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ZBrush Character Creation: Advanced Digital Sculpting [Paperback]

by Scott Spencer
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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ZBrush Character Creation: Advanced Digital Sculpting ZBrush Character Creation: Advanced Digital Sculpting 4.9 out of 5 stars (16)
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Book Description

June 3, 2008 047024996X 978-0470249963 1
ZBrush's popularity is exploding giving more CG artists the power to create stunning digital art with a distinctively fine art feel. ZBrush Character Creation: Advanced Digital Sculpting is the must-have guide to creating highly detailed, lush, organic models using the revolutionary ZBrush software. Digital sculptor Scott Spencer guides you through the full array of ZBrush tools, including brushes, textures and detailing. With a focus on both the artistry and the technical know-how, you'll learn how to apply traditional sculpting and painting techniques to 3D art while uncovering the "why" behind the "how" for each step. You'll gain inspiration and insight from the beautiful full-color illustrations and professional tips from experienced ZBrush artists included in the book. And, above all, you'll have a solid understanding of how applying time-honored artistic methods to your workflow can turn ordinary digital art into breathtaking digital masterpieces.

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Exclusive: Scott Spencer's Favorite ZBrush Tricks

1. Move your light often. When sculpting try and use the basic material instead of the matcap shaders. The basic material allows you to interactively light the surface as you work. This makes judging your forms much easier since you can see shadows moving across the surface.

2. Use specular highlights. When working make sure you have some level of specular shine on the surface material. Specular highlights allows you to easily see the high points of the sculpt as well as pick out the fine details of the surface texture.

3. Store morph targets. When adding high frequency details it is a good habit to store a morph target of the model with no high frequency details. This will allow you to use the morph brush as a kind of "detail eraser", blending out the skin texture partially or completely as you work.

4. Use custom alphas. While ZBrush has many wonderful alphas preinstalled, get in the habit of finding useful images and storing them as your personal alpha library. You can quickly build up an in-depth and original collection of skin textures. Not only will this help you avoid clichéd alphas, it will also help you learn about the various kinds of wrinkle and scale patterns in nature by looking at the reference you collect.

5. Create and use custom menus.Use the custom menu options under preferences to group your most used buttons and options in one personal menu. This menu can then be mapped with a hotkey and called up at the touch of a button from anywhere in the user interface. This is an incredibly useful tool for speeding up your working time.

6. Create and use hotkeys. Another method to increase speed is using hotkeys. ZBrush has default hotkeys which can be found in the tool tip when hovering over a menu option. You can change these keys and set new hotkeys by pressing control and clicking on a menu option. ZBrush will the ask you to press the key combination you wish to assign as a hotkey.

7. Combine extraneous subtools. Your subtool menu can quickly become cluttered with extraneous parts. Two separate eyeballs for example are unnecessary and just add to the length of the subtool menu. Using meshInsert to take one eyeball and combine it into the other reducing two subtools into one. This can also be accomplished with the ZBrush plug-in SubtoolMaster. For this to work make sure the two tools have the same number of subdivision levels. This will ensure that both models retail their multiple levels of resolution when combined.

8. Frequent the ZBrushCentral website. The ZBrush user community is one of the most supportive user communities I have encountered. Visit ZBrush Central for updates on new tools, techniques, and plug-ins as well as conversations with other artist seeking critique on their work. If you have a question, posting in the forum will get an answer for you in no time.

9. Use ZMapper to check UVs. ZMapper's morph UV function is a quick and easy way to verify the UV set on a particular ZTool. This can be extremely useful in a production pipeline where you need to verify UV coordinates before proceeding. By simply loading the ZTool into ZMapper and activating morphUV you can check for the correct UV layout as well as visually can for any obvious overlaps or errors in the UV shells.

10. Sketch in ZBrush. Using a ZBrush primitive or a generic mesh, sketch characters often. These don’t have to be show reel pieces just little experiments in using the tools and learning about form. I do at least one sketch a day I never plan on showing publicly. This frees me to make mistakes and just relax. It also helps me learn new things about both using the ZBrush tools as well as sculpting form. Just like you may keep a private sketchbook for ideas and fragments, keeping a ZBrush sketch folder will help you stay active. It can also serve as a great source of inspiration when you want to pick up a rough character and take it to a finish.

11. Use reference. Always have reference handy when working. I personally use photo of real people as well as figurative sculptures when I work. It is hard to go wrong referencing how Michelangelo, Bernini, or Giambologna approached a particular problem in figure sculpture when you work. By referencing the masters you will learn while your work benefits. It is also a good idea to do master copies in your spare time. By trying to copy your reference exactly, you learn an amazing amount about how an artist thought and dealt with specific problems.

From the Back Cover

Break Free from the 3D Mold

ZBrush is taking the world of 3D modeling by storm, allowing CG artists to create spectacular organic models in a way that feels like traditional sculpting and painting. Like the software itself, this beautiful four-color guide perfectly blends technology with artistry to give you a thorough, hands-on tutorial in creating 3D characters with this revolutionary software.

Digital sculptor Scott Spencer guides you through the full array of ZBrush tools, including brushes, textures, and detailing. You'll learn how to sculpt in ZBrush, design a character bust, and dazzle viewers with your creations. Above all, you'll discover how to apply time-honored methods of traditional sculpting and painting to a digital format—and emerge a better artist, no matter what the medium.

  • Bridge the transition from traditional sculpting to digital

  • Explore the ZBrush interface and toolsets

  • Learn valuable techniques for texturing, posing, and rendering in ZBrush

  • Master ZScripts, macros, and other methods for customizing the interface

  • Transfer your ZBrush creations into Maya® and prepare for use in film, game, or other formats

  • Gain valuable insights and tips from guest artists throughout the book


Support files for the book's tutorials are included on the DVD, so you can try out the techniques as you go. It also includes ZBrush movies to further illustrate the step-by-step sculpting process, as well as a trial version of ZBrush 3.1 for the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sybex; 1 edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047024996X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470249963
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! June 6, 2008
As someone who has been studying Zbrush for many years, I can whole-heartedly recommend this book. Scott Spencer covers pretty much everything you need to know about Zbrush in this one, with a lean towards the focus of the amazing digital tools and sculpting methods.
I can see this book being a favorite among tradition sculptors looking to make an easy transition to sculpting within Zbrush, as well as digital artists that want to improve their traditional skills and human anatomy.

The chapter on creating displacements from Zbrush data is worth the price alone, in my opinion. Thanks for that.

This book is going to be a great resource for me when teaching classes on Zbrush this year. I wish I would have had this book years ago, it would have saved me a thousand nights of trying to figure out how to do many things inside of Zbrush. Scott really has unraveled many great working methods that will save me a great deal of time.

Also of note is a chapter written by Alex Alvarez (the owner of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects and the Gnomon Workshop) that details his working methods when creating a cool illustration inside of Zbrush and Maya.

Happy Zbrushing!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great update to a classic June 18, 2008
Scott's update to this classic ZBrush book is a must have. Scott was my mentor at the Gnomon School of visual effects before he moved on to Weta. I learned so much from him that he let me take over teaching the class! He is one of the elite instructors and he knwo the program inside and out. On top of that he is an amazing artist in both traditional and digital arts. I love how he has adapted classic hollywood monster making techniques into his ZBrush workflow and he shares all of these techniques with you in this book.

Below is my review for the original edition which came out in 2008:

A truly incredible book, written by a master of both traditional and digital character sculpture. This book contains lessons that go beyond the software drawing on Scott's experience in the industry and artistic and anatomical training. I've studied with Scott personally over the past few years and I've gained a great deal from his teaching. ZBrush Character Creation encapsulates his own style and ability as a teacher and includes many extras submitted by the best Zbrush artists in the world. This book is intended for intermediate users, Scott goes through the basics of the software very quickly so this is not recommended for people who are new to the software. If you know enough to get around the interface and create a simple figure then your ready for Scott's book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome book! July 27, 2008
In a world flooded with basic introductory books on major 3D packages (cough*Maya*cough), Scott Spencer's 'ZBrush Character Creation: Advanced Sculpting Techniques', while quite a mouthful is a breath of fresh air. This is not a book that focuses on a pure beginner. Understanding the concepts of a 3D environment and mild experience with ZBrush are huge advantages in getting the most out of this book. That is not to say this book is not accessible to those who are not proficient in ZBrush. It covers many of the basic concepts, but covers them in such depth, that it would be easily overwhelming to a beginner.
The book begins by explaining the relationship to traditional sculpting techniques, to those applied while digital sculpting in ZBrush. This is one of the great strengths of the book. It covers not only the technical aspects of ZBrush, but also the artistic, the true driving force and advantage of ZBrush. From this initial chapter, you will then be lectured on such topics as; Sculpting Techniques, Detailing, PolyPainting, ZSpheres, and Displacement mapping, among many, many other topics I will let you discover for yourself.
Another great strength of this book is the mini-tutorials from various other artists that are added into the already information-packed pages. Contributing artists include; Cesar Dacol, Ian Joyner, Jim McPherson, Zach Petroc, Alex Alvarez, Ryan Kingslien, and Fabian Loing. Having all of these different techniques and perspectives on the art of digital sculpting, adds a lot of knowledge and expertise to this book.
I cannot say enough towards the value of this book. It is hands down the best ZBrush resource available in print as of this time. I hope that Scott and company with continue to share their extensive knowledge of the arts and of technology with the digital art community.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent October 15, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well illustrated, well written, and has great teaching lessons. Lessons are easily understood even if you are just reading and not actually in front of your zbrush software.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!!! July 3, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wonderful Just as described in market!!! Thank you!! If i buy of amazon again I will certainly look at your store first!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Satisfied! May 2, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've been a hobbyist for years and I've read A LOT of material. You will find few books as clear, concise and comprehensive as this one. Scott Spencer's experience translates clearly in his commentary and writing style. He explains the not only the how, but also the why at appropriate times, without bloated language to confuse you. Spencer covers artistic and technical aspects, with clear illustrations and CD resources to help you along the way. This book assumes that you're oriented enough with 3D to understand the basics of modeling and texturing to not bore intermediate users - at the same time, being accessible and intuitive enough for beginners to start to grasp these concepts. Advanced users will probably not benefit much from this book. If you're a beginner, this book will teach you the best techniques and practices in Zbrush (for games or film) - if you're intermediate, you will learn some new tricks, crystallize what you already know and be left with no doubts about your workflow. You WILL be a better sculptor after reading this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars a good resource for the novice user
I bought this book for a zbrush class and I must say it was very helpful. The author explains every subject within the book in a way that is easy to understand (should be noted... Read more
Published on April 3, 2010 by Mr. Luis R. Robles
5.0 out of 5 stars Zbrush companion book
this book is great, easy to follow, exercises are fun, learning zbrush is fun. however the DVD did not work for me. but that is ok cause i don't use dvd's anyway,
Published on March 31, 2010 by Samuel Girgis
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good.
Very, very good. Helped me out when I had no idea where to turn to get a certain result on my model.
Published on March 3, 2010 by Nicholas Konstantino
5.0 out of 5 stars A great way to learn ZBrush
I purchased "ZBrush Character Creation: Advanced Digital Sculpting by Scott Spencer" with the intent of finding a better way to create meshes to animate in Maya, but there are a... Read more
Published on November 27, 2009 by Patrick J. Finn
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I have bought it for a gift but inside it looks really great.
All pages are both textual and visual with coloured images, and all the things that are explained in it seems to... Read more
Published on September 28, 2009 by Maggie
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book; Terrible editing
The good:

The author, Scott Spencer knows his stuff. Not only does he teaches you the technical aspects of Zbrush but he covers some asthetic aspects of making art with... Read more
Published on July 25, 2009 by Mr.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for learning advance modeling
I'm a college student and now I'm taking the advance character creation class. I never touched ZBrush before I took the class so I had a lot of troubles keeping up with the ZBrush... Read more
Published on May 7, 2009 by T. Soatthiamroong
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for learning advanced techniques
This is a really good book, using it for a college class for zbrush. This book does cover some of the basics of zbrush, and would be alright for beginners, however, I think it's... Read more
Published on February 12, 2009 by Todd Crane
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Resource for Zbrush
This is a pretty good book. I always have reservations about buying books on 3d software. It usually follows the example of, make a cube (giving detailed instructions of course),... Read more
Published on November 21, 2008 by Jason
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
If your looking for a good well rounded book on ZBrush, this is it! This book covers nearly everything you need to know in order to work effectively with ZBrush and create create... Read more
Published on November 2, 2008 by Joseph R. Saltzman
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