Elective | 3D Classroom. CG Master Academy
Intro to ZBrush for Concept & Iteration
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Michael Pavlovich
3D Concept Artist
Michael Pavlovich graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design in 2005 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Animation. He started at Electronic Arts creating environment art on Madden NFL and NCAA Football and then brought comic books characters to life in DC Universe Online at Sony Online Entertainment. Currently, Michael creates character, weapon, and vehicle art, as well as specializes in 3D concept art pipelines for the top video game franchises including Halo, and Call of Duty.

Course Description

This high-intensity class will focus on getting you up and running in ZBrush in as little time as possible, while still giving you a comprehensive overview of everything you need to be proficient enough to begin using ZBrush as an integral part of your modeling tool set. Once you've completed the course, not only should you be comfortable in general ZBrush usage and terminology, you will have also learned skills that will allow you to create models and problem solve for multiple areas of 3D asset creation, from concept visualization to final production model techniques! In terms of general format, elective classes work exactly the same way as our existing 3D program classes.

Every week there will be a lecture, assignment, recorded feedback, and live Q&A.


Intro to ZBrush Part 1: (Free on Youtube and for download on Gumroad)
Intro to ZBrush Part 2: Custom Hotkeys and Interface (Free on Youtube)
Intro to ZBrush Part 3: ZModeler (Free on Youtube)

Course Format

Course Format: Standard
Duration: 6 Weeks
Lecture Type: Pre-recorded
Assignment: Deadlines each week.
Feedback: Individual Recordings
Q&A: Once a week. 

*For classes with fewer than 6 students feedback may be provided during the live Q&A session.

Estimated time for course work: 10-20 hours per week

Course Outline


Were going to hit this week running! First we're doing a comprehensive overview of insert mesh functionality, from the basics, to additive and subtractive dynamesh insert options, and finally the creation of your own custom insert brushes. From there we're going to dive right into base mesh creation techniques, to get you something to utilize through the rest of the course. We'll go over creating base meshes with dynamesh, insert mesh brushes, ZSpheres, ZSketching, and how to combine functionality of all 3 to get the base you want. We'll wrap up this week with an overview of ZRemesh functionality, with some optional videos if you want to really clean up your base mesh before we move on.


All about accessories! We'll start with doing quick concept sculpts to get your ideas down, splitting and refining as needed, then we'll begin to refine them even further through a number of techniques, including ZSphere retopology, extraction, extraction with zremesh cleanup, zremesh techniques as a quick and easy base mesh accessory solution, and finally finish up with shadowbox. A number of different ways to start fleshing out your creation with interesting bits and pieces!


By now you've probably got a number of subtools to organize, so we'll start by covering a few different ways to stay sane in the subtool list. Then, we're going to spend the rest of our time with the curve brushes--from curve brush basics, all the way through the tri curve brush, making our own custom brushes, both hard surface and organic!


We'll start out with a deep dive into groups loops and panel loops, then it's time to start detailing out our creations! We're going to cover a number of ways to generate custom alphas from within ZBrush, as well as settings to tweak to get the most out of the custom brushes you'll make with them.


We're getting close to wrapping up the modeling portion of the course! We'll cover UV Master, surface noise, noise maker, micro and nanomesh, and finally finish up with a few ways to pose your creation--ZSphere posing and Transpose Master.


Polishing off our creation with a beauty pass for presentation! We're going start with polypaint and spotlight, to give some color to our model. We'll then move on to a discussion on materials and lighting within ZBrush, using HDR images to light with BPR, saving your camera views, and exporting your render passes. We'll then take those render passes into Photoshop, and go over some compositing techniques to make our image really pop. We'll also discuss the option of doing stylized, pen-and-ink and pixel rendering in ZBrush as well! If you have the ZBrush to Keyshot Bridge, there will be a Keyshot walk-through to ensure you'll get the most out of your Keyshot renders. There will also be a bonus optional section, all about getting your models out of ZBrush and quickly into Substance Painter, so you can export your creation to your favorite renderer / engine of choice!


  • Game Character Artists
  • Texture Artists
  • Game Environment Artists
  • Prop Artists
  • Concept Artist
  • Visual Effects Artists