The ZBrush Forum is one of the real highlights of my life. I visit it on a practically daily basis, drool over the great artwork and love to study the techniques and ideas that are so freely shared in this forum.
Not being an artist I rarely have anything I feel I can contribute or share with the rest of you. However, I have come across a little program which I believe many of you (Including some of you professional arists out there) may find of interest. It works wonderfully with ZBrush.
The product is the 3D Shape Explorer from Genicap (www.genicap.com). It's a simple shape generator consisting of two windows, one for parameters and another to preview the generated shape. There are versions available for both Windows and Mac platforms. According to the program authors you can theoretically generate practically any shape from the formulas they developed.
The program generates 3D shapes very quickly and allows you to explore different shapes and shape families.
A right mouse click in the preview window accesses options to change from wireframe to shaded or shaded with specular highlights, change camera angles, auto change parameters, or save in several 3D formats including dxf and obj. I've found the dxf format seems to produce the cleanest models.
One interesting thing is that the mathematical formulas to produce all these fabulous shapes are only about 1K in size, whereas the dxf file may be 1.5MB. This allows you to save tons of reproducible shapes in practically no space at all.
By the way, I have no connection whatsoever to this firm, I just happened to see their name in a magazine article and after playing with their product I found it to be fun and useful. It produced professional quality shapes which can be easily imported into ZBrush and further manipulated (textured, combined, lighted, etc.)
They have a demo you can download and the program is fairly cheap (I think it was about $39). They also have a 2D shape generator/explorer for Adobe Illustrator which does much the same thing except in 2D. It's about twice as expensive.
I'm going to try to upload an image showing a few shapes I generated in just a few minutes time and then textured and rendered in ZBrush. I've never tried before.
Hope this is of value to some of you and thanks for all of your help in the past.