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ZBrush Tutorial: Z Spheres

Another summarisation of the tutorial videos from the Pixologic website…


Choose the Zsphere tool to draw a single zsphere on the canvas. Enter Edit mode and click on the sphere to add another zsphere attached to the first.

Make sure symmetry is activated (Press X) if necessary.

Use Q, W and E keys to quickly switch between Draw, Move and Scale modes: Add more parts to the armature in draw mode, move them to position in Move mode, and resize them in Scale mode.

In Draw mode,  Hold Alt + Click to remove joints


Shift + A: Enter Zsphere sketch mode. (To add zspheres to an armature) Also found in Tool Palette > Z Sketch > Edit Sketch.

Shift key: Smooth added zspheres.

Move icon – move selected and attached zspheres

Alt key: Delete Z spheres.

Tool Palette > Z Sketch > Optimise: Optimise model by eliminating completely hidden zspheres.

Tool Palette > Z Sketch > Show sketch: Shows the sketch on top of the armature, in armature mode.

The ‘Armature’ Brush is different to most sketching brushes- rather than sticking to the surface of the armature, spheres added this way can be placed away from the armature- like spikes, tendrils or hanging things.

The ‘Bulge‘ Brush will increse the size of spheres and strokes you have already made, the ‘Bulge Flush’ brush will increase the size of spheres, whilst leaving the front of them flat. (For creating shin muscles etc)

The ‘Float’ brush will let you pull existing zspheres away from the amature. The ‘Push Pull’ brush lets you do similar, but will pull in the direction the brush is facing rather than perpendicular to the armature.


After adding zspheres to the armature in sketch mode, if you move or rotate limbs on the armature, the sketch spheres will stay in their original position and wont stick to the armature. To solve this, choose Tool Palette > Z Sketch > Bind. Now, if you move rotate or scale a part of the armature, the edited zspheres will move with it.

If you continue to add more Zspheres, Click Tool Palette > Z Sketch > Reset Bind to bind these new spheres to the armature.

Adjust the ‘Soft Bind’ slider then click ‘Reset Binding’ to adjust how much the armature affects the zspheres on top when moved. For instance, less soft bind looks more mechanical, whilst more soft bind looks more organic.


Hold Shift to go into smoothing mode.

Smoothing brushes: 1, 2 and 3 will embed and resize, embed, and do neither respectively whilst smoothing spheres. 4 will resize to an even greater degree, which more strongly resembles muscles.

Hold Shift + Alt to smooth zspheres into straight lines. Lines will align to where you first clicked, so you can straighten from the ends, or from the middle.


After creating zspheres you will want to convert it into a poly mesh which you can further sculpt or export.

Press ‘A’ to preview the unified mesh. This may be of low resolution.

In Unified Skin palette, you can slide the resolution higher or lower for a more detailed unified mesh. Press A again to update the preview.

Click ‘Make Unified Skin’ to make your polygon mesh. Note that this only creates a mesh from Sketch spheres- not from Armature spheres. Protip- you can create cool cage, hollow  or filigree structures on top of an armature sphere as it doesnt render out. Radial symmetry works well for this.

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