Creative Strategies: Creating Environmental assets In maya and Zbrush.

I decided to try and model some of the basic assets that our scene would consist of based off the reference images discussed earlier,assets like rocks, a tree and a floating island.

However, I took this opportunity to try a learn about a piece of software I’ve had an interest in learning for quite some time now called Zbrush


“ZBrush is an industry standard, digital sculpting tool that combines 3D/2.5D modelling, texturing and painting.”

Getting into zbrush was initially somewhat confusing, but a bit a research and tutorial watching I was able to navigate around it with relative ease.

I found these set of tutorials to be particularly useful, in which I was gradually introduced into the features of Zbrush, like navigating the geometry menu,  using the subtools menu and getting to terms with Sculpting.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

I also found the Pixel Logic Website itself to contain some really nice bits of information, such as basic controls. (posted below)

I started with sculpting the island, influence by the following reference images

137ce60bbe24acfe144b60ccc8a27199 5a28068163c1662eb97d12894b4f3c3b

This is what I had up with in the beginning, I just used the default ‘Poly Sphere’ material, and used the Move,Clay,smooth and Standard brushes with a low sub-division setting of 1 to achieved the result seen below.

Geometry – Subdivision level -1


However I wanted more detail out of the mesh, at which point in realised I would have to increase the subdivision count under the geometry menu


With more subdivisions added, i was able to place more detail onto the mesh.

Finally with the mesh sculpted in Zbrush, it was a case of exporting as an .OBJ file and importing into maya.

However, I noticed that my Island Model’s typology consisted of mainly triangles and and Ngons, which I didn’t want.

Eventually I discovered that you are able to re-typologise objects in Maya  using the  ‘QUAD DRAW’ tool under mesh tools in Maya.

The QUAD DRAW tool allows you to build a brand new surface with the desired typology off the original mesh.

The following clip is the end result:

I found this Lynda tutorial useful whenever it came to understanding how the quad draw tool worked, thought it was really well explained and easy to to understand.

Next, using the knowledge I acquired from sculpting the island in Zbrush, I then sculpted a few rocks and re-typologised them within Maya also using the quad draw tool.

Finally, I decided to model the tree that would sit in our scene, however this time I decided to model it in Maya.

Overall I’m happy with the outcomes above, I thought It was a great learning experience and useful bit of experimentation. Previously I had little to no knowledge of the workflow within Zbrush, however now I feel a lot more confident in my abilities regarding Zbrush and it’s pipeline to Maya.


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