Can't get the sculpt out of zbrush!

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  09 September 2012
Can't get the sculpt out of zbrush!

I've made my first anatomy study in zbrush for a school class, and now I need to bake the normals onto a lowpoly model to prepare it for rigging and animation. The sculpt at the moment is the whole body in one piece, 4 subdivs, somewhere around 7 million polygons. No layers or polypaint or anything like that.

My plan was to use xNormal to bake the normals since Maya is shit for that particular job, by comparison. Hence, it needed to be exported to an obj.

So, at first, I tried to simply export the highres model as it was. No dice. Zbrush stood there unresponsive for 10 minutes. The "This program is not reponding" warning came up, but it seemed to be working still (at least that's what the process explorer told me - it was using a fair bit of my ram and 13% of my cpu). But after 10 minutes it crashed completely. Fine, I thought, perhaps an OBJ of that res would be so large it would be impossible to handle.

Next step - Decimation Master. If the mesh was just too heavy to export, a decimated mesh should do the trick, right? No dice there either, I soon discovered. It only took seconds after starting the preprocessing of my mesh for Zbrush to freeze completely (this time, no cpu activity or change in RAM-usage). I skimmed google for a solution, and saw several steps posted in another thread about merging layers, deleting lower subdivs and so on. Tried that as well, but it still crashed just like before.

I've successfully used the Export before, on lower density meshes, though I've never used Decimation Master with this version of Zbrush. Just to see if it was my model that was faulty, I tried to decimate a simple sphere of about 1,5 mil polygons, and it took a bit longer until it happened, but true to form, Zbrush crashed with that one as well.

I'm at the end of my rope here. Without the normal map, I can't finish the task, and the deadline is approaching rather rapidly. What should I do? Surely, this is something one should be able to get around. I've seen tutorials where people both decimate and export meshes with higher density than mine without a problem. Any ideas what makes my Zbrush behave this way, and how to sort it out?
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