Pixologic ZBrush update enables smoother workflow

Two-way file exchange enabled for Photoshop, Maya and more.

Pixologic’s ZBrush is generally considered the market leader for digital sculpting software for content creation. However, its position is hotly contested by Autodesk’s Mudbox. Autodesk positions Mudbox as a product that’s easier to use than ZBrush and compatible with other software tools such as 3ds Max and Maya, via Autodesk’s FBX common file format.

ZBrush is known for its wide variety of digital content creation tools. (Image by Aravindan Rajasingham, courtesy of Pixologic)

Pixologic’s position is that their software is more powerful, “without the technological restraints of other products.” The company has their own take on file exchange; GoZ enables file exchange with other applications allowing other products to be used for modeling and animation. The artist can then use ZBrush to conceptualize, create, and render content. As a result, says Pixologic, ZBrush enables people to use the tools they prefer for modeling.

The GoZ Update 1 includes support for Photoshop, a product which has beefed up 3D capabilities. The GoZ Update is compatible with Photoshop CS4 or CS5. The company says it’s possible to paint directly on a model’s texture instead of using Zbrush’s PolyPaint. The company says that one advantage is that texture painting can be independent of the model’s resolution.

Paul Gaboury, Pixologic’s 3D Applications Engineer describes the workflow this way: after working in Brush, export to Photoshop by clicking the GoZ button to send the model and its texture to Photoshop. There, you can paint in full 3D. You can also flatten the map and paint in 2D. The use of a visible wireframe for 2D is optional. The model can then be sent back to Brush via GoZ where you can continue working using Zbrush’s tools. In addition, Pixologic says the exchange does not require users to set up shading networks for normal, displacement, and texture maps. Instead, GoZ transfers the mesh and sets up all the appropriate shading networks and when the model goes back to Brush, it carries that information with it including high-resolution details. GoZ also takes care of correcting the order of points & polygons and can also handle remapping where necessary.

The GoZ update includes the ability to use ZBrush in a two-way workflow with Autodesk Maya and Adobe Photoshop now; other products coming soon. (Image courtesy Pixologic)

GoZ supports:

• Maya 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

• 3dsMax 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

• Modo 401 SP4-5, 501 SP1-SP2

Cinema4D R11, R12

• Photoshop CS4 Extended, CS5 Extended

Brush 4 is available for $699 retail. It’s a free upgrade for all ZBrush registered users. The company notes that Mac users will have to use 32-bit Photoshop.

Despite tough competition in the digital artistry market, ZBrush continues to be among the most popular authoring tools. (Image courtesy Pixologic)