View Full Version : BodyPaint, Zbrush, am I mad?

Randy Moravec
06-02-2006, 04:54 PM
Like many of us (I think) our shop spend 90% of our time dealing with texturing our models (all the UV stuff, trips to and from PhotoShop, more UV tweaks, more trips to PhotoShop...etc.).

Our shop is about 25% high-end print illustration (with most everything being done in Lightwave and photoshop) but the bread and butter (the other 75%) is at the other end of the spectrum (characters, props and other elements for the Poser community).

We are looking to speed up the texturing/UV process (and make it more interactive) by adding either BodyPaint or Zbrush to our work flow (we are Mac based and think these are our only options). These tools would be primarily use for the texturing aspects of our work (projection painting, etc,) though I must admit Zbrush's displacement capabilities has put this app high on our list right now (we have played with demos of both and see a lot of good and bad).

Is anyone else out there using either of these apps?

Is the pain and suffering associated with learning either of these apps worth the payback or are we just being hypnotized be a shine object?

Are we mad?

06-02-2006, 05:09 PM
you just missed on the hexagon2 deal...it's a bit buggy but has soem nice painting and displacement tools...have you tried it?...works on mac too btw.

06-02-2006, 05:21 PM
hexagon 2 can it be used as a viable texture painting solution? as i've always wanted a 3d painter but never quite enough that i was gonna shell out for bodypaint or zbrush - but i think you can get hex 2 for what under $40 at the mo so its not a bad deal if it would work

06-02-2006, 05:22 PM
I can't speak for Body Paint, but I can speak for ZBrush.
First of all, don't forget about ZBrush 2.5 that's still in the works and will be released. With it comes many more new features including a typology brush.
I don't know what Body Paint can do, but Zbrush will let you subdivide your model up to millions of polys in size. I can personally crank my models up to 4 to 6 million polys which enable you to sculpt unreal detail also from which you can create a normal or dispacement map which works perfect with Lightwave Version 9.
You can't paint in real time 3D per se, but you have to drop your model to the canvas which becomes 2 1/2 D image. You can then export the canvas to programs such as Photoshop where you can paint and use all of your Photoshop filters. When finished, you save and export your canvas back to ZBrush in real time to where your model can be picked up again.
After being picked up, you can then rotate your model and drop it again and paint away.
You can also create tileable textures which can also include a bump and/or normal map.
Just go to the official site and read about it or look in the forums at all the wicked stuff people are coming up with. Some of it is really sick ( not in a good way ), but also really cool ( in a good way ).

06-03-2006, 01:29 AM
If you only need texturing layers (color, diffuse, spec, etc) then go with Body paint. You won't regret it at all. If you need more then that like actual displacement then Z-Brush is pretty nice.

I wish I could have z-Brush's geometry manipulation combined with Bodypaints color/texture painting tools.

I love z-Brush alot. Its very powerful. Yet many of my color painting conversion in the UV map department have little glitches. Body paint handles this very well and runs smoothly even on lower end computers. I do not work for either company. I really want to champion z-brush because its so innovative but Bodypaint has an edge if you only need real time 3d view on the model painting.

Maybe Mudbox will be the answer to these two programs. We will see in a week or two I think.

06-03-2006, 02:24 AM
Yeah I'll second intuition, I wouldn't even consider Hexagon for texturing at a pro level yet, maybe in the furture? ZBrush is great in soooo many ways and has fantastic painting tools but I still get glitches and artifacts. Last night I was texturing a model, as far as I know the UV maps are clean (though I need to double check) no overlapping UVs etc. I was painting in ProjectionMaster, everything looked great. Then I came out of projectionmaster and one side of the model was smeared!? That's very frustrating especially with a deadline looming!

Bodypaint is more basic in some ways (though I would guess Maxon will update soon) but it's production proven and rock solid.

Try them though, they all have demos!

06-03-2006, 02:33 AM
i think both hexagon and silo are worth keeping an eye on development plus bodypaint and z brush...also not forgetting modo as this is now capable of painting as well.

06-03-2006, 03:28 AM

I use Bodypaint a lot in conjunction with Lightwave and have a lot of experience working with Bodypaint. But for the ommission of true polygon displacement painting like zbrush, Silo2, mudbox and Hexagon, it's pretty darn easy and VERY quick in creating complex textured objects from scratch or editing existing textured objects.

The workflow is really simple: create an object in Lightwave, start the plugin, Bodypaint is started and the object(s) appear in Bodypaint. You can either use existing uv-coordinates or create/edit new ones. If you have Photoshop experience (don't we all ;-) then working with the layering system is almost the same... Though you'll have to get used to the fact that any material attribute (color, diffusion, bump, alpha, transparancy, displacement, normal mapping, environment, etcetera) can consist of its own layers again. You can work with more than one uv-set.

There are several boons to Bodypaint, which, in my opinion, make it just about perfect:

- you can paint over MULTIPLE objects at the same time.
- projection mapping is very powerful
- uv mapping is either completely automatic, semi-automatic or manually adjustable. It just saves so much time...
- After creating an object in Lightwave you'll be painting in about 20 seconds in Bodypaint with the automatic setup. (though the uv-map might be less than ideal)
- Paint with just one material channel, or with all of them at the same time.
- there's this raybrush render view which let's you paint and view the rendered effect at the same time to check the final result immediately.
- Photoshop compatible. You can even use ps plugins.
- and there's much more.

The only problem is: you'll have to adjust to a new interface that differs somewhat to the one in Lightwave. BUT... the interface of Bodypaint is ENTIRELY adjustable. It's quite easy to create an interface layout that's more or less identical to Lightwave's GUI. Text or icons, it doesn't matter. Actually, Cinema4d and Bodypaint are just about the most configurable apps I've ever seen. Bodypaint is relatively easy to pick up and learn.

It is also possible to use any 3d view or orthonogal view in Bodypaint and create your own views. Lighting can be setup as you wish, which is important, because textures and lighting tend to go hand in hand.

On the other hand, I've never adjusted to Zbrush's idiosyncratic UI or workflow. However, I know a lot of other people swear by it. But no matter how you look at it, everyone knows zbrush takes time to learn if you come from a more traditional 3d workflow.

For painting, as far as I'm concerned, there's no comparison between zbrush and Bodypaint. Zbrush's popularity in the 3d world seems to stem mainly from its true displacement painting. Bodypaint is like photoshop for 3d. Friggin' heck, it even supports layer sets in Photoshop...

This is not to say zbrush isn't good: it is. I've seen it used for beautiful 3d character painting.

But if you're interested in setting up a standard, quick workflow for general 3d painting and texturing, go for Bodypaint. I don't see many people using zbrush to paint and texture complex buildings and environments. It's mainly character work. In Bodypaint it's easy to do both, organic or inorganic objects, complex or simple. Just make sure you got enough memory in your machine when working on complex projects. ;-)



06-03-2006, 06:58 AM
Like modeling programs, it's not so much the program as it is the one sitting behind it.
These programs are just tools so it all depends on your own style, talent, and ability. Eveyone has their own personal taste when it comes to these things so it's just up to the individual to choose what they like best.
ZBrush is a weird program and is so different than anything else that it takes some getting used to. As far as smearing goes, you have to understand that when you paint on a curved surface ( with fade on or off ) and you paint next to the edge that faces away from you, it can cause stretching. You should only paint in areas that you can see clearly. It can be compared to planar projecting onto a sphere. You're ok to an extent, but if you get too close to the sides where the angle is more accute, then yes, you'll have those kinds of problems. That's why there's a fade option to help blend in those areas. Once you're used to working that way it's not a problem.
ZBrush is also a modeling and painting program. It's not so much geared toward box modeling as it is an organic modeler. You can paint box-like forms though. I've created and UV mapped a house one time in Lightwave then exported it over to ZBrush for painting. It works like a charm.

06-03-2006, 07:10 AM
I always longed for painting my characters directly like Bodypaint. Not until now, actually, that I even knew that such a program existed and was capable of doing that. The question is.


We can model in it, we can fill it in with colors, or gradiesnt and procedurals. Even add image maps. But the moment you needed something specific, you had to go through all that UV maping, which ment buying a mapper (unless you can afford wasting time making a UV map), and buying a third party painter like Photoshop.

Not only do you have to pay more, but you leave home and go outdoors searching for the right stuff that could texture the model indoors. Thats dissapointing, and leaves incompetence feelings, I think.

Body paint is cheap, kinda makes you think that it may not be so hard to do it. So why arent they doing it and make life easier for us by adding details directly rather then having to map and then UV and who knows what else.

I dont want to leave home for anything, so far Ive been only forced to do so.


06-03-2006, 07:17 AM
As far as smearing goes, you have to understand that when you paint on a curved surface ( with fade on or off ) and you paint next to the edge that faces away from you, it can cause stretching.

When I mentioned smearing I wasn't talking about painting on a curved/sloping surface. I was painting on a more or less flat surface perpendicular to the viewport. The area was a junction between left and right halves of the model with a UV seam down the middle. The two sides of the UV map look identical (but mirrored). Whatever I do I cannot get one side to take a smooth texture yet the other, apparently identical side is fine. I don't doubt that I am doing something wrong, there may be problems with the mapping that I am not aware of. That was my point really, you have to be careful to do everything just right in ZBrush. Oh and before we get into a pro/anti ZBrush argument, I LIKE ZBrush, it's my main texturing tool but it still drives me nuts on occasion!

06-03-2006, 07:52 AM
I found out the cause, it was one overlapping UV that I'd missed. see operator error! Not all apps are so fussy though ;o)

06-03-2006, 08:21 AM
Oops, sorry.
Must have missunderstood what you meant. You are correct though in saying that sometimes ZBrush may drive you crazy, it does me as well sometimes. 99% of the time it's usually because of something stupid that I did and not the program.
Like anything, you have to work within the programs abilities and persnickedyness ( new word ).

06-03-2006, 11:32 AM
if it's a mere fact of unwrapping in Lw and texturing (color, diffuse , and other traditional maps) i'd go with Body Paint with no doubt.

Zbrush on the other hand is way more than a texturing app.

its very useful if you need Displacement and normal maps other than color.

you also could use its auv and guv tiles to map complex object and color them, without the need to unwrap them.

you will be able to paint color in the 3d environment as in body paint, actually, but you couldn't tweak those map in ps proficiently, because they're weird, and so you better texture all inside ZB.

06-03-2006, 04:39 PM
As far as my experience has taught me in the past, Bodypaint is way easier to integrate in an existing workflow than is zBrush. The plugin in Lightwave makes for an integrated workflow and it's photoshop compatible. (And plugins for other mainstream 3d apps are available as well.)

And yes, I guess it is possible to texture a (relatively simple?) single house in zbrush. Question is, do you really want to do that? And what if a more complex project comes along, like a complete street filled with houses? And more complex buildings / environments? I don't think zBrush is a feasible tool for such situations.

But if your texturing job involves for the greater part character design, then yes, because of the displacement painting, this would be an option. But Bodypaint also does a great job when dealing with those kind of jobs.

And why not use both? Being a pragmatic, I tend to use the tool that will shorten the journey to my destination. Yes, everyone's got his or her own preferred path... Which makes it all so darn interesting! :P

PS I really hope that Mudbox 3d thing will blow the existing texturing/displacement apps out of the water. Here's hoping... ;-)

06-04-2006, 09:19 AM
just a feeling but with no info on any pricepoint for mudbox that usually means it's going to have a high price..this is what i gather from the history of looking at various apps in the past that came to market but their pricing was alwats left right till the last moments just before release...

hey, i hope i'm wrong!

Randy Moravec
06-04-2006, 08:07 PM
Thanks everybody for the input.

Hoping that just one of these option was the solution (less learning and maintenance costs) but after a week with both demos it's now clear both will be a useful addition to the team.

The Mudbox thing looks cool.Maybe it will by my grail (if I can pony up for it that is).

Randy Moravec
06-04-2006, 08:45 PM
Has anyone had hands on with the Zbrush Zapp photoshop plug-in?

Quick impressions?

06-05-2006, 01:07 AM
Has anyone had hands on with the Zbrush Zapp photoshop plug-in?

Quick impressions?

Many people rave about it so I really must try it soon. On a quick read through the documents though it sounds as though you have to flatten PS layers before they will show up in ZB which would make it pretty much useless for me. Anyone know if I've got that right, no time to experiment now! :(

06-05-2006, 03:07 PM
On a quick read through the documents though it sounds as though you have to flatten PS layers before they will show up in ZB which would make it pretty much useless for me. Anyone know if I've got that right, no time to experiment now! :(

You can use PhotoShop layers with ZApp Link... to a point. In PhotoShop layers can be added and saved (as layers), the texture will update in ZB. Your PhotoShop file remains intact and in sync as long use ZAppLink to launch the file and it doesn't create a new texture.

But since ZApp Linked textures are just small planar segments of the total UV map you'll need to move around the object. Of course to you need to PickUp the texture to reenter edit mode to rotate the object. And if you PickUp the Texture (Projection Master) a new (flattened) segment is sent to PS the next time you ZApp Link. Duplicate Layer will allow you create more logically named, layered texture files that aren't overwritten but its tough to recall exactly the same "segment" since its dependant on the orientation of your object.

Now, if you logically unwrap your UVs you could ZApp Link the landmarks of your object and directly paint/layer your UV. But what fun is that...

06-05-2006, 04:22 PM
Thanks for the info Gatz! Doesn't sound ideal but workable! :D

06-05-2006, 04:23 PM
You CAN do your own UV layout and import the model into Zbrush, so your texture is also editable in photoshop.

The AUV tiles created when Zbrush generates its own UVs are the mosaic that isn't a problem painting textures in zbrush (or in Photoshop using z-app link)

By using multiple uv sets and texture baking you can use both ways. Once you start dealing with detail pieces in zbrush youll likely be using multi-uvs anyway.