Updated May 15, 2023
What is Zbrush?
Zbrush is an industry-leading tool for digital artists for sculpting and texture painting. It has an environment resembling a sculpture studio, and the mesh gives you the feel of working with ‘digital clay.’ Zbrush has a steep learning curve, which can take years to master, but it is the most capable software in the domain of digital sculpting, offering tools for artists to create lifelike characters and environments.
To use Zbrush for free, you need a graphics card that supports OpenGL 3.3 or higher, an Intel Core2Duo CPU or AMD equivalent, 4 GB of RAM, 8GB of Hard Disk Space, a Mouse/Wacom compatible tablet, and a monitor with the minimum resolution of 1280×1024 with 32-bit color.
Where is Zbrush Used?
It has a proven track record in film, visual effects, and AAA video game production pipelines the world over for a bit more than a decade now. Movies where Zbrush has been used for visual effects include blockbusters such as The Lord of the Rings series, Marvel’s Avengers series, the Incredible Hulk, Ironman, Captain America, Avatar, The Chronicles of Narnia series, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more, for visual effects, and in animated movies like Rango, Wreck-It Ralph, Despicable Me, Tangled and many more.
The support for the high poly count and a large set of tools to create detailed characters in a manageable timeframe allowed the vast and diverse worlds of Middle Earth, Pandora, and Narnia to come alive with creatures you would find only in your imagination in acute detail.
Practically every AAA video game worth mentioning has been created with the help of Zbrush, including but not limited to God of War, Paragon, Ghost Recon Wildlands, Fallout 4, Mass Effect Andromeda, Dragon Age, and many more. Zbrush has enabled game developers to achieve a level of photorealism in their visuals comparable to the cinema, thereby facilitating the creation of more story-based games.
On television, the most famous and illustrious showcase for using Zbrush is in Game of Thrones, the HBO show based on A Song of Ice and Fire saga by George R.R. Martin.
You can find numerous online resources to learn Zbrush, including master classes offered through Zbrush Central and online learning platforms such as the Gnomon Workshop, Pluralsight, Lynda.com, and more. These resources can help you get started and become proficient in using Zbrush. The Gnomon Workshop is a dedicated website for animation, games, and visual effects tutorials for professionals of all levels in these industries. You can also search for videos on YouTube if you need help with a particular tool or want to see a demo of what it would do. However, to fully grasp the underlying idea of using Zbrush, it is best to have a foundation in fine arts.
2. Regular Courses
Zbrush is not taught in detail as part of any professional course in India. Still, go for any course for animation, visual effects, or video game development in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, South East Asia, or Australia. You should be able to find excellent guidance and mentor to become a professional digital sculptor.
If you have any familiarity with this software, you would have seen its price rise over the years as Pixologic added more and more tools. If you are new, the single-user commercial license costs $895, and the volume license is $895 per seat. You can also get a floating license, for which you need to raise a query on the floating license page on Pixologic’s website.
Is Zbrush For Free?
However, if you want to know if Zbrush is free or if you have a question like “Is Zbrush free for a trial version?” for example, if you need a small project but do not want to commit to buying the software’s regular commercial version without knowing if it would be a good fit for you, you can avail a 30-day trial of the software, available on the Zbrush 2018 page of the Pixologic website.
Educational and Academic License
Students and faculty can contact Pixologic’s participating retailers for education and academic license, which allows them to use it for strictly non-commercial purposes. But if you have a commercial project, and the price is too much for your budget, you can look at some of the alternatives for the same.
Alternatives to Zbrush
Below are the alternatives to Zbrush:
1. Blender 3d
Blender 3D is free and open-source software developed and maintained by The Blender Foundation, originating in the Netherlands. Depending on your needs, it has a well-developed sculpting interface, which can be good enough for small to medium-level projects. Marvel Studios recently used it to make the movie ‘The Amazing Spiderman.’ If the ‘user interface of the current Blender 3d is not entirely to your liking, you can go for For Artists, an optimized version of Blender 3d with a cleaner interface and friendlier keyboard bindings.
Sculptris is a voxel-based sculpting software by Pixologic, the maker of Zbrush. One of their developers started it as a hobby project and impressed everyone with its capabilities, which led the company to release and maintain it.
A WebGL-based online 3D sculpting tool has all the essential tools you would need to start sculpting, with easy-to-learn, intuitive keyboard bindings, especially if you have been a Maya user. The best part is the support and export facility for the most widespread 3d sculpting file formats like OBJ.
4. 3D Coat
This software began as a toolset for a game development company and offered a voxel-based sculpting workflow and great tools to build topology while costing roughly half of Zbrush. Even though it is not free, the offering still has a very reasonable price.
5. Autodesk Mudbox
The company Autodesk offers Mudbox, a 3D sculpting software widely regarded as the primary competitor to Zbrush in the industry. It is a subscription for $10 per month or $495 for a perpetual license; it is one of the most value-for-money offerings available for sculpting artists. Intuitive and easy-to-learn controls and the full suite of customization for the tools allow you to achieve an efficient workflow in your sculpting.
This has been a guide to Zbrush For free. Here we have discussed the basic concepts, where is Zbrush used, learning, educational and academic license, and alternatives to Zbrush. You can also look at the following articles to learn more –