I found the following technique very helpful for sculpting eyes in ZBrush; in particular, the use of booleans for creating eyelids.
I just learned that there’s an fabulously detailed female anatomy model that comes out-of-the-box with ZBrush. I never took much notice of the tool because it’s thumbnail in the tool palette is just a skeleton, but as it turns out, it’s really much more.
In ZBrush, press , to open the Lightbox.
Find and open the Ryan_Kingslien_Anatomy_Model.ZTL file with the thumbnail preview of a skeleton. Draw the tool on the canvas and you will see there’s more to it than just a skeleton!
If you examine the subtool palette, you will also note that the tool is comprised of several subtools with anatomical names for each. This is great for helping you learn the anatomical names of various body parts.
My notes on ZBrush keyboard shortcuts (hotkeys) and control. This page is derived largely from the ZBrush 4R7 and ZBrush Core Online Documentation, © 2016 by Pixologic, Inc. I have reproduced much of the Keyboard Shortcut documentation here for the purpose of personal study and with the hope of adding additional notes that may be helpful to others who, like me, are new to the software.
|Open Project||CTRL +
|Save Project||CTRL +
|Popup selection (on PC only)||
|Show QuickMenu||SPACE or right-click|
|Show/hide floating palettes||TAB|
|Show item description||CTRL + cursor over item||When Popup Info is switched on.|
|Show alternative item description||CTRL + ALT + cursor over item|
|Assign custom hotkey||CTRL+ ALT + click on item||Stores hotkeys in Preferences > Hotkeys submenu|
Lightbox and Spotlight
|load selected item||double-click on Lightbox thumbnail||Texture / Alphas will be loaded into Spotlight if it is active.|
|Turn on/off Spotlight||SHIFT +
|Show/hide Spotlight Dial||Z|
Turn on RightClick Navigation in the Preferences > Interface menu.
|Move||ALT + right-click & drag (can be over the model)|
|Scale||CTRL + right-click & drag (can be over the model)|
|Rotate||right-click & drag (can be over the model)|
- With a 3D mesh in Edit mode, press W (Move), E (Scale), or R (Rotate), then click and drag to draw the orange action line.
- Click on the mesh to reposition the action line aligned to the surface normal.
- To align to an axis, click the end of the red, green or blue axis line.
|Move action line while drawing||Hold SPACE|
|Move action line after drawing||click + drag orange line or center orange ring|
|Change action line end point position||click + drag orange end ring|
|Toggle between the Transpose line and Gizmo 3D||Y||while in Move, Scale, or Rotate mode|
Quick tip: in Move/Scale mode, ALT + click + drag on the mesh (not on action line) to move or scale mesh
Inner (red/white) ring actions
These actions apply to the inner red or white rings of the action line. The terms center or end refer to the position on the line.
|Move mode –
|Move||click + drag center|
|Duplicate mesh||CTRL + click + drag center|
|Bend mesh||ALT + click + drag center or end point|
|Stretch mesh||drag end point furthest from mesh|
|Flatten mesh||drag end point next to mesh|
|Inflate||right-click + drag end ring furthest from mesh|
|Create Edgeloop & extrude||with partially masked mesh, hold
CTRL and click + drag center point
|Scale||click + drag end point in line direction|
|Scale along axis||click + drag center point|
|Create Edgeloop and deflate / inflate||with partially masked mesh, hold
CTRL and click + drag center point
|Rotate around end point||click + drag other end point|
|Rotate around action line||click + drag center|
|Joint bend||ALT + click + drag end point (rotation around same point)|
Sculpting and Painting
|Increase Draw Size by set units||]||(set increment in the
Zplugin > Misc Utilities > Brush Increment slider)
|Decrease Draw Size by set units||[||(set increment in the
Zplugin > Misc Utilities >Brush Increment slider)
|Edit mode on/off||T|
|Toggle ZAdd and ZSub||ALT||While brushing on a model, hold down ALT to toggle from ZAdd to ZSub.|
Each brush has its own keyboard shortcut combo. You can learn them by pressing B to bring up the brush palette, then a letter like C (to filter by all brushes starting with C), and then the letter indicated in the top left of the brush icon in to brush palette.
|Show Brush pop-up||B|
|Clay Buildup||B +
|Damien Standard (dam std)||B +
|Hold down ALT to spiral in the opposite direction.|
|Show all meshes in brush||M|
Changing the Brush hotkeys (pop-up palette)
Here is what you have to do:
- Press B to bring up the brush palette.
- Then click or press the letter that you want to narrow down to, in this example press C.
- With C selected all you will see is the brushes that start with C. You will see the next letter that selects the brush.
- At this point you can hold CTRL + ALT to change the shortcut to whatever you want by just clicking on the brush and then click your new shortcut.
NOTE: Keep in mind that when you do this ZBrush automatically replaces the shortcut of another brush if you select a shortcut that is already assigned.
|Select Color under cursor||C|
|Lazy mouse||L||Toggles the lazy mouse mode.|
|Replay Last Stroke||1||This is very handy to use after pressing
CTRL, and moving a subtool to duplicate it. Pressing 1 will create yet another duplicate, moving it
the same distance on the same axis as before. So, this is a great way to create an array of equally spaced
|Replay All Recorded Strokes||2|
|Delete a curve||ALT + draw across curve|
|Save Tool||SHIFT +
|Frame (Fit Mesh To view)||F||(You may need to press it twice.)|
|Dynamic Persp (Perspective Distortion)||P|
|Floor Grid||SHIFT +
|Show/hide Polyframe & polygroups||SHIFT +
|Point Selection Mode||SHIFT +
|Set Pivot Point||CTRL +
|Clear Pivot Point||SHIFT +
|Snapshot a version to canvas||SHIFT +
Edit mode Navigation
The following actions apply when in Edit Object (Key: T) mode.
Note: For best results turn off RightClick Navigation in the Preferences > Interface menu.
|Frame (Fit Mesh to View)||F|
|Move (Move Edited Object)||ALT + click and drag Background|
|Zoom3D (Scale Edited Object)||ALT + click on background, release
ALT, then drag
|Free Rotate||click + drag on background|
|Constrain to 90-degree rotation||click + drag on background and then press
|Rotate around Z-axis||SHIFT, click on background, release
|Scale||ALT + click, release
ALT, drag Background
List all SubTools – N
ALT + click on SubTool – select that SubTool
SHIFT + ALT + click on selected SubTool – frame that SubTool (Note this option can be set in the Preferences > Edit > Enable Auto Center slider; 0 = off; 1 = Alt + click; 2 = SHIFT + Alt + click)
Click on paintbrush icon – toggle Polypaint Colorize
SHIFT + click on paintbrush icon – toggle Polypaint Colorize for all SubTools
|Lower Res||SHIFT +
|Edge Loop||CTRL +
|(partially hidden mesh)|
Remesh Dynamesh sculpt – in Edit > Draw mode CTRL + drag Background
|Toggle in/out of HD Sculpting mode||A||(cursor over mesh)|
|Render all HD Geometry||A||(cursor over background)|
|View mask||CTRL +
|Invert mask||CTRL +
|Mask all||CTRL +
|Select masking Brush||hold
while selecting brush from popup
|Paint mask on object (alphas/strokes can be used)||CTRL (hold down)|
|Delete or paint reverse mask||CTRL +
ALT (hold down)
|Reverse mask||CTRL + click background||a.k.a. Flip Mask, Invert Mask|
|Clear mask||CTRL + click + drag background|
|Constant-intensity mask||CTRL + click, release
CTRL, drag (starting off mesh)
|Alpha-intensity mask (using MaskPen or MaskRect brush)||CTRL + click & drag||(select alpha while holding
|Blur mask||CTRL + click on mesh||When a mask has been drawn on a mesh, this action blurs (softens) the edges of the mask.|
|Sharpen mask||CTRL +
ALT + click on mesh
in Move, Scale or Rotate mode – CTRL + click + drag the action line on the model
|Group Masked and Clear Mask||CTRL +
|This is super handy! Basically, it turns anything you have masked into a polygroup and then clears the mask.
In other words, if you want to turn the currently masked area into a polygroup, press
Partial Mesh Visibility & Clip Brushes
|Select Selection or Clip Brush||hold
CTRL while selecting brush from popup
|Show mesh portion||SHIFT +
CTRL + click, release keys & drag (green selection area)
|Hide mesh portion||SHIFT +
CTRL + click, release keys & drag – press Alt (red selection area)
|Grow mesh portion||CTRL +
|Shrink mesh portion||CTRL +
|Grow all mesh portion||CTRL +
|Outer Ring visibility||CTRL +
|Move selection or clip area||press
SPACE without releasing mouse/pen
|Show entire mesh||SHIFT +
CTRL + click background
|Show only selected Polygroup (on fully visible mesh)||SHIFT +
CTRL + click
|Hide selected Polygroup (on fully visible mesh)||SHIFT +
CTRL + click twice
|Hide selected Polygroup (on partially visible mesh)||SHIFT +
CTRL + click
|Reverse visibility||SHIFT +
CTRL + click & drag background
|Hide edge loop||with Lasso option selected,
CTRL + click on edge that crosses loop
|ClipCurve add soft direction change||press
|ClipCurve add sharp direction change||press
|reverse clip area||ALT (hold down)|
|Stencil On||ALT +
|Hide/Show Stencil||CTRL +
|Preview Adaptive Skin||A|
ZSpheres – Draw mode
|Add a child ZSphere||drag ZSphere|
|Delete ZSphere||ALT + click ZSphere|
|Add a child ZSphere at same size||click + drag, press
|Add a child ZSphere and scale Link Spheres||click + drag to size new ZSphere, press
CTRL + drag
|Insert ZSphere||click Link-Sphere|
|Sphere Define magnet/ break meshio||ALT + click Link-Sphere||(with Tool > Adaptive Skin > Use ClassicSkinning on)|
ZSpheres – Move mode
|Move ZSphere||drag ZSphere|
|Pose (Natural-linked move)||drag Link-Sphere|
|Move Chain||Alt + drag Link-Sphere|
ZSpheres – Scale mode
|Scale Zsphere||drag ZSphere|
|Inflate/deflate chain||ALT + drag Link-Sphere|
|Scale chain||drag Link-Sphere|
ZSpheres – Rotate mode
|Spin chain||drag ZSphere|
|Control twist||ALT + drag Link-Sphere|
|Rotate chain||drag Link-Sphere|
ZSpheres – ZSketch
|Activate ZSketch Edit mode||SHIFT +
A (with a ZSphere armature in Edit mode)
|Preview Unified Skin||A|
Canvas and 2.5D
|Reverse 2.5D brush effect||ALT (hold down)|
|Crop And Fill||SHIFT +
|Grab Texture From Document||SHIFT +
|Clear Layer||CTRL +
|Fill Layer||CTRL +
|Bake Layer||CTRL +
|On Layer thumbnail, toggle all layers on/off||SHIFT + CLICK|
|Select layer on which clicked pixol resides||~ + click canvas (US)
@ + click canvas (UK)
|Move layer contents up/down/sideways (X & Y)||~ + drag (US)
@ + drag (UK)
Markers will only show when Edit is turned off
|Remove Marker||CTRL +
|Antialiased Half Size||CTRL +
|Place a new key frame||click on the Timeline|
|Select an existing key frame||click on the key frame dot|
|Zoom Timeline in/out||click on selected key frame dot|
|Move selected key frame||click + drag dot to new position (dragging off end will delete)|
|Store new data in existing key frame||SHIFT +
CTRL + click on the key frame dot
|Delete a key frame||click + drag dot off the Timeline|
|Copy selected key frame||SHIFT + click on the Timeline at the point where you want the copy|
|Copy multiple key frames||SHIFT + click on all the key frames dots to be copied, then
SHIFT + click the Timeline
|at the point where you want the copies|
|Create Transition key frame||CTRL + click on an existing key frame dot|
|Create Rigid key frame||ALT + click on an existing key frame dot|
|Go to Previous Camera key frame||LEFT ARROW|
|Go to Next Camera key frame||RIGHT ARROW|
|Play the Timeline||SHIFT+click on the Timeline cursor||(will play as a loop)|
|Stop the Timeline playing||ESC|
|Record Timeline as a Movie||SHIFT +
CTRL + click on the Timeline cursor
|(set the cursor to the start first using the LEFT ARROW)|
|Snapshot to Movie||CTRL +
SHIFT + ! (US)
CTRL + PageUp (UK)
|Best Preview Render (BPR)||SHIFT +
|Render All||SHIFT +
|Cursor Selective Render||CTRL +
Custom UI and Configuration
|Move item to custom interface position||CTRL +
ALT + drag
|(when Enable Customize is switched on)|
|Remove item from custom interface position||CTRL +
ALT + drag to Canvas
|(when Enable Customize is on)|
|Store Configuration File||SHIFT +
|Load User Interface Configuration File||CTRL +
|Save User Interface Configuration File||SHIFT +
|Load ZScript||SHIFT +
|Reload ZScript||CTRL +
|Show/Hide ZScript window||H|
- Shortcuts by Category, ZBrush 4R7 and ZBrush Core Online Documentation
Mask an area on the model…
In the subtool palette, under Extract, set the thickness and options.
Click Extract button, then Accept.
A new subtool is generated from the extracted mask…
It’s usually a good idea to use ZRemesher on the new subtool afterwards.
Polygroups allow you to organize a single mesh with visual grouping information. Press SHIFT + F or press the Draw Polyframe button as shown selected in orange below to see the polygroups. Notice that the example image has six different polygroups as depicted with different colors.
Normally, polygroups display sections of a single mesh. If you want to convert polygroups into SubTools you can do the following.
If your model has different elements go to Tool > Polygroups and select Auto Groups. You can then go to SubTools > Split and click Groups Split. Groups Split will be disabled unless all polygroups are visible on the canvas (press CTRL + SHIFT and click an empty area of the canvas to display all polygroups).
When you want to merge all the stuff again just make each SubTool visible and pick SubTool > Merge > Merge Visible. ZBrush will create a new tool with all the former SubTools together again. Note that in merge visible you have an option for weld verts.
Warning: When you merge visible SubTools you will lose sublevels and the merged new tool is created with every SubTool at the current level. (At this moment, I don’t really know what this means, but it seemed like a relevant note, so I’m keeping it until I find out and can clarify the statement.)
This tutorial demonstrates a quick and simple way to create clothing in ZBrush by extruding a polygroup out from a Subtool.
Mask an area on the SubTool by holding down CTRL and painting on the Subtool.
In the Polygroups palette, click > Group Masked
Press CTRL + SHIFT and click the new polygroup to select it.
Under Geometry, make sure you have no subdivisions; the panel loop feature will not work on models with subdivisions. Remove subdivisions if it has them.
In the Geometry palette, expand the EdgeLoop section.
Click the Append button, which is just to the right of the Panel Loops button. This will create a back-face for your mesh so that you can separate it off and your mesh can have thickness without cutting a hole into the body underneath.
Increase thickness slightly with the Thickness slider. Try 0.02 for thickness, for example.
Click the Panel Loops button to see what you get.
CTRL + Z to undo an unwanted result and keep adjusting your thickness to what’s desired.
Now, if you turn on Polyframe mode, you’ll notice that the clothing item is its own new group with another polygroup at the edge(s).
If you want to get rid of the extra polygroup on the edge(s), you can go to Polygroups palette and click the Auto Groups button.
You can now CTRL + SHIFT + click on the new polygroup in order to isolate it.
Go to Subtools palette, expand the Split section, and click the Split Hidden button.
Now the item and the body from which you started are now two separate objects (two separate Subtools)
In the brush palette, you can go to Auto Masking and set Mask By Polygroups to 100. This will setup an automatic masking so that when you use a brush, it will only affect the polygroup.
To try this, press CTRL and paint a mask on an object.
Press CTRL + W to turn the masked area into a polygroup.
Select the Move brush ( B + M + V )
In the Brush palette, under Auto Masking, set Mask By Polygroups to 100
Now, when you use the move brush, it will only move the polygroup because everything else is auto-masked.
Suppose you have made a polygroup on one side of your subtool (using the SliceCurve brush, for example)…
If you want to mirror that polygroup onto the other side of the subtool, follow this procedure.
In the Deformation palette, on the Mirror button, select the axis on which to mirror (usually x).
Click the Mirror button. You’ll see the polygroup flip to the other side.
Now go to the Geometry palette, expand the Modify Topology section, and click the Mirror and Weld button.
The polygroup is then mirrored to the other side as shown below.
To start a ZSphere model, select the zsphere tool from the Tool palette (the two-toned red ball) – and draw it on the canvas.
Enter Edit mode by pressing T on the keyboard.
Press SHIFT + A to enter sketch mode. You’ll then see the two tones of the ZSphere turn to a solid color…
When sketching with ZSpheres, you can use any material. But notice that there are a few sketch materials in the materials palette.
I’ll choose the SketchGummyShine.
Because we’re in sketch mode, all we need to do is click and draw on the model to add more ZSpheres. We can hold the SHIFT key and draw to smooth things back. Remember that you can hit the X key to toggle symmetry mode.
You can always move ZSphere around by pressing W to activate Move (or press the Move button in the top bar).
Once you’re done moving ZSpheres, you can click back on Draw.
You can hold down the ALT key and click on ZSpheres to delete them.
Press A to generate an adaptive preview. If you like it, you can go to Subtools palette > Remesh and click ReMesh All.
You might also want to go to Geometry ZRemesher and click the ZRemesher button to lay down a cleaner topology.