ZBrush 2023 Complaints to Maxon

Was very excited to see that Redshift would be accessible through Zbrush 2023. In fact, I was so excited, it became the deciding factor in my purchase of a second perpetual license for Zbrush. In addition to the one I initially purchased through Pixelogic in 2016, I now have Maxon’s Zbrush 2023, AND YET, I still cannot use Redshift because now I need to subscribe to a subscription for Redshift. This was not as advertised. Honestly, If you offered a perpetual license for Redshift, I may have bought that too, however, I am so very tired of subscriptions all around, as are many. I fell for this purchase wanting to believe Maxon would be a worthy possessor of Zbrush, but this is not the case. I refuse to fall into the subscription entrapment scheme.

We are required to use subscriptions to meet the most basic of functions. I think the average artist will find themselves drawing a line between their current subscriptions and Maxon. We already have to worry about streaming services, cable, gaming services, educational subscriptions, adobe subscriptions, ect.

The younger students have their finger on the pulse of this business, may be time to leave Maxon behind and learn Blender to meet our needs. The fact of the matter is that the average artist cannot continue to afford all of these subscriptions.

I don’t mind purchasing Zbrush, a second time, but the fact is you are alienating a built-in audience by doing this Maxon. Honestly, it is understandable to charge an upgrade fee even, but maybe a reasonable number like 99.99 to 200.00 for an annual upgrade BUT $600 for an upgrade is completely non-sensical. I would expect $600 for the entire software but as an upgrade it is nothing short of absurd. This is the equivalent of buying a pair of shoes at full retail price, then paying 80% of the retail value for a shoeshine.

When you purchased Zbrush, you also bought into a customer base. A customer base that is uniquely resourceful and will flock to alternative means if they feel their limited income is being taken advantage of. Up until today I had given Maxon the benefit of the doubt and hope that they could prove naysayers wrong. At the end of the day, it seems Zbrush was acquired by Maxon to be a key tool in their subscription entrapment scheme.

Bring back the perpetual license for Redshift
Don’t extort your new found audience and respect your customers wallet.


Aurick, thank you for what you do. I can’t imagine moderating this page kindles joy.


Sad times indeed.

It’s just saddens me that Zbrush went from the best sculpting software gathering artists from around the world to pure corporate greed treating customers like they don’t exist (Like Louie said “no questions, people are just excited” even though there were dozens of unanswered important questions on the chat) within one update since pixologic sold it to maxon.

It makes me sick to think that Zbrush won’t be the Zbrush I know and love for so many years and it’s not just because of free updates but because people who were developing it actually cared about the artists and software.

I know that no one from maxon would care about what it’s being written here because what matters is money, not some puny artists.

659 dollars for update this small with just few improvements here and there it’s just outrages. Instead of listening to your customers you just decided to put time on some random feature updates instead of focusing on what artists actually need.

Rendering in Zbrush with botched Redshift that you need to pay on top for is not a good idea and it will never be for dozens of reasons. Instead of forcing Redshift in Zbrush you should write simple gpu path tracer with some nice materials and it would be more than enough for simple clay renders with vertex paint.

What is Zbrush actually missing you may ask? Let me write it down for you then. There is no particular order.

  • Real scale - this is what drive most people working in vfx industry crazy including me. I can’t count how many times zbrush would just reset scale values on export messing displacements and model size. Tools that are suppose to help with this are just not intuitive and buggy.
  • Improved hand retopology tools - zremesher is good but sometimes you just need control. Current retopology tools are not cutting it anymore. We need smarter precise tools that will fill the gaps and bring zbrush up to speed with current modern tools on the market.
  • UV Peel - hehe - but seriously, good UV unwrapper and layout with UDIM support is needed. Going back to Maya to create nice UVs then bringing back the models to zbrush to copy and paste UVs is just time consuming and annoying if you have hundreds of subtools.
  • Full UDIM Support - from importing textures, displacements, to UVs and exports.
  • Improved Painting tools - Let us create actual textures if models have UVs. Painting on vertex is very 1990 and limiting. Zbrush should have painting layers with mixing modes and filters. Let us use baked textures from zbrush directly. It does not have to be as advanced as Substance Painter or Mari.
  • Topology projections like zwrap - Not sure why such feature is not being implemented in zbrush already, seems so obvious to have.
  • Materials and HDRI in the viewport - would be great to get an actual preview of the surface and shapes with physically plausible materials and lights while sculpting.
  • Layers - this feature needs update and proper support for sculpting and painting.
  • Displacement projections - yes, zbrush does not support displacement as good as it should, wonder why. You can’t just bring in displacement and project pure values into your sculpt. I’ve been talking to Paul about this 2 years ago but sadly nothing has happened.
  • Support for 32bit exr, tif files - Turns out if you export 32 bit displacement texture from zbrush, you cannot load it in zbrush.
  • Support for UDIM import - How many times you wanted to bring in your textures to zbrush but couldn’t because of UDIMs? I struggle with this every single day.
  • Scalar zero slider in Displacement tab - right now zbrush reads only 16bit displacement with 0.5 mid value, you have to go to photoshop/nuke any other editing software to adjust your mid value if you want it to be correctly displayed in zbrush.
  • Hard surface tools - precision, selecting and UI could use improvements. Non destructive workflows for hard surface would be amazing.
  • Non-destructive blend shapes features with physics. Let us make blend shapes and skin sliding with ease and precision.
  • Curves as sliding muscle deformers - actual curves with tangents drawn on mesh to manipulate the surface.
  • Support for animation shot sculpting - Let us bring alembics or usd with baked animation to sculpt and simulate muscles, skin wrinkles, skin sliding and so on.

This is just few off the top of my head. I know for sure non of those will be ever implemented because many users already asked for similar improvements for many years and we did not get anything back. Now it will be even worse with maxon holding the leash.

Overall I am disappointed with the update after 14 months of silence.

  • antialiasing viewport is still missing in 2023

This list of yours should be the roadmap. Really great list. I would just add an outliner to it.

@Krzysztof_Gryzka From what the Maxon CEO has been saying on the discord, he sees the perpetual as ‘buying the software’ as a finished product every single year, rather than the usual upgrade system that we a re all used to from 3D programs. This is a pretty ridiculous concept and makes no sense with 3D software. He uses the analogy of buying a new bicycle every year and then having to pay extra for new wheels, a saddle, etc. :thinking:

It’s obvious though that the nonsensical pricing for perpetuals is simply a clumsy attempt to purge their business model of perpetuals and force us all to subs. It’s an insult to the collective intelligence, really.

As for the Redshift CPU/GPU carrot and stick, well, that’s just outright blackmail. Laughable. CPU rendering in 2023? :rofl: :rofl:

This is what annoys me more than anything. It would have been so easy for Maxon to just bundle a custom GPU version of Redshift in with the ZB install, instead of utterly shafting the userbase with ANOTHER sub. What the f ** k were they thinking? Is it really that important to squeeze every single penny they can?

OG Pixologic. We love you. We just wish you had started charging us 10 years ago and we wouldn’t be in this mess. :smiley: Thanks for giving us all these amazing tools and endless hours of creative joy over such a long and exciting journey.


As a hobbyist, I bought a one-year license for ZBrush back in May of 2022 because I wasn’t sure I would ever get my head around the user interface and didn’t want to invest in a perpetual license until I’d had a chance to spend more time with it. (I still find the UI to be mostly mystifying but I’ve watched enough videos to see that, with practice, folks can be very fast and produce results that are just astounding).

At the time, I thought the benefit to the perpetual license was that it could continue to be used for as long as it takes operating system updates to break it. I hadn’t realized that folks had been upgrading their perpetual licenses since the late 90’s without paying an upgrade fee. I can definitely understand the pain that this change would cause among folks that have invested decades in the software.

From a new user point of view, the 2023 update is not super-compelling. In fact, it might be a good argument to get a perpetual license and use it for 3-4 years before paying for an upgrade - assuming that, in that amount of time, enough new features (or a UI redesign :slight_smile: ) have been added.

Again, I am a hobbyist and I totally understand that professional users would not want to have to ingest 3-4 years of updates in one fell swoop and might lose potential creativity and productivity by waiting.

Welp, that’s it for me, especially when a incremental yearly upgrade costs nearly as much as a full new license used to. OUCH.

I mean, maybe $300 a year would make more sense. But paying basically full price every year is just too much.

People are just gonna pay the GPU tax ( now that prices have cooled ) and probably will see more effort poured into Blender.

Also, fix the UI, if you’re carging so much year over year, you guys really need to fix the UI and stop the endless threads of “I can’t edit anything” or “How do I clear the screen” we always see.

The biggest problem too is the 2023 release just isn’t THAT BIG to justify the $695 price. Oh, we have goo now.


I‘m not making any money out of my digital stuff. I‘m doing it just for fun, to learn and to improve my skills. I was a longtime subscriber to Maxon‘s MSA for Cinema 4D. Then they started using subscriptions and I made the decision to stay at C21 because I couldn‘t justify the price increase yet along their upgrade price.
I was willing to upgrade my ZBrush licence though, if they‘d asked like 400-500€. Not gonna happen now.
Sorry Maxon, but your pricing policy is unacceptable, especially considering the current economic situation.


I’ve pretty much had the same experience of Maxon. I was willing to go along with the MSA until they forced everything to be subscription and started asking big bucks for little improvements.

The ZB pricing policy is obscene, but expected when Maxon bought ZB. I thought with all the delays in 2023 there would at least be some significant, can’t miss features. I’ll be passing for now.

It was a good 20 years or so of ZB for me, but I’m not going to give them my money. I was willing to go as high as $295/year for upgrades as long as I kept my two installs. $650+ and I have to go though “a couple of minutes” each time I jump between my laptop and workstation is extortion. (And as a former Maxon customer, the frequent downtime of their authorization server isn’t pursuading me it’ll be a “couple of minutes” on my watch.)

Maxon will probably keep the customer numbers up for a while because they have been practically giving Maxon One away free to educational market, but they’re just making a cash-grab on the artist-freelancer world while they can.

It’s sad to watch, but Maxon got greedy and I’m not willing to feed this beast. Hopefully enough long time-users say the same and the revenue drop to serve as lesson that this robbery model has limitations.


For the last 2 and a half years there has been a financial decimation on the self employed and freelancers. During this time and for the most part only corporations and institutions have escaped certain economic realities and it is clear this itself will soon change.

To address such issues and spare good people insults undeserved I thought perhaps it might be prudent to address the issue being raised by many users here and elsewhere online using the corporate parlance of Equity , Inclusion and Partnership.

The way I see it if Maxon were as creative and forward thinking with these concepts they would lead the field both creatively and economically.May I therefore posit some positive suggestions for who knows, maybe somebody might read this.

1,Use a learning, education , training and asset marketplace to subsidise the cost of the software;
2, Offer global equity on pricing
3, Offer equity on pricing differentials between corporate employees and freelancers
4, Offer equity on pricing for the unemployed, the disabled and sick etc
5,Do all of this on trust.

By these means I am sure you will end up with more money , more good will and far less Piracy.

If the imagination , creativity and ethos encapsulated all these years within ZBrush itself was applied to an equally creative way of doing business I think it would be a perfect fit.

Personally I have no skin in the game and cannot run the latest version as I use an older O.S than is required. :slight_smile: So weep for me as I’ve oft longed for the new symmetry options available in the latest version.

Credit to the Maxon team for allowing users to blow off steam . My respects.
Aurick you get a special badge for not losing your shit :slight_smile: :champagne:


We run computer labs in the Visual and Performing Arts in a medium-sized University. We used one-time funding to get ZBrush initially because its cost (even for Education) was well outside our normal budget limits. During online learning early in the Pandemic, Pixologic was great to deal with and we successfully taught the course that used ZBrush. We budgeted for an upgrade fee but were pleasantly surprised when the upgrade was at no charge. We even added a few extra seats with the budgeted upgrade money recently. Big kudos to the Pixologic staff for years of great service.

The switch to Maxon and ZBrush 2023 is already causing us grief. The biggest “f— you” that Maxon did was making the ZBrush 2023 file format incompatible with ZBrush 2022. If our students want to do their assignments on their own computer, they pay Maxon USD$10 so they can do so, but they can no longer hand that work in unless they drop back to an intermediary format like OBJ. There was seemingly no need to change the file format, so we have to assume this is another move to drive people to subscription (or off the platform).

Those USD$10/6 months student licenses are not available for a computer lab in Education; we need to pay CAD$269 per computer per year to use one app (none of the other titles in the Maxon Suite are relevant to the academic programs we offer). In our case, that is over half of our annual lab operating budget for classes in Art, Music, Drama, and Dance. We would have to count on one-time funding to come up with numbers like that, which we would need to be a perpetual license (since we can’t afford that much each year).

It’s clear that Maxon really doesn’t understand the Higher Education market. Is the student deal good? Yes—the biggest impediment for student purchases is the hardware requirements for their software. Is the Lab deal good? No. It deliberately favours their existing Cinema4D customer base, as that is the only title that you can subscribe to individually. We don’t teach motion graphics here, we teach sculpture (and drawing and painting…). Maxon does not seem to understand art schools like ours that incorporate digital software in to traditional art forms. We only need the digital sculpting tools, yet Maxon thinks that making us pay for titles that we will never install makes it “affordable.” We would actively consider paying for upgrades (subscriptions are a non-starter for the aforementioned reasons) if it were in that CAD$99 per major version like it is with Cinema4D.

Finally, the documentation that we can see suggests that installation of version 2023 is done by installing the Maxon One app and then having the Maxon One app install ZBrush. In a computer lab scenario where admins do the installation, not users, that’s not scalable.

Honestly, we didn’t expect Maxon to change their mind, at least not quickly. We were hoping that we could stick with 2022.0.7 for the next 18 months to give Maxon a chance to see the error of their ways and come up with a plan that would address our concerns and thus keep us in the fold. By changing the file format, they have tried to make the perpetual licenses worthless for computer labs, so that is now forcing our hand. If we don’t see a change in policy by July, we will be forced to rewrite our 3D Sculpture course to use Blender instead of ZBrush. I feel badly for the great staff at Pixologic. It will be sad to stop using ZBrush, even with its quirks, but Maxon is clueless about schools like ours that use digital tools as a adjunct to traditional art forms as well as those whose funding model makes subscriptions almost impossible to implement.


Files have never been backward compatible to previous versions. ZBrush 2021, for example, was not able to open files created by ZBrush 2022.

You said you were hoping you could stick with 2022 for the next while. You can. Any student that gets an academic subscription is not forced into ZBrush 2023. They can instead choose to install ZBrush 2022. You can thus all be on the same version.

Regarding deployment, while the Maxon App must be running on all lab machines, it does not have to be used for deployment of ZBrush. The ZBrush installer can be downloaded from My Maxon and then deployed using the same silent installation systems that you have used for previous versions.

I hope that helps.

That’s useful. Thanks. (Of course, we didn’t notice the file format change each version when upgrades were free. I still think this is a bad policy — Photoshop’s file format hasn’t changed since Version 7 [now version 24], and MakeMusic abandoned their version-specific file format for Finale a few years ago. It goes against the flow.)

I’m not seeing anything about the Keyshot Bridge on the My Licenses page, only Zbrush 2022.0.7 and the archive 2021.7.1. Am I missing something?

Thanks again for all you’ve done for the community over the years!

Please start a conversation on Support.

Hi Aurick,

I fully understand the concerns of IAML. We have the exact same issue at the place I teach. Are you saying there is a $10 student version of 2022?

At the moment, we have floating licences of 2022.0.7 which we use, and cannot justify the costs of 2023 for a cut-down version of a renderer we have no intention of using or teaching. The decision to try to get everybody to pay for a renderer in order to access the latest version of ZBrush is not sitting well with those of us who either don’t need a new renderer, or don’t have the resources.

Maxon need to offer ZBrush upgrades that are sculpture based (the bread and butter business) and not there purely for the purposes of trying to get people to buy and use their other products. To then sell it at an extortionate price is the icing on the cake and loses the goodwill of the userbase which Pixologic had built up over the years. It is genuinely sad to see them being used as pawns here. The latest update was pitiful, in that all of the efforts were patently put into grifting Redshift rather than adding the creative tools and technologies that made it so popular in the first place. The lack of innovation in this release was disappointing to say the least. I’ve always loved the ZBrush updates, but this the poorest update in living memory.

If you want to kill ZBrush in colleges and schools, keep charging for features nobody wants or can afford.

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I saved up for years to buy the Zbrush perpetual license so I could hopefully one day work as a professional. It seemed like a great deal and you all seemed like a company that actually cared about its users. And that same year you all sold out to MAXON and now want to charge me $700 to “upgrade”. You have crushed my spirit. The only thing I can hope for now, is that I get good enough anyway and people stop caring if I use the latest version of zbrush. Which I guess good luck with that huh? I should have known better.


700 for slime and a better zremesher? Nothing to blow your skirt up about that is for sure. Keyshot bridge is better anyway. Not worth the license not worth the upgrade. This 2023 update was nothing more than a patch for the pre-Maxon Pixologic folks. Maxon has ruined Zbrush like the single pay Forger. The future of Zbrush is kicking it out the door. Nomad and Zbrush 2022 for ever! What a waste.


The price got leaked last year and the community at large didn’t like it then and still don’t like it. I recommended $150-$200 annual with each missed upgrade year being 50% of that plus the new upgrade. Clearly they weren’t listening to that. Respecting the artists in that way would keep growing the userbase and keep a constant flow of R&D cash. If Maxon wants to argue that they aren’t getting a fair split of VFX revenue, most artists wouldn’t disagree with you. On that front I would say work with the artists to renegotiate a better split with the companies actually making the billions of dollars rather than trying to jam the artists.

Going this cashgrab route is just going to run artists off to blender, 3DCoat, Nomad or one of the many other options that are popping up daily. Keeping your dignity will make-up for a lot of deficiencies in software. Hopefully, Maxon will rethink their perpetual license pricing soon.

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Unforunately I have to agree ! I love ZBrush and want the amazing ZBrush team to make a good living. I would be willing to pay for upgrades on my perpetual, but Maxon’s new pricing strategy is killing it for me.


Maxon had a choice between getting a reasonable cost amount for an upgrade, and all the non-studio users buying it each year, or losing out all those users altogether by pricing all non-commercial users out of buying the upgrades. They chose option 2. Sheer greed means that I can’t justify paying the upgrade price. Not that 2023 seems a significant upgrade even for a more reasonable price anyway.
A £200/$250 upgrade price, seeing as how we already bought it at the full price from Pixologic (and for new users to rent it for a year is £322), the perpetual upgrade price is a kick in the teeth (and a stab in the kidneys when your down, along with it), might have been reasonable. Over $600+taxes is not.
Competing sculpting and texturing apps (with a blue and yellow dripping sphere logo) seem very much more consumer friendly for hobbiests and indie users, and their upgrade pricing is an eighth of Zbrush’s. There are also more and more tutorials being developed for it, which should encourage more users in that direction, although they don’t have the same level and range of tutorials as yet to be fair. But once upon a time, ZBrush was the crazy weird outsider, with only a community to support each other, and a small range of tutorials. Now Maxon doesn’t support that community.