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ZBrush vs. Blender; need help getting started


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I hate to be "that guy" that bugs everyone with a topic about getting started, but I could really use some real, human input at this point.


So I'm looking to get into Skyrim modding, not only because I want to make stuff for myself, but because I'm very seriously looking to make a career out of 3D modelling, texturing, and animation. I've spent the last couple days watching videos, downloading programs, and reading tutorials about how to start all this stuff, but, quite frankly, this is way more than I bargained for. There's so much information and not very many sources that give good instruction for someone who's completely new to everything.


The biggest setback for me is that it's extremely difficult to find any guides on using Blender 2.49b now that there are newer versions. I spent a few hours messing around with tools, but I can't figure out how to shape a model the way I want and the camera alone is wearing on my nerves. I simply find the program to be unbearably user-unfriendly and, coupled with my inability to actually sculpt anything properly, I'd like to find an alternative.


I've read (sort of) that models built in ZBrush can be imported to Skyrim, whether proxied through Blender or otherwise, and, from what I've seen, it looks infinitely easier to use. So, on to my questions.


Is ZBrush totally fine to use rather than Blender? Information was a little scarce and chock-full of jargon I've never seen or heard before, so are there some guides for going about what needs to be done to import ZBrush stuff into Nifscope, as well as importing models from vanilla Skyrim into ZBrush?


I realize that these kinds of threads are probably overdone to all hell, so I very much appreciate any and all help, advice, suggestions, and feedback. Thanks in advance.

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There is nothing stopping you using the latest version of Blender, and only use v2.49 for import/export. This is what most people do as is.

Generally you will do your work in the 2.6+ version and export the scene to an interchange format. Avoid .obj as it has limitations, .3ds or fbx have much better support for modern features that you will probably use, animation, vertex weight, etc.


As for using zBrush v's Blender, it really depends on what you want to accomplish, whatever about Blender 2.49 ui I hear zbrush is just as unorthodox, but in both cases, once you put in the work, it just clicks. That said ZBrush is more geared toward sculpting whereas Blender has a much broader feature set. In alot of cases many artists use both, but it in the end it all boils down to a workflow which suits you.


Back to the original question about skyrim support, either way you are probably going to run into the same amount of workarounds. Just with the blender nifscripts, you would have less work.

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Can't help with Blender because I'm using Cinema 4D and 3DsMax myself but when it comes to zBrush...of course you CAN use it, but normally this program is more likely to be used to model details, texture and normal map a rough mesh.


As mentioned you will need Blender (or 3DsMax) to import your models, afaik there is no NIF plugin for zBrush...of course you can model a mesh only using zBrush, save is as .obj or whatever and transfer it to Blender afterwards. Not weighted models like static weapons can be created in pretty much any 3D editor and imported to the game using NifSkope and Creation Kit only - no NIF plugin needed (though the process is a bit easier as NIF).


Only weighted stuff like clothing/armor/skin needs an editor with NIF plugin because the whole weighting information and some other stuff is saved directly in the NIF (so the game knows how the armor morphes/stays in the correct position when you move your character) - when you save an armor as .obj all this data gets lost and it won't work ingame. If you want to create weighted models you can create it direcly in Blender and export as NIF or any other software, save it as .obj and do the weighting afterwards in Blender and export as NIF.


You might check out my tutorial in my signature, of course I'm using different software but the process is quite the same. Modeling a rough shape in a 3D Editor (Blender,C4D,3DsMax,Maya...) , create details/texture/normal map in sculpting software (zBrush,Mudbox,Sculptris), edit texture in image editor (Photoshop, GIMP) and import it to the game as NIF using NifSkope and Creation Kit. I would start with something easy like clutter items or a weapon, not weighted armor/clothing.


And btw, I would recommend to use MudBox...at least in my opinion it's much easier to handle than zBrush - tried both, just my personal opinion.



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Blender and Zbrush are very different programs. Not just in the way the function but in the purpose which they serve. Traditionally, you would use a program like blender or 3dsmax to create your low poly base mesh, then import that into zbush to sculpt and paint a high poly version. Then you import back into blender and bake the normals and textures onto your base mesh.
I'm not an expert on this as I've mostly tried architectural models so far, but this is my current understanding.


And yeah, model with blender 2.6 (or whatever the latest is!) Then save your model in legacy format mode and open it 2.4b to export. OR if you are still a student, you can download 3dsmax for free and give that a whirl.

- Good luck!

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