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Mastering the ZProject-Brush

by Ralf Klostermann (Rastaman), (

The ZProject-Brush s another cool new feature n ZBrush!.
"s you can read n the #k
there are +arous uses for ths brush-ty$e.
,y Tutoral s focused on its use as a transfer-tool for geometry from
one surface to another (-or use to transfer te(turn.-nformatons $lease
refer to the other tutorals $ro+ded by the wk-lnk abo+e).
"lthou.h there already e(sts a tutoral n the #k (/ZProject and 0ubTools/
from 0ebasten 1e.ran), there be some left 2uestons and
mssunderstandn.s of how to .et .ood results wth ths ty$e of Brush when
you use t to transfer .eometry-nformaton.
0o,f you dd not succed wth t so far, let/s take a look now f ths can hel$ you
to master the ZProject-Brush 3)
#hat does the ZProject-Brush do n ts use of transfern.
.eometrys 4
5n short terms, the new ZProject-Brush enables you to ada$t the form of one
surface (the from a sam$le surface (the source) by sm$ly $antn. on
t wth the ZProject-Brush.
There are +arous ways to do that, the easest and most common used s what
5 call the /vacuum- or vacuform-technique/, where you $lace a
model o+er or better com$letely around a source-model.
5 that case you $artally /e+acuate/ your wth the ZProject-Brush. ths works as lke your s a soft $lastc ba. that you $ut
o+er the hard source-model. 6ow e+acuate the ar out of ths /ba./. The ba.
wll at least lay closely on the surface of the underlayn. model.
That/s the way the ZProject-Brush s mostly used and therefore here descr$ed
ste$ by ste$.
5n ths tutoral, 5 want to show you the basc ste$s to .et clean and .ood
results as well as some solutons for $roblems that commonly a$$ears when
workn. wth more com$le( or dsmatchn. meshes than showed n the wk-
-or that, we wll .+e ,r.0u$er"+era.e,an (he looks a lttle born., don/t he4)
a cooler snoo$-do.-face. 3)
,ay sound easy, but s has some tra$s.
The frst $roblem you usually ha+e s that the model you want to alter (the
target) has a dfferent dmenson and orentaton as the model you want to
use as the sam$le (the source).
To .et $ro$er results, you frst need to do ths%
"djustn. the dmensons between 0ource and
7) 1oad your source-model and the you lke to adjust t to nto
Zbrush. use for both nearly the same subd+son-le+el (not a must, but you
wll ha+e less to correct later).
8) ,ake one model the act+e tool (e2ual whch one, but mostly you want to
use the as the man-tool). 9ere n my e(am$le the source-mesh
s the master-tool, the the subtool.
!) :$en Tool -> SubTool, $ress Aend and choose the other model.
;lck n the subtool-$alette on the to$c of that model that needs to be
adjusted n the dmensons to make t the act+e tool. 5n our case the do.
(source) needs some .rown. to ft the ,an (
6ow t should look lke ths%
"ll you do now wll affect only the act+e subtool, n ths case the source-
The wll not be affected as lon. as you don/t .+e hm back the
focus by clckn. on ts to$c n the subtool-$alette.
Kee$ that n mnd.
< ) 6ow .o to Transform -= and act+ate the Transarence-Button.
Ths wll enable you to see throu.h both meshes ther structures.
>) -rst we scale one mesh to the s'e of the other, so ha+e your desred mesh
the act+e tool and act+ate Scale!
" yellow lne wth three crcles a$$ear, ndcatn. that you entered n a new
feature n ZB!, the Transose-modus.
P(olo.c made here a b. chan.e form ?erson 8 to ! and m$lemented
Trans$ose as a se$arate feature to man$ulate mesh-models.
Read the #k for further nformatons about the Trans$ose-modus.
"djust the yellow lne how you lke for a .ood control (see #k for that).
To scale your source-mesh e2ually n all a(s, sm$ly 1,B @ dra. one of the
two yellow rn.s that are located at the ends of the yellow lne.
,ake some further correctons wth ,o+e, 0cale and Rotate as needed to
rou.hly ft the source-mesh (the do.) wth all $arts that you want to use for
the "+era.eman ( closely underneath hs surface.
6ow you should ha+e ths%
Because 5 only want to use the head of the do., 5 hded the rest wth ;trl @
0hft @ 1,B-Rectan.le-Ara. around the do.-head. The do.-head remanded
+sble by maskn. t n that way, the rest s hdden.
6ow we ha+e a $roblem.
" clean workn. /+acuum-techn2ue/ re2ures that all $arts you want to use
from the source-surface are com$letely a lttle bt underneath the
"lthou.h you can also work wth source-$arts that lay under and o+er the n the same $rocess, you wll ha+e major or mnor $roblems on the
areas where they break throu.h the
The soluton s easy% we wll deform the mesh the way we need t.
,ake the "+era.e,an the act+e tool and brn. t to a sutable subd-le+el for
the /o$eraton/, here 5 used le+el 7.

B) ,odfy the as needed , you can use brushes or the Trans$ose-
modus wth $artally masked ares etc.
9ere 5 used manly the Tweak-brush n combnaton wth the 0mooth-brush to
ada$t ,r."+era.e,an/s 9ead as close as $ossble to the underlayn. do.-head.
Ces, ths (the outer surface wthout the frame-net) s stll ,r."+era.e,an
wthout any use of the ZProject)Brush so far.
"s you can see, ths way s also .reat for usn. other model(-$art)s as a !A-
sam$le where you can buld or modfy your work around.
,uch better than workn. wth flat $ctures n the common DEF-(front-sde)-
-or a $ro$er later work of the ZProject-Brush t s essental to .et the
sha$e n your $re$araton rou.hly as close as ossible matching to the
base-sha$e of the source-model, only wth a small distance bet"een the
surfaces left.
G) #hen you use now the ZProject-brush, you wll .et n most cases ether no
or more or less wred results. That/s the $ont where most users .+e u$.
Marcus#$ivis .a+e us the all essential hint.
The last, but one of the most m$ortant ste$s n our $re$araton s now%
0wtch to ,o+e, 0cale or Rotate-mode (whch one s e2ual).
Cou wll see now the yellow lne wth the three yellow crcles, the
Ths s the cause of our $roblems.
,o+e your ,ouse o+er any $art of the act+e mesh and just $ress 1,B
once so that the yellow lne dsa$$ears.
%ery imortant& don't miss this ste!
Cou need also to do ths when you ha+e stored your fle durn. work wth
ZProject-Brush and reload t later to contnue your work.
6ow swtch back to Araw-mode, you/re ready to use the tool of what we are
here for.
Hsn. the ZProject-Brush
6ow that we ha+e carefully made our $re$aratons of both the and the
source, t/s tme to try f t was worth all the effort so far.
-or the /+accum-techn2ue/ for that we conf.ured our models, you must now
use the ZProject-Brush wth the Zadd-mode act+e.
7) Be sure%
to be n the Araw-mode and Zadd s act+e
your s the act+e tool
that both , and source are +sble (check ther eye-symbols n the
of course both, source and are lsted n the subtool-$alette (e2ual
whch one s the man tool)
n a$$ro(mately the same subd-le+el.
8) Press @ hold the ZProject-Brush-Button and dra. the slder to +alue /7EE/.
!) ,o+e your mouse o+er the area you wsh to work on, now $ress and hold
A(T whle you draw wth the ZProject-Brush.
5f you don/t see a smlar thn. lke on my $cture when you draw your
frst strokes, you maybe
- are not n Araw-mode or
- ha+e symmetry act+e (often wred results) or
- ha+e the source nstead or the selected or
- ha+e the source-mesh not +sble or
- faled to deact+ate the yellow Trans$ose-mode-lne.
Io back to f.. ,o+e-,ode and check ths as well as the eye-symbol of
the source-mesh and your been. the act+e tool n the subtool-
$alette etc.
#th holdn. "1T whle drawn., the wll be $ressed
(or soaked) to the underlayn. source-mesh surface. The closer both are
(but lea+n. some small dstance between them) after your $re$araton-
ste$s, the better and cleaner your results wll be.
The ZProjekt-Brush only works o+er areas where both, and source
are n a drect o+erlay-$oston from your +ew
The ZProject-Brush only works lke a $ress or stencl n a DEF-
+ertcal-to-the-can+as manner, meann. that for clean results you ha+e
to $oston your model n that way that the areas of both meshes whch
should later match must be e(actly drect al.ned under the
0o thnk n the be.nnn. as you would lke to shoot the
onto the source-areas. Cust as you cannot shoot around an.les, you
ha+e to al.n the areas when you work wth ths Brush.
,ostly t/s better to work wthout any symmetry o$ton, so be sure to
turn of symmetry n the Transform-$anel.
#ork slowly and controlled wth sn.le strokes, just lke you want to
remo+e ar-bubbles unter a stcker. There s no need to hurry.
5f your $re$araton was .ood as 5 recommended, you wll ha+e
mmedately .ood lookn. results.
Be carefull when you see wrnkles occur. ,ostly you ha+e to re$oston
your +ew now and & or adjust your brush-s'e. (Remember the /
shootn./-dea e($laned abo+e).
5f you work wth a tablet-$en, you can $lay wth the $ressure to make
smooth transtons to your unaltered$arts etc., Play wth
that to .et an hand for t.
-or e(ca+ated, e(tremly rased or an.eled structures lke ears, the
ZProject-Brush s trcky and t s hard to arche+e .ood results.
But you can use the smooth-brush as well as all other brushes to correct
By $ressn. 0hft, you can swtch nstantly to the smooth-mode to
correct occurn. mesh-dstorson /on the fly/. Ths .+es you a +ery 2uck
workflow and leads to .ood results.
0ome trcks
"s already sad n the last to$c of the notes abo+e, some $arts of your model
can be +ery dffcult to work wth the ZProject-Brush.
Jars are a ty$cal e(am$le.
There are some ways to .o around wth e+en that, but t must be sad that the
method has t/s lmtatons de$endn. of what +araton of t you use n the
s$ecal stuaton.
:ne way to deal wth dffcult areas s to work wth mas)ing techniques.
;trl @ Pant the trcky areas you want to work to mask them and n+ert the
mask by ;trl@1,B-;lck on the can+as. Play wth +aratons of focal shft and
mask-smoothn. (;trl @ 1,B-;lck on masked areas) to .et a maskn. that
works wth the ZProject-Brush to .et better results than before.
Rasta/s alternat+e way% *nflate-air-technique "ith Zsub
5 f.ured out that the way of usn. Zadd as descr$ed abo+e works .ood when
you ha+e relat+ely sm$le and round struktures on your source-mesh.
But workn. wth structures lke ears can really dr+e you cra'y. 6o matter
what trcks you use, there are always some areas, es$acally on, that .o
totally wron..
0o why not tryn. the other way 4
5nstead of $ushn. your scaled mesh onto the source-surface
wth Zadd, 5 made ths tme the smaller than the source so that the now fts totally nsde the source-mesh.
6ow we $ress Zsub.
Besde that, we work n the same way as descrbed abo+e, also ress Alt
whle usn. the ZProject-Brush.
Ths tme, we don/t $ush the (or /e+acuate the ar/) onto the
source, but we ull it out to the nsde-surface of the source (or /nflate ar/ n
Js$ecally on com$le( structures lke the ears ths leads to much better results,
maybe not drectly $erfect, but much better than the Zadd-method.
"nother .reat ad+anta.e of usn. ths +araton s that you can easily correct
occuring mesh-distorsions 'on the fly' "ith the Smooth-Brush and be
able to immedatiately re"or) it again "ith the ZProject-Brush wthout
any need to res'e t before as you must do when you work n Zadd-mode.
That/s because we work n Zsub-mode wth an under the source-surface-layn. and the 0mooth-Brush makes our corrected smaller and
brn.s t under the source-surface just as before we started.

Pushn. the lmts
"lthou.h Zsub .+es us some better results on the ears, t/s not really .ood
what we can arche+e so far. But hold on, 5 wll try my best to make t better
for you 3).
0o we .o back to the state of fnal $re$araton n order to use the Zsub-
method (or /nflate ar/-techn2ue). The s ftted under and nsde the
#e hde the source-mesh by deact+atn. ts eye-symbol n the subtool-
The s the act+e tool and we turn on the frame mode for t
(Transform-$alette -= -rame)
6ow let/s look at our $roblem area, the ears.
Hhh...., ths does not look so .ood. 0o, we wll ne+er .et .ood results.
To f( the dstorted .eometry,we use now a combnaton of se+eral other ZB!-
tools to come as close as $ossble to a .ood result.
7) -rst we use the Project-Morh-method as descrbed by the wk%
Project Morh% Ths o$ton allows the user to rela( ther mesh and remo+e
$oly.on stretchn. created by usn. the Pinch Brush or lots of of the T"ea)
To use Project ,or$h do the follown.%
7. 0et your .eometry le+el to the h.hest le+el. -or ths e(am$le, let/s say
le+el >.
8. 0tore a mor$h by $ressn. Tool% ,or$h 0tore,T.
!. Io down 8 le+els of resoluton to le+el ! and delete all h.her le+els of
resoluton by $ressn. Tool% Ieometry% Aelete 9.her. Aon/t worry, your
h-re' .eometry s stll there because we stored a mor$h
<. 0mooth out the area you want to /rela(/ wth the Smooth Brush.
>. A+de two more tmes to return your model to resoluton le+el >.
B. 0et the Tool% ,or$h Project ,or$h slder to 7EE. Ths wll $roject
the mor$h wth the stetched $oly.ons nto your current smooth
mesh. The result s a /rela(ed/ mesh.
" hnt% to $erform ste$ >, frst .o back to subd-le+el 7, then $ress d+de.
"fter ste$ B, we ha+e ths.
1ooks much better.
But the u$er base and the t$ needs 2ute more correcton%
8) -or that, we ha+e to add some e(tra $olys, so we use here the (ocal-
The #k says%
To subd+de an area of a model%
7. ,ask the model, lea+n. unmasked only the area you want subd+ded.
8. 0et Tool+,eometry+S-iv (subd+son ds$lay le+el) to 7.
!. Press the Tool+,eometry+-ivide button (hotkey $trl--). "ddtonal
$resses wll result n further subd+sons n the unmasked areas.
That/s what we do now.
Better, but too thn, The ZProject-Brush wll not work $ro$er on the u$$er $art,
e+en when you lower t/s +alue (hs force).
0o we add frst some /meat/ wth the sm$le brush and smooth the structure
at a lower subd-le+el (6ote% because we dd a local subd+son, Project
mor$hn. not be $ossble because t $roduces a too h.hly d+ded mesh.
0o maybe do ths /meat-addn. before the frst Project-,or$h and local-
(6ote% The 8 follown. $ctures shows the stuaton wth (left) and wthout
( act+e trans$arency)
6ow we use the ZProject-Brush wth a lower +alue (force) of about 7E and wth
Zadd active only for the outcommn. $art (the added /meat/) of the
-rom now on, we work manly n Zsub-mode, but swtch as needed to Zadd
and do correctons wth the smooth-brush etc.
Ths result s far from $erfect, but as 5 already sad, ths method has t/s
0o 5 decded to .o another way for a fnal $cture.
9ere 5 used my nflate-ar (Zsub)-method for all areas e(ce$t the ears, where
no techn2ue usn. the ZProject-brush $roduced really $erfekt results
The framed mesh s the already nflated tar.ed, the former 9ead of
The ears you see are stll from the source-mesh.
"nd now 5 tweaked a lttle bt.
5 masked the ear of the source (the do.).
Then 5 went to Tool -> SubTool -> ./tract and e(tracted t wth a 'ero-

6ow 5 made the newly created J(tract-mesh n the 0ubTool-$alette the act+e
tool and $ressed Tool -> Ma)e PolyMesh0-.
Then 5 dd the ,ake Poly,esh!A also for the so far fnshed, the
"+era.e,an (not necessary f the was not made a subtool of the source
n your frst ste$s).
5 selected now ths new +erson of "+era.eman as act+e tool and $ressed /Tool
-= Ieometry -= 5nsert mesh/ and selected the e(tracted ear-mesh.
6ote% 5n case you don/t see now the nserted mesh, you may for.ot to /,ake
Poly,esh!A/ your man-model.
0o, fnally ,r."+era.edo. has some nearly $erfect ears 3)

But wat a mnute, ths .a+e me another dea%
" last techn2ue, maybe the future 4
5 re$eated the ste$s abo+e, but ths tme 5 frst chan.ed the subd-le+el of the
do. to 7 before e(tractn. the ear.

6ow 5 also chan.ed ,r."+era.e,an/s subd-le+el to 7
Then 5 made the Ma)e PolyMesh0- for both, the e(tracted do.-ear
and the low-$oly "+era.eman.
5 mrrored (Tool -= Aeformaton -= $ress ,rror) the e(tracted ear to ha+e two
5 nserted the 8 ear-meshs to the "+era.e,an, d+ded hm to the same 9.h-
$oly subd-le+el as the do. and made the do. hs subtool.
5f you want to make t $erfect, create no" a ne" toology o+er the former
"+era.eman (see my other tutorals about to$ol.y-techn2ues, here 5 used the
2uck 0hft @ Araw -method to rebuld a to$olo.y o+er a subd-le+el-7-mesh)
and rebuld the connecton-'one where the nserted ear-$arts meet the man-
mesh to ha+e a $erfect mesh-surface wthout seems near the nserted ears
and an absolutely dentcal subd-le+el of the whole mesh.
But ths s o$tonal.
#th ths techn2ue you ha+e a much better n the dffcult ear-
area to work now wth the ZProject-Brush.
6ote% The red 'ones that a$$ear n the head whle workn. wth the ZProject-
Brush are the nflated areas of the when they reach the le+el of
the source-surface. The brown areas are the source-mesh-surface.
"lso you wll not .et absolutely $erfect results, ths last way could be a .ood
basc for further techn2ues to master the ZProject-Brush also n dffcult areas.
"fter fnshed ZProject-Brush%
;orrect the seams wth the smooth-Brush.
The fnal mesh
,r."+era.e,an has chan.ed nto%
" true 0u$erhero.
Cou fnd my other tutorals here%
9a$$y ZBrushn.,