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Gavin Goulden #10 Modifying Alphas

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Date Added: 8th August 2014
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Insomniac Games character artist, Gavin Goulden shows how to quickly and easily modify alphas in ZBrush without the help of Photoshop...


Have you ever found yourself stopping, in the middle of a sculpting session, to jump back into Photoshop in order to get a new alpha texture that is slightly different than the one you are using? If the changes are very subtle, this step is unnecessary ? ZBrush is capable of adding simple modifications to pre-existing alphas so that you can continue working with no interruption. Plus, it also saves you the trouble of keeping track of your alpha library by limiting the amount of tools that you are working with.

You can easily alter your alphas in ZBrush without needing to jump back and forth between programs

Tiling alphas in ZBrush

Once you have a base for your alpha texture, altering it in ZBrush is very easy. Alpha textures, or brush alphas, essentially act as brush tips would in real life. They can be hard, soft, wide or thin. Once you define your brush shape, in this example it is just a hard round brush, you can begin tiling it to create an assortment of shapes. Navigate to your alpha menu and locate the Tile options in that menu. H tile will repeat your brush horizontally, and V tile will repeat it vertically. Of course, setting tiles in both directions can allow you to create a tiling stamp for your sculpt.

ZBrush allows you to tile alphas within the program ? simply create a base and alter to your liking

Top Tip: Blurring alphas within ZBrush

After you have the shape of your brush tip defined, you can then control the softness of that brush by blurring the brush tip. Simply navigate to 'Blur' in the Alpha menu and adjust the sharpness of your alpha. Of course, this will not change the actual shape of your brush alpha, but can have those results when combined with curves which will allow you to alter the minimum, and maximum, of the effect that the alpha has. Using this combination will also allow you to create new patterns, like turning a simple sphere into a detailed panel.

Even the softness of your brush can be controlled in ZBrush ? no need to create a palette of different brush tips

Check out Gavin Goulden's previous tips of the day...

Create believable fabric folds in ZBrush
Learn how to define seams with Polygroups
Learn how to use masks for fine details
Create an Insert Mesh brush
Form facial hair with FiberMesh
Painting skin textures with color spray
Using Shadowbox to create quick details
Working with layers in ZBrush
Sketching with DynaMesh

Related links

Check out Gavin Goulden's portfolio
Follow Gavin Goulden on Twitter
Discover more free tutorials!
Use ZBrush? View our ZBrush eBooks and books
To see more by Gavin Goulden, check out 3D Masterclass: The Swordmaster in 3ds Max and ZBrush

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