Other Additions

ZBrush 2018 – Other Additions and Changes

In addition to its major features, multiple improvements and additions have been added to ZBrush 2018, ranging from features to new preferences settings.


The Tessimate function is the foundation of Sculptris Pro mode. It analyzes the structure surrounding your brush stroke, adding and removing polygons on the fly in order to best support the details being added. This function is called Tessimate since it performs a hybrid of tessellation and decimation processes on your model.
Although it is part of Sculptris Pro, the Tessimate function is also available as a separate feature, located in the Tool >> Geometry sub-palette. This function lets you transform your model’s topology by adding and/or removing vertices to uniformly modify the polycount. It can be very convenient to use this function after performing Boolean operations.


The same model with three different values of tessimation. No Undo was necessary between each example since tessimation always operates on the original mesh shape.

The workflow is easy. Load a model, enable the options of your choice then adjust the Polygon Size slider. Immediately upon changing this slider’s setting, the result will be applied to your model. You can refine the results by continuing to adjust the slider whenever you wish, up to the point until you use another ZBrush function that alters the model’s topology.
Clicking the Tessimate button will perform an action similar to releasing the Polygon Size slider except that you can use the integrated X, Y, Z switches to perform Mirror and Weld operations on the resulting tessimation.

Tessimate functions

All Tessimate functions are located in the Tool >> Geometry >> Tessimate sub-pal­ette.

    • Tessimate
      The Tessimate function modifies the current model, based on the Polygon Size slider.
    • Tessimate X, Y and Z
      Applies a Mirror and Weld on the resulting tessimation, based on the selected axis located at the top right corner of the Tessimate button.
    • Polygon Size
      The Polygon Size slider sets the target polygon size for the tessimation action. Low values will produce dense meshes while high values will produce low resolution meshes.
    • Tesselate
      This mode enables the function to add polygons during the Tessimate function.
    • Decimate
      This mode enables the function to remove polygons during the Tessimate function.

New Snake Hook Brushes

Several brushes have been added based on the original Snake Hook brush. These additional brushes are designed specifically for Sculptris Pro to freely grow parts for your models. They will not work unless Sculptris Pro mode is turned on.

    • Snake Hook 2This brush is similar to the Snake Hook brush except that it will orient the extrusion based on the surface normal where you begin your brush stroke.
      You can change the shape of the extrusion along the path of your stroke by adjust­ing the Brush >> Curve shape. You can also change the orientation of the stroke to be more or less perpendicular to the surface by adjusting the Brush >> Modifier >> Brush Modifier slider.
    • Snake SphereThis grows a series of tightly packed spheres relative to the screen working plane. If you want to change the default orientation of the stroke, adjust the Brush >> Modifier >> Brush Modifier slider value.
    • Snake CactusThe Snake Cactus brush combines the Snake Sphere with an alpha, producing cactus-like shapes. By changing the alpha you can change the cross section created by your Snake Hook brush effect.

The Snake Cactus in action.


The Alphas may rotate as they follow the stoke path. It is not possible to keep the alpha orientation consistent.

Mode to Remember Draw Size

Preferences >> Draw >> Remember Draw Size (also found next to the Draw Size slider above the document in the default UI) tells ZBrush to remember the Draw Size for each individual brush as you switch between them.
An example would be if you set a Draw Size of 25 for the Standard brush, then a Draw Size of 60 for the Move brush. When you switch between these two brushes the sizes set for each brush will be remembered. When the mode is disabled (the default setting), your Draw Size will be the same for all brushes, changing only when you set a new Draw Size.
This mode only affects the Draw Size for sculpting brushes. It won’t affect the Smooth and Mask brush types, which always use the Draw Size of the current sculpting brush.

Mode to Remember Dynamic Draw Size

Preferences >> Draw >> Remember Dynamic Draw Size (also found next to the Draw Size slider above the canvas in the default UI) tells ZBrush to remember the setting of the Dynamic Draw Size for each individual brush.
When enabled, this mode will allow you to set the Dynamic Draw Size for each brush independently. If disabled (the default setting) toggling Dynamic off on one brush will dis­able it for all brushes and turning it on will enable it for all.
As a reminder, Dynamic mode automatically adjusts the radius of the brush when zooming your 3D model larger or smaller on the canvas. This allows the brush to affect the same total area of the mesh regardless of your zoom level.

Gizmo Equidistant Multiple Copy

The Gizmo 3D includes a function similar to how the TransPose line can allow dupli­cation of the current model when fully unmasked. To activate this, hold the Ctrl key and drag one of the Move arrows.
This feature also includes an equidistant multiple copy mode, meaning that the Giz­mo 3D will create multiple copies of the same object with uniform spacing between each copy.


The model has been duplicated once on left, then multiple times by releasing the Ctrl key while still moving the cursor.

To perform an equidistant copy, follow these steps:

    1. Verify that your model is fully unmasked, such as by clicking the Tool >> Masking >> Clear button.
    2. Select the Gizmo 3D.
    3. While holding the Ctrl key, drag one of the Gizmo 3D arrow manipulators. You should see a copy of your model which you can reposition so long as you continue holding the Ctrl key.
    4. Once you have defined the initial distance between the original model and its first copy, release the Ctrl key without releasing the mouse click. As you continue to move the cursor you will see more and more copies of your model cre­ated, with the same amount of space between each.
    5. Release the mouse button once you reach the desired number of copies.


Be careful not to move the cursor too quickly when creating these duplicates in order to ensure that the spacing is respected correctly.

Improved PolyGroups by Normal

The algorithm for computing PolyGroups based on the surface normals (angle de­tection) has been improved. Since this detection can function differently from model to model, you can still use the old algorithm at any time.
To create the PolyGroups based on the normals of the current model, use the Tool >> PolyGroups >> Groups by Normal button. At the top right corner of the button you will see a small dot. Clicking it prior to pressing the button will switch between the two algorithms.

New Curve Stroke Functions and Actions

The curves which can be assigned to sculpting brushes have several additions to improve their effects.

    • Elastic and Liquid Curve Stroke ModeFound in the Stroke >> Curve sub-palette, these modes affect the behavior of the curve after its creation:
      This mode lets you freely reshape the curve by dragging on it. You can also lengthen or shorten the curve shape when dragging the curve to modify it. Drag the end point away from the curve to extend it. Drag the end point back along the curve line to shorten it.
      Elastic mode is very similar to Liquid mode except that the curve deformation will only occur with the Draw Size radius of your brush. This mode can also be used to extend or shorten the curve by dragging its end points.
    • Smoothing a CurveAfter manipulating a curve you may find that parts have become too angular or can even have a small loop appear. To fix these aberrations, you can locally smooth your curve.
      Smoothing a curve uses the same Shift modifier that you use to toggle the Smooth brush. Just follow these steps:

        1. Draw a curve on your model using a curve-based brush such as an IMM Curve brush.
        2. Now hover over the curve with your cursor. The brush circles should change to a cyan color, telling you that the brush is in curve manipulation mode.
        3. Click on the curve and while holding the click, press the Shift key.
        4. While still holding the Shift key and your click, move the cursor to smooth the curve.
        5. To end the smoothing operation, release the click and then the Shift key.
    • Rotation Along the CurveWhen drawing a curve along a complex model, it may happen that instead of the replicated model following the curve orientation, you want to use the model orientation or even something else entirely. You can use the brush size radius to locally orient the mesh along your curve:
        1. Use a curve-based brush such as an IMM Curve brush to draw a curve on your model.
        2. Now hover over the curve with your cursor. The brush circles should change to a cyan color, telling you that the brush is in curve manipulation mode.
        3. Click on the curve and while holding your click, press the Ctrl key.
        4. While still holding the Ctrl key and your click, move the cursor left/right to rotate the curve at the cursor position.
        5. To end the rotation operation, release the click and then the Ctrl key.

Saving the Custom Startup Material

If you want to start each ZBrush session with a specific material, you can now save it as a startup material. To do so, simply select the Material, then click Material >> Save as Startup Material.
For all future ZBrush sessions, the selected material will be selected at launch.
If you wish to remove the default material, go to your ZBrush directory and delete the ZBrush/ZStartup/StartupMaterial.smt file.

Displacement Maps and HD Geometry

If a model has HD Geometry, ZBrush will now use that as the highest subdivision level when calculating displacement maps. This makes it possible to generate ultra-high definition maps from a high-resolution model.


Two plugins have been enhanced to fit the workflow of Scuptris Pro and fulfil the need to export larger size models for 3D prints or CNC machining:

Decimation Master Update

Decimation Master includes new presets for instant decimations. These can be use­ful if you regularly target a specific decimation value. It’s also nice to quickly optimize your Sculptris Pro model.
In the ZPlugins >> Decimation Master palette you will find buttons for target values from 20k (20,000) to 250k (250,000) triangles as well as a custom value that can be set by you. By pressing on one of these buttons, Decimation Master will immediately perform the pre-process to analyze the selected SubTool and then decimate it to the target value. If you have not subsequently edited the model you can click the other preset buttons without needing to wait for another pre-process.
Don’t forget that you can add a hotkey to your favorite preset to run Decimation Master without needing to open its menu.


The presets, found in the Decimation Master sub-palette.

3D Print Hub Update

3D Print Hub now allows export of models with larger scales, up to 200 inches or 5800 millimeters. These large values allow ZBrush to fit the needs for exporting models to large-scale 3D printers or for CNC machining.

New Preferences

Multiple preferences have been added in ZBrush 2018, as well as a way to change the location of the QuickSave folders. Keep in mind that when changing most of these preferences you also need to store the config file to lock in the changes for future ZBrush sessions.

Draw Transformation Border

Preferences >> Edit >> Draw Transformation Border can be toggled on or off control display of the transformation border frame, visible around the document.
This frame defines a safe area where the cursor won’t affect your model by perform­ing a stroke, allowing you to move, scale and rotate the model even when it fills the entire visible canvas. This safe frame is useful for users who don’t use the Right Click naviga­tion system.
For users who use Right Click navigation or when you wish to take a screen shot without the border, this preference can be disabled.

QuickSave Folder Location

Although not a preference found in the ZBrush interface, it is possible to change where ZBrush will store your QuickSave files. This is especially useful if your system drive has limited disk space.

    • On Windows go to C:\Users\Public\Documents\ZBrushDataxxxx (xxxx is the ZBrush year number or version number)
    • On macOS go to /Users/Shared/ZBrushDataxxxx (xxxx is the ZBrush year num­ber or version number)

Within that folder, you will find a ZBrushScratchDiskPath.TXT file. Edit it, replacing the path with that to the folder where you want to save your QuickSaves.

Language Selection

The ZBrush preferences now automatically save the language selection without need to store the configuration.