Know the Basics: ZBrush – part two: Texturing

Ricardo Manso teaches the must-know basics for any beginner starting ZBrush. In part two he shows you how to texture your model...

Welcome to part two of the Know the Basics: ZBrush tutorial series. In this part we will look at taking the next step in bringing your character to life by adding color, texture, and details. We will try different approaches in order to get the best result in the fastest and easiest way. You can buy ZBrush from the Pixologic website.

Create noise

Now that we have the shape and proportions of the character finalized it is time to add some details. Let's start by creating some noise on the skin surface because at the moment it is a bit too clean. You want to open the NoiseMaker interface – Tool > Surface > Noise > NoisePlug-In, this brings up a window where you can edit the noise settings. Any changes you make will appear in real-time on the NoiseMaker preview window.

We just want to break up the surface a little, so let's use the Perlin noise, it has several parameters that can be adjusted but we will stick to changing the Alpha size and the Strength. You can apply a mask to protect the areas where you don't want the noise. To see on your mesh, you just have to press OK. This surface noise is not applied to the mesh unless you want it to be, this allows you to remove or modify it as you want. When you are happy with the result go to Surface > Apply to mesh, this converts the noise in to a real deformation on the model, the same as if you had sculpted it yourself with brushes.

Keep in mind that the final result when applied to the mesh will vary depending on the density of your geometry and the strength value the noise is set to. A high value will deform your mesh much more than a lower setting.

Model before noise is added

Model before noise is added

Perlin noise settings

Perlin noise settings

The noise gives the skin a more believable appearance

The noise gives the skin a more believable appearance

Detailing the face

No face is completely free from imperfections such as wrinkles and creases, so we can add some to our model using the DamStandard, Standard and Inflate brushes. The Inflate brush is a very useful tool as it allows you to close and inflate the lines you made with the DamStandard brush, creating a more realistic effect.

The Morph Target is a good tool to use if you want to create some asymmetry with out erasing the noise you add in the previous step. To access this go to Tool > Morph Target > StoreMT; this eans that everything you add to the mesh can be erase with the Morph brush – it will only erase what you have done up to the point you selected StoreMT. You can also delete Morph Targets (DelMT) and store them as many times as you want.

To get the small textures, such as the pores, use an Alpha applied with the Standard brush using DragRect stroke – this drags a single instance of the alpha out from the center. It allows you to have different scales in different locations, which is ideal for creating the texture of skin. The Morph Target is really useful here because it allows you to clean areas where you don't want pores or creases.

Adding little imperfections

Adding little imperfections

<h5>Morph Target settings</h5>

Morph Target settings

Adding small textures at different scales

Adding small textures at different scales

Painting skin

The first thing to do is apply white color on to the model – color > select white color > FillObject. Set up the Standard brush with the Color Spray, a vein Alpha and choose bright red color; use this set up to spray the whole of the face. Repeat this process with purple but this time focus on the mouth and eyes; finally do it one more time with a dark green. This gives your model a realistic but varied base color for the skin.

When you are happy with the color variation you can start painting on the skin tone. Set up the Standard brush exactly the same but use the same Alpha you used for the pores instead of the vein Alpha. Start with the base color, then repeat twice more first with a lighter tone for highlights and finally with a darker tone for shadows.

With the highlights and shadow tones added you may need to bring a bit of color to your character's face. Add a bit of red around the eyes, mouth and nose; yellow to the forehead and a bluish gray to the lower face to indicate a five o'clock shadow. You can also add a few other imperfections such as blemishes, moles or scars. I used the same process to paint the hands. I only did paint the parts of the body that I know that will be showed, that is why I only painted the head and the hands.

Creating a varied base color

Creating a varied base color

Building up the skin tones

Building up the skin tones

Use the same process to paint the hands

Use the same process to paint the hands

Painting the eyes

We will use a different technique to paint the eyes – Spotlight Projection. The first step is to apply a base color, Color > select a color >FillObject. You will need to create a mask to protect the area you don't want painted (the pupil). Hold down Ctrl while selecting brush from the window will select the Masking brush – from the options select Circle, Square and Center, this will create a perfect circle. Center the mask over the pupil and invert it by pressing Ctrl+Click Background. You may want a soften transition between the iris and the sclera rather than a sharp one, to achieve this hold Ctrl and click on the mesh several times.

To use the Spotlight Projection you needed to import an image of the eye, Textures > Import and select the image. When the thumbnail is visible in the palette, select it and then click add to spotlight, now your image should appear on the canvas.

Now adjust the image to fit in the area you want to paint; enable the RGB and paint over the image, the color information will be transferred to the model. It can also transfer height information if you have enabled the ZAdd or ZSub. As your character has two eyes, which are usually symmetrical you can simply enable Symmetry and you will paint both eyes at the same time. To add a touch of realism you can add some red spots and veins with the Standard brush as we did in step 03.

Adding a base color to the eyes

Adding a base color to the eyes

Masking Brush settings

Masking Brush settings

Soften the transition between the iris and sclera

Soften the transition between the iris and sclera

<h5>Lightbox settings</h5>

Lightbox settings

Painting the irises

Painting the irises

Adding a touch of realism

Adding a touch of realism

Detailing cloths

To create the texture and detail in the clothing you can use the Standard, DamStandard and Inflate brushes and techniques from step 02. Try to keep it simple, you don't need to over complicate the clothing. To make seams use the DamStandard brush to make a slot and go over the slot with the Inflate brush, this will give a more realistic look. Keep the wrinkles and creases simple, use your own clothing as reference to see where the material bunches and folds. You can always go back and add more wrinkles once you have posed the character.

Detailing the shirt

Detailing the shirt

Detailing the trousers

Detailing the trousers

Detailing the shoes

Detailing the shoes

Texture maps

To texture the clothing you will need to create UVs so you can apply texture maps. Find an image of a real fabric you like, it helps if you use an image that doesn't have any seams because you don't want random seams where there shouldn't be any.

To apply a texture map first you need to make the geometry into UV islands – I will cover this in more detail in part three. For now we will use the UVMaster plug-in – go to ZPlugin > UVMaster and click Work on Clone, ZBrush will make a clone of the geometry for you to work on. With the clone ZBrush will create the UVs for that geometry, go to Tool > UV Map > Morph UV, this will unwrap your selection into UV layout. Go to Tool > Texture Map > click on the thumbnail – this will open a window that will allow you to import your chosen fabric image. Once you have imported your image, in the same panel click on Texture On and the texture will automatically be displayed on your model.

Creating UVs

Creating UVs

Applying texture to your UVs

Applying texture to your UVs

Surface > noise

For the sweater vest we need to simulate knitted wool, to do this you first need to create UVs for this garment (see previous step); with your UVs you can now follow the same process from step 01 for creating face pores. Find a seamless photo of knitted wool and go to Tool > surface > Noise >Edit, this brings up the edit noise window. In the bottom left corner there is a thumbnail labeled Alpha On/Off; if you click on this you can import your photo. When your photo has been imported click the UV button and then adjust the Alpha Scale and Strength sliders until you get a nice textured look. You may not want to texture the whole of the vest so you can mask the areas that you don't want to have the woolen texture. That is the end of part two, in the next part we will look at texturing and painting in more detail.

Applying a photo as noise to add texture

Applying a photo as noise to add texture

By masking some areas you can protect them from being textured

By masking some areas you can protect them from being textured

Bringing it all together

Bringing it all together

Related links

Have a look at more of Ricardos work here
Missed part one? You can catch up here
Check out the ZBrush reference guide