ZBrush 2019 Review: Snapshot3D Feature

Mar 21, 2019 at 10:00 am by Warlord720

ZBrush 2019

Snapshot3D is a new addition for ZBrush 2019. It looks to be a great hard surface modeling tool that like Spotlight, the platform it is integrated into, I didn't fully appreciate when I got a first look at it.

In fact, it seemed rather ho-hum till you dig down into it and start making shapes/greebles for objects, components or hard surface details.

I could appreciate the quick work Snapshot3D made of adding greeble type features as detail to hard surface modeling, but I didn't grasp the utility of the new tool until I tried it.

It was certainly of those "lightbulb" moments where that sucker goes off so bright even your neighbor can tell you finally get it.

It's like an Extruder Modifier on steroids only it helps you create the surface to be extruded. These can then be repurposed to create more components that can be combined or individually extruded into a mesh.

You basically use Alpha maps as components to create hard surfaces that can be extruded. The great thing is the ability to mix, match and merge these components into surfaces that used to require time-consuming vertex modeling.

Considering the example I provided for this review you can see how easy it was to create an old, worn lock using the Snapshot3D method. Items like this lock are important as scene fillers but can take as much time as feature or close-in camera modeling.

A tool like Snapshot3D allows a digital grunt to create items like locks, doors, signs… it just goes on and on… without having to take hours on each one.

Combined with Live Boolean you can add or subtract to create some wonderfully complex looking filler items with little time spent doing so.

Using Snapshot3D and Spotlight to Create a Padlock

Since it's based on alpha map type images you can make your own alpha maps to use in Snapshot and not be limited to the sets that come with ZBrush 2019.

From the new features page over at Pixologic:

Spotlight v1.0 gave artists the capability to project any texture's color information onto a sculpted surface as PolyPaint. It also allowed the very same textures to be applied to the surface of any model as sculptural details.

Snapshot3D includes all the original features and also makes it possible to convert any gray-scale image (alpha) into a 3D model. The source images can be modified or combined through Boolean-type addition or subtraction to create even more complex 3D shapes.

Once again this is one of those tools that hits a favorite mark of mine… easy to use with a quick and short learning curve. In fact, the learning curve is much shorter than the "what can I make with this thing now" curve as that seems endless for creative types.

You have to keep in mind it's not just the ability to combine alphas for extruding but also addition and subtraction with means you can cut things out… make new shapes… use them to extrude or embed and these are just some of the possibilities.

This is a tool that is very difficult to define in writing as it is pretty much wide open as to what a creative user can do with it.

Snapshot3D is a great hard surface tool and is just one of the powerful new features in ZBrush 2019. We'll be taking another look in the future at more new features like Remesher 3.0 and the new Folders feature that so many have requested.

M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website

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