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.


As you sketch, you’re going to be adding more and more ZSpheres to your canvas. You can see just how many ZSpheres you’ve added so far by looking at the Active Points in the top right of the ZSphere interface.

According to that, I’ve got 58 ZSpheres in my drawing.

While you’re sketching, you’re actually hiding some of the ZSpheres with new strokes. The ones that are completely hidden can be removed to optimize your canvas. To do this, go to the Tool palette, click the ZSketch pull-down, and click the Optimize button.

Then, take a look at the ActivePoints count in the top right of the interface again. If you had completely hidden ZSpheres, they should be removed and you should see a reduction in the count.


You can rig an existing mesh with a ZSphere armature, allowing you to pose the mesh by manipulated the underlying armature.

To demonstrate, I’m starting with the Julie tool. You can find this model by clicking comma, selecting the Tools item in the file browser, and choosing Julie.ZTL.

When you draw Julie onto the canvas, you can see that she has more than one SubTool. You must have more than one subtool to use this method because the Transpose Master plugin will only work when you have more than one subtool active. But, that’s what it’s good for; it enables you to have posing across all of your subtools.

  • Go to Zplugin > Transpose Master.
  • Click the ZSphere Rig button.
  • Click TPoseMesh.

This creates a single unified mesh out of all of the subtools. It creates it in x-ray view and it also adds a ZSPhere…

Make sure that symetry is on (press X). Use the draw, scale, move, and rotate functions (hotkeys Q, W, E, and R). You can create new ZSpheres by activating the draw function (Q) and you use these functions to draw out an armature inside the mesh.

Once you have your armature built, you go to Tool > Rigging and click Bind Mesh…

You can now click the rotate function (R) and rotate ZSpheres to bend the model. You can click on Bind Mesh to go back into the mode to continue editing the armature. You can toggle back and forth between editing the armature and binding the mesh to get it right. Use Move and Rotate on the ZSpheres to more and rotate portions of the armature when bound. Press X to toggle symmetry if you want to move only portions without affecting the mirrored side.

When you’re done posing the model, you can go back to the ZPlugin palette and go to the Transpose Master subpalette and click TPose > SubT. Note that you may want to save your project first as a separate project that you could come back to for continued armature work if you don’t like the results.

The mesh is transformed and you get back to all your subtools. Here, for example, I set Julie’s legs a little further apart…

For more, watch the video, Posing Characters in Zbrush using a Zsphere Rig, by Andrew Klein, on YouTube.


An armature is like the wire or metal skeleton that a clay sculptor would use to build form upon – or the posable skeleton used under the surface of stop-motion characters in film. With ZSPheres, we can quickly create such armatures. We can then go into ZSphere sketch mode (SHIFT + A) and build up form atop the armature.

Here, for example, I’ve created a basic armature for a xenomorph (Alien species). Creating such an armature is just a matter of starting with a single ZSphere from the tools palette. You drag on the canvas to create the initial ZSphere. Click to go into Edit mode and then use a combination of Draw, Move, Scale, and Rotate to build out the armature.

Once you’ve got an armature, you can press SHIFT + A to go into ZSphere sketch mode and paint additional ZSpheres onto the armature to build out form.

Pressing SHIFT + A to toggle in and out of sketch mode is the equivalent of pressing Edit Sketch button under ZSketch in the Tools palette.

When not in the sketch mode, we can still pose the armature. But notice that after we’ve painted some ZSpheres onto the armature in sketch mode, reposing the armature does not automatically carry the sketched form we added on top.

Press SHIFT + A and CTRL + Z to undo this change. We’ll learn how to bind the sketched ZSpheres in a bit. But first, take a look at the ShowSketch button under Tools > ZSketch. Pressing this displays a ghosted view of the form surrounding the armature.

Now, at this stage, we can also click the Bind button under Tools > ZSketch.

Now, when we rotate the ZSphere on the shoulder to move the arm, we can see that the form is bound to the armature and moves with it.

If you continue to sketch in more form with additional ZSpheres in sketch mode, you’ll have to click the Tools > ZSketch > Reset Binding button to get those new ZSpheres bound to the armature for posing.

The SoftBind slider, beside the Bind button allows us to soften the bind to the underlying armature. The value 0 specifies the hardest bind, while higher values soften the bind, giving a looser transition of the sketched ZSpheres on the underlying armature.