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ZAppLink

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ZAppLink is a ZBrush plugin that allows you to seamlessly integrate your favorite image editing software — such as Adobe Photoshop — into your ZBrush workflow.
While in ZBrush, call up your image editing package and use it to modify the active ZBrush document or tool, then go straight back into ZBrush.

ZAppLink can work on different saved points of view for your model. What you paint in your image editor is then projected to the model’s PolyPaint or texture for more creative freedom.

With ZAppLink you can combine ZBrush’s powerful capabilities with all the painting power of the PSD-capable 2D editor of your choice, making it easy to create stunning textures.

ZAppLink features

  • Send your document view to the PSD file editor of your choice for texture creation and modification: Photoshop, Gimp and more!
  • Projections in orthogonal or perspective mode.
  • Multiple view support: With a single click, send your front, back, left, right, top, bottom and two custom views in dedicated layers to your 2D editor. When your painting is done, automatically reproject all the views back in ZBrush!
  • Create character sheets based on your saved views with a single click.
  • ZAppLink works with PolyPaint, Textures based on UV’s and canvas pixols.

Important!

ZAppLink is automatically installed with a standard installation of ZBrush.

ZAppLink – Quick start

  1. Draw a model on the canvas and enter edit mode.
  2. The model must have uv’s and a texture (a new blank one)
  3. Set Tool: Geometry: SDiv to the highest level.
  4. Position the model to the view you want to paint on.
  5. Press ZAppLink in the Document palette.
  6. Press Enable Colorization if the pop-up appears.
  7. Press Drop Now. You can also choose to enable perspective to work in perspective mode.
  8. In your image editor of choice start painting in Layer 1. When done, save your image and return to ZBrush.
  9. Press Re-enter ZBrush. If confronted with a screen that says OK(Unchanged) and Return To External Editor, press Return To External Editor and make sure your document was saved. Then return to ZBrush.
  10. Press Pickup Now.

Painting on Views

  1. Draw a model on the canvas and enter edit mode.
  2. Set Tool: Geometry: SDiv to the highest level.
  3. Position the model to its front view.
  4. Press Document: ZAppLink Properties: Front
  5. Position the model to its right view.
  6. Press Document: ZAppLink Properties: Right
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for all the other views you want to paint on.
  8. Press ZAppLink in the Document palette.
  9. Press Enable Colorization if the pop-up appears.
  10. Press OK. You can also choose to enable perspective to work in perspective mode.
  11. In your image editor of choice start alt + click on the Layer 1 you want to work on to hide all other layers. Then turn on the visibility for the shading layer directly above it. When done, save your image and return to ZBrush.
  12. Press Re-enter ZBrush. If confronted with a screen that says OK(Unchanged) and Return To External Editor, press Return To External Editor and make sure your document was saved. Then return to ZBrush.
  13. Press Accept for each view to keep the texturing information. Press Cancel to not accept the view.

 

Load / Save Views

ZAppLink allows you to store views for front, side, top, bottom… Its very easy to store a view. Simply position the model and then press the corresponding view.

If the transform is already defined, and you want to change it, then first press the Clear To switch followed by the button of the transform to clear. Then press the transform button again to store it. The LEDs should indicate which views have transforms stored.

Use the Save Views button to save the .vws file for your tool, that way you can use the Load Views button to get them back if you need them later.

Once you store a view the ZAppLink Views switch will be turned on. This will tell ZBrush to export all of your views when going to Photoshop. Turn this off if you only want to export your current view.

Creating a Character Strip

Character Strip allows the artist to quickly create a .PSD document with all the views stored for the model.

Sample Character strip

Sample Character strip

  1. Draw a model on the canvas and enter edit mode.
  2. Set Tool: Geometry: SDiv to the highest level.
  3. Position the model to its front view.
  4. Press Document: ZAppLink Properties: Front
  5. Position the model to its right view.
  6. Press Document: ZAppLink Properties: Right
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for all the other views you want to be part of your character strip.
  8. Press Document: ZAppLink Properties: Make Character Sheet.

Create Stencils in Photoshop ®

You can import an Alpha Channel selection from Photoshop® and have it automatically become a stencil in ZBrush.

  1. Draw a model on the canvas and enter edit mode.
  2. Position the model to the view you want to apply the stencil to.
  3. Press ZAppLink in the Document palette.
  4. Press Enable Colorization if the pop-up appears.
  5. Press Drop Now. You can also choose to enable perspective to work in perspective mode.
  6. In Photoshop ® , make the selection you want using marquee tools, Quick Mask or other selection tool.
  7. Save the selection by pressing Select: Save Selection. Make sure to name it Stencil.
  8. Return to ZBrush.
  9. Press OK (Unchanged) or Re-enter. Which screen you are presented with will depend on whether you painted anything while in Photoshop ® or not. Your stencil will come through even if you haven’t painted anything in Photoshop ®.
  10. Press Enter on the keyboard and your stencil will appear.
  11. To turn off the stencil press Stencil: Stencil On.

Working With ZAppLink: Illustration

ZAppLink can create a connection between ZBrush’s 2.5D canvas and your image editor of choice. To do this you can not have a model in 3D edit mode on the canvas. Make sure to turn Edit off to send just canvas information.

Adding Layers To Your Canvas In External Editor

  1. Press Document: ZAppLink
  2. Press OK
  3. In your image editor create a new layer and paint in it.
  4. Return to ZBrush
  5. Press Re-enter ZBrush. If confronted with a screen that says OK(Unchanged) and Return To External Editor, press Return To External Editor and make sure your document was saved. Then return to ZBrush.
  6. Press Keep New Layer to keep the layer.

When you add a new layer in your image editor, and then go back to ZBrush, ZBrush looks for a number embedded in the layer name to determine which ZBrush layer the external layer is imported into. For example, if the name of your layer in Photoshop is “Squid11″, the image in that layer will be imported into ZBrush’s layer 11

Note: When creating a new layer in your external image editor, make sure the number in its name is higher than the highest-numbered existing layer in ZBrush. Otherwise, you may import the new image over top of an existing ZBrush layer.

The Z values of the new layer’s pixols will be chosen to place it before all layers that are beneath it. Any parts that are hidden by layers above will be pushed behind those layer’s pixols. This makes all visible new layer parts have the same Z depth.

When you accept the new layer, it will be applied with blending. You will also be given the options of reapplying the new layer without blending.

Note: The Flat material will be used for any new layers created outside of ZBrush.

Deleting Layers

If you delete a layer, you will be asked whether to delete it when returning to ZBrush. If you delete a layer, then add a new one; be sure to make its number larger than the existing ZBrush layers that were transferred so that the new layer is not inadvertently matched to an existing layer.

ZDepth

When exporting all of ZBrush’s layers, ZApp Link will include an 8 bit depth mask of your canvas for Depth of Field and other post-processing effects.

Restrictions

If you want to merge layers, it’s better to do this in ZBrush, as the pixol depth will more properly be taken into account there. Merging layers externally will cause one layer to be deleted, and the other layer to accept the edited values at a fixed Z depth, for areas over the background, and at the existing Z depth, for areas that overlap the existing layer.

Layers should only be reordered in ZBrush. Reordering layers in an external editor will confuse ZAppLink, and it will not recognize the edits.