PLY Import

I would really like a PLY Import feature. PLY format meshes are so much lighter that larger models could be imported into ZBrush. Is that difficult to write a importer? Just asking.

It would probably be possible to write an importer but I doubt if it would make it easier to import larger models. ZBrush, in common with all programs, will convert any file into its internal data structures. How much data can be stored depends on the individual system but ZBrush already stores no more data than is absolutely necessary - this is what makes it capable of handling multi-million polygon meshes.

Thanks Marcus. I would nevertherless find a PLY importer useful as I am working in the scanning industry where PLY is a very common format. Anyway, ZBrush has already a lot and cannot have everything - yet. :wink:

which PLY format do you use, ASCII or binary?


Thanks. I’ll look into doing an importer when I have the time.

That would be interesting. Let me know if you need PLY files and a tester.

The PLY format is NOT intended to be a general scene description language, a shading language or a catch-all modeling format. This means that it includes no transformation matrices, object instantiation, modeling hierarchies, or object sub-parts. It does not include parametric patches, quadric surfaces, constructive solid geometry operations, triangle strips, polygons with holes, or texture descriptions.

A typical PLY object definition is simply a list of (x,y,z) triples for vertices and a list of faces that are described by indices into the list of vertices. Most PLY files include this core information. Vertices and faces are two examples of “elements”, and the bulk of a PLY file is its list of elements. Each element in a given file has a fixed number of “properties” that are specified for each element. The typical information in a PLY file contains just two elements, the (x,y,z) triples for vertices and the vertex indices for each face. Applications can create new properties that are attached to elements of an object. For example, the properties red, green and blue are commonly associated with vertex elements. New properties are added in such a way that old programs do not break when these new properties are encountered. Properties that are not understood by a program can either be carried along uninterpreted or can be discarded. In addition, one can create a new element type and define the properties associated with this element. Examples of new elements are edges, cells (lists of pointers to faces) and materials (ambient, diffuse and specular colors and coefficients). New elements can also be carried along or discarded by programs that do not understand them.

I am also very interested in a ply importer :slight_smile: I wouldnt have to use 3D coat anymore, which would save me some money

I’m also interested :wink: i’m using actually free Blender and his goB GoZ-like plugin

Meshlab is a free app that can do a lot, trust me, and it is free.


Then a PLY import directly into ZBrush could still be interesting I guess.

I’ve written a PLY import/export plugin for ZBrush. It’s fairly basic but if you want to give it a try then send me a PM.

Yes sure, I am sending you a PM. I know more than one guy who could give your tool a go.

How did this plug-in turn out? I am happy to give it a go also as I am in need of importing ply files with color into zbrush.


It is working great, it does what it is supposed to do. No colour yet though.

It does support polypaint/vertex color. If you are importing a file with color make sure ‘Tool>Polypaint>Colorize’ is turned on to show the color. If that still doesn’t work and you can send me a file, preferably ascii, I’ll take a look.

Hi guys,
If I am not wrong you have found a way to import vertex colors into Zbrush. That is huge and very helpful to me, I would like to know when this script/plugin will be available for all of us? Is it going to be free?

Thank you

I’ve sent you a PM.

Marcus I cannot thank you enough!!! It works like a charm.


HI Marcus,

I could differently use the ply importer , I do a lot of 3d Scans… can you also send it to me:-)

Best Regards