Universal Camera

An accurate camera which can be imported from or exported to other 3D applications.

In ZBrush 2019 a new universal 3D camera is introduced to ZBrush which can replace the original 3D camera and is enabled by default. This camera works with standard lens settings, such as focal distances in mm or fields of view in degrees.

You will now can fit exact camera settings which can be useful if you are working in industries which require you to match an existing movie scene or background photo.

You will also be able to import and export cameras for pixel-to-pixel matching between applications. An example of when such functions would be convenient is when retouching a model based on an exact point of view or for compositing purposes: Create your model in ZBrush, use its BPR rendering engine to create several passes, then connect to KeyShot through the ZBrush to KeyShot Bridge to render extra passes before doing the final composite in Adobe Photoshop. All applications which support import/export of cameras through the FBX file format can support this workflow.

As stated above, this new camera is enabled by default. You can also choose at any time to work with the legacy ZBrush camera. This can be important if you load projects created with a previous version of ZBrush.

Enabling / Disabling the Universal Camera

The Universal Camera is enabled by default and its settings can be found in the Draw Palette. As you will notice, the camera has a switch icon: If you disable it, you will revert to the ZBrush “2D” Legacy Camera.

As soon as you disable it, the Legacy Camera settings will take over and the Univer­sal Camera settings will be grayed out.

For 3D creation we advise working with the Universal Camera. However, keep in mind that this camera will not function when working in 2.5D/Pixol mode. If you exit Edit Mode, the Universal Camera will automatically be disabled.


On the left, the camera settings of the Universal camera. On the right, it has been disabled and the legacy settings are now available.

Auto Crop mode

In reality, Universal Camera mode works in two ways:

1. When located outside the model’s camera boundary (a spherical perimeter), the Universal Camera functions as a true camera.

2. When the camera gets too close to the model it will trigger a 2D Zoom factor to simulate a true Zoom 3D. This step is very similar to the camera crop factor found in multiple DSLR cameras.

This switch between modes is done to avoid camera deformation and unexpected navigation issues.

Because of this Zoom process, when the camera is brought too close to the model and requires zooming in “2D”, the camera will no longer update perspective to match a physical camera.

To help you know when ZBrush switches from a physical camera to a virtual camera with this zoom operation, you will see a change in the “AC” indicator at the top of the screen. This “AC” stands for “Auto Crop”:

    • Grey: the camera is in true perspective
    • White: the camera is using true perspective with a 2D zoom applied — the Auto Crop state.

The AC Mode indicator, on and off.

There are several factors that contribute to the bounding perimeter at which AC mode can kick in. These include camera settings and your model’s volume in the 3D space. Because the model bounding perimeter used by the camera is spherical, a wide-yet-flat model will have a large spherical bounding perimeter, more quickly triggering this AC mode. Also, a wide angle camera (18 or 24 mm camera) will display more of the model on the screen, making you feel as if you are far from the model even if you are, in fact, close to it.


Hiding polygons won’t affect the diameter of the bounding perimeter for camera computation.

Importing/Exporting Camera – KeyShot Bridge

There are two ways in which the ZBrush camera can be exported to or imported from other applications:

    • Through the ZBrush to KeyShot bridge. (Export only.)
    • Through the FBX Export-Import plugin, located in the ZPlugins palette.

When exporting or importing the camera, the following settings will be transferred:

    • Position
    • Orientation
    • Focal Length

If you were to set your document to a specific size in ZBrush and the same in KeyShot or another 3D application, renders from either application will match perfectly, letting you do advanced composition.


For KeyShot to match the ZBrush document size make sure that KeyShot is not in full screen mode. If KeyShot is in full screen mode, the KeyShot viewport will skew to match the current visible KeyShot UI.

If the ZBrush camera has Auto Crop enabled when exporting your model with the camera to another application, the focal distance will be converted to take the associated crop factor into account. Please refer to the Camera documentation for more information about Auto Crop mode.

Working with Multiple Cameras

ZBrush can store several cameras, letting you switch between them at will. It’s a convenient way to save specific points of view (such as for renders), switching between them at any time.

In the Draw palette you will find the Store Camera function. This will save the current camera and its settings as part of the ZBrush Project. You will be prompted to enter a name for the camera, allowing you to easily choose between multiple saved cameras.

Clicking the Select Camera button will open a pop-up that lists all available cameras, using the names that you gave to them. Click on the name of your choice to recall that camera position and settings.

You can also use the left and right arrows to quickly navigate between each stored camera.

If you need to remove a camera, first select it and then click the Delete button.

Locking the Camera

When working near the edge of a 3D model it can easily happen that you accidentally begin your brush stroke slightly outside of the mesh, resulting in rotation of the model rather than a brush stroke. To prevent this from happening you can lock the camera by pressing the Lock Camera icon, located both in the Draw palette and also in shelf immediately to the right of the canvas in the default user interface (below the Local Symmetry icon).
When you want to unlock the camera, simply click the icon again. Remember that you can also assign a hotkey to this feature if you find yourself using it often.


The Lock Camera icon in the right shelf.

Camera Settings and Functions

The camera settings in ZBrush are very similar to real camera lens settings. If you are used to photography (especially digital photography) you will be able to master them in no time.

Camera Mode

When enabled (by default), ZBrush uses a perspective camera based on optical settings. When disabled, ZBrush uses its legacy camera.

Horizontal / Vertical

The Horizontal or Vertical modes define how the computing of the camera is done, using the horizontal or vertical size of the camera sensor/film. Change this mode only if you need to match the settings of other software using horizontal or vertical computation.

Focal Length

The Focal Length slider lets you define the focal distance of your virtual lens in mm.
Focal Length Presets (18, 24, 28, 35, 50 and 85mm)

Located just above the Focal Length slider, these presets let you quickly set a value for the most popular lenses. Clicking one of these buttons will override the Focal Length slider settings.

Field of View

The Field of View slider lets you define the value of the camera in degrees. This is an alternative way of computing the camera perspective value.

Crop Factor

The Crop Factor simulates the cropping applied when using a camera with a smaller or larger value than a 24x36mm sensor.

As an example, if you want to create a model which will fit a background image taken with a Canon xxxD (350D, 500D, 600D, 700D, etc.), you would need to apply a 1.6 crop factor to your lens value. Those cameras use a smaller sensor and so, to have the equivalent of a full frame sensor, you need to multiply its value by 1.6.
This factor will also apply to the Focal Length. If you took a photo with that Canon camera and a 50mm lens it would in fact be equivalent to an 80mm lens (50×1.6).

Undo / Redo

Camera transformations such as position and settings are stored in a separate undo stack. By pressing the Undo and Redo buttons, you will be able to go back to your previous point of view or camera settings.
The number of Camera undos/redos is limited to 14.


No hotkeys are assigned to the Camera Undo and Redo buttons, but you can assign them like with any other ZBrush function.

Lock Camera

This function will lock the camera in place. While Lock Camera is active, it is impos­sible to zoom, pan or rotate.

Select Camera

This pop-up lets you select a camera which was previously saved with the Store Camera function.

Store Camera

The Store Camera function will save the current camera position, orientation and settings using a name of your choice. Multiple cameras can be saved.


The Rename function will let you change the name of the currently selected camera.


The Delete function will delete the currently selected camera. This operation cannot be undone.

Next / Previous Camera (Left / Right Arrows)

The Next and Previous arrow icons let you rotate through all stored cameras.

AC Indicator

This indicator, visible next to the Quick Save button at the top of the ZBrush UI displays the status of the Auto Crop mode.

When grayed out, ZBrush is using the Perspective camera. When not grayed out, ZBrush is using a crop factor (similar to a zoom 2D) when zooming into your model.

Please refer to the Auto Crop Mode section above.