh
source Cube. You will see in real-time the head of the thread being modified.

The source of the ArrayMesh has been edited: you can see in real time the modification applied to
the model.

6. When you are done with your modifications, press the Tool >> SubTools >>
Boolean >> DSdiv and then Make Boolean Mesh buttons. After a few seconds
of processing, a new Tool is created in the Tool palette with a name starting with
“UMesh_.” Select it.
If you have a warning message appear at the end of the mesh generation process, it may be
because of the modifications you did on the model, like making some parts coplanar to each other.
Please see the “Boolean Resulting Topology Issues and Errors” section below for more informa-

7. The resulting mesh is a new Tool composed of two SubTools. Each of them is
based on one of the Start Groups. Select this new Tool at the top of the Tool

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

The result of the Boolean operation and the new SubTool list, after selecting the generated Tool.

8. Switch to PolyFrame mode (Transform >> PolyF) and look at the first SubTool.
Notice the variation of density between the head planar area and the ZBrush
logo. Variation in density may cause mesh issues. (See the “Important notice
about Boolean Operations” section of this chapter.)

The resulting topology with the PolyFrame visible.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

VII Performance

The Boolean operations are optimized to work on all types of model resolutions, from
low polygonal models to high density meshes. However, depending on your models you
can have quick or slow interactivity or computing.

1. Live Boolean Renderer

The Live Boolean render processes all SubTools in real-time, displaying what will be
the result of the whole Boolean operation on all your SubTools. Even though it is drasti-
cally optimized for performance, this mode will impact 3D display and navigation.

These are some key elements to keep in mind to increase 3D display performance:

• Avoid high Dynamic Subdivision level settings. Classic Subdivision levels have
lower impact.
• Avoid large document sizes. Try to keep your document at a reasonable size.
This can especially have an impact on Retina type monitors with very high reso-
• If not needed, turn off the Render >> Render Booleans >> Show Coplanar
The ZBrush 3D display is CPU based, not GPU based. That’s why a large document with a
high number of pixels will slow down the 3D display.

2. Producing the Final Model

Processing a model with millions of polygons can easily be done. However, you
need to keep in mind that the more polygons, the longer it will take and the more memory
ZBrush will need.

As an example, processing a total of 60 million polygons is possible with a computer

with 24+ GB of RAM and an Intel i7 type processor. The processing time would be around
4-5 min, depending on the generation of processor and number of cores.

Models with fewer polygons (around 1 million) will be processed in less than a min-
ute -- sometimes in just few seconds -- allowing you to do multiple iterations or variations
by editing the original SubTools. This means that if you don’t need high quality details,
reduce the number of subdivision levels or your DynaMesh resolution.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

VIII Boolean Resulting Topology Issues and Errors

When executing the Boolean operation through the Make Boolean Mesh command,
you may see warning or information messages at the end of the process.

As explained in the “Important Notice About Boolean Operations” section of this

chapter, the process is very sensitive to the topology of the input 3D models. Depending
on these meshes, the resulting SubTool(s) can have topology errors. They can even be
invisible, like small holes on hidden areas.

The most common message that you will see is:

Boolean operation succeeded but several warnings were reported during the pro-
The resulting SubTool(s) may or may not contain a few inaccuracies.

The first step is to carefully check your model and see if everything looks fine. If yes
and you are not going to be performing another Boolean operation on the output result,
then you can leave it as it is. But if you are going to perform new Boolean operations
based on the meshes that displayed this error, it is strongly advised to look for the cause
of the problems, fix them and then generate a new result.

Most of the time, the errors are from input meshes with facing coplanar parts or
meshes that are not watertight.

1. Checking for Coplanar Faces

Before executing the Boolean operation command, it is strongly advised to check for
existing coplanar faces.

Click the Render >> Render Booleans >> Show Coplanar button. If your SubTools
have coplanar faces between other SubTools or themselves, these coplanar faces will
be highlighted in red.

You then need to select the SubTool which produced coplanar faces. To fix them,
you will usually need to just slightly move and/or rotate your model or its topology until
the red area disappears.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

On the left, the model with the coplanar faces highlighted. On the right, one of the SubTool has
been slightly moved to remove the coplanar faces.

You can quickly switch between SubTools which have coplanar faces by using the
Next and Previous functions. These buttons will only cycle through the SubTools that are
reporting the coplanar issues, skipping the rest of the SubTool list.

2. Checking for Errors

If ZBrush displays a message after using the Make Union Mesh function, you will be
able to use the Render >> Render Booleans >> Show Issues function. This function can
be enabled only if you select the Tool which contains the errors.

After discarding the error message, select the generated Tool in the Tool list. You
can then enable this feature which will highlight all the parts of the model which have is-
sues. They can be tiny holes or large parts.

By analyzing where the errors are located, you should be able to find these causes
of these issues in the original model’s SubTools. Most of the time, the errors come from
coplanar faces or completely degenerated topology.

If you see unprocessed SubTools in your processed Boolean model, it is because

they generated an error that prevented the Boolean function from using them. Those
problems need to be fixed as well.

You can use the Next and Previous commands to switch between the SubTools that
show the errors.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

IX Main Boolean Functions

The creation of a Boolean operation is split in two parts, the Live Boolean mode and
the final result. Find below the list of functions used for these two parts.

Live Boolean
Render >> Render Booleans >> Live Boolean enables the real-time preview of the
Boolean operations between all the visible SubTools.

It will analyze the Boolean operators - Addition, Subtraction, and Intersection - and
will display the corresponding result.

This mode is only a preview and can be rendered, but not exported. To generate the
final model, you need to use the Make Boolean Mesh function.

Make Boolean Mesh

The Tool >> SubTools >> Boolean >> Make Boolean Mesh will perform the actual
Boolean operation on the visible SubTools, creating a new Tool in your Tool palette which
can then be exported or used in other ways.

This operation can take from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the
number of SubTools and the density of your models.

DSDiv - Dynamic Subdivision

The Tool >> SubTools >> Boolean >> DSDiv mode will convert the Dynamic Subdivi-
sion applied to the SubTools to real geometry during the Boolean process.
Please reduce the number of your Dynamic Subdivision levels (especially the QGrid mode) if
you don’t need high details on the surfaces.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

X Geometry and Topology Analysis Functions

The functions below are dedicated to the analysis of your model prior the Boolean
operation (Show Coplanar) or if errors were found after the Boolean process (Show Is-

Show Coplanar
The Render >> Render Booleans >> Show Coplanar mode displays all faces which
are located on the same working plane. This is typically when you have two models which
have polygons that overlap with each other.

This is a problem that needs to be solved or the resulting Boolean operation may
produce results with missing areas or broken parts.

This mode will highlight in red all polygons which are found to be coplanar and may
produce errors.

Refer to the “Important Notice about Boolean Operations” and “Boolean Resulting
Topology Issues and Errors” sections of this chapter for more information.

Inside (Show Coplanar)

The Inside mode is associated with the Show Coplanar mode. When enabled, it
displays the coplanar faces which are inside the geometry. If the mode is disabled, only
the coplanar faces which are visible in front of the surface are highlighted.

Solo (Show Coplanar)

The Solo mode is associated with the Show Coplanar mode. When enabled, it dis-
plays only the coplanar faces of the current SubTool. If the mode is disabled, coplanar
faces are displayed on all visible SubTools that have such surfaces.

Previous / Next (Show Coplanar)

By pressing these buttons associated with the Show Coplanar mode, you will select
the previous or next SubTool which has coplanar faces. This process does not cycle
through the entire SubTool list but rather only the SubTools that contain the errors.

Show Issues
The Render >> Render Booleans >> Show Issues mode is only enabled when an

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

output model from a Boolean operation is selected and that model includes errors. When
this happens, ZBrush will display an error message immediately after creating the mesh.
You should then select the resulting mesh and enable this mode in order to locate the
errors and see what needs fixing.

When enabling this mode, ZBrush will outline in red all which are in error. Most of
these errors are holes or degenerated surfaces produced by coplanar faces or non-
manifold edges (one polygon edge is connected to more than two polygons).

By looking at the error areas, you can find potential errors in the original SubTools
which have been used to produce these results. You can then attempt to fix those errors
and try the Boolean operation again.

Inside (Show Issues)

The Inside mode is associated with the Show Issues mode. When enabled, it dis-
plays the errors which are inside the geometry. If the mode is disabled, only the parts
which are visible on the surface area are highlighted.

Solo (Show Issues)

The Solo mode is associated with the Show Issues mode. When enabled, it displays
only the errors of the current SubTool. If the mode is disabled, errors are displayed on all
the SubTools which have issues.

Previous / Next (Show Issues)

By pressing these buttons associated with the Show Issues mode, you will select the
previous or next SubTool which has an error. This will only cycle between the SubTools
that are displaying the errors rather than the full SubTool List.

ZBrush 4R8 - Boolean Operations

XI Boolean Preferences

The Boolean preferences, found in Preferences >> Union Mesh are mainly settings
to improve the way that ZBrush cleans the meshes created by the Boolean process.
Changing them can have an impact on how successful your operations will be.

It is advised to keep them at their default settings for most purposes and only change
them on specific models which may have issues.

The Boolean preferences.

Coplanar Threshold
The Coplanar Threshold slider lets you change the detection of the depth of the co-
planar faces. If you have fixed the coplanar issues shown by the default values and are
still receiving an error message, increasing this slider will show more potential coplanar
areas on your model.

Clean Silvers
The Clean Slivers mode (enabled by default) is used to detect and remove tiny,
isolated triangles which can happen at some locations after the Boolean process. Even
though it is performed with the Boolean operation, it is considered to be a post-process.

Silvers Max Size

The Slivers Maximum Size slider defines the maximum size for the detection of sliver
triangles when the cleaning process is performed.

ZBrush 4R8 - Mesh Viewer


Preview Insert Multi Meshes, Alpha 3D and VDM

ZBrush 4R8 - Mesh Viewer

The MeshViewer (or also named IMM Viewer) is a bar which appears above the
document when a brush is selected that includes multiple content choices. The viewer
displays the content choices and allows you to choose between them. This makes it
faster and easier to preview and select the content that you will use with this brush.

The Mesh Viewer appears above the document, displaying the contents of the Model Kit brush.

The brushes that take advantage of the Mesh Viewer are InsertMesh, InsertMul-
tiMesh, NanoMesh, MultiAlpha and MultiVDM (Chisel type).

It is also possible to use the regular InsertMesh viewer by pressing the M hotkey rather than
the MeshViewer.

ZBrush 4R8 - Mesh Viewer

I Using the Mesh Viewer

Before using the Mesh Viewer, you need to keep in mind that it behaves differently
when in Draw mode than when in Move, Scale and/or Rotate (with either Gizmo or Trans-

• In Edit mode, clicking a 3D model in the viewer will select it.

• While in Move, Scale or Rotate mode, clicking the 3D model in the viewer will
replace the current model on the canvas with the selected one. This second
behavior is interesting when you are working with InsertMesh because after in-
serting a mesh, you can quickly replace it with another while keeping its inserted
position and scale.

From Left to Right, the same model with an insert mesh replaced on location by clicking and drag-
ging the IMM inside the Mesh Viewer.

While in Edit mode, navigating in the Mesh Viewer is as easy as doing a drag and
drop. You can click and drag one of the models from side to side, scrolling through the
brush contents to search for the desired mesh. Doing the same thing in Move, Scale or
Rotate mode will swap the models.

If you wish to have a better view on the mesh or you want to make the Viewer
smaller, simply click and drag the expander symbol located at the bottom center of the
Viewer window.

ZBrush 4R8 - Mesh Viewer

II Mesh Viewer Preferences

This IMM viewer has two options, found in Preferences >> Interface >> IMM Viewer.

The Placement slider controls the location of the Viewer. It may be placed at the top,
left, right or bottom of the canvas.

Auto Show/Hide
The Auto Show/Hide mode keeps the IMM Viewer visibility as it is at the time of
saving the preference. If the current brush is not one that supports multiple content, the
Viewer won’t be visible anymore. If the current brush is content based, then the viewer
will be always visible, even if a brush that doesn’t support multiple content is selected.

ZBrush User Guide - Alpha From 3D Mesh and Multi Alpha



Multiple Alphas based on 3D meshes in your brush.

ZBrush User Guide - Alpha From 3D Mesh and Multi Alpha

Alphas are 2D greyscale textures that can change the surface elevation on your
sculpt in a positive or negative direction. These 2D greyscale textures can be created or
modified in any type of 2D editor.

Another method for creating these 2D greyscale textures is to use 3D models. As

opposed to Alpha 3D and its associated Vector Displacement Meshes, these 3D models
are converted on the fly to their equivalent as greyscale data. This gives each 3D model
you create in ZBrush the potential to be used as a 2D greyscale Alpha.

As with Insert MultiMesh and Alpha 3D, a brush can have multiple 3D meshes stored
in it and used as alphas. This means that a single brush can contain a complete library
of patterns dedicated to any purpose that you might imagine.

It is only possible to create Multi Alpha brushes from 3D objects. It is not possible to create a
brush composed of multiple 2D alphas.

A 3D mesh used to create a Multi-Alpha. Different alphas can be created merely by changing the

I Creating a New Multi Alpha

Creating your own Multi Alpha brushes based on 3D models is an easy process
and can be done using existing SubTools. Each SubTool will be used to produce a cor-
responding greyscale image.

All types of PolyMesh 3D objects are compatible, from surfaces to volumes. Always
keep in mind that clean boundaries will produce cleaner brush strokes.

1. Create your own shapes as separate PolyMesh 3D SubTools. They can have
subdivision levels or even be DynaMesh.
2. Disable Draw >> Perspective. Hold the Shift key while rotating to align the
model so that its front directly faces the camera. The point of view will define

ZBrush User Guide - Alpha From 3D Mesh and Multi Alpha

the generated alpha.

3. Select the brush that you wish to receive these new alphas. You can optionally
duplicated it using Brush >> Clone to work on a copy and retain the original
4. Click Brush >> Create >> Create Multiple Alpha Brush. All SubTools should be
converted to their own alphas in the selected brush. Any models previously
stored in the brush will be replaced by the new ones.
The SubTool names will be assigned to the Multi Alpha 3D Mesh names.
5. Try your new alpha(s) on some models. As with regular alphas, you can modify
them through the settings found in Alpha >> Modify.
6. If necessary, you can some of the alphas by editing the SubTools used to create
them. When you then redo the creation process, your brush contents will be
replaced by the alphas.
7. When satisfied, you can click Brush >> Save As to save your brush for future
use. You can add it to the ZBrushes folder located at the root of the ZBrush ap-
plication directory, making it available through LightBox’s Brushes folder.
8. You can instead save the brush to the ZStartup/BrushPresets folder so that
it will be automatically loaded on ZBrush startup. (Do not have more than 25
items saved in the BrushPresets folder

Important notice:
If a 3D mesh is grid based, it will be treated as a VDM when the brush is created. If
it is a regular 3D model, it will be stored as an Alpha From Mesh. Please read the “Alpha
3D and Vector Displacement Meshes” chapter for more information about Alpha 3D and

ZBrush User Guide - Alpha From 3D Mesh and Multi Alpha

II Managing Your Brushes

When you are working with an existing brush you may find it necessary to add or
remove 3D models, or even to transfer them from one brush to another. (This avoids
the need to rebuild the alphas.) After each modification, don’t forget to save your brush,
either by overwriting the original or creating a new brush.

The functions to manage the models included in your brushes, located in the Brush palette.

1. Adding a Single New 3D Model to an Existing Brush

With a SubTool loaded, click Brush >> From Mesh. The alpha will be previewed in
a popup window where you will be able to define its size and orientation. The model will
then be added to the current Multi Alpha brush, at the end of the Content Browser.

2. Deleting a Model From the Current Multi Alpha Brush

Select the brush that you want to modify. In the Content Browser, select the 3D
model to delete then click Brush >> Create >> Delete Mesh.

3. Copy/Pasting 3D Models From One Brush to Another

In the Brush >> Create sub-palette you can find multiple functions to pass your
models from one brush to another. The process is always the same: copying a single
model (or all models) from the current brush, then selecting another brush and pasting
the contents into it. You can paste to append, adding the models to those already found
in the brush. Or you can paste to completely replace the original contents.

ZBrush4R8 - Alpha 3D and Vector Displacement Mesh



Grow complex shapes!

ZBrush 4R8 - Alpha 3D and Vector Displacement Mesh

Alpha textures are grayscale images used with brushes to affect how they displace
the surface geometry of a model. Alpha 3D represents an evolution of this system. This
format allows ZBrush to use a 3D shape to deform the model when applying a stroke.
This gives better results when it comes to reproducing an existing shape, such as making
horns grow from a dragon’s skull.

Regular 2D alphas are very convenient when it comes to producing fine details like
skin pores, small scars, or fabric patterns. However, when using these 2D alphas to cre-
ate major shapes they are restricted by vertical elevation and cannot support overhangs
or undercuts. The Alpha 3D feature does not have these restrictions as a 3D alpha will
deform the underlying surface of model by using a stored mesh. The Alpha 3D system
uses an internal, Vector Displacement Mesh (VDM).

The only restriction will be the density of the polygons needed to reproduce the
brush’s VDM shape. If you are working with a low resolution mesh, your model may not
have enough polygons to deform to flawlessly rebuild the shape stored in the brush.

Model courtesy of Pablo Munoz G

ZBrush4R8 - Alpha 3D and Vector Displacement Mesh

I The Alpha 3D Brushes

To use Alpha 3D, you must use one of these brushes: Standard, Layer, or the Chisel
3D brush. Upon selecting one of these types of brushes you will see the Mesh Selector
on top of the canvas. This lists the available content for the selected brush. Simply pick
a VDM of your choice, then click and drag the cursor on your model to sculpt it using the
VDM shape stored in the selected brush.

Some of the 3D Alpha brushes are set by default to work with the Drag Rectangle
stroke. Feel free to change instead to the Freehand or Dot strokes, or even combine it
with Lazy Mouse for more control or different results.

On top, some of the VDM’s used on the sphere.

ZBrush 4R8 - Alpha 3D and Vector Displacement Mesh

1. Creating a New Alpha 3D Brush

Creating your own Alpha 3D brushes is the key to producing advanced models and
increasing your productivity. They can be designed to generate highly detailed models or
just to produce mid-resolution shapes like an ear that you can refine later.

Due to how 3D Alphas work, VDM creation needs to follow some specific steps:

1. Load one of the Brush3DTemplate projects located in LightBox >> Project >>
Brush3DTemplate folder. You have different grids to choose from. To be rec-
ognized as a VDM, the model must be sculpted on a grid with square borders.
2. Sculpt your shape with the regular ZBrush tools. Since you must maintain a
grid structure you won’t be able to use some features like the Slice curve or
3. Feel free to use Subdivision surfaces and to push/pull your geometry. If you
notice some stretching you can use the Tool >> Deformation >> Relax Plane
Grid function to relax the topology before you continue sculpting. It is advised
to use this function when you are at the stage of building the rough silhouette
of the VDM.
4. Once your model has been sculpted you must check that the boundary of your
grid is still a square. If not, you can mask everything except the boundaries,
then use the Tool >> Deformation >> Morph to Grid slider at 100% to revert the
boundaries to a perfect square.
5. You can follow the above steps as often as you wish to create multiple Sub-
Tools, all composed of models sculpted from the various grid base shapes.
6. Disable Draw >> Perspective and align the front of the model to the camera by
holding the Shift key while rotating. You want to have the grids directly facing
the camera.
7. Select one of the brush types compatible with Alpha 3D: Standard, Layer, or
Chisel3D (which is actually a Layer Brush) and clone it through the Brush >>
Clone function. Otherwise the next steps would delete the original Alpha 3D
brush content.
8. Click the Brush >> Create >> Create Multiple Alpha Brush button. All SubTools
will be converted to VDMs and associated with the current brush, replacing the
previously stored models. Notice that your Alpha now has a “3D” flag on it.
9. Note:
10. The SubTool names will be assigned as the VDM names.
11. Try your new Alpha 3D brush on some models. If necessary, change the Brush
>> Depth settings.
12. If you feel the need to fix a VDM, you can edit some of the SubTools you had
originally created to refine the grid base shapes. Once edited, redo step 8 to
rebuild the brush with the updated VDMs.
13. When you are satisfied with your brush, click Brush >> Save As to save your
brush. It is recommended to save it to the ZBrushes folder located at the root
of the ZBrush application directory. This then makes it easy to access later

ZBrush4R8 - Alpha 3D and Vector Displacement Mesh

through LightBox’s Brushes folder. You can alternatively place the newly cre-
ated brush in the ZStartup/BrushPresets folder to load it on ZBrush startup.
(Remember not to have more than 25 brushes in the ZStartup folder or you may
experience unexpected behavior with the ZBrush UI.)

The Mesh/IMM Viewer above the document lists the current VDM’s included in the brush. Simply
select one, then click and drag on your model to grow the shape.

Important notice:

If a 3D mesh is grid based, it will be treated as a VDM when the brush is created.
However, if it is a regular 3D model, it will be stored as an Alpha From Mesh. Please read
the sections for “Alpha From 3D Mesh and Multi Alpha” to learn more about using 3D
meshes as regular alphas.

Only the model on the right can be converted to a VDM because it has been sculpted on a grid.
The model on the left has been sculpted on a volume and so can only be used to create an alpha.

ZBrush 4R8 - Alpha 3D and Vector Displacement Mesh

II Managing Your Brushes

When you are working with an existing brush it may be necessary to add or remove
3D models, or even transfer them from one brush to another without rebuilding them.
After each modification, don’t forget to save your brush by either overwriting it or creating
a new brush.

The features to manage the models included in your brushes, located in the Brush palette.

1. Adding a Single New VDM to an Existing Alpha 3D

Select the brush that you want to edit and, with a SubTool compatible with VDM (grid
based) loaded, click the Brush >> From Mesh button. The model will be added to the
current Alpha 3D brush, placed at the end of the Content Browser.

2. Deleting a VDM From the Current Brush

Select the brush that you want to edit and in the Content Browser, select the VDM to
delete. Click Brush >> Create >> Delete Mesh.

3. Copy Pasting VDM(s) From One Brush to Another

In the Brush >> Create sub-palette, you can find multiple functions to pass your mod-
els from one brush to another. The process is always the same, copying a single VDM (or
all VDMs) from the current brush, then selecting another brush and pasting the content
into it. You can paste to append, adding the VDMs to those already found in the brush.
Or you can paste to replace, deleting all original content.

ZBrush4R8 - Alpha 3D and Vector Displacement Mesh

III General Advice About Alpha 3D and VDM

This section contains assorted information about Alpha 3D and the associated VDM
feature. These items are important to consider when you are creating or using such

1. Creation

• When creating an Alpha 3D, select the Standard Brush or the Chisel3D/Layer
brush based on the results that you wish to achieve. The Layer/Chisel Brush
will produce results closer to the original model stored in the brush. The Stan-
dard Brush will produce a result closer to that of a standard 2D alpha.
• When creating your VDM on a grid, it is advised to work with subdivision levels.
Just as with regular sculpting, going up and down in levels during the creation
process will bring you more flexibility than trying to work with a fixed resolution.
• The border of the grid defines elevation level 0 for the brush. You can push and
pull the mesh during VDM creation to create parts which will cut into or extend
out from the surface when using the Alpha 3D.
• Because VDMs store mesh data, avoid using unnecessary subdivision levels.
High resolution VDMs may make brush strokes slow. High resolution VDMs also
result in brushes with a large file size.
• During the creation process, try to use as much of the grid area as possible.
This will give better polygon distribution and avoid the need for too many sub-
division levels.
• When sculpting, it can be very easy to accidentally deform the border of the
grid. Masking the sculpted parts of the grid model and then using Deformation
>> Morph to Grid will adjust the edges to be perfectly square again. However,
it can also create steps along the boundary between the sculpted areas and the
edges. You may need to smooth and redo the operation multiple times to get
a nice transition.
• Instead of fixing the edges after sculpting, you can avoid affecting the edges in
the first place by masking the borders of the grid before you begin sculpting. Be
sure to clear the mask before subdividing the model and then reapply the mask
after – otherwise you will get triangles along the edges of the masked area.
• If you need to delete subdivision levels in order to use functions like the Gizmo
3D Deformers to bend or twist, you will need to reconstruct those levels before
you can use Deformations >> Morph to Grid. You can reconstruct the subdivi-
sion levels with Tool >> Geometry >> Recontruct Subdiv.

ZBrush 4R8 - Alpha 3D and Vector Displacement Mesh

2. Usage

• When using an Alpha 3D brush, don’t forget that you can use different Stroke
settings. For example, if you create a Dragon scale VDM you can combine it
with the Stroke >> Dots stroke and a Stroke >> Lazy Mouse >> Lazy Step value
close to 1. This would create strips of scales.
• Keep in mind that the VDM will deform the existing topology based on the shape
stored in the brush. Depending on your brush radius and the actual stroke that
you make, this can widely stretch other details close to your stroke.
• The standard alpha settings found in Alpha >> Modify have no effect on a VDM.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D


Quick and easy 3D manipulation

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

The Gizmo 3D manipulator is a universal feature for ZBrush, providing a new way to
move, rotate and scale a model. The Gizmo 3D is an alternative to the TransPose action
line in ZBrush. The Gizmo 3D offers most of the same features found in TransPose, but
is condensed into a compact design. Depending on the actions you are looking for, you
can choose between the TransPose action line and the Gizmo 3D to manipulate models
in ZBrush.

The Gizmo 3D:

• Can quickly be repositioned and reoriented for better control of the transformation.
• Let’s you transform your current selection, whether a complete SubTool or just a
part defined by masking or visibility.
• Includes deformer operators like Bend, FFD box, Twist, and many others.
• Provides a quick way to load parametric primitives for insertion and creation.
• Manipulate multiple SubTools at the same time using Move, Scale and Rotate

Gizmo 3D: You can Move, Scale, Rotate, use special deformers and insert parametric primitives.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

I Gizmo 3D Basic Operations

To enable the Gizmo 3D, you need to activate Move, Scale or Rotate mode first,
either through the Transform palette or above the canvas in the default ZBrush user in-
terface. You then need to enable the Gizmo 3D mode by clicking the corresponding icon.

The Gizmo 3D is the mode that ZBrush defaults to. This means that when selecting
the Move, Scale or Rotate mode, the Gizmo 3D will be enabled automatically, rather than
the TransPose action line.

To switch between the Gizmo 3D and the TransPose action line, you simply need to
toggle the Gizmo 3D icon or press the corresponding hotkey: Y.

By switching between Gizmo 3D and TransPose, you will notice that both Gizmo 3D
and TransPose action line have the same position and orientation.

Gizmo 3D mode is enabled on the right of the Rotate icon (by default).
When enabled, Move, Scale or Rotate mode have no impact as they are enabled together in the

1. Placement and Orientation of the Gizmo 3D

When in Gizmo 3D mode, a short click on any part of the model (active or non-active
SubTools) will position the center of the Gizmo 3D on the click location. The orientation
of the Gizmo 3D will be defined by the orientation of the clicked polygon. This behavior is
very similar to single-clicking on a model with the TransPose action line.

If you perform a click and drag between two points on the model the Gizmo 3D will
be placed at the location of the initial click and the Z axis (blue) will be oriented along
the direction of your drag. This is very convenient to align the Gizmo 3D to an accurate
orientation in order to move the selection along this axis.

At any time, you can reset the position and orientation of the Gizmo 3D by clicking
the Mesh to Axis and Reset Mesh Orientation operator, combined with Unlock mode (see

2. Move Mode

Move mode can be done in two ways:

• Click and drag on the red (X), green (Y) or blue (Z) arrow to perform a transla-

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

tion of the current selection along the corresponding axis.

• Click on the screen working plane arrows to perform a translation of the current
selection relative to the screen working plane. The operation is done perpen-
dicularly from the direction of the camera.

3. Scale Mode

Scale mode can be done through three different methods. Please notice that the
second one requires pressing the ALT key.

• Click and drag on the red (X), green (Y) or blue (Z) rectangle to perform non-
uniform scaling of the current selection along the corresponding axis.
• Press and hold the ALT key then click and drag on the red (X), green (Y) or blue
(Z) rectangle to perform non-uniform scaling of the current selection relative to
the working plane (2 axis scaling).
• Click and drag on the center yellow square to perform uniform scaling along all
three axes.

4. Rotation Mode

Rotation mode can be done through two methods. Also, holding the Shift key during
an operation will constrain the rotation to 5° increments.

• Click and drag on the red (X), green (Y) or blue (Z) circles to perform a rotation
around the corresponding axis.
• Click and drag on the grey circle, aligned with the screen working plane to per-
form a rotation around this axis.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

II Gizmo3D Topology Masking

As with TransPose, the Gizmo 3D affects only non-masked areas. By applying a

mask to part of your SubTool, you will deform only the unmasked parts when manipulat-
ing the Gizmo 3D.

The Gizmo 3D includes several functions to help generate useful masking on mod-

1. Gizmo3D Topology Masking

Similar to TransPose, the Gizmo 3D includes a masking feature which follows your
model’s topology. This function is very convenient to quickly mask a part which is com-
posed of clean topology (such as that generated through ZRemesher) before applying a
Gizmo 3D deformation. Examples of where this is useful would be to bend an arm or a
leg at the joint while posing the model.

To use this masking function, simply hold the Ctrl key while dragging the Gizmo 3D.
The mask will follow the topology, guided by the direction of cursor movement. All points
opposite the Gizmo 3D’s origin will be masked. The edges of the mask will also automati-
cally be blurred in order to facilitate a smooth edge for your deformation.

When applying topological masking, the Gizmo 3D orientation will be updated in real-time to
align with the cursor position.

2. Quick One-Touch Masking of PolyGroups

Masking particular parts of your models can sometimes be a tedious process – es-
pecially when the model is complex. However, if your model has PolyGroups this can
become very quick and easy.

Simply switch from Edit mode to the Gizmo 3D in Move, Scale or Rotate mode.
Then while pressing the Ctrl key, click on any PolyGroup to mask everything except this

This action is very convenient when you are inserting multiple meshes into a surface
and need to quickly select one of the insertions to then modify it through continued use
of the Gizmo 3D, TransPose, or with other tools.

This method of quickly creating masks is only available while using TransPose or Gizmo 3D.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

III Extra Gizmo 3D Operations

The Gizmo 3D inherits most of the core functions from TransPose. Using these can
drastically improve your productivity.

1. Extruding Topology

When you need to add more topology by creating an extrusion or inserting an edge
loop, use the Gizmo 3D combined with masking.

Activate the Gizmo 3D and then hold the Ctrl key while dragging the Gizmo move
arrows. This will extrude all non-masked parts of the model.

This operation will only work with a model that does not have subdivision levels.
However, the Freeze Subdivision Levels feature can be used to temporarily drop to the
base mesh level for extrusion, then return to the highest level and re-project its details.

For each new extrusion, a different PolyGroup will be applied to each of the ex-
trusion’s sections. The extruded polygons also receive a dedicated PolyGroup. This is
so that you can later use PolyGroup operations like Tool >> Deformation >> Polish by

To create an extrusion, follow these steps:

1. Ensure that your model is a PolyMesh 3D or DynaMesh. This function will not
work with Primitives or ZSphere previews.
2. Create a mask on your model. The masked areas will remain unaffected while
the unmasked areas will be extruded. If you wish to only extrude a small area,
a good tip would be to mask the area you want to extrude and then invert the
mask before continuing.
3. Activate the Gizmo 3D and place it at the best position to perform the manipula-
4. While holding the Ctrl key, click and drag one of the Gizmo 3D arrows. This will
move the entire Gizmo 3D in the direction of your movement and at the same
time will extrude the unmasked polygons.
5. When you release the mouse button or lift the tablet pen, ZBrush will update the
mask to include the new geometry created by the extrusion. This allows you to
continue the extrusion without needing to manually update the mask.
6. When done, clear the mask.
When performing an extrusion in symmetry mode, you must first activate Transform >> Local

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

2. Inserting an Edge Loop

Edge loop insertion using Gizmo 3D can be done using the Scale manipulators. This
quickly creates topology inserts on a model rather than a simple extrusion. As with the
Extrude feature, the model must be a PolyMesh or DynaMesh and cannot have subdivi-
sion levels.

While Gizmo 3D is active, holding the CTRL key and dragging the Gizmo 3D Scale
manipulator will create an edge loop along the boundary of the non-masked part of the

Of course, it is possible to simply CTRL+ click the appropriate Scale manipulator to

create an edge loop. Take care when doing this; the inserted edge loop won’t be visible
and you run a risk of overlapping edges.

3. Duplicating a Mesh with Gizmo 3D

When no portion of the model is masked, holding Ctrl while using the Gizmo 3D
Move manipulators will duplicate the mesh. One way in which this is quite useful is when
using the Insert Mesh brushes.

This action requires a PolyMesh or DynaMesh with no subdivision levels. (The

Freeze Subdivision Levels feature can be used to prepare models that have subdivision
levels.) When duplicating with the Gizmo 3D, ZBrush will simply add the new mesh to the
already selected one. It will not create a new SubTool.

If your SubTool is an assembly of multiple independent meshes, you must first fully
mask any meshes that you don’t wish to be duplicated.

To try an example of this mesh duplication feature, follow these steps:

1. Start with the Dog sample project or a DynaMesh.

2. Activate the Gizmo 3D.
3. While holding the Ctrl key, click and drag the Move manipulator of your choice
to duplicate the current mesh.

4. Duplication and Negative Mesh

When using the Gizmo 3D for mesh duplication, it is possible to tag the duplicated
mesh as a negative mesh. This additional function is specifically for use with DynaMesh
and will not have any effect without re-Dynameshing your object.

The negative mesh’s volume will be subtracted from the mesh it was inserted into.
An example of this feature’s use is to create a duplicate copy of the same mesh that can

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

then be used to create a shell. (See the DynaMesh section of this documentation for
more info regarding shell creation.)

The steps to create a negative copy with the Gizmo 3D are the same as for duplica-
tion. The only difference is that you hold Ctrl+Alt when dragging the Move manipulator.

5. Working with Duplication and the Mesh Insert Brushes

While a PolyMesh 3D or DynaMesh is in Edit mode, select one of the Mesh Insert

1. Use Brush >> Modifiers >> Mesh Insert Preview to select the object that you
wish to insert into your SubTool. Alternatively, press the M key to open the IMM
popup window or use the Mesh selector at the top of the user interface.
2. Click and drag on the model to insert the new mesh into the original one.
3. To duplicate the inserted mesh, mask all elements which you do not want du-
4. Using the option explained above for quickly masking by PolyGroups is an easy
way to mask everything except the newly inserted mesh.
5. Switch to the Gizmo 3D.
6. While holding Ctrl key, freely move the Gizmo 3D to duplicate the unmasked
mesh and position its copy.
7. Upon releasing the mouse button (or lifting the tablet pen), ZBrush will update
the mask to leave only the new copy unmasked. This allows you to continue
creating and positioning duplicate instances of the inserted mesh without need-
ing to manually update the mask.
8. When done, clear the mask.

Be very careful when masking your model to perform this action. If any portion of the model
is missed (like a part hidden by another mesh) performing the copying action will instead create
an extrusion. We strongly recommend using the new way to easily mask by PolyGroups. This will
ensure that no points are missed.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

IV Gizmo 3D Operators

The Gizmo 3D includes a variety of operators to modify its functions. They can do
things like relocate the position and orientation of the manipulator or use new transforma-
tion tools.

At the top of the Gizmo 3D is its list of Operators.

1. Customize (Deformers and Parametric Primitives)

Customization opens a special menu which gives you access to deformers and
parametric primitives.

We invite you to read the dedicated section above to learn more about these fea-

2. Sticky Mode

Sticky mode keeps the Gizmo3D at its original position after performing a transfor-
mation. Disabling this mode will revert the Gizmo 3D to dynamic positioning.

After duplicating part of the model while Sticky mode is active you can repeat that
duplication by using ‘Repeat Last.’ This functionality will allow you to duplicate the first
part at a desired distance then repeat that offset to create multiple copies.

3. Unmasked Center Mesh

Unmasked Center Mesh repositions the Gizmo to the center of the bounding box
of the current SubTool. If a part of the model has a mask or is hidden, the center will be
computed based on the visible area and/or the unmasked areas.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

4. Mesh to Axis

Mesh to Axis repositions the Gizmo 3D to the center of the scene axis. If Lock mode
is enabled (default), the SubTool will be repositioned as well.

If you want to reset only the Gizmo 3D position without affecting the current SubTool,
unlock it first or ALT+click the Mesh to Axis icon.

5. Reset Mesh Orientation

Reset Mesh Orientation reinitializes the Gizmo 3D to its default orientation, which
corresponds to the scene axis. If Lock mode is enabled (default), the SubTool will be
rotated as well.

If you want to reset only the Gizmo 3D orientation without affecting the current Sub-
Tool, unlock it first or ALT+click the Reset Mesh Orientation icon.

6. Lock/Unlock

Lock mode is a switch which freezes the Gizmo 3D to its current position. Opera-
tions will be applied to the current selection without affecting the Gizmo3D. Unlocking the
Gizmo 3D will allow you to move and rotate it without affecting your current selection. It
is the perfect solution to define a new pivot point position or to align the Gizmo 3D to a
specific mesh orientation.

Holding the ALT key at any time will temporarily unlock the Gizmo 3D without the
need to click the corresponding icon. It is also convenient for repositioning/reorienting the
Gizmo 3D (using the other operators) without affecting the current SubTool.

7. Multiple SubTools

This icon enables a mode that allows an operation using the Gizmo 3D to affect
selected SubTools. Please read the dedicated section below.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

V Gizmo 3D and Multiple SubTools

The Gizmo 3D allows you to apply a move, scale or rotate transformation to multiple
SubTools at once. This multiple SubTool manipulation is only possible with the Gizmo 3D
-- other actions like sculpting or applying deformers to a selection of multiple SubTools
is not possible.

To transform multiple SubTools at the same time, you first need to enable the “Trans-
form All Selected SubTools” mode found at the top of the Gizmo 3D. When the Gizmo
3D is in this state, all visible SubTools can be manipulated with the Gizmo 3D as a unit.
If you decide to use another ZBrush function like ZRemesher, an Inflate deformation, or
adding a subdivision level, only the current SubTool will be affected.

All the top parts of the car are moved and rotated together with the Gizmo.

1. Selection of SubTools

A quick and easy way to manipulate multiple SubTools is to use the visibility settings
found in the SubTool list. Only visible SubTools will be affected by the Gizmo 3D. Unfor-
tunately, this can break your SubTools visibility organization.

An alternative method is to use a temporary selection mode. This only works when
you are in Gizmo 3D mode and have “Transform All Selected SubTool” mode active. The
commands in this mode are like those of the Hide/Show brushes (Lasso and Marquee

1. CTRL+Shift+ click on the SubTools of your choice to select them. Unselected

SubTools will be displayed with hash lines.
2. CTRL+Shift+click again on a selected SubTool to remove it from the selection.
3. At any time, use the Gizmo 3D manipulator to move, scale and/or rotate your
current selection.
4. CTRL+Shift+click on any empty space in the canvas to invert the temporary
5. Hold CTRL+Shift and do a click and drag on an empty space of the canvas to
clear the temporary selection.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

Solo mode is not affected by the Gizmo3D Transform All Selected SubTools mode.

From left to right: The DemoSoldier without a selection. The Shirt, Vest and Backpack SubTools
are selected. The selected SubTools are moved as a unit.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

VI Gizmo 3D Parametric Meshes

The Gizmo 3D includes multiple polygonal primitives which are intended to be quick-
ly inserted in the current SubTool. These primitives can have their topology modified on
the fly at insertion time, before being manipulated and transformed by the Gizmo 3D.

It is important to keep in mind that these primitives will replace the current SubTool
unless it is fully masked. The default behavior is replacing rather than appending.

A good practice is to first duplicate a model, then click on a parametric primitive icon
to replace the mesh with the primitive of your choice

The parametric primitives, located at the top of the Gizmo 3D Customize menu.

1. Parametric Primitive Cones

After inserting a Primitive, you will have access to multiple cones located on top of
the 3D models. They are dedicated to the transformation of the primitive, allowing you to
affect the scale, size, polygon density, internal thickness and more.

Simply hover over a cone to see its description, then click and drag the circle area of
a cone to apply the corresponding transformation.

Manipulating the cones affects the cylinder shape and topology in real-time.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

2. Inserting a Parametric Primitive in the Current SubTool

As with all the Insert Mesh features in ZBrush, insertion will work only with models
that don’t have subdivision levels. If your current SubTool has multiple levels of subdivi-
sion, click on the Delete Higher/Lower functions located in the Tool >> Geometry sub-

1. Mask the entire current SubTool with a Mask Marquee or by pressing CTRL+A.
An alternative is to work with a temporary model which will be replaced by the
Parametric Primitive.
1. Switch to Gizmo 3D.
2. At the top of the Gizmo 3D, click on the small gear icon “Customize.” A popup
menu will open.
3. Click the icon for your parametric primitive of choice. The primitive will be in-
serted into your model and 3D manipulators will appear to let you change its
4. If your primitive appears to be inside the original SubTool or otherwise at a bad
position or size:
• Click the small gear icon to show the Customize menu again. The top
bar should display the name of the selected inserted primitive. Click the
Gizmo 3D button to switch back to the manipulator.
• Now that the Gizmo 3D is back, manipulate the inserted mesh to the
desired position, size or angle.
• Click the gear icon again to bring back the menu. Select the top entry,
which will be named after the inserted primitive. This will give you access
again to the primitive values and parameters manipulators.
Through the gear icon, you will be able to switch between the Gizmo 3D and the
parametric primitive parameters. You can do this as often as you wish until you
create a new primitive or use another Gizmo 3D parameter like the modifiers.
5. Click and drag the primitive cone manipulators to change the resolution along
an axis, a revolution value, or the shape. Each primitive has its own settings,
which are very similar to the Tool >> Initialize settings for default 3D Primitives
found in the Tool palette. Simply hover one of the parametric primitive cones to
display the name of the associated setting, then click and drag it to change the
When changing settings which affect the topology (like the density of the polygons) ZBrush
will force the display of the PolyFrame until you release the widget. This is true even if PolyFrame
is turned off as it allows you to better see the modifications applied to the primitive.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

3. Transfer of Deformation from One Inserted Primitive to Another

When working with parametric primitives, you can use the Gizmo 3D to stretch and
squash them. Internally, ZBrush will modify the bounding box of the primitive from a per-
fect cube to a deformed cube. When creating a new primitive, it is possible to have the
new shape fit the bounding box of the previous deformed model. You only need to press
the Shift key when selecting a parametric primitive to transfer the old bounding box shape
to the new model.

By keeping the previous shape, the inserted mesh will fit the same proportions. This
can be very convenient if you want to assemble multiple primitives to create a complex

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

VII Deformers

The Deformer system included in the Gizmo 3D is a series of tools which can apply
a global or local deformation to your current SubTool, depending on whether it is masked.

The deformers will let you bend, twist, subdivide, smooth and a lot more. All of the
deformers are interactive, making this a great way to visually edit your models.

The Deformers, located at the top of the Gizmo 3D Customize menu.

1. Working with Deformers

The Deformers will only work with models that don’t have subdivision levels. If your
current SubTool has multiple levels of subdivision, click the Delete Higher/Lower func-
tions located in the Tool >> Geometry sub-palette.

The Deformers are located in the Gizmo 3D popup palette, accessed by clicking the
Customize icon.

1. Switch to Gizmo 3D.

2. At the top of the Gizmo 3D, click the small gear “Customize” icon. A popup menu
will open. The bottom part lists the different deformers that are available.
3. Chose the deformer of your choice. A series of manipulators represented by
cones associated with a bounding box will appear.
4. When hovering over a manipulator, a description of the function is displayed.
Adjust the manipulators by clicking and dragging the circle part of the cones to
apply a transformation to your model.
5. If you wish to reset your current modifier, click again on the Customize (gear)
icon and select the corresponding action in the popup menu.
6. When finished with the deformer, switch to Draw mode or return to the Custom-
ize menu to click Accept. You may also use the Customize menu to click the
Gizmo 3D function to revert to the manipulator or select another manipulator.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

2. List of Deformers

Find below the list of the deformers found in the Gizmo 3D. Some of them simply
apply a deformation to the current model while others may apply topology modifications
like adding edge loops or more drastic changes.

Bend Arc
The Bend Arc deformer bends the current SubTool along an arc (part of a circle). The
arc center is defined by one side of the bounding box and each side of the bounding box
can generate its own arc, producing a bend with multiple angles.

From left to right: the original model, the Bend Arc applied on one axis, then on two axes.


• Radius: Defines the radius of the arc circle.

• Twist: Performs a rotation of the model around the arc.
• Angle: Defines the angle of the arc from 0° (horizontal) to 180° (a vertical angle).

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

Bend Curve
The Bend Curve deformer bends the current SubTool along a curve which can be
modified through control points. The density of the control curve and the associated
control points can be interactively modified as well as their positions in space, which will
apply the corresponding deformation to the active selection.

Each control point can receive extra deformation for precise control.

On the left, a simple tube with the BendCurve deformer applied and associated with 4 control
points. On the right, all the points have been moved to completely change the shape of the tube.


• Curve Resolution: Defines the number of control points on the curve.

• Smoothness: Allows the line to be more rounded or angular.
• Axis: Defines the axis of the bounding box on which the curve will be used (X,
Y or Z).
• Symmetrical: Sets a symmetry on the curve itself, where control points located
on each side of the curve will receive the same transformation.
• Smooth: Applies smoothing to the control curve. This can be useful if your modi-
fication has too strong of an effect on your deformation.
• Twist (on control points): Applies a twisting around the curve at the point loca-
• Scale (on control points): Applies a scaling deformation at the point location.
• Squeeze (on control points): Applies a non-uniform scaling deformation at the
point location where a value below 1 will squash the model and above 1 will
stretch it.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

This deformer display a deformation cage on the SubTool. By deforming and ma-
nipulating the cage points, you will apply the corresponding deformation to your model.
This is also referred to as FFD for Free Form Deformation.

To manipulate a single point, you can simply click and drag on the point to move it
across the screen working plane.

You can also select a single or multiple points at the same time by clicking once on a
control point. It will turn to a white dot. To add or remove other points, press the Shift key
while clicking on new points. These points can be manipulated by the Gizmo 3D for both
Move, Scale and Rotate operations.

On the left, the Deformer applied to the head with the top point selected. On the right, the Gizmo
3D has been used to scale down and rotate these points, applying a soft and local deformation
which would have been difficult to do with the classic sculpting tools in ZBrush.


• X, Y and Z Divide: Defines the definition of the cage. More control points mean
more accuracy in a local area, while fewer points work better for global defor-
• X, Y and Z Symmetry: Sets the symmetry plane for the deformation. This sym-
metry, like that found in the Transform palette, can be parallel or mirror type
(regular symmetry).

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

The Extender deformer by default inserts a loop of polygons along the bounding box
axis of your choice. This loop of polygons can be divided and moved along the model
by dragging its associated dot. It can also be applied to multiple axes at the same time.

This deformer is a great way to quickly create advanced primitives for creating “kit
bashed” style models.

The Extender part has been added to the top of the head. The Inflate cone has then been manipu-
lated to do a negative extrusion.


• Extender: Defines the inserted loop size along the associated bounding box
• Size (X, Y and Z): Defines the size (scale) of the deformation on the side of the
• Symmetry (X, Y and Z): Allows the Extender deformation to be applied sym-
• Resolution: Adds multiple edge loops inside the inserted loop of the Extender.
• Apply Creasing: Adds a crease to the border of the Extender.
• Inflate: Applies an inflate on the Extender area, creating thickness which can be
positive or negative.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

The Flatten deformer clips the current selection based on the planes of the deformer
bounding box. Please note that the polygons of your selection won’t be removed or
sliced. They are simply flattened on top of each other, similarly to the Clip Brush.

On the left, the original mesh, with the Gizmo 3D rotated. On the right, notice that the deformation
box has been oriented with the same angle as the Gizmo 3D, then the Flatten deofrmation has
been applied to the top part.


• Flatten: Defines the depth of the deformation along the corresponding working
• Slice Topology: Adds an creased edge loop around the flattened area of the se-
lection. This option will drastically improve the results of the Flatten deformation
when used in combination with Dynamic Subdivision.
• X, Y and Z Symmetry: Sets the symmetry plane for the deformation. This sym-
metry, like that found in the Transform palette, can be parallel or mirror type
(regular symmetry).

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

Multi Slice
The Multi Slice deformer inserts one or more edge loops along the X, Y and/or Z
axis. These edge loops do not follow the existing flow of the topology, instead slicing the
way around the model.

The transformation can be freely moved across the model by clicking and dragging
the blue dot located at the center of the modified topology. The width of each modified
area can be interactively modified as well.

On the left, the original mesh. In the center, Multislice was used to insert multiple edge loops in
the center on the model. On the right, the blue dot manipulator has been moved up to set another
location for the slices.


• X, Y and Z Resolution: Defines the number of slices to insert in the area of

• Slice Width (per axis): Defines the width of the Multi Slice insertion area.
• Apply Creasing: Applies an edge crease to all slices inserted in the model.

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D

The Taper deformer applies the corresponding deformation to the mesh.

On the left, the original mesh. On the right, the model was transformed with the Taper modifier.


• Taper: Defines the strength of the deformation as well as its direction, from start
to end or vice versa.
• Exponent: Allows the Taper effect to be more rounded at either the start or end
of the deformation

ZBrush 4R8 - Gizmo 3D


The Twist modifier applies a twisting effect around the selected axis.

On the left, the original mesh. On the right, a two axis twist has been applied on the model.


• Twist: Defines the rotation angle of the twisting effect along the selected axis.

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes


Create 3D text and logos with a few clicks.

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes

Examples of shapes created with the 3D Text and Shape Creator tool.

Using 3D text shapes or designs based on logos can be very useful when creating
models – especially when combined with Boolean operations or when using the Match
Maker brush. ZBrush provides a full 3D text creator that makes use of all fonts available
on your machine. The tool provides stylistic modifications like extrusions, bevels and
even right to left orientation.

As with ZBrush itself, the 3D text system supports Unicode fonts and text.

Because 3D text is vector based, the tool is also able to import vector files in SVG
format, allowing you to convert logos or other vector images to 3D shapes.

The 3D Text and Shape Creator tool is located in the ZPlugin palette.

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes

I Creating a 3D Shape Based on Text Entry or an SVG File

The process of creating a shape based on either text or a 2D vector image in SVG
format is very easy!

The 3D Text and Shape Creator sub-palette.

1. Open the ZPlugins >> 3D Text and Shape Creator sub-palette.

2. Choose your input method:
• To create 3D shape from text, click the “New Text” button. A popup will ap-
pear. Type the text of your choice and then hit Enter to validate. The newly
created 3D text will appear in the center of the canvas.
• To create a 3D shape based on an SVG file, click the “New SVG” button. A
system file selector will appear. Browse your hard drive and select the file of
your choice. After loading, the logo will appear in the center of the canvas.
3. Once your text or logo has been created, you can change its appearance set-
tings. These include the font itself (with any available styles), extrusion depth,

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes

spacing, bevel, or text direction (vertical or reversed). All changes are dynamic,
letting you see the results immediately.
4. It is possible to change the inputted text or replace the logo by clicking the “Edit
Text” / “Edit SVG” buttons.

The model is a PolyMesh 3D by default. This means that once you are done editing
your object using the various settings, you can sculpt or otherwise edit it as you would
any 3D model.

It is important to keep in mind that editing the model is possible so long as you don’t
duplicate the SubTool or change its name. Also, updating a style/geometry setting will
revert the model to a “clean,” freshly generated state without any edits that have been
done since its original creation.

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes

II Quality and Performance

To produce 3D shapes, the tool converts vector outlines to polygons. This process
can be very quick when using simple shapes that do not contain high levels of detail.
The more detailed that your font or shape is, the longer it can take to create a 3D model.

The 3D engine built for this process has been optimized to produce high quality
results with nearly any font or shape. However, this high quality can impact the speed of
the process, especially when increasing the shape’s resolution.

We strongly advise to begin by creating your text or shape with a low polygon count
and then increase the Resolution setting only if needed.

1. Adaptive mode

The vector 3D engine provides two modes to convert curves to polygons: Adaptive
and Regular. These are toggled between by using the Adaptive switch. Both modes have
their own pros and cons.

• When Adaptive is turned on, the engine creates the most even topology pos-
sible across the model. This can be a benefit for future deformation but is
slower to process.
• When Adaptive is turned off, the Regular mode is used. This creates long tri-
angles but is faster to process.

For complex shapes and fonts, it is advised to begin with Regular mode. Once you
are satisfied with the styling modifications of your choice, you can turn Adaptive on to
increase the quality of the end result.

On the left, Adaptive mode. On the right, the Regular mode. Notice the differing polygon distribu-
tion between the two modes.

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes

III Font Management

By default, the 3D Text and Shape Creator will look at the fonts located in your sys-
tem’s Fonts folder:

• Windows: c:\Windows\Fonts
• Mac OS: /Library/Fonts and /System/Library/Fonts

The tool supports fonts in TTF, TTC, OFT and FON formats, which are all vector
based. Fonts in bitmap format are not supported.

If you wish to use a font that is not installed in your system font folder, you can manu-
ally load the font by clicking the “Load a Font file from disk” button.

When selecting a font for your text, you can use the left and right arrows to quickly
cycle through all your fonts. An alternative is to click on the font name. A popup will open,
displaying a drop-down menu listing all your fonts. Click and drag the scroll bar on the
right to quickly navigate the full list.

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes

IV Working with SVG Files

Working with SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) files is very similar to working with
text, except that you need to select a SVG file.

If you want to create your own file, you must use a vector based application like Illus-
trator or Inkscape and export an SVG file. The only constraint is that the SVG file needs
to contain closed shapes with no open curves.

If you have never worked with the SVG format and its shapes before, an easy way
to understand how shapes are built is to simply download a file online and look at it with
your favorite vector based 2D software. You’ll learn the principles very quickly.

An SVG file in a 2D editor and the corresponding shape in ZBrush.

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes

V Text 3D and Vector Shape Functions

The visual aspect of the shapes generated with this tool can be enhanced by several
options. Some of them have a great impact on the result, such as Bevel and its Curvature

The Save function lets you store all current settings as a dedicated preset file for
later reuse.

The actual text string or SVG file are not saved as part of the preset file.

The Load functions allows you to open a previously saved preset. All settings like
Extrusion Distance, Bevel, selected Font, etc. will be restored.

New Text
The New Text button opens a popup window where you can enter your text. The tool
supports full Unicode characters. Multi-line text is not supported and needs to be created
as separate 3D models for each line.

If the generated 3D model includes empty squares or unexpected characters, it may

be because the selected font doesn’t include the character you are looking for. This most
often happens if you use a special character like an accent (é, à, ñ, etc.) or Asian char-
acters not supported by the selected font.

Edit Text
The Edit Text function reopens the text input popup, allowing you to change the
input. Upon validating the change, the 3D object will be updated. All style settings will
remain unchanged.

With detailed fonts you may find it beneficial to start with only a few characters for
faster performance. Once the other settings are just the way you want them you can edit
the text to its final output.

The Edit function can only work if the selected SubTool was created using the 3D
Text Creator and the SubTool hasn’t been renamed. This editing is also only possible
within the current ZBrush session. After restarting ZBrush or opening a saved Project, it

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes

will no longer be possible to change the entered text.

Duplicating the SubTool will break the name structure.

Font Selector and Font Style

The Font Selector and its associated Font Style (Bold, Italic, Thin, Strong, etc.) let
you select the font of your choice, based on the fonts installed on your operating system
font folder.

By clicking the left and right arrows, you can quickly switch between your fonts and
see the result applied to the 3D model in (nearly) real-time. You can do the same opera-
tion with font styles, if they are available.

To quickly look for a specific font, click the current font name. A dropdown menu will
open, listing all your system’s installed fonts. Click and drag the slider located at the right
of the list to scroll. Find the font of your choice and click its name to select it.

Some fonts take a long time to compute if they have a lot of complex details. Please read the
Quality and Performance chapter above.
It is not possible to apply forced styles like “Bold” if the style is not natively included in the

Load a Font File from Disk

If you need to use a font which is not installed on your system but rather is a separate
file, click the “Load a Font file from disk” button and browse your computer to select the
file. When validating, this font will be used.

ZBrush supports TTF, TTC, OFT and FON formats. Fonts in bitmap format are not

The New SVG function lets you load an SVG file to be converted to geometry, re-
specting its outline and openings. After loading your file, use the settings like Extrusion,
Resolution, and Bevel to refine the shape.

Settings specific to text are greyed out when working with an SVG file.

Edit SVG

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes

Edit SVG lets you replace the current SVG file with a different one. All styling options
currently applied to the previous SVG file will be preserved.

The Edit function can only work if the selected SubTool was created using the 3D
Text Creator and the SubTool hasn’t been renamed. This editing is also only possible
within the current ZBrush session. After restarting ZBrush or opening a saved Project, it
will no longer be possible to change the SVG source.

Duplicating the SubTool will break the name structure.

The Extrusion setting defines the depth of the shape. When set to 0, only a surface
is generated rather than a volume.

The Resolution slider defines the quality of the outline/silhouette of the text or SVG
shape. Higher settings produce smoother edges. With some complex fonts or SVG files,
increasing this slider can dramatically increase the computation time. This is especially
true if you already have Bevel styling applied.

It is strongly advised to increase the resolution slider only as a last step, when you
are happy with the results from the other styling options.

The Spacing setting defines the distance between each letter in the text string. This
value can be positive or negative.

The same text, with different spacing settings.

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes

When Adaptive is turned on, the engine creates the most even topology possible
across the model. This can be a benefit for future deformation but is slower to process.
When Adaptive is turned off, the Regular mode is used. This creates long triangles but
is faster to process.

The Bevel function adds a bevel effect around the cap of the created shape. It has
no effect Extrusion is set to 0.

Increasing the setting will increase the radius of the bevel around the entire edge.

Because fonts or shapes can have strongly concave or convex angles, some parts of the
bevel can overlap in places. While this doesn’t have an impact on how the shape appears visually,
it can affect some functions such as Boolean operations or 3D printing. It may be useful to convert
the generated model to DynaMesh to create a clean volume with no overlapping surfaces.

Bevel Resolution
Bevel Resolution defines the density of tessellation (the number of edge loops) along
the beveled edges. This setting functions in tandem with the Curvature settings, allow-
ing you to produce more rounded chamfers (at a higher Resolution) or faceted chamfers
(with a lower Resolution).

The Curvature slider defines the roundness of the bevel applied to the text or SVG
shape. Values can be negative or positive, producing a negative (concave) or positive
(convex) chamfer.

The quality of the curvature can be improved by increasing the Bevel Resolution

ZBrush 4R8 - Text 3D & Vector Shapes

Two different curvatures.

The Replace setting specifies whether to replace the current SubTool when creating
a new shape from text or an SVG file. When it is disabled, a new SubTool will be created.

Auto Update
When enabled, the current model will automatically be updated to reflect the chang-
es applied via the styling or other settings. This is true for both text and SVG files.

On fonts or shapes which are complex, disabling Auto Update can improve perfor-
mance while adjusting the settings.

The Vertical function changes the text direction from horizontal to vertical.

The Reverse function writes the current text from right to left. This is needed for
languages like Arabic or Hebrew, to name a few.

ZBrush 4R8 - Lazy Mouse 2


Advanced controls for your sculpting and painting brush strokes.

The LazyMouse v2 is an enhanced version of the original LazyMouse, giving you

accurate control of your strokes. The updates bring new creative processes where you
can continue from your previous stroke, as well as allowing your strokes to cross over
each other without buildup.

ZBrush 4R8 - Lazy Mouse 2

I Stroke Continuity

The ability to chain strokes together is provided by the Stroke >> Lazy Mouse >>
LazySnap function. If your cursor is close to the end of your previous stroke, this feature
allows you continue that stroke. The LazySnap value defines the detection distance be-
tween the end of the previous stroke and the beginning of the new stroke. If your cursor
is within the detection range, you will notice that it will be relocated to the end of the previ-
ous stroke when clicking on the object surface.

If you intend to make multiple strokes that are close together and don’t want them to
be connected, you will likely need to change this setting to a lower value.

Another important factor to consider is pen pressure as this won’t transition between
strokes. Pressure variations between the two strokes can create a visual artifact at the
connection point. This will only be visible with some very accurate and sharp brushes.
In that case, if you want to produce clean strokes then an alternative is to work without
pressure. This can be disabled in the Brush >> Tablet Pressure sub-palette by setting
the Size and Z Intensity values to a horizontal curve at 100.

An alternative is to use a mouse for these strokes.

On the left, the first stroke. On the right, the stroke has been continued.

ZBrush 4R8 - Lazy Mouse 2

II Non-Buildup of Overlapping Strokes

Some brushes, when combined with Lazy Mouse and a Morph Target can keep the
same depth when they cross. Without this functionality, creating complex shapes based
on strokes can become problematic whenever you cross over an existing stroke.

This functionality works well with Stroke Continuity (explained above) since you can
continue your strokes while keeping them at the same depth. As with Stroke Continuity,
it is advised to work with a constant pen pressure in order to produce perfect crossing
of strokes.

The are some easy, yet important rules for the Non-Buildup functionality:

• It works only with brushes based on the Chisel, and Layer brush types.
• It requires Lazy Mouse to be enabled.
• You must first store a Morph Target by pressing the Tool >> Morph Target >>
StoreMT button. This action will keep the current depth of the model in memory,
allowing ZBrush to ignore any changes made by brush strokes that come after
the morph target has been stored.

On the left, one stroke crosses another without using a stored Morph Target. On the right, the
same stroke but with a Morph Target stored prior to sculpting either stroke.

ZBrush 4R8 - Lazy Mouse 2

III Click-to-Click Straight Lines

It can sometimes be necessary to create straight lines for your strokes. To make this
process easier, you can use the Stroke Line function:

1. Start your stroke as usual.

2. Without releasing the cursor, press and hold Shift. A line will appear between
the end of the stroke position and the current position of your cursor. An indica-
tor of angle will give you its value or indicate 45° increments.
3. Move your cursor to a new position.
4. Without releasing the click, let go of the Shift key. ZBrush will connect the two
points with a straight line, using your current brush.

To produce straight lines, you can also use the Stroke >> Lazy Mouse >> Backtrack function
and Line mode.

IV Stroke Pause

If you want to keep the current brush with its pressure and start another stroke at
another position, simply press and hold the Spacebar without releasing the click. Now
move the cursor, which will change to a cross to indicate that you can move the position
of the stroke to another location. When you arrive at the location of your choice, release
the Spacebar to continue your stroke.

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support


You can even create your own language support!

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

ZBrush natively supports display of Unicode characters for most of functions, such
as SubTool renaming or file saving. The interface can also be displayed in various lan-
guages including English, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, German and French.
If your language is not supported by Pixologic but you wish to translate ZBrush and
share that with the community, you can do so --mostly without even leaving ZBrush!

The Language sub-palette, located in the Preferences palette.

The Tool >> Geometry palette in multiple languages.

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

I Changing the Default Language

All of the ZBrush language settings are located in the Preferences >> Language
sub-palette. The main section is about the language displayed in ZBrush. By default,
ZBrush will try to detect the language of your system and if it is known to ZBrush, the
software will start in the corresponding language. If your system language is not avail-
able, ZBrush will start in English.

To switch ZBrush to different language, click on the language of your choice in Pref-
erences >> Language. After a few seconds, the ZBrush user interface will be updated to
this language.

As with most ZBrush preferences, you need to save the setting by pressing Prefer-
ences >> Config >> Store Config. Otherwise, ZBrush will revert to the default language
on the next startup.

The languages selector in the Preferences >> Language sub-palette.

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

II Quickly Switch Back to the English language

When working in ZBrush with a language other than English, it can be useful to
switch back to English if you are following a tutorial and you need to look for a specific
interface item shown in the tutorial.

Click the Preferences >> Language >> Options >> Show English button to instanta-
neously display ZBrush in English. By assigning a hotkey to this button, you can readily
switch between your language and English whenever necessary.

The English version in this mode is slightly different from the English language that you can
set in preferences. The one that can be quickly displayed is what is used in the internal ZBrush
source code. Some minor changes have since been made to the final language displayed when
permanently setting ZBrush to display the English language.

III AutoNotes in Other Languages

The AutoNotes are the advanced help displayed when pressing the CTRL key while
hovering over a function’s UI element such as its button or slider. The English language
is currently the only one provided for these AutoNotes.

The other languages only have partial AutoNotes, created for select functions in
ZBrushCore, the streamlined version of ZBrush. To avoid confusion, AutnoNotes are by
default disabled for languages other than English. To enable them, click Preferences >>
Language >> Options >> Show Notes.

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

IV Creating Your Own ZBrush Translation

The multi language system in ZBrush allows creation of custom languages by its us-
ers. This can range from editing an existing language to add personal modifications, all
the way to creating support for a new language from scratch.

With the exception of a few items, the process can be done almost totally within
ZBrush. This done either by clicking on the buttons to translate or going to a menu that
will display all strings or error messages that still need to be translated. All these edits are
updated directly in ZBrush, without the need to reload the language or the application.

At any point, you can export it as a file which can be shared with other ZBrush users
who will then be able to benefit from your translation work.

When doing these translations it is not advised to work as a team. This is because It is not
possible to merge multiple translations into one.

At the bottom of the Language preferences, the Custom Language and all its utilities.

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

1. Items to Translate

In ZBrush, most any element visible to users is available for translation. This in-
cludes all buttons, sliders, error messages, the ZModeler menu, progress bar messages,
etc. However, a few elements may remain only available in English. This includes some
special error messages, the top bar, and resources (brush names, alphas, strokes, the
files found in LightBox, etc.).

2. Plugins and ZScripts: The Translation Exception

ZBrush is enhanced with plugins or with ZScripts, providing extra utilities and func-
tionalities. Unfortunately, the core part of the ZScript system (which is used in plugins as
well) can’t fully support the translation process.

The result is that most buttons and sliders for plugins will be translated. However,
any special text like popups, error messages or dynamic text will remain in English. An
example would be the ZPlugins >> Scale Master plugin, when clicking the Set Scene
Scale popup. Its contents will remain in English.

The Set Scene Scale popup of the Scale Master plugin, which can’t be translated.

3. Creating a Custom Language

The first step is to create a new custom language. It can be:

• An existing translation already provided in ZBrush, which you want to edit.

• Using an existing language as the foundation for your new translation.

All edition tools will only work with a Custom language. This is why you need to cre-
ate one, even if you wish to edit an existing one.

1. First select the language that you want to edit or which will be the foundation
for your new translation. If you start an original translation, it is advised to begin
with the English language as you will have a blank canvas where English will
be used if you don’t translate some items. If you use another language as the

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

foundation, you have a high risk of mixing two different languages and creating
confusion for any other people who might use your translation.
2. Click Preferences >> Language >> Customize >> Create.

Now the Custom language is selected and you can start your translation work. Don’t
forget to save it on a regular basis as this action is not done automatically.

4. The Edit Window

The Preferences >> Language >> Customize >> Edit button will open the complete
Translation Edit window. This special interface is the full version of Auto Edit mode, ex-
plained in the next section of this document. (It is strongly advised to read this next part.)

The Edit window. See the content descriptions below.

Here is a description of each element:

A. The list of items that need to be translated. Click on one of them to start the
translation of that item.
B. The categories of the items to be translated:
• Buttons are mainly the clickable items in the ZBrush interface and include
buttons, modes, sliders, and switches.
• Messages are typically error, warning and informational messages, or the
text in progress bars .
• Infos include the extra items which doesn’t fit in the two previous sections.
These include the ZModeler menu and very specific progress bar or popup

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

C. The Red, Orange and Green dots indicate the state of translation for each listed
item. The change of the status is dynamic.
• Red: No translation.
• Orange: Partial translation has been done, such as if the item’s Title has
been edited but its Info has not.
• Green: Translation is complete.
D. English (Title/Info/Extra): The original text in English. This text can’t be edited.
Notice that it may vary a little bit from the English translation within ZBrush. This
is because the original text has been edited through the translation system in
order to rename some items or change some abbreviations.
E. Localized (Title/Info/Extra): The field where you enter your translation.
F. Title/Info/Extra: these switches let you select which part of the item to translate:
• Title: The button, slider or switch name found in the user interface, like
“Open,” “Divide,” or “DynaMesh.” It can also be the title of a warning message
or information window.
• Info: This is the tooltip text that is will be displayed when hovering over the
button, slider, switch, or any other clickable user interface element. It can be
the main (or first) part of an information window. These messages are not the
AutoNotes, which are seen when holding the CTRL key while hovering over an
interface element.
• Extra: Additional text which can be found in some information and error mes-
sages, as well as a few miscellaneous items.
Some complex messages can be split across the Info and Extra sections.

G. Copy: Copies the original text into the translation field. This can be very helpful
for long translations or if you need to reuse special codes such as color codes
or breaklines (\Cxxxxxx and \n).
H. Shared and Unique: Switches between the two modes. Please refer to the dedi-
cated section below.
I. The path and identifier to the item to translate. This field is provided for your in-
formation. It is an internal identifier and in most cases can give you an indication
of where the item is located within ZBrush.
J. Up/Down Arrow: Switches between Edit mode or Auto Edit mode.
K. Untranslated: This switch toggles between displaying all items, or only those
that still need full or partial translation. When turned off, any element that has
been fully translated (Title + Info + Extra) will immediately be removed from the
list. This mode is enabled by default.
L. Previous, Next: Selects the next or previous element to translate, without cy-
cling between Title, Info and Extra. These functions are affected by the Untrans-
lated mode, meaning that if you want to select the previous item regardless of
whether it has been translated or not, you must first disable Untranslated mode.
M. Page Up, Page Down and Page Counter: These let you move through the entire
catalogue of items that can be translated. Use these when you need to search

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

for a specific item.

N. Save: Saves the current custom language. As previously mentioned, do this
O. Close: Closes the Edit window. This will not save the current language. That
must be done either by using the Save button within this editing window or by
clicking Preferences >> Language >> Customize >> Save. Hitting Enter will also
close the window.

5. Auto Edit Mode

This mode, found in Preferences >> Language >> Customize is strongly advised
when creating your translation. When enabled, pressing Alt+clicking on any user inter-
face element will open a reduced version of the Edit window, with only the clicked item
displayed. You will then be able to translate this item the same way you would with the
standard Edit window.

If you want to see all other translations near this current item, click the arrow at the
left of the popup window. The popup will then become the full Edit window.

The Auto Edit window. Notice its compact aspect compared to the full Edit window.

6. Translation Workflow

A typical workflow is:

1. Be sure to have a customized language loaded and turn Preferences >> Lan-
guage >> Custom >> Auto-edit mode on.
2. ALT+click on any interface item to translate. For example, the Tool >> Load
Tool button.
3. The popup version of the Edit window will appear with the Title field selected.
4. In this example, the English (Title) should be “Load Tool.” In the Localized (Title)
field below, enter your translation. In French it would be “Charger Tool.”
5. Click Info to display that part of the translation. If you have the Tool palette vis-
ible, you should immediately see the change to the Title applied. In the “English
(info)” section, you should have “Load Tool (Ztl File).” Enter your translation for
this text. Continuing with the French example, you might enter “Charger un ZTL
(.ZTL) précédement enregistré.”

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

As you may notice, this example translation is longer than the original text. Feel
free to provide more information if needed, so long as it is valid information. It is
safer to keep the translation simple rather than trying to give more information
at the risk of mistakes.
6. Press Enter. The Auto Edit window will close.
7. Switch to another item to translate by restarting at step 2.

This workflow is in fact really fast, in part because you are directly in the context of
the function being translated. Translating a list in a raw text file would make the task
more difficult.

Don’t forget that you can click the Previous and Next buttons when either Edit win-
dow is open. Most of the time, buttons within the same UI cluster will be next to each
other in the list.

The internal structure of the button/slider order is based on the history of the functions being
added to ZBrush over the time. This is why functions that are grouped together in the UI may
not always appear together in the translation Edit window when pressing the Previous and Next
buttons. This in turn is why Auto Edit mode is the preferred method for translating the interface.
Use Auto Edit for most of your work and the regular Edit window when you want to look for what
remains to be translated.

7. Unique and Shared Modes

In ZBrush, there are a number of buttons or sliders which have the same text but
slightly different functionality. A good example is the “Import” button. This can be found in
the Texture palette to import a texture, in the Alpha palette to import an Alpha, the Docu-
ment palette and other places.

When Shared mode is enabled (by default), changing the Title part of the transla-
tion will also apply automatically to all the other identically named buttons within ZBrush.
However, the tooltip (found in the Info section of the translation) will remain unchanged.
This saves you the time of having to edit the same text repeatedly, yet also allows you to
enter a different description for each unique item that shares that name. For example,
the tooltips of the “Import (Alpha)” and “Import (Texture)” buttons.

This mode is a huge convenience, since some items are duplicated many times
across the interface.

Be careful, however. Sometimes -- depending on the language and context -- a

shared translation does not work well across all instances of a UI element. Depending on
your language, another translation may have a better meaning. Another reason would be
if the full text will not fit a button size at some locations and you then have to use an ab-
breviation. (“Transform” might become “Transf.”) By first setting a translation to Unique,
you can tell ZBrush to only change that instance of the text while ignoring all other loca-

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

tions that would otherwise be shared.

8. Translating Icons

The text on icons can also be translated with a special workflow:

1. Enable Auto-edit mode, found in Preferences >> Language >> Customize.

2. Shift+click on the icon of your choice. A note will tell you that the icon has been
exported as a Photoshop file. It will be saved in the custom language source
folder on your hard drive.
• On Windows: C:\Users\Public\Documents\ZBrushData\ZStartup\Custom-
• On MacOS: /Users/Shared/ZBrushData/ZStartup/CustomLang/icons
3. Open your favorite .PSD file format editor and load the file. We strongly advise
using Adobe Photoshop.
4. Notice Image >> Mode is set to “Multichannel.” Feel free to switch to Greyscale
mode to edit the icon, which gives you the ability to work with layers.
5. Edit the icon however you wish. This will usually be to change the text but you
could also change the graphical portion of the icon.
6. Save your icon file. You do not need to flatten the layers.
7. Back in ZBrush, click Preferences >> Language >> Customize >> Reload Icons.
The updated icon should now appear.
8. Repeat these steps for other icons.

Important note about icon editing and creation

• Don’t resize the icons or ZBrush won’t fully display them. The pixel size must
remain the same.
• The text size is very small. You can try different fonts, sizes and antialiasing
modes but once you settle on a style that pleases you, try to be consistent
across all your icons. These keeps the interface looking cohesive and is much
easier for people to use.
• Once an icon has been exported, you don’t need to do so again each time you
want to make a modification. You can simply reopen same file in your PSD edi-
tor, make and save your adjustments, then click Reload to see the update in
ZBrush. This is why it is helpful to keep the layers in your PSD file rather than
flatten them – it makes future tweaks much faster, should they become neces-

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

9. Translation of the Gizmo 3D Modifiers

The Gizmo 3D includes multiple modifiers which are plugin based. You can still
translate their names and tooltip information (such as when hovering a cone), but this
needs to be done through a different system.

To make these changes, you need to edit the XML file corresponding to the Modi-
fier. These files are found in the ZBrush/ZData/ZPlug64/NameOfTheModifierData folder.
Look for files ending whe “_zc.xml” and open these with a text editor. There, translate the
content found in the trans=”xxxx” sections. Do not change any other portion of the files!

These translations will only become visible when ZBrush is restarted or by switching
to another language and then reverting to the custom language.

10. Font for Your Language

ZBrush is provided with multiple fonts that cover a wide range of characters for most
languages. These are the Noto fonts from Google:

If you are translating ZBrush in a language which needs a special font, download it
from the Noto webpage and copy it to the ZBrush/ZData/ZLang/ZFont folder. Next, edit
the ZFontMac.xml and ZFontWin.xml files. Search for the “language = “zc”” section, be-
low which you will see a list of fonts: “sysfont = “NotoSans-Regular.ttf;….”/>”.

Add your font filename name before the “NotoSans-Regular.ttf” and make sure to
separate them with a “;” in between as it is for the other fonts.

Your custom language will now first look at this font to display your language and its

11. Important Information and Advice About Translating ZBrush

This section contains valuable information that will help you when translating ZBrush.
It includes best practices and how to avoid common mistakes. If you have questions
about the translation process or you want to share your translation work with Pixologic,
please send an email to

Adapt to Your Language but Keep the Meaning

This is a key point about localization. Obviously, using something like Google Trans-
lation would have no meaning. ZBrush has its own philosophy and only someone who
knows the software can perfectly translate the software. With one exception, all transla-
tions provided by Pixologic have been made by ZBrush artists/users.

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

For some words or expressions, a direct translation may not mean anything in your
language. In that case, adapt to what makes the most sense in your own language.

Some functions already have a specific word in your language and should be used
even if this translation is far from the original English. What is most important is that it
makes sense to the end user.

The end user is the key, since the goal of the translation is to make ZBrush acces-
sible to artists who may not understand at all because it is not in their language.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, some words may not exist in your language or
the English text is so well known that it accomplishes nothing to do a translation. In that
case, keep it in English. As an example, the “Picker” menu and its associated function
can be translated into the French language but would be meaningless. As a result, the
English name has been kept.

Keep Famous ZBrush Function Names -- or at Least Keep their Pronunciation

ZBrush includes numerous features which are well known and are key to what
ZBrush is. These include Tool, SubTool, DynaMesh, ZRemesher, ZSphere, ShadowBox,
SpotLight, Projection Master, LightBox, ArrayMesh, NanoMesh, ZScript, and FiberMesh,
to name a few.

It is strongly advised to keep them as they are and not try to translate them. If your
language uses a different character set (like Asian characters) you can do a phonetic
translation, keeping the pronunciation. If you think a translation is really needed, add it to
the tooltip (Info section) but keep the original word/sound on the button itself.

Tool and SubTool can be easily translated in most languages, but again these items
are fundamental to ZBrush and must remain as is. This is a typical example of where you
can add the translation to the tooltip of the function.

Be Very Careful of Special Characters

In some original text, you will notice characters like \n (or even sometimes \n\n) or \
Cxxxxxx where the x can be a hexadecimal number. The first one is a break line charac-
ter while the second is a color identifier that will change the color of the text that follows.

Example: \C333333Z\CFFAA00Brush will output ZBrush. Notice that some charac-

ters can be right after the special code, without empty space.

Color character code used multiple times in a single string.

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

Some function names can start with a letter followed by a point which is not visible in
ZBrush but does appear in the Editor. Examples are the NanoMesh or ArrayMesh func-
tions which can start with a “p.”, “m.”, “a.”, etc. You need to keep these special characters
in your translation since they are used by ZBrush to be recognized as a group of features.

Notice the “P.” before the function name. “P.Panel Loops” appears in the UI as simply, “Panel
Loops” while the “P.” is used as an internal identifier.

Don’t Forget “Hidden” Features

The most obvious way to do the translation is to open each palette one by one and
do the translation using Auto Edit. When doing so, don’t forget that some palettes may
have a popup with buttons, like the Render >> BPR filters >> Filters and Blend modes.
There are also special palettes like for ZModeler, which is only available when the ZMod-
eler brush is selected. Other examples are when a ZSphere or 3D Primitive is selected,
changing the contents of the Tool palette. Obviously, each 2.5D Tool (like the Simple or
Cloner brush) has different settings to translate.

The way to be sure that the translation is done is to open the Translation Edit window
and have Untranslated turned on. If all of its tabs are empty, you are done!

Right to Left Languages

Unfortunately, languages that read from right to left (like Hebrew and Arabic) are not

Time Commitment

Creating a custom language is not a quick task.

For your information, it takes approximately a month to translate ZBrush into a new
language. This includes time spent searching for functions you don’t know and then
figuring out how to best translate them.

Even though the translators for the languages provided by Pixologic were well
versed in ZBrush before they began, they all learned a lot about ZBrush by translating it!

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

V Localization and Language Functions

This section describes the functions dedicated to language management and cre-
ation. They are all found in Preferences >> Language.

Language Selectors (English, French, Japanese, etc.)

Select the language of your choice and ZBrush will switch to it. This operation may
take a few seconds or longer, depending on your computer speed.

Custom (language)
Switch the currently selected language to an editable, custom one. Setting this lan-
guage will enable most of functions found in the Custom section.

Show English
No matter what language ZBrush is currently using, this button displays English on
the fly, without loading time. It is convenient when you are in need of displaying ZBrush
in English, such as when following a tutorial in English.

Show Notes
The Show Notes displays the AutoNotes that have been translated into languages
other than English. These AutoNotes are currently limited to a few functions found in

This function creates a custom language based on the currently loaded language.
It then becomes possible to use the translation tools. Without a custom language, it is
impossible to translate ZBrush. This protects you from accidentally damaging one of the
translations included by Pixologic.

Use the Import function to load a custom language that has previously been export-
ed – including one shared by someone else. By loading a language, you will overwrite
your existing custom language if you have one.

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

The Export function lets you export your entire language translation, including the
icons, as a single file. To provide your translation to other users, simply share this file
with them.

The Modifiers XML files (for the Gizmo 3D) are not part of the exported file and the corre-
sponding _zc.xml files therefore need to be provided separately.

To save your translation progress, click the Save function found in the Custom sec-
tion. You can alternatively click the Save button found in the Edit window.

It can be useful to set a hotkey to this function.

If you attempt to exit ZBrush without having saved your translation you will be asked
whether you would like to save your work.

The Edit button will open the Edit window. Please read the corresponding section
above to learn more.

Auto Edit
The Auto Edit mode enables the capability to do ALT+Click on a button to translate
its content or Shift+click to edit an icon. Please read the corresponding section above to
learn more.

Reload Notes
The Reload Notes function will force ZBrush to reload the AutoNotes file for the cus-
tom language. The AutoNotes will only be visible if Show Notes is enabled.

Reload Icons
The Reload Icons function will force ZBrush to reload the icons associated with the
custom language to display any modifications that you made to them.

ZBrush 4R8 - Multiple Language Support

Show Untranslated
The Show Untranslated function will recolor the interface to display in red all items
that are not translated or are only partially translated. (These are the ones that are dis-
played with Red and Orange circles in the Edit window.) Once an item has been fully
translated, it will switch to the regular white color.

It can be convenient to assign a custom hotkey to this function.

ZBrush 4R8 - Other Additions and Changes


This section lists the various additions added in ZBrush 4R8 or changed since
ZBrush 4R7 which are not covered elsewhere in this documentation.

1. Changes in the Default User Interface

The ZBrush default style has been updated with a “flat” design style. The default
fonts have been replaced, using the Noto font from Google which is needed by the lo-
calization system.

Some other functions have been added and replaced in the User Interface:

• Projection Master button has been removed from the default layout but can be
still found in ZPlugin >> Projection Master.
• QuickSketch button has been removed from the default layout but can be still
found in ZPlugin >> Quick Sketch
• The 2D navigation buttons have been removed from the default UI but can still
be found in the Document palette.
• The HomePage button has been added where the Projection Master button was
previously located. It will open the Home Page news system.
• The Live Boolean Mode has been added where the QuickSketch button was
previously located. This mode enables the real-time display of the Boolean op-

2. Resizing of the UI

It is now possible to rescale both the ZBrush UI and the text found in the buttons
and sliders. This is done by changing the Preferences >> Interface >> UI >> Buttons
Size slider.

The default value is set to 48 and will fit most screen resolutions. On a low resolution
screen, you can reduce this value to around 42.

The Button Size slider doesn’t affect the size of the icons found in some buttons.

ZBrush 4R8 - Other Additions and Changes

3. Home Page News System

The Home Page News system is a window that opens at each launch of ZBrush to
display the latest news from Pixologic. This includes new ZBrush updates, new training
videos, events, live streaming broadcasts and much more.

You can switch between each slide as you would in any website. Clicking on the
buttons will open a new page in your default web browser.

As previously mentioned, the Home Page will appear at each ZBrush launch. How-
ever, you may set it to only open when new information is available. To do this, click
the small gear icon at the top right of the floating window and change the preference to
“Show if news updated.”

The Home Page system, which opens in front of the ZBrush interface at launch. Notice the gear
icon to access its settings.

4. Alpha

The Alpha >> Streak sliders create random streaks simulating brush bristles. Modify-
ing these modifiers gives an effect to alphas that is similar to a motion blur.

The Alpha Streak setting in action.

ZBrush 4R8 - Other Additions and Changes

5. Brushes

• All creation and inventory functions for brush mesh content (Create, Copy
Paste, Delete, etc.) are now grouped in the Brush >> Create sub-palette.
• An Adaptive Map Size slider has been added to the Brush >> Alpha and Texture
sub-palette. This allows for automatic MIP-mapping to be used to dynamically
adjust the alpha or texture resolution for the size of the brush.
• A Magnify Curve has been added to the Brush >> Alpha and Texture palette
along with its associated Low and Hight Magnify sliders. This lets you apply a
magnification effect to the current Alpha.
• The Alpha >> Alpha and Texture >> Align to Path slider evaluates the orientation
of the Alpha during a stroke. Increasing the value will increase the accuracy of
the orientation along the path.
• It is now possible to reset the current brush by clicking Brush >> Reset Current
Brush (found at the end of the Brush palette).
• The Brush popup (B Hotkey) has new shortcuts to useful functions like Reset
Current Brush.
• The icons for multi-content brushes show the number of sub-meshes/alphas
included in the brush.
• Morph targets will be ignored when the Brush >> Modifiers >> Fast Samples
mode is on.

6. Deformation

• The Tool >> Deformation >> Relax Plane to Grid deformer only works when the
model is based on a grid pattern. By increasing the value, the function will relax
the topology while trying as much as possible to keep the shape of the geometry
unchanged. This function is mainly used when creating Vector Displacement
Meshes which are based on a grid. Please refer to the Alpha 3D chapter for
more information.
• The Tool >> Deformation >> Morph to Grid function only works when the model
is based on a grid pattern. By increasing the value, the function will morph the
deformed grid to a perfect flat grid shape. This function is mainly used when
creating Vector Displacement Meshes which need to have clean borders. Com-
bined with a mask protecting everything but the boundaries, you can make them
perfectly square and aligned to a perfect grid shape. Please refer to the Alpha
3D chapter for more information.

7. Masking

• All the Mask brushes except Pen-based ones automatically inverse the masking
action if no masking already exist. As an example, if you do a negative mask

ZBrush 4R8 - Other Additions and Changes

(CTRL+ALT) with a Mask Lasso brush on a model which doesn’t already have
a mask then everything will be masked except the part selected by the lasso.
This new behavior saves steps by avoiding the need to create a mask and then
invert it to create a selection.

8. ZSpheres

• The ZSphere Adaptive skin has a new behavior as it will by default create a
DynaMesh model when previewing it. For this reason, a DynaMesh resolution
slider has been added to the Tool >> Adaptive Skin sub-palette when a ZSphere
model has been selected. When set to 0, the classic Adaptive Skin will be used.
Internally, ZBrush creates the default Adaptive Skin preview and then converts it
to a DynaMesh. If you want smoother surfaces even if your DynaMesh Resolu-
tion is high, increase the Adaptive Skin slider.

On the left, the original ZSphere model. On the right, the Adaptive Skin previewed as a DynaMesh

9. DynaMesh

• DynaMesh has a new sub-projection algorithm which produces better results by

locally adding polygons if needed. This process is done through multiple itera-
tions which you can stop at any time by pressing the ESC key. The longer you
wait, the more accurate the projection will be.
• Projection mode is turned off by default.

ZBrush 4R8 - Other Additions and Changes

10. SubTool

• The behavior of some functions has been changed when they are used to cre-
ate new SubTools. Duplicate SubTool, FiberMesh creation, Mesh Extract cre-
ation, or pasting a SubTool will automatically select the new objects.
• The SubTool visibility switches behavior has been modified to only affect the
entire list of SubTools when holding the Shift key while clicking on an eye icon.
Before 4R8, only a click was necessary, leading to unwanted visibility changes.

11. GoZ

• GoZ for Maya 2015, 2016, 2016.5 and 2017 has been updated to support the
most recent version of Maya. It also adds new features:
• PolyPaint support to Maya.
• All PolyGroups will be sent as selection sets.
• GoZ can use Maya Selection Sets to create PolyGroups for ZBrush and vice
• Texture files will now be sent from Maya to ZBrush.
• Increased speed: up to 10x faster on heavy meshes.
• Maya NGons are correctly tessellated and exported into ZBrush
• GoZ Maya will no longer look for the Mental Ray renderer.
• GoZ for Modo has been removed. It is now supported be the Foundry rather
than by Pixologic. To download GoZ for Modo, connect to your Foundry account
and download the installer from there.

12. LightBox

• “Open File” allows you to browse your system’s folder to open a Tool (.ZTL),
Project (.ZPR), .OBJ or.GoZ file without the need to select the corresponding
Open/Load button in the associated palette.
• The “Recent” category displays the latest files that you have loaded, regardless
of their file types.
• “Go to Folder” opens the location of the currently selected file while staying
within LightBox. It is especially useful when you are in the “Recent” category
and want to navigate to the selected file folder.
• The bottom of the LightBox window displays the computer’s path to the cur-
rently selected item, which can be useful at times.
• Folder content thumbnails

ZBrush 4R8 - Other Additions and Changes

13. Misc

• The Maximum distance for the LazyMouse has been increased from 100 to 200.
• ZBrush now supports larger file sizes, with up to 4 GB of 3D mesh data per
SubTool. This does not include other data such as Undo History, textures, etc.
This means that a ZTL or ZPR file can be more than 4 GB without the risk of
• All functions that modify topology in real-time will force PolyFrame display, al-
lowing you to preview the way the modification affects the mesh geometry.
• LightBox folders now have a preview displaying thumbnails of the included files.
• SubTool >> Project All better handles subtractive meshes.
• When using Tool >> Make PolyMesh3D, any symmetry settings applied to the
original mesh or ZSpheres will be carried over to the new model.
• Import of RGB EXR files with short floats is now possible.
• Shift+clicking the Tool >> PolyPaint >> Polypaint From Texture function will au-
tomatically adjust the X and Y sizes of the mesh to be the same ratio as the X
and Y dimensions of the selected texture. This is convenient if you want to apply
a texture to a grid without having a stretched image.
• NanoMesh has been added to the animation Timeline to allow these values to
be animated while recording a Timeline movie.
• 360° background images loaded in Light >> Background can now be blurred.
• A Quick Grid has been added to the Tool >> Initialize sub-palette, supplement-
ing the existing QuickCube, Sphere and Cylinder.
• The Focal Shift slider applies a full-strength value to the brush when set to -100.

ZBrush 4R8 - Thank you!


Yes, to you!

ZBrush 4R8 - Thank you!

Thank You

Pixologic® would like to thank everyone who has participated as a beta tester for
ZBrush® since its beginning. We also thank all the ZBrush users who are making such
wonderful artwork, inspiring us to push our limits and offer you new, innovative, artistic
and production tools!

Happy ZBrushing, and thank you again!

The Pixologic Team

ZBrush 4R8 - Thank you!


ZBrush 4R8 - Thank you!