Introduction to the ZModeler

To access the ZModeler toolset, you need to first select the ZModeler brush in the Brush palette (or pop-up). You can do this quickly by typing the letter B on your keyboard, followed then Z then M. (You can also assign a hotkey to the ZModeler brush.)

The ZModeler functions are controlled via a dedicated pop-up window. You can access this menu in two different ways. Hover over the 3D model before:

  • Pressing the space bar (advised)
  • Right-clicking


Right-clicking or pressing the space bar while the cursor is over empty canvas or a non-selected SubTool will trigger the default pop-up menu with its sliders/selectors.

The Point, Edge and Polygon pop-up windows of the ZModeler. Notice the differents sections, especially for the Polygon, with on top the Actions, then the Targets, followed by the Options and then the Modifiers.

The ZModeler popup is composed of 4 areas. Some of these are only visible when specific items are selected.

  • Action: This is where you select the function to be performed on the 3D Model.
  • Target: This tells ZModeler how to interpret your click on the model when apply­ing an Action. For example, do you wish to affect a single polygon or an entire flat surface?
  • Options: Parameters which change how the Target or Action behaves. Not all the Targets or Actions have options.
  • Modifiers: Operators which alter interaction while doing the operation. Not all the Targets or Actions have modifiers.


Options and Modifiers are very similar. They have been split mainly to make the operations easier to understand. An example is the Bridge Action which has different presets of curves for the options (like circle, curve or small rounded corners).

Modifiers then refine this to define if the shape creation is interactive or predefined with parameters (which can be set).

Select an Action and a Target, then adjust any options or modifiers as necessary. Now click on the model to perform the Action.

Each Action is performed by clicking on a point, edge or polygon to begin the Action and then dragging continue it. Depending on the Action, you will get different results by dragging the mouse left/right or up/down.

The ZModeler brush also has a Replay function allows you to apply a duplicate Ac­tion with a single click. Please refer to the Replay the Action chapter for more information.
Because ZModeler is a brush rather than a special mode you at any time switch between it and other sculpting features. As a polygon-based brush, it is compatible with all the PolyMesh3D compatible features.

Context-Based Actions: Points, Edges, Polygons and Curves

The ZModeler set of Actions are context-sensitive. When positioning your cursor over a point, edge, polygon or compatible curve, specific ZModeler Actions will be acces­sible. The content of the ZModeler menu will also differ depending on what your cursor is hovering over.

It is very important to highlight specific topology elements to have access to the Actions that can be performed on it. Some Actions may have similar functions for points, edges and polygons but their behavior can be totally different. As an example, the Edge Bridge Action can create very powerful connections between two openings while the Point Bridge will create an edge between two clicked points. Please refer to the chapters explaining Actions to learn these various functions.


ZModeler only works with PolyMesh3D objects. You need to convert your primitives (via Make Polymesh3D) or ZSpheres (via Unified Skin or Adaptive Skin) to PolyMesh3D before using the ZModeler.

If you are using ZModeler on an existing model, you also need to consider its poly­gon count. ZModeler works in a different way from other brushes in that it’s not designed for models with millions of polygons. It is designed specifically for direct editing down to the individual polygon.

ZModeler is mean to work on models which have no subdivision levels. It is possible to work on a model with subdivisions, but you will need to use the Tool >> Geometry >> Freeze Subdivision Levels first or delete the other levels.

To allow you to see how your model will appear with more subdivision levels, use the Dynamic Subdivision system. This system was specifically designed to work with the ZModeler brush, providing real-time high resolution display while you work directly on the base level. Please refer to the Dynamic Subdivision chapter for more information.
ZModeler only functions with quadrangles and triangles; it does not support n-gons. When an Action would create topology with possible n-gons, ZBrush automatically creates extra edges to produce topology with only quads and tris.