T.A.F.K.A. daveythegravy

I have been trying to find a workable solution for Zbrush displacement in Lightwave for years. Every time I have something that works, I make a new model and seem to have to start over.

With this in mind, does anyone here have a workable setup for Zbrush Displacement that works every time please.

Thank you in advance.



T.A.F.K.A. daveythegravy
Hi Sampei,

Yeah, I have tried Steve's site, but the displacement link for his updated tutorial is dead.



New member
hey I dont know what you mean with "displacement link" but I downloaded that 99 page PDF last week from a thread on Zbrush central and it explains everything pretty well including displacement maps...


T.A.F.K.A. daveythegravy
Thank you guys, I am using 9.6 beta atm. I will have to check out the PDF guide and test it out. I will post any results.

can you not use a Displacment Node ? , I had to go old skool and install pluggins , TBNORMAL was 1 , but if your on 9.6 it should be easy and if you have latest Zbrush you don't even need to flip the maps .

Goodluck ...


New member
Two things.

If you've got 9.6, then you should use a node set up for displacement. There is a s standard setup for Zbrush displacments. I can post an image of my setup (which is the standard on) if you'd like.

Secondly though, what do you mean the 9.6 beta? It hasn't been beta for a while, or am I missing something?


From ilollar on Newtek Discussion Forum

"..... detailed step by step. I hope it helps some people out!

1. Make your base model - I've tested this starting with either Lightwave or modo and I've had both work.
2. Make UVs - this step is optional if you are planning to use ZBrush's quick GUV solution.

3. Export an obj - When asked by Lightwave to use point sets as groups, I've done yes and no and haven't seen a difference.

4. Import obj into ZBrush - Slow down...don't start subdividing or sculpting yet...
5. If you didn't make UVs in your host app, make UVs with GUV - Skip this if you already made UVs.
6. STORE A MORPH TARGET - This I found is the key step...without this, everything will be messed up in your displacement map.


7. Now, displace and sculpt away! - Have fun and go crazy.
Done? Okay, move on then...


8. Lower the mesh back down the lowest subdivsion level - Should be 1.

9. Switch the morph target - Once you do this, don't go back up to a higher level (this is a saftey precaution).

10. Export a displacement map - There's two ways to do this. You could go old style, and use the Displacement menu under Tool. Set the map size in DPRes (probably 2048), turn on Adaptive and Smooth, and hit Generate Displacement. Once done, select the Displacement map in the Alpha menu, Flip V, and export the tif.


Use the Displacement Exporter 3. It is under ZPlugins. In its options, use the quick code:


to set all the right settings for Lightwave. Then, just click Generate.

11. Export the obj - You only need to do this if you generated UVs in ZBrush.

12. Load the object into Lightwave - Either the original object (if UVs were made in the host app), or the newly exported obj.

13. Set up the displacement node structure - Go to object properties, check the button next to Edit Nodes. Click Edit Nodes, and import the attached node structure. Make sure to connect the result of the scale node to the input node. Load the displacement map into the image node. Check to make sure it is using the UV map of the object.

14. Check the multiply node - This controls the amount of displacement. I've seen discrepancies as to the correct value for this node. Some have it as high as 16. I usually have it really low - anywhere between 0.01 to 0.05.

Just try to match what you had in ZBrush.

*At this point, if you toggle the check box next to edit nodes, the displacement should turn on and off. The mesh SHOULD NOT BLOAT. Meaning, only the displacements painted in ZBrush should appear and dissapear.

The entire mesh shouldn't be expanding/deforming. If it is, then one of the above steps wasn't executed properly.*

15. Raise the displacement amount - This is under the Geometry tab in the object properties. I'd first raise the Display SubPatch Level to around five, maybe higher. This gives you a higher SubPatch level in the viewport. You could just raise the value for the Per Object Level Render SubPatch to subdivide it more at render time, but I think it's best to use a more adaptive approach.

Switch the drop down to Per Polygon Level, and then hit the T box to go to the Texture Editor. Change Projection to UV, select the object's UV map, and then the displacement map for the image.

Then Add Layer, and add a gradient. Make sure the Input Parameter is set to Previous Layer, and create a gradient that ramps from a high value at the top and bottom to a low value in the middle. It should be something like:

Value: 100, Parameter:0

Value: 10, Parameter: .5

Value: 100, Parameter: 1.

This will subdivide your mesh more where more detail is, based off of your displacement map. If you find you need more or less resolution, just change the Values. The top and bottom ones should be the same, though.

That should be it. Sorry about the long post! I hope somebody finds it useful!

*Disclaimer: This is the method I've found works for me. Obviously, everybody's situation is different, and computers and their respective applications seem to find it hilarious to produce different results randomly for different people. To all pulling out their hair over ZBrush to Lightwave workflows, I hope this solves your problem. If it doesn't, I apologize and sympathize deeply...

Thanks for everyone's help!"


New member
my 2 cents :

1.In LW use Zbrush obj mode in general options (o key ) it ll prevent to mess up you point index(basic for blend shapes,endomorphs ,and all kind of vertex maps etc ) and allows all the time interchange of clean data between applications.
2.Forget previous uvs : you can generate UVmaps and exchange them between apps along of all of the modelling process.Its a big secret.

3.Use parts in lw to organize the polygroups and then subtools.A big time saver is surface to parts .First divide with sufaces (q key)run surface to parts and all the work is done.

A few more tips are coming.
morph target

Is there a way to export back to lightwave if you forgot to store a morph target? Can you recreate it some how?



New member
Is there a way to export back to lightwave if you forgot to store a morph target? Can you recreate it some how?

Yes indeed .On Zbrush Tools menu ---> geometry go to the lowest level and press "cage" botton , it recalculates the basemesh for that displacement . then export .If you look with calm after press this steps rise the levels of displacement and return to the lowest, you can see the diference.

Good luck


Is there a way to export back to lightwave if you forgot to store a morph target? Can you recreate it some how?


My advice is to NEVER use the morph target after the sculpting is done.

You should just export the base mesh from ZBrush as it is after the sculpting.

So....no need at all to save and recover a morph target.
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