Tutorial: Cloning a Photograph to Your Textures
Certain high end texturing programs are capable of taking a photograph and cloning it onto your 3D Model.
The question has been raised: can ZBrush do the same thing? The answer is a resounding YES!
In fact, there are two different ways that this can be accomplished, depending on your needs. And as someone who
has used the "other programs", I have to say that ZBrush's technique is actually far more user friendly and gives
much better results.
The first technique, which is to use 3DCopy and transfer the photograph wholesale to your object has been
discussed at length by Pixolator in 3D Texturing Made Easy, so I'll refrain from going into it here.
But what if you only want to transfer the photograph to certain parts of your model, rather than the whole
thing? Enter this technique:
The process is very simple.
Step 1 For your first step, you need to place the photograph that you wish to use on your first
document layer. In this case, since I wanted to apply a butterfly wing to a skin texture I decided to first
fill the layer with a basic skin texture and the FlatColor material. This way, any bleed over in my copying
method would still be a basic skin tone. I next placed the butterfly wing by drawing my wing tool over top of
the skin texture.
Step 2 Next, create a new layer and import your object. Choose the Basic Material for this
step and set its transparency to somewhere around 70%. In the Render palette, turn Flatten Layers off so that
the transparency can be seen as you work. You can now draw the object (in this case a Poser head with a texture
already applied) on the canvas, then use Transform modes to move, scale and rotate it into position over
your photograph. Because the head material is transparent, you can see right through it for exact placement.
This transparency will NOT affect your texture, however. Figure 2 shows the head in place, ready for
Step 3 Using the TextureMaster, drop your object in position. Select the
Cloner Brush and in its modifiers turn off everything except Layers Mode (this mode allows you to copy
information from other layers onto the current layer). Next, go to the Draw palette and turn off
everything except RGB -- you don't want to paint materials or depth, just color. Turn the RGB Intensity all
the way up to 100. I also used a harder edged alpha to give me sharp edges with my painting.
At this point, I simply picked a starting point and Ctrl-Clicked to set the clone origin. Without moving
the mouse, I clicked again to set the destination as being immediately over the origin, and started to
paint. The Cloner Brush grabbed the color from the background layer and painted it directly onto my model.
In just a few minutes, I had what you see in Figure 3, which was captured immediately before using the Pick
button on the TextureMaster.
End Result Voila! The TextureMaster copied my cloned butterfly wing directly to the
original texture. In Figure 4 I have redrawn the figure with the new texture applied and added a
couple of eyes. As you can see, the wing really looks awesome and textured flawlessly onto the
object without distortions. The edges where the skin tones don't quite match could easily be fixed
in Photoshop, or even by unwrapping the texture and using ZBrush's 2D tools. Other methods (either Photoshop
or ZBrush) could be used to duplicate the butterfly wing for the opposite eye.
Now, how does this compare to something like DeepPaint3D with Texture Weapons? Aside from being
MUCH less expensive, I found that ZBrush's technique was far easier to work with than the much vaunted
"Projection Painting". DP3D/TW gave me quite a bit of distortion when the projection was
transferred down onto the model. It was also a royal pain trying to line the model up with the photograph.
ZBrush gave me near perfect results immediately, with no difficulty at all lining the model up
over the photograph and an absolutely perfect transfer to the texture. ZBrush wins, hands down.