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Character Posing in ZBrush


🟧Learn how to pose characters in ZBrush with ease using low-poly models, rigging, and sculpting techniques.

🟧Adjust muscles and create natural-looking poses.


🟧Pose characters with clothes using Transpose Master for a realistic touch.

Master character posing and 3D modeling in ZBrush.







- Workflow

  • There are many ways we can pose a character inside ZBrush and in other 3D Software.

  • Each method has its own pros and cons.

  • You can pose a 3D Character with a rig but that requires you to spend extra time to make the rig, add ik handles, weight paint it, and go through many trials and errors to make the rig work well with the model.

  • Another viable way to pose a character is to sculpt the character in the pose.

  • This is only if the character isn’t meant to be used in a game or animation and only to be used for renders or 3D Prints.

  • Posing in ZBrush has 3 ways that we’ll look into 2 of them in today's class.


Method 1 - Masking and Moving


  • We’ll be using the Male base mesh in the ZBrush project folder to pose.

  • The masking method speaks for itself, we’ll be masking parts of the body and moving them using the Gizmo tool.

  • This is a viable way of posing a character that doesn’t have clothes or accessories on them like the base mesh we’re using.

  • The important thing to note, it’s always best to pose the character on the lowest subdivision for the best outcome.

  • Since our base mesh has divisions we’ll be working on the last one.

  • We’ll pose the mesh in a flying Superman pose like in the reference image.

  • We’ll start off masking the upper body and softening the mask by holding down Ctrl and clicking on the masked part.

  • We’ll reverse the masking by holding down Ctrl and clicking on the side and smoothing out the mask again.

  • It is important to smooth the mask both ways, on the original masking and on the reverse.

  • The Gizmo tool also plays a big role when posing like this.

  • Make sure the Gizmo is moved somewhere in the midpoint of where the masking ends to get the best results.

  • If the masking was smooth both ways, there shouldn’t be any weird folds and sharp edges when we move the unmasked parts.

  • To move the Gizmo tool, hold Alt and move it by using the Axis points on the tool itself.

  • Place the Gizmo in the middle of the stomach and rotate the legs to the side.

  • Unmask some of the torso by holding down Ctrl + Alt when using the masking lasso.

  • Once you unmask some of the torso, smooth the masking both ways.

  • To reset the world rotation on the Gizmo, hold Alt and click the rotation icon above the Gizmo.

  • Place the Gizmo in the middle of the masking, below the Chest, and rotate the top of the body to the side.

  • Mask the arm that is going to be headed toward the sky, and smooth the masking both ways before moving it.

  • We can now see one of the biggest cons of this method of posing and that is the deformations it can cause to our mesh no matter how smooth the masking is.

  • We have to fix these mostly using the Move and Smooth brush.

  • Adjust the arm before continuing with the posing.

  • On the same arm, while it is masked add a polygroup to it by using the Ctrl + W command.

  • Doing so will help us with the masking.

  • Moving on to the other arm, mask it and smooth the masking both ways.

  • Place the Gizmo at the shoulder and rotate the arm slightly towards the body.

  • Mask the top of the arm where only the forearm is left exposed, smooth the masking, and place the Gizmo at the elbow.

  • Rotate the forearm 90 degrees.

  • Mask the whole arm again and give it its own polygroup.

  • Move the Gizmo to the shoulder and rotate it slightly back.

  • Mask the arm to where only the forearm is exposed and rotate it from the front towards the body at a tilt

  • Mask the rest of the forearm where only the hand is exposed, place the Gizmo at the wrist, and tilt the hand palm side up,

  • With the Move brush fix up the wrist since there will be unwanted deformations.

  • Mask the head, smooth the masking, and reverse it so that the head is exposed.

  • Place the Gizmo at the bottom of the neck and rotate the neck till the head isn’t tilted anymore.

  • Mask the neck, smooth the masking, place the Gizmo below the head, and rotate the head where it is facing upward at an angle.

  • We’re going to pose the leg that is supposed to be bent and twisted up in the reference.

  • Mask the leg, smooth the masking, invert it, place the Gizmo at the hip, and rotate the leg forward and outward going away from the body a bit.

  • Mask the top of the leg to the knee, smooth the masking, place the Gizmo at the knee, and start bending the lower leg.

  • From the back, curve the lower leg slightly towards the body.

  • There will be a deformed twist behind the knee.

  • To fix this first Smooth out the area a bit and afterward use the Inflate brush at a higher division to inflate the area slightly.

  • Mask and assign a polygroup to the other leg.

  • Ctrl + Shift-Click the group to isolate it, mask the polygroup while isolated, Ctrl + Shift and drag on the side to reveal the other groups again and smooth the masking both ways.

  • Reverse the masking where the other leg is exposed, place the Gizmo at the hip, and tilt the leg towards the other one,

  • Mask the entire leg but the foot, smooth the masking, place the Gizmoat on the ankle of the foot, and rotate it downwards.

  • Fix the bent ankle using the Move brush. Mask the foot again, smooth the masking and invert it, place the Gizmo at the ankle, and rotate it some more again.

  • Lastly, we need to bend the upper torso.

  • Mask the upper torso, smooth the masking, invert it place the Gizmo in the middle of the chest, and rotate the exposed part upward.

  • Fix some of the parts of the body that have been deformed from the masking and moving using the Move brush.

  • For the arms and cheesy, use your previous knowledge of anatomy to fix up the muscles by adding more volume and defining them with the DamStandard brush.


Method 2 - TPose Mesh


  • The second method of posing in ZBrush is through TPoseMesh.

  • This is a great way to pose a character that has clothes and accessories on them and you will see why.

  • First, we’ll make a new project and again use the male base mesh model from ZBrush.

  • We’ll quickly make the mesh clothes by masking and extracting pants and a shirt.

  • Don’t forget to delete the faces inside the pants and shirt and only have the front polygroups on both the shirt and pants.

  • After deleting the unneeded polygroups with Del Hidden, ZRemesh the shirt and pants once on Adapt.

  • Now that we have our clothes, if we try and mask any part of the body with the clothes and move it with the Gizmo, the clothes won’t move with the base mesh and that is because they are on their own layer.

  • Instead of moving the arms, then going to the layer with the shirt, masking the sleeves, and move them in the right position to fit the arms, we can instead make a TPoseMesh.

  • Open the Zplugin, go to the Transpose Master, and click on the TPoseMesh button.

  • It will make a new subtool where the clothes and the base mesh are in one layer and somewhat merged together.

  • The good thing about TPoseMesh is that it will give each part its own polygroup, this will play a big part when we pose the mesh.

  • We can now mask the arm and move it with the shirt and if the shirt is slightly going inside the mesh or isn’t placed properly we can use the Move Topology brush (BMT) to only move one polygroup.

  • After we’ve done posing the character, to finalize the pose and bring back the rest of the layers, go back to the ZPlugin, Transpose Master, and click on the TPose SubT button.

  • It will bring back the layers and each part will stay in the same palace we’ve moved them in while using the TPoseMesh.

  • If you want to make more changes to the pose you have to turn it into a TPoseMesh again, make the changes then click on the TPose SubT button to finalize the new changes.




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