Dynamic Subdivision Workflow

To enable Dynamic Subdivision on a model, you need to press the Tool >> Geometry >> Dynamic Subdiv >> Dynamic button. You will not immediately see a visual change on your model. Next, specify which type of subdivision you wish to use: QGrid (QuickGrid), Flat Subdivision or Smooth Subdivision. ZBrush will now display that type of Dynamic Subdivision on your mesh.

Each option smooths the model using its own algorithms and so will generate a different appearance in the smoothed surface. It is possible to mix the three sliders’ values, creating your own smoothing style. When doing this, keep in mind that the values in each slider individually multiply the displayed polygon count by 4, so mixing all three Dynamic Subdivision types with a value of 1 is the same as subdividing the model three times: 64 times as many polygons!

The polygon count of the working/editable topology remains exactly the same but you need to keep in mind that ZBrush is still processing the visual quality of these subdivisions. Using multiple Dynamic Subdivision types could slow down your computer.


Dynamic Subdivision HotKeys

Dynamic Subdivision and Classic Subdivision share some common hotkeys. These can be a huge time saver when disabling and enabling Subdivisions. Remember that ZBrush Hotkeys can also be customized to your liking.

By default, ZBrush uses “D” and “Shift+D” for these hotkeys.

When working with Classic Subdivision, these hotkeys will navigate up and down between any existing subdivision levels.

With the Dynamic Subdivision (and only when the model has Dynamic Subdivision with no Classic Subdivision levels) the same hotkeys are used to enable or disable the display mode. They becomes a simple on/off toggle.
If Classic Subdivision is used in addition to Dynamic Subdivision, the hotkeys stop toggling Dynamic Subdivision and instead revert to navigating between the Classic Subdivision levels.

There are no default hotkeys for the three separate Dynamic Subdivision modes. You must navigate to those sliders, although you can certainly assign hotkeys of your choice if you prefer.


Dynamic Subdivision and Saved Projects/Tools

Any Dynamic Subdivision settings applied to the current Tool or SubTool will be saved within either Project (ZPR) or Tool (ZTL) files. After saving and reopening a file, the current Dynamic Subdivision settings will remain the same.

Unlike Classic Subdivision which actually changes the model’s geometry, Dynamic Subdivision is a render effect being performed in real-time. As such, Dynamic Subdivision has no effect upon file size. ZBrush is simply storing a few settings rather than extra polygons.


Priority Order of the Different Dynamic Subdivision Sliders

Because it is possible to combine Dynamic Subdivision modes, it is important to keep in mind that ZBrush has a specific order in which it stacks them, regardless of the order in which they were enabled by you.
The first subdivision applied is always QGrid, followed by Flat Subdivision and finally, Smooth Subdivision.

If you turned Smooth Subdivision on first then added Flat Subdivision, the visual result would be the same as if they’d been turned on in the reverse order.


Dynamic Subdivision Controls

Changing the different parameters for Dynamic Subdivision can drastically change both the visual appearance of your model and the performance of ZBrush itself. The settings below will help you fine tune your use of Dynamic Subdivision to get the most out of the feature.

All of these functions are found in Tool >> Geometry >> Dynamic Subdivision.