top of page

Learn how to make Belts, Ropes, and Curves in ZBrush

In this ZBrush tutorial, learn how to use curve brushes to create custom shapes and designs on a base mesh.

The instructor demonstrates various curve brushes and shows how to manipulate curves to make belts and tentacle-like shapes.

Discover the process of creating custom insert meshes for curve brushes and the techniques to control and modify curves.

- Workflow

  • Open up the Male Base mesh inside of the ZBrush project.

  • Curves won’t work if you have divisions on the mesh.

  • To know which brushes are curve brushes, click BC on your keyboard and all the brushes starting with “Curve” are curve brushes.

  • Curve brushes work differently than the brushes we’ve worked with in previous classes.

  • Select the CurveMultiTube brush, when we make a short brush stroke down the mesh a red line will appear and after letting go of the stroke, a tube will appear on top of the red line.

  • The red line is how we control the curve.

  • If we pull on the curve from the bottom, the tube will start to bend.

  • But, if we try to move the top point of the curve, it will move the entire tube without bending it.

  • If we increase the red brush size and click on the curve, the tube will get larger.

  • Making the red brush smaller will shrink the tube in size.

  • We can also switch curve types by selecting a different curve brush and click on the already placed curve.

  • We can make changes to the curve brush and how it behaves inside the Stroke tab.

  • Open up the tab and click the little plus button on the side to dock the tab in our workspace.

  • If your curve is too short, you can continue the curve line and make it longer.

  • To do this, place the cursor near the end or start of the curve line till a red line snaps to the cursor.

  • When this happens, continue the line as much as you want.

  • In the Stroke options, there are the Curve settings.

  • If the Curve Mode is on, the brush will have a curve line and turn the brush into a curve brush.

  • The Bend End makes it so you can bend and curve the top point of the curve

  • The Lock Start keeps the bottom of the curve from moving the entire curve line when it’s bending.

  • If Lock Start is turned off, when we move the end of the curve it will also move the start point.

  • Lock End is the same thing as Lock Start but for the endpoint of the curve.

  • We can also make curves on our mesh without using curve brushes but the Slice Curve tool.

  • Slice the model in half to split that area into 2 polygroups.

  • In the Stroke options, open the Curve Functions.

  • Here turn off the Border and Creased edges, and only have the Polygroups on.

  • After that click on the Frame Mesh button.

  • A curve line will appear in the middle of the two polygroups.

  • Use the CurveFlarSnap brush and click on the curve.

  • In the subtool, Split the curve from the mesh by clicking on the Split Masked Points.

  • Use Dynamic Subdiv to add thickness to the plane and move it out of the mesh with the Move brush.

  • We can make pelts, ropes, and other accessories on characters or props by using this method.

Making custom Curve Brushes

  • We can also make our own curve brushes to make our workflow faster.

  • We’re going to make the tentacles from Doc Oc from the Spiderman Comics.

  • We’ll start off with a cylinder, squish it and make a duplicate of it, and hide one of them so it doesn’t interfere while we work.

  • Use the Knife Curve to make a slice in the middle and on the side of the cylinder.

  • Mask the top and reverse the masking.

  • With the Gizmo tool move up the exposed parts of the mesh and squish them from the Z and X axis.

  • After you’re done DynaMesh the model on a high resolution.

  • Un-hide the other cylinder and squish the shape more and make it longer.

  • Merge the two parts together and DynaMesh them.

  • We can see that we have extra polygroups because of the cuts, to only have one polygroup click Ctrl + W to assign a new polygroup on the mesh.

  • Rotate the mesh, open the Brush menu, and click on the Create InsertMesh, a new window will show up, and click on New.

  • Now we’ll have a brush from or mesh.

  • To turn it into a curve brush, in the Stroke menu in the Curve settings click on the Curve Mode button to activate the curve function.

  • Go back to the male base mesh and add in the tentacles on his back.

  • Disable the Snap function in the Curve settings so the curve lines don’t snap to the mesh and can be moved inside the mesh itself.

  • The CurveStep makes the meshes more inside each other to create a smoother curve.

  • If you don’t want the start to move click on the Lock Start.

  • If you want to remove the curve lines, go inside Curve Functions and click on the Delete button.

  • End Result.

Bonus - Making your custom curves better

  • In a new project append a cylinder, mask the top and bottom parts of the cylinder and assign them a new polygroup with Ctrl + W.

  • Isolate the front part of the cylinder with Ctrl + Shift and click on it.

  • Go into Geometry, Modify Topology, and click Del Hidden.

  • Open the brush menu, click on the Create InsertMesh options then New.

  • Open the Stroke options, and activate the Curve Mode in the Curve settings.

  • When we use the cruve brush the cylinders don’t connect with each other.

  • We can fix this problem inside the Brush tab.

  • Open it up and dock it to the side of the workspace by clicking on the plus button on the side of the tab.

  • Open the Modifiers setting and enable Weild Points.

  • The cylinders are now together but the transition isn’t smooth.

  • To fix this, click on the Stretch option and increase the Curve Res to a bigger value.

  • After the changes, we can see we have a smooth result from our custom curve brush.

Making the hair of Kerrigan From Starcraft

  • Make a new project and append a cylinder.

  • Elongate it, add a sphere, and shape the sphere with the move tool to be the shape of a fang.

  • Merge the cylinder and the sphere together and DynMesh them on a high resolution.

  • Zremesh them once on Adapt then on Half multiple times until the topology is as low as in the image provided below.

  • We need it to have low topology so we can use the ZModeler brush to make the gaps in the hair.

  • Activate the ZModeler brush (BZM) and hover an edge to open the edge actions menu, select the Insert action, and set the target to a Single EdgeLoop.

  • Insert a new edge above where the curve starts to form.

  • Hover over a polygon to open the polygon actions, select the QMesh action, and set the Target to Polyloop.

  • Extrude the lower faces of the edge loop we added.

  • Hover over an edge and select the Bevel action still on Single EdgeLoop target.

  • Bevel the top and bottom of where we made the extrusion.

  • Switch to the Scale Edge Action with EdgeLoop Complete target.

  • Switch to the Inster Edge Action and add an edge in the middle of the extrusion.

  • Grap the edge loop in the middle of the extruded polygroup and drag it outwards.

  • Mask the top of the mesh and assign it a new polygroup.

  • Select the new polygroup with Ctrl + Shift to isolate it, then while still holding Ctrl and Shift drag on the side to reveal the rest of the object and hide the top polygroup.

  • Once it is hidden go to Geometry, Modify Topology and click on Del Hidden.

  • Make an extrude on the top of the mesh with QMesh and target set on Polyloop.

  • Select the Inster Edge action and insert a new edge loop in the middle of the extrusion.

  • Select the Scale Edge action and scale out the middle edge.

  • We want to straighten the top of the mesh, to do that use the Scale Edge action, grab the top edge loop and drag outwards.

  • After that click Ctrl + W to turn the entire mesh into one polygroup.

  • Mask the top faces of the mesh and give them their own polygroup, afterward to the same to the curved tip on the bottom.

  • We’re doing this so that only the polygroup in the middle gets repeated and not the whole thing when we turn it into a curve brush.

  • Open up the brush menu, and click on the Create InsertMesh button.

  • In the Stroke tab, open the Curve settings and click on the Create Curve button.

  • In the Brush tab open up the Modfiers settings, check the Wel Points option, and increase the Curve res.

  • When we use this curve brush it will give us a hair strand of Kerrigan from Starcraft.

  • Add divisions to the hair to make it less blocky.

  • End Result.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page