10 benefits of BPR rendering in ZBrush
My name is Santiago Betancur and I’m a concept artist, and I love to do characters and creature design. In this article I will talk about why I love the BPR rendering inside ZBrush and how this speeds up my workflow in different ways!
As we all know, working as a conceptual artist requires not only artistic knowledge but also technical and specialized software management to be able to develop our work quickly, efficiently, and with good quality. Here I want to present some of the reasons why I like to work with ZBrush and do most of my concepts and final illustrations using the render engine that this software offers us.
Easy to use
The process of rendering in ZBrush is very easy and simple to use, you do not have to complicate it with advanced adjustments, light calculations, or manipulate boring parameters. Just click on the render button and it’s done! You have control over the lighting parameters. If you want soft or hard shadows, create rim lights, and so on. You can make different renders with different materials and then combine them in Photoshop to generate the final look.
I must clarify that ZBrush cannot handle lighting setups as complex as the specialized software in this area like Octane or KeyShot, but it generates a great result to present your designs with a great quality.
As we all know, in this industry, time is money and as conceptual artists we must solve problems in the shortest possible time and with the best quality. For this reason, I like to create my renders in ZBrush since this software practically has everything in one, and I don’t have to jump from software to software to generate the results. ZBrush and Photoshop can be enough to solve most of my designs, whether characters, props, even complex scenarios and illustrations very quickly. Since the render with this engine, it takes a few seconds to complete, depending on the complexity it may take a few minutes, but compared to other rendering software the times are much lower.
Like any render engine that has their system for the management and creation of materials, ZBrush also has it. They are called MatCaps; they are not based on real physical behavior but they have a range of control with many options to explore and generate good effects and materials for the designs. You can create "realistic" materials and cell shading as well. This opens a wide range of possibilities for the final look of our images, and best of all without consuming time, you can see the results in real time in the viewport.
Render passes make our lives easier, helping us to have more control over each aspect of our render, such as shadows, ambient occlusion, the level of specular, and so on. All render engines give us the option of extracting this information separately, and ZBrush is not far behind in this aspect, and this is another reason why I like to work with this engine because it also makes my life a lot easier when I need to extract these passes in a simple and fast way. I give you an example of some passes below.
I also added a video to the making of an illustration I made a few years ago where I use ZBrush to do the whole project together with the help of Photoshop, and there you can see the use of these render passes.
Explore your visual style
The versatility and speed of this software makes it possible to explore quietly with different visual styles from realistic to cartoon or comic with minimal render times and excellent quality. ZBrush with its rendering options provides us with solid foundations from which we can start to explore with different visual styles, with the help of Photoshop and digital painting techniques – the perfect combination to achieve very high quality illustrations, there are no limits.
Here I leave some examples of what can be achieved with practice and creativity to apply the different digital techniques that exist.
This is a new feature in the latest version of ZBrush and brings many filters that emulate various analog art techniques, such as watercolors, charcoal, oil, and so on. With this tool you can achieve good illustrations and help to speed up the sculpture process as well, since it is not necessary to occupy so much time polishing a lot the models, which is a considerable time saving.
I give you some examples of what could be achieved with these filters and a link where you can find more works by artists who have tried this tool.
Create your presets
And speaking of saving time, ZBrush allows us to create our own render and filter presets so we can apply them quickly and easily to any of our projects. These presets are left in individual files, so you can take them wherever you want and apply them in your other projects. I share below an example of how the basic render looks and a preset that I made for one of my projects.
These were the 7 reasons why I like to work with the render engine in ZBrush, as I said before I think it is a versatile, fast, and practical tool to solve render problems in your designs and illustrations and all in one software. I hope you have found something useful and inspiring in this article – I encourage you to try it and implement it in your workflow.