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Painting Mode in ZBrush by Pixologic

Painting Mode

As a 2D painting program, you can use ZBrush to paint with pixels in much the same way as in graphics programs such as CorelR Paint Shop ProR and AdobeR PhotoshopR but the fun comes when you paint with 2.5D pixols. In most 2D painting programs, you choose a brush, set the color and drag your mouse to paint the pixels onto the canvas. The result is a flat brush stroke which has no depth. But the ZBrush pixols are different. As you can see from the example, the bottom brush stroke is not flat on the canvas but appears to have depth. How? The ZBrush program uses the established light source to calculate the shading and highlighting that creates the illusion of depth in the brush stroke. This calculated pixel is called a pixol. But you might argue that you can get the same effect by using a filter in Photoshop such as a texture or bevel filter. What is the difference? In Photoshop, this will take two steps. First, you would paint the flat pixels on the canvas and then apply the filter. With ZBrush, the 3D filter effect is created in real-time as you paint the pixols.

When you paint with pixols, you have control over many settings in the Draw Palette including what the pixols become on the canvas. You can choose to paint with material and color (Mrgb), just color (Rgb) or just material (M). You can also set the brush to add pixols (Zadd) to the canvas or subtract pixols (Zsub) from the canvas in a "sculpting fashion". Next, you will choose a brush or tool from the Tool Palette. ZBrush has two types of painting tools. You will use the first type to paint 2.5D pixols onto the canvas. The second type is used to change the appearance of the pixols that you have already added to the canvas. For example, I have use the first brush type to paint two identical brush strokes and then I used the second brush type, the Snake Hook Brush, to sculpt two cone shaped points from the second brush stroke.

The Alpha Palette is used in many ways in the painting and editng modes. In the painting mode, you can use the Alpha Palette to control the shape or tip of your brush. The Alpha Palette has many brushes to choose from and you can also create your own. Once you have chosen a brush, you set the behavior of the brush using the Alpha Adjustment ZGraph and other controls in the Alpha Palette.

The Stroke Palette lets you set the brush stroke to anything from a freehand stroke to a spray. Notice in the example, that each type of stroke has the 3D illusion of depth instead of flat color.

You can get some very interesting results by painting with various materials and textures. The chosen material from the Material Palette controls how the light source works with the pixols to create shade and light on the object. It can be used to simulate metal, stone and more. The chosen texture from the Texture Palette determines the colors of the object. Basically, it wraps an image, such as a wood texture, over the surface of your 3D object.

PixologicR screen shots used by permission of Pixologic, Inc. PixologicR and the Pixologic logo, ZBrushR, and the ZBrush logo are registered trademarks of Pixologic, Inc.

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