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Tutorial: ZBrush ZModeller Brush

ZModeller brush is an alternative to low poly modelling in a dedicated package such as 3DS Max, Blender etc. It isn’t designed as a replacement for those, and isn’t as fully featured, but for creating certain objects it can be handier than going between two packages.

This information was gathered from a great Youtube video by CG3DANK so be sure to check out his other vids!


1: First of all, create a primitive tool on your canvas – a cylinder, cube etc. use the Initialize palette to adjust this primitive as necessary, then click Make PolyMesh3D in the tools panel. Now select the Zmodeller brush from the brush panel.

2: At this point, you can now go back to the initialize panel and see it has a few new options, to initialize your tool again as a basic cube or sphere, with more control over its initial polygon layout.

3: With the ZModeller brush selected, hovering your mouse over your sculpt will now highlight the faces, edges and points of the individual polys. Right Clicking, or pressing Space will open up a context list of the actions you can take.



Although not comprehensive, here are a few of the options worth knowing in the Brush options panel. Some are named similarly to their counterparts in other modelling software, such as extrude and inset, whilst others are named differently. All of these tools have several modifiers at the bottom of the panel, controlling how they affect the mesh.


Extrude is used to pull out a polygon from the surface of the mesh, resulting in a new box or column being produced. Q-Mesh is similar but with a few versatilities – With Extrude, pulling two adjacent polys separately will create two columns with no gap between them. However with Q-Mesh, the second poly column will attach to the second and automatically merge with it into one. It will start at an angle and can be pulled flush with the adjacent poly. Q -Mesh can also be used to bridge between separate points on a mesh, for creating loops and holes etc.

The image below shows a Qmesh with an angled face, and the difference between two extruded polys versus two qmeshed polys when seen via subdivision.


You can extrude multiple polys at the same time by Alt + Clicking on each one in turn before making the extrusion.Selected polys will remain highlighted. You can deselect polys again with Alt + Click. This works for the other tools too. You can also work with symmetry.

NB: By holding Ctrl and extruding, you can simply clone the polygon faces and move them out from the mesh. These faces can then be further manipulated.


To create a line of edges use the Insert Command from the Brush menu, then click on an edge. It will default to adding an edgeloop in the middlepoint of the selected poly. You can choose to include a single loop or multiple loops from the Brush options. Also note that you can select which polygroups to add new loops to.

Note that Alt + Clicking will remove edgeloops, even those with crease applied.

A fun little feature is that you can click the Z-Add or Z-Sub buttons at the top and slide the intensity, to add edgeloops that will inflate the polys around them.



Shown below is a simple cylinder which has had a few edgeloops and extrusions added:

subdiv a

Pressing D will activate Dynamic Subdivide mode, which can also be toggled on and off in the Geometry Palette. This works similarly to a turbosmooth modifier in Max, creating soft curves averaged from the distance between your edges.This will give your sculpt a blobby look, not sticking to your original geography. Press Shift + D to deativate Dynamic Subdiv.

subdiv b

To mitigate this, use the ‘Crease‘ function to create  bands of edge loops close to the edges of your sculpt. Shown below is the result when several creases have been applied:

subdiv c

The modifiers are particularly useful whe usig crease. For instance, you can select modifiers to crease the border around a whole polygroup just with the click of a button. Rather than creasing every edge manually, check the options to see if there is a faster way.

Alt + Click will delete creases.

Note that there is also a Crease option available in the Geometry Palette, with a few other options.


If the normal’s of part of your model get flipped, there is a Flip Faces option in the Brush Menu. Select the polygroup containing the flipped normals, then just click on them.


You can delete selected polys with the delete command.


You can fill holes between polys with the close command. Not e that with this You can choose ‘Convex’ which can be used to make spikes or bumps over the hole – drag your mouse horizontally for the height, and vertically for the number of subdivisions.


Bridge can be used to create bridge shapes between two holes – select bridge, then click on the first and second holes. Drag the mouse to adjust the angle of the bridge. This is useful for things like handles, pipes etc.



A useful tool for moving the positions of edges.


A useful tool  for splitting a single vertex into a circular group of polys. Simply select this option and click drag it on the vertex you want.

This is useful for extruding round shapes from your model, such as columns, or screw holes. A vertex split will automatically create a new polygroup, which can then be easily manipulated.

Alternatively, click in the centre of a poly to have it split up, with a new vertex in the centre.


Once the modelling is complete, the mesh can be sculpted on with ZBrushes other modelling tools.  You can then apply further details such as noise, scratches, mud etc, but you may have to subdivide the low poly mesh first. If you have large low poly areas then Dynamesh or ZRemesher will divide them up evenly, before further subdividing them to sculpt on.

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