View Full Version : Zbrush to Maya video tutorial

04 April 2006, 12:17 AM Zbrush to Maya video tutorial
Hello, last week I did a small Zbrush/Maya presentation for the Atlanta Alias User Group. It was a small quick workflow overview on using Zbrush with Maya.
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Some of the topics covered were:

-Basic Zbrush tools overview.
-Exporting Displacement from Zbrush.
-Rendering Displacements in Maya.
-Generating Normal maps in Maya.

I recorded a video recap of the presentation, so please feel free to download. Any feedback would be appreciated.
Hope it helps.



Edwin Sumalave (

PS: I'm in the process of updating my site, so check back in the near future. Thanks.

04 April 2006, 01:21 AM
Thanks for the support guys, there are a few thing I need to clarifly about rendering displacement maps there are 2 options that Zbrush allows you to use.

Adaptive: Adaptive displacement is located under the (Tool palatte>Displacements). When this
option is enabled the displacement map will be calculated using an algorithm that speeds up
the generation time while keeping the accuracy and detail.

DPsubPix: Is a different algorithm, that controls the number of times the mesh is
subdivided as the displacement map is created. The higher the value the more accurate
the overall displacement map will be, but in return it will also increase the time it would
take for Zbrush to generate the displacement map.

To get a more accurate render in Maya you can export your displacement maps in Zbrush as 32bit instead of 16bit, then convert them into .map files in order to render them with mental ray (you can use the quick code DE-LBEK-EAEAEA-R32 for the Displacement Exporter 2). You will have to always set your alpha gain to 2.2 and you alpha offset to -1.1 for any displacement. This will allow you to get the closet displacement in Mental Ray when compared to your Zbrush model.

Thanks to Ryan K. from the Pixologic team for his help on this topics.


Edwin Sumalave (

04 April 2006, 09:29 PM
Wassup Edwin how are things? I was following your tutorial and Zbrush crashes everytime I try to create the displacement map. I have all of your settings. Any reasons for this or things I should check out.

04 April 2006, 10:56 PM
alright I got the map created in zbrush. now when i render in maya, i get this error message.

displacement.tif: file format subtype or version not supported.

05 May 2006, 04:34 AM
Hey Larry, its good to hear from you. I hope you are doing great. If you are rendering your displacement texture from Zbrush at 32 bits you need to convert your .tif files into .map before attaching them to a blinn in Maya for rendering. If you only want to render at 16bits, you can still use a .tif file just make sure you use the 16bit displacement quick code (DE-HAEK-EAEAEA-D32) is set for the Displacement Exporter in Zbrush.
Hope that helps


Edwin Sumalave

05 May 2006, 02:33 AM
got it working. thanks Edwin.

05 May 2006, 06:10 PM

I just saw your tutorial yesterday and I have a problem when generating the normal map using the surface sampler from maya.

there seems to be areas where the geometry gets squashed, as if the normal map has a maximum distance restriction from the original mesh. This happened around the flaring of my character's shorts rim where the deformation really pushes out.

any thoughts on how to fix that?

05 May 2006, 03:55 AM
Hi Kangtaz:

I think the reason you are getting problem is because your normal map projection cage is cropping out some of your high poly model.
Maya uses a geometry cage to calculate your normal or displacement maps, if this cage is not covering part your reference model (highpoly model) then maya would not calculate or include that part into the normal/displacement map.
You may want to try adjusting your projection cage around your highpoly model ( the one you are generating the nomal from ).
When setting up your -Surface Sampler- under the pop up menu you can manualy adjust your projection cage by setting the display option to -BOTH-.
The red mesh represents your cage and your original mesh will appear according to its asigned shader. You can adjust your cage around your highpoly model by selecting and moving the vertices (in the red mesh)and making sure that is covering your model completely.

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