Newbie Challenge #1 (ZB3) - Make A Brush

New to ZB3? Totally lost and don’t know where to start? A bit more experienced, but rusty on alphas, or bemused by creating brushes? Then this challenge is for you!

There has been some criticism that the literature for ZB3 has not been aimed at the total beginner. So I got to wondering … what subject would get you quickly into the ZB mindset without drowning you in detail? The answer is Alphas and Brushes. And I’m not going to give you reams to read. No sir. Instead, I’ve created a series of 4 video tutorials, all accessible to the true newbie. Recorded live, with commentary, I’ll take you gently through most major aspects of alphas. And in the final video we’ll create our very own brush … for that is the challenge … Create a Unique Brush.

Video 1 (12mb) : we take a leisurely stroll around the alpha palette, and consider enough technical info to get you started, without getting all geeky.

Video 2 (11mb) : we’ll create our very own alphas from 2.5D painting and 3D sculpting.

Video 3 (18mb) : we’ll use 2D data (from photos and from painting in ZBrush) to create 3D alphas.

Video 4 (22mb) : in this monster vid we make alphas from ZSpheres and parametric objects, we save one alpha into the Alpha palette and use the other as a base for a unique brush. We explore the brush settings and the Brush Master, and then look at brush trouble-shooting.

Phew! There’s a lot here, but it should help get you started with the programme. There’s no pressure to take part in the challenge itself but if you want to, simply post shots of how you’ve used your new brush, or pictures of your alphas, or share alphas or brushes with the community. Go to it! There’s no time limit … join in when you’re ready. As always, the more experienced users are welcome to take part, or take me apart (if I’ve messed up anywhere!).

All videos, Right click > Save target as …

:large_orange_diamond: http://www.pantsofpower.com/mooch_alpha01.avi
:white_small_square: http://www.pantsofpower.com/mooch_alpha02.avi
:small_blue_diamond: http://www.pantsofpower.com/mooch_alpha03.avi
:red_circle: http://www.pantsofpower.com/mooch_alpha04.avi

:small_orange_diamond: Grab the TSCC TechSmith video codec, if the videos won’t play : http://www.techsmith.com/download/codecs.asp

:small_orange_diamond: If you want to distribute brushes, check this WinZip tutorial to make sure you’re using the best zip method : http://www.zbrushcentral.com/zbc/showthread.php?t=46874

Good Luck!

I would like to see this happening since I don’t know too much about alphas.
The sound doesn’t work on this video for me.
Also the video quality is very very poor…
Maybe make a better version? Sorenson 3 codec for Quicktime is very good.
Can’t watch these since they’re very poor…

That’s a shame. Have you loaded the TSCC codec? It’s a lossless codec and although I had to reduce the size of the video to make the d/l size sensible, I can see all the text when I play it back at 200% view size in Windows Media Player. And hear my voice too.

Videos works fine here. playback in quicktime with the techsmith codec.
can never learn to much
thank you for sharing!

Hello Moochie,

As a new ZBrush user, I really appreciate these videos. They are well thought out, thorough, and easy to understand.

Thank you for creating these!



woohoo…alright Moochie…can’t wait til after work tomorrow to check these out…gotta hear da accent! :smiley:

but seriously…you are the man…ohhhh the amount of time to put these together and all…my hat is off to you! :smiley:

Thanks for bringing the newb challenges back!! :+1:

Thanks for the tutorial:+1:
This is my brush. (It’s a one of our dogs and his name is Carel he is a Nederlandse Schapendoes (a sheepdog)).





Excellent, Sonja! That brush has some nice crisp edges … did you do any tweaking in your graphics program before loading the photo in ZB? If you did, please feel free to let everyone know what techniques you used. A great start … yay! :+1:

Thanks to everyone else for your kind comments. I’m still learning how to use Camtasia to capture sessions, so if any more experienced users know the best settings to get nice clear vids with the lowest possible memory, then please do say.

Hi Moochie, it wasn’t a photo, it’s a quick black on white drawing I did in ZB2 with the Zketch plugin a while ago. I’ll cut the head out, invert the colors and paint a bit more black on it.

[attach=59956]Carel pentek…jpg[/attach]


Carel pentek..jpg


A photograph of a BMX stunt rider was used to make the alpha.


That worked out really well, George. Good stuff. :+1:

khc…if ya can give up your secret…was that a simple zb texture to alpha, or a photoshop magic to alpha thing…if so a plugin or just a few tweaks in settings…i ask because…well heck everyone is going to plus it is a newbie thread and they all are hungry for exact information…

if you can please enlighten us…looks cool by the way…love the wrinkle detail that showed up in the paints.

Hi Moochie and aminuts,

Thanks for your kind words.

@aminuts. Thanks for asking, here are the construction details:

The original picure was 3405 x 2336. Here’s a thumbnail version of it:

  • In ZBrush, the document size was set to 2048 x 2048.
  • The half medallion was made with the PolySphere.ztl tool (not the Sphere3d: the PolySphere can be loaded using the Load Tool button). One half was deleted and he Size tool was used on the Z axis (with a negative value) to squish it. Then, it was subdivided to 3 million polygons. The material was set to Intensity metal.
  • The alpha was imported directly using the Import button on the Alpha menu.
  • In Projection Master, a golden yellow colour was selected. The BMX Alpha was applied using the DragRect stroke having the Intensity set to about 5.
  • The stars were added using Alpha 10 and a Radial stroke having M Repeat set to 24 and the Draw Size set to about 25. This made really big stars!. The Gyro (press W) was used to make them smaller.
  • Projection Master Pickup Now was used to pick up the tool.
  • The tool was rotated and the lighting adjusted a bit. The document was exported to a Photoshop PSD file. In Photoshop, the Save for Web feature was used to reduce the size of the image from 2048x2048 to 512x512 and convert it to JPG.





cool thanks George!

Thanks for the vids Moochie, very professional and easy to follow.

Steve 8)

Really useful video-tutes Moochie. Thank you for taking the time to pass on your experiences and tips.
Hope you don’t mind me asking a question only indirectly related to the subject.
I havn’t been able to find the answer in the wiki or the forums.

Having created and played with my macro brush is there an easy way to revert to the default brush behaviours. In the end I just saved out a new brush when I loaded ZBrush and called it ‘default’. I could find a reset brushes command but I may be looking in the wrong place

Good question, Noggin. And an excellent solution (if there is a ‘reset’, I can’t find it either). I’m sure a ‘Noggin’s Reset Brush’ would be popular (hint, hint).

The StandardSet Brush seems to restore settings. Open the standardset.txt file with an editor to look at the commands and you’ll see how the brush’s author guarantees certain buttons are reset.


Good point, Sven. It doesn’t alter the stroke type, ZIntensity or draw size, though. I think that Noggin was suggesting a ‘return to default’ brush, so draw size goes back to 64, ZIntensity to 25, stroke to Dots etc.

Here’s a question for eager students … see if you can find the TXT file for the StandardSet brush. Open it in a text editor … does this brush adjust your Edit Curve or Smoothing Curve?