Thursday, July 23rd, 2020 Posted by Jim Thacker

Sneak peek: ZBrush 2021

Pixologic has released a sneak peek at ZBrush 2021, the next major update to the digital sculpting software.

The release, which once again will be free to registered users, will add an interesting set of cloth sculpting and dynamics-based features, and updates to instancing workflow.

A new physics-enabled cloth sculpting toolset
The most eye-catching part of the demo video is the opening section, which shows a new set of tools for sculpting clothing, and cloth in general.

They include MicroPoly, which looks to be a way to mimic the physical structure of coarse cloth and materials like chainmail, instancing a range of preset geometries to create a weave structure.

The update also adds a cloth dynamics system, with support for gravity and collisions shown in the video.

Users will also be able to sculpt cloth manually, with a set of interactive brushes similar to the physics-enabled Cloth Brush recently introduced in Blender 2.83.

The video shows a ClothHook brush, for sculpting wrinkles, and ClothDimple, used in the video to sculpt the indentations in a cushion where buttons are stitched on.

The features currently look geared more towards creating clothes for static characters than a complete Marvelous Designer-style clothing design toolset, but they would form a good foundation on which to build.

Other new physics features
As well as cloth simulation, the video shows a couple of other physics-enabled features: FiberMesh with Dynamics and Unweld All with Dynamics.

Both are illustrated via simple destruction sims – the sort of thing you might see after running a shattering system on a model – so it will be interesting to see how Pixologic envisages them being used in practice.

Improvements to instancing, polygon modeling and performance
Other changes include improvements to instancing workflow, with the existing NanoMesh system, currently used mainly for distributing small surface details, being shown in use with much larger geometry.

The video also shows updates to the ZModeler polygon modelling toolset, and a new Dynamic Thickness system for thickening the edges of geometry.

In addition, the video mentions the option to ‘Save as an image, load as a 3D model’, which we imagine is the iMage3D export system introduced in ZBrushCoreMini, the new free entry-level edition of the software.

You can also see a side-by-side performance comparison between ZBrush 2020 and ZBrush 2021 at 01:50 in the video. Pixologic doesn’t put any figures on the speed boost, but 2021 is noticeably faster.

Pricing and system requirements
ZBrush 2021 will be a free update for registered users. Pixologic hasn’t announced a release date yet.

The current stable release, ZBrush 2020.1, is available for 64-bit Windows Vista+ and Mac OS X 10.10+. New perpetual licences cost $895 and subscriptions cost $39.95/month or $179.95 for six months.

Read more about ZBrush 2021 in Pixologic’s thread on ZBrushCentral