Quickly Texture a Human Head with Zapplink in ZBrush 3.5


One of the many great plugins provided by the good people over at Pixologic is the Zapplink. With its' efficient and intuitive interface, and its' "pick up and produce" functionality, it can be used to quickly achieve results in texturing that would otherwise be very difficult and time consuming to accomplish. In this tutorial, we will follow professional character artist, Eric Moreno, as he uses Zapplink in ZBrush 3.5 to quickly and easily texture a human head.

Final Effect Preview

Before you Begin

First, you will want to download the project files folder so you can follow along. You can find it here: Project Files. You may also need to get the plugin. You can download it here: Unzip Zapplink in your: \Pixologic\ZBrush 3.5 R3\ZStartup\ZPlugs folder.

Step 1

Launch ZBrush. The plugin can be found in the document palette. You will only need to use the button "Zapplink" during this tutorial.

Step 2

Load the tool "humanhead.ZTL" provided in the project file folder. In the tool palette, turn polypaint on, and set the uv map to 2048. Press new texture, in the texture map rollout (this will set the texture size according to the uv map size). Finally, apply a basic material to the model.

Step 3

Subdivide the head 4 times (this will take the level of subdivision up to 5), and make sure that perspective is turned off.

Step 4

Go to the document palette and press Zapplink.

Step 5

In the ZApplink Projection dialog box, you can decide what 2d software you are going to use with the "Set Target App" button. Keep double sided, fade, and enable perspective off. Press "Drop now".

Step 6

This will open your 2d software (in my case Photoshop) with a temp file of your ZBrush canvas and a layer mask. Open the file "face.jpg" provided in the Project File folder.

Step 7

These are images I got from Make a selection of the face part and paste it into your temp document. Use the transform tools to match the selection with the ZBrush face. You can refine your work by selecting details of the pictures and copying them to the temp document (the eyes for example).

Step 8

When you are done, press ctrl+E to merge down your layer, and then press "apply" when prompted. Save the document.

Step 9

Switch back to ZBrush via the windows task bar (the alt+tab doesn't work for me but you may be more lucky ^^) and press re-enter ZBrush.

Step 10

Press "Drop now".

Step 11

Repeat the same process for the right side. Snap the face on the side, press Zapplink, and "drop now".

Step 12

In Photoshop, make a selection of the image "side1.jpg" and use the tools to match it with the temp document. Note: You have to avoid overlapping the face part that you've just done! I usually erase with a wide falloff.

Step 13

Repeat the same steps for the left side using the image "side2.jpg".

Step 14

Apply another material onto the model in order to get a better render. You can load the matcap I've put in the project file folder if you wish. To do so, click on the material, and press the load button. Then load "MatCap SkinCGtut.ZMT". Here it is with perspective on at 25. Note: If you turn perspective on, don't forget to turn it off again when you're done.

Step 15

Now time to texture the back of the head.

Step 16

You can stamp some skin texture to go on the back of the ears and bottom of the neck. Again, re-enter ZBrush and press "pickup now".

Step 17

For the top of the head you'll have to be careful not to spoil the work you've done so far. Use the image "top.jpg" and repeat the process.

Step 18

Now to "clean" the model. Using the 3/4 view from the ref images, remove the lighting from the sides. I used the same picture for both sides, and just flipped the selection for the opposite side.

Step 19

Make a selection for the ear (on both sides) and erase the border, using a falloff to blend it with the rest of the head.

Step 20

For the 3/4 back of the head, use the image ref "3quarterBack.jpg", and make some selections to patch the areas that still need some texture.

Step 21

Repeat the same process for the opposite side of the head, but using the same reference image and flipping the selection.

Step 22

Now you need to save your texture and export it to Photoshop. This will allow you to give the final polish to the texture. In ZBrush click "clone texture" in the texture map rollout (1). This will copy the texture int0 the texture palette (2).

Step 23

You can now export the texture for final polishing in Photoshop.

Step 24

Voilâ! I hope this tutorial will help some of you out there ^^. I really enjoyed sharing bits of this super fantastic software with you. Here are some other heads textured using this method.

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