Thursday, July 20th, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Maxon ships ZBrush 2023.2

Maxon has released ZBrush 2023.2, the latest version of its digital sculpting software.

Key changes include a new Anchors brush, which can be used to pose characters more controllably, and updates to the Contact system, opening up new workflows for snapping geometry together.

In addition, the Morph brush can now be used with the Undo history, and there are two new control sliders for Spotlight when apply surface detail to a model with alphas.

The release was announced during a livestream yesterday, the recording of which is embedded above, and is now available.

The new Anchors brush makes it possible to repose characters more precisely by setting anchor points along the length of a limb, then rotating or twisting the limb around them.

New Anchors brush provides a quick, controllable way to pose characters
New features in ZBrush 2023.2 include the Anchors brush, which you can see from 00:12:00 in the video.

It enables users to set anchor points along the length of a SubTool, then manipulate the geometry between those points.

It has a range of different modes, including Scale and Inflate, which resize the SubTool, and Move, Rotate and Twist, which repose it.

The latter look to be a quick, controllable way to repose characters: in particular, making it possible to pose limbs with greater precision than is possible using existing tools.

In the video, you can also see the Anchors brush being used in conjunction with the new Proxy Pose system introduced in ZBrush 2023.1, which makes it possible pose models with less-than-ideal topology.

Maxon describes it as ‘version 1.0’ of the tool, so its functionality should evolve in future releases.

The updated Contact feature being used to snap the hatch of a submarine to its hull.

Contact can now be used to snap SubTools together
In addition, ZBrush’s Contact feature has been updated.

Originally designed as a way to make clothing move with a character when the character is reposed, it also now functions as a way to snap one piece of geometry to another.

Users can draw out a transpose line between two SubTools to have ZBrush automatically move and rotate the first SubTool, using surface normals to align it to the second.

By setting up to three Contact points, it is possible to control how the SubTool being moved is rotated.

The Morph brush can now be used to morph a model between any two points in its Undo history: in this example, making it possible to selectively remove the suckers sculpted on the octopus tentacle.

The Morph system now supports Undo history
Another key change is that the Morph brush now works with Undo history.

In the past, users could store the current state of a mesh as a Morph Target while sculpting, then use the brush to selectively undo changes.

Now, you can create markers at any point in the Undo history and morph between them.

In the livestream, Maxon described the workflow as providing “infinite Morph Targets: you can go back to any point in your history and make changes”.

Spotlight’s new MidValue slider controls how a surface is displaced when an alpha is applied to it, with the five bumps above resulting from the same alpha applied with different MidValue settings.

New Spotlight controls when detailing with alphas
Finally, ZBrush 2023.2 adds two new slider controls to Spotlight, ZBrush’s projection texturing system.

They control how a surface is displaced when applying an alpha, with the new Spotlight MidValue slider clamping the maximum displacement, and controlling whether the surface moves inwards or outwards.

Spotlight Alpha Blur smooths the displacement.

To understand how the new controls work, it’s probably easiest to see them in action, which you can do at around 00:44:30 in the video.

So which features do you get if you have a perpetual licence?
Under Maxon’s new upgrade policy, the new features in ZBrush 2023.2 will be available to subscribers only.

Users with perpetual licences receive bug fixes and enhancements to existing features, but new features are “reserved for the next paid upgrade” – that is, ZBrush 2024.

That includes perpetual licences bought after the release of ZBrush 2023.2: new licences are for the “base 2023 version” with “new features introduced in 2023.1 or beyond” reserved for the next paid upgrade.

Price and system requirements
ZBrush 2023.2 is compatible with Windows 10+ and macOS 10.14+.

New perpetual licences cost $895; subscriptions cost $39/month or $359/year.

Read a full list of new features in ZBrush 2023.2 in the online changelog

Read more about ZBrush on the Maxon website