ZBrush at a Glance

ZBrush sets the industry standard for digital sculpting. Its features enable you to use customizable brushes to shape, texture and paint virtual clay in a real-time environment that provides instant feedback. When you use ZBrush you’ll be working with the same tools employed by film studios, game developers, toy/collectible makers, jewelry designers, automotive/aviation designers, illustrators and other artists the world over.

ZBrush is an art tool created by artists for artists. It allows you to create models and illustrations limited only by your imagination.

Inside ZBrush

See what artists can do with ZBrush. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and so nothing we say would compare to showing what industry artists are doing with ZBrush as a creative tool.


ZBrush is well known for its strong impact on the movie and VFX industry, for which it was rewarded with a Scientific and Technical Achievement Award by the Academy Awards. Its impact can also be seen in the visual quality of AAA titles from the video game industry. Studios of all kinds are constantly striving to achieve the next level of creativity, pushing the boundaries of what is possible. ZBrush answers this perpetual quest.

However ZBrush is also showing its superiority when it comes to illustrations (realistic or artistic), as well as its advanced skills when it comes to editing a 3D scan or building a complex figurine for 3D printing.

Artist jewelers are attracted by its capabilities to combine digital tools with the “sculpted by hand” feeling. So, too are vehicle designers searching the perfection of their concept’s curves in a block of digital clay.

These are obviously but a few examples. Multiple other industries are using ZBrush every day for things like scientific visualization, historical reconstruction, engraving design, product design and much more. It is safe to say that where there is art, there is ZBrush.

ZBrush Features

ZBrush is loaded with hundreds of creative functions, production ready tools and utilities. Each new version of ZBrush is dedicated to not simply iterate on what has come before but rather to provide even more innovative, artist friendly features.

ZBrush: Based on a Customizable Brush System

The main workflow for creating with ZBrush is based on a system of brushes which can also be modulated using the pen pressure of a graphics tablet. ZBrush will reproduce the natural feeling of a real paint brush or sculpting tool, using the pressure applied to the pen tip to transform your digital stroke in a variety of ways.

This system includes brushes to carve, push, grow parts, slice, cut, add details and much more.

ZBrush Artist: Nelson Tai

Concept and Shape Volume

Thanks to its multiple shape generation tools you can produce a 3D model which realizes your imagination, but in a fraction of the time that it takes to accomplish this with standard modeling tools. You can go from a rough shape to a form that is ready for refining, whether your concept is an organic or hard surface model -- or even a hybrid of both.

Below are the most commonly features for roughing out concepts and generating base meshes:

  • Sculptris Pro: Ignore the constraints of polygon distribution and just -- sculpt.
  • DynaMesh: Unlimited clay, from low to high resolution models.
  • ZSpheres: Create simple or complex armatures as a foundation for sculpting. This can be combined with ZSketch for more variations.
  • ZModeler: Use traditional polygonal tools without a CAD-like interface.
  • LiveBoolean: Combine or subtract models on the fly, including multi-million polygon objects.
  • InsertMesh and VDM: Build forms or add detailed shapes with a simple click and drag.
  • And more, like creating from shadows, Text3D, SVG import, etc.

Refine and Reshape

With the powerful subdivision system pioneered by ZBrush, you can change the resolution of your model on the fly. This allows you to work at a low resolution to change the proportions while the highest levels will let you apply skin pore levels details. The power of this system comes in the fact that you can move up and down through these levels at any time.

With everything from dedicated brushes to parametric deformations, you can adjust any aspect of your model at any time. This gives incredible freedom to explore as you work, without ever feeling “locked in” by what has been done up to that point.

Non-Linear Production

Create modifications in a non-destructive way with the help of the 3D Layers system. From the pose of your model to intensity of fine details, layers allow you change your mind about your artwork at any time.

Another alternative is to work with multiple models, aka SubTools. Each SubTool retains its own settings, details qualities and layers, for even more creative freedom.

Fine Details Creation

ZBrush models can be divided up to 100 million polygons per individual part (named SubTools). This offers sufficient surface resolution to use alphas (grey scale images) or 3D shapes to produce life-accurate fine details like scars, skin pores and wrinkles, as well as hard surface details like rivets or scratches. This is where ZBrush stands apart, making your models look amazingly real.

3D Painting

Because your model in ZBrush can have as many polygons as even the largest texture map has pixels, painting on a 3D model in ZBrush utilizes PolyPaint. This consists of painting each vertex on a model's surface without first assigning a texture map or even creating the associated UVs. Painting is easy when combined with the rich brush system in ZBrush and its SpotLight texture projection system. It is even possible to paint and sculpt at the same time, creating surface details which perfectly fit your colors.

The extreme power of this way of working is that you can be painting photo-real color and details even before the model’s base mesh topology has been finalized.

Of course, if you feel more at ease in a regular 2D editor like Photoshop, ZBrush can send your model for projection-based painting or even real-time 3D texture painting, depending on the capabilities of your image editor.


If you want to show off your finished model or simply showcase your work in progress, you can use the integrated rendering system found in ZBrush to produce beautiful images. You can also add a variety of post-process filters to enhance your renders with a single click. This can achieve effects like image sharpening, cel-style shading or even creating a non-photorealistic look -- all with just a couple of clicks. Output can be a single image with separate channels (Alpha, shadows, etc.) or a simple animation like a turntable.

An alternative is to link ZBrush with KeyShot from Luxion for renders with natural lights and physically accurate materials.


ZBrush is a standalone application that doesn’t require any other software to run. However, it can also be used in a production pipeline where seamless communication with other software becomes a key factor. Thanks to GoZ, you can click a single butt to transfer all your models and textures to the supported application of your choice. GoZ even creates a partner button in that other application to send everything to ZBrush with equal ease!

Of course, not all other programs support GoZ. For this reason, ZBrush offers a wide range of 3D file formats including OBJ, FBX, STL and VRML.

Large Community of Artists

ZBrush is not only a software, it is also one of the largest community of artists around a 3D software. Join ZBrushCentral.com and become part of one of the largest communities of 3D artists. See other people’s works, discover new techniques, find inspiration and or course, post your own artwork.

Pixologic is organizing community events with its international ZBrush Summit, held once a year in Los Angeles, its ZBrushMerge in Japan and also seminars and users gathering. Most of the time, the large scale events are live stream, allowing you to be part of it, wherever you are.

You can also exchange on Facebook Groups, comments videos on YouTube, discuss on Twitter. Learn from other and share your knowledge to help the digital sculpting art growing.

Education & Self Training

One of the fantastic aspects about ZBrush is how many community tutorials are available online. Simply ask your question on a platform like YouTube to find numerous video tutorials to help you. On top of that, various books and DVD’s for ZBrush and ZBrushCore are available in both English and Japanese.

Find a School Near You

Because education is a key item for professionals and students, ZBrush is trained in a great many schools or dedicated training centers. Find a school near you to learn the skills which will open up professional opportunities in the industry.

Hardware Requirements

ZBrush is available for both Windows and macOS platforms.

Because it is based on a brush system with real artists in mind, it is strongly advised to also pair it with a graphics tablet (Wacom compatible).

Thanks to its processor-based engine, ZBrush runs well on most modern computers, without the need for an overpriced graphics card.

ZBrush single-user licensing comes with two activations, letting you install it on your main station and your laptop with no concern for whether they are macOS and/or PC. For schools and companies needing larger numbers of seats we also offer Volume and Floating licensing options.