By Manuel Scherer
Published March 2011 List Price:$44.99, Your Amazon.com Price: $39.99
Amazon.com Sales Rank:866,786 Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
ZBrush is a fantastic tool for creating models for use in computer games. Using a wide range of powerful tools you can create models for vehicles, props, environments, and characters.
This book makes creating game art in ZBrush fast and easy. It covers everything you need to create models of all kinds for your game projects, even if you've never used ZBrush before.
Built around four complete ZBrush projects, the book gives you everything you need to sculpt props, vehicles, and creatures in ZBrush. You'll start by creating a "spooky tree" model, mastering the sculpting, texturing, and decoration skills that are essential for all ZBrush topics. Next you'll move to man-made objects with a sci-fi drone. Next you'll see how to sculpt monsters and other creatures, deal with cloth and other soft materials, and prepare the model to become an animated, controllable character in a game. The final project returns to machines, building a complete, detailed spaceship for use in your sci-fi games.
GDNet Staff Review:
If you are doing 3D work and you are not ZBrush, you owe it to yourself to give it a look. It has a long-standing reputation of being the go-to tool for sculpting realistic 3D models, and you would be surprised at the number of 3D characters in movies and games that were built with the tool.
But it is a very weird and mysterious tool. The way it works is unlike most modelers you have used. And its UI is weird and incomprehensible (or "productive and intuitive" if you are one of the ZBrush fanatics reading this). So a good tutorial is a big plus for the tool. ZBrush 4 Sculpting for Games tries to cover the product's usability as a modeler for game characters.
There are four "projects" that are tutorial-ized in the book. The first is a "Spooky Tree", which is one of those quickie organic-looking projects that shows off ZBrush's chops. Second is a rather simple scout-ship-style spaceship. Then there's a much more involved tutorial for an organic-looking bipedal monster. Finally there's the "Harvester Ship", which shows off how to build something more mechanical looking with ZBrush. All of the tutorials are illustrated extremely well with grayscale drawings showing off all UI elements and before-and-after models for a particular technique.
I did find the inclusion of spaceships to be surprising, as that typically is a task left to more CAD-like 3D modeling applications. But the book does a good job of showing how to build multi-component straight-edged figures quickly with the tool.
One thing I would have liked to have seen in ZBrush 4 Sculpting for Games is a more complete discussion of integrating ZBrush models with games. Being able to export a model into a meaningful 3D format so it can be pulled into a game engine, polygon reducer, or other modeler is an important part of the 3D pipeline. And this is given minimal coverage in the book. While modeling deserves the lions' share of the coverage, integration deserves at least some.