Lightwave to ZBrush and back?



I´m pretty new to ZBrush :slight_smile:

Is there a good tutorial on how to make Normal maps in ZB for LW imported objects and then export them to LW again?

I´ve followed some but I have a lot of troubles exporting the normal map. It doesn´t seem to fit the LW UVmap inherent to the imported object…

This is what I do:

In Lightwave:

-Make the Low poly model (a head for ex.)
-Apply the UVmap to the model
-Export the model as .obj

In ZBrush:

-Import the .obj
-Subdivide it and model detail.
-Export the normal as image. *Here is the problem, the image doesn´t fit the original UVmap.

What should I do?

Thanks a lot!


I think you have to flip the image in the V before you export it !


Hi Guillermo
look in Zbrush and Lightwave : … and it is in Spanish.
I hope it help you.
See you soon


Thanks both!

I´ll try :slight_smile:


Hey glad to be here at the Zbrush forum… Could someone who knows a workflow to get from Zbrush to lightwave for rendering please explain? Seems like the lightwave community isn’t taking full advantage of this powerful app…


Completely agree with you. I´ve been looking all the web arround and can´t find a really good LW<->ZB tutorial. Lot´s of ZB<->Maya, max, XSI, … but nothing serious about Lightwave.

I´m still having troubles importing the normal map into Lightwave. I found where the UV problem was and solved it but now the normal map seems fliped inside out when I apply it to an object in LW… I´ve tried all the flip export options in ZBrush Preferences pannel before exporting but everything is still the same!!! :banghead: Does anyone knows what can be the problem? Or what should I do to correctly export the map?

When I control this I´ll write a good tutorial about. Promise :slight_smile:


try this

Pretty much all you need there.


My problem is that i must be exporting the displacement map wrong…Here are my steps…

  1. I import a base model from lightwave as an .OBJ
  2. I enter edit mode and store the morph target
    3 from there i subdivide the mesh to about 6-7 and do my scuplting.
  3. after all sculpting is done i lower the mesh down to 1, and hit the cage button
  4. I then select 2048 from the displacement map section and activate adaptive, and smooth.
  5. after the displacement map is created i flip the map on the v, and export the ,model.


  1. I load up the object and activate the normal displacement plugin.
  2. under the texture tab i load up the displacement map from zbrush…
  3. i turn up the render subd level to about 7-10
  4. hit F9 to render and SPPPPPLAAAT nothing happens…
  5. I get really upset and start on something else…

Those are my basic steps, and i must be doing something wrong because i just can’t get it to work right… Maybe we can put our heads together and get this thing working to the point where all the mystery is taken out of it… then i will write a tutorial or even make a video tutorial so that others can learn this little secret…


Hey thanks for the link rapid-pitbull… I will look this over and see if i can’t fix my problem… Thanks again…


As you can see I´m not an expert :slight_smile: but why do you export a displacement map instead a normal map? If you are using a normal shader plug-in I think you should export the normal map instead the displacement one (in ZB just below the Displacement map tab). The displacement map won´t work on a normal sahder. Try it and tell me what happens.

Hope this helps! :slight_smile:

Rabid Pitbull: Thanks a lot for the link :slight_smile: I´ll check right now!


Oh God!! Nothing happens again! I´ve followed the link but… when I load the displacement nothing happens. :banghead: Don´t know what´s going on here…


Hey Guillermo did you also get the 16bit tif loader?? I think if you are using the normal displacement plugin you have to have it… There are 2 different plugins one is called normal map, and the other is normal displacement… I will be try this later on and i will show some results…


This isn’t working period. all i’m getting is a exploded mass of geometry… I give up for 2night…



I assume you have UV mapped your object before exporting it (or UV mapped it in Zbrush) ?

I found this when I first started using Zbrush. It will let you paint displacements onto the object whether you have UV mapped it or not, but you will not be able to export and apply it to the model in Lightwave properly !


FINALLY I GOT IT!! :bounce: :bounce:

Thanks everybody for your replies and help :slight_smile:

I´ve an exam on Wednesday so can´t write an extensive tutorial until then. On Friday I´ll post one thread here with a detailed explanation and screenshots on how to do it :wink:

For now here are the steps to follow:

In Lightwave:

  1. Create the low poly model.

2.A Export the model as .OBJ without UVMapping or…
2.B Create the UVMap in LW and apply it to all the textures and export to .OBJ.
*I´ve used the 2.A way to generate the UVs in ZB. I´ve found that UV maps form LW usually generate gaps and strange deformations in the final Displacement map.

In ZBrush:

  1. Imort the .OBJ model.

  2. Apply the UV tile map if you followed the 2.A point above. To do so: Tool> Texture> GUV Tile button (This Group the UV tiles ZB automatically generates for an object without UVs)

  3. Suvdivide the mesh and add detail. (Tool> Geometry> Subdivide)

  4. When you are ready, low the resolution to the 1 stage. In the Tool> Displacement tab. Choose a resolution for the Disp. map to 2048 or more (not less or the detail will be blured) Press “Create DispMap”

  5. Yor map will be generated in the Alpha tab. Select it there and press Filp V button. Export the map as TIFF.

6.* If you created the UVs in ZB, as I did and thats what I recomend, go to Tool> Export and export the model as .OBJ (with Divisions set to 1). This is the final model we will use in LW.

Back in Lightwave:

  1. Download and install the Lynx3D Tiff loader and Normal Displacement plug-ins.

  2. In Layout, load the .OBJ you exported from ZB.

  3. From Image Editor load the exported Displacement map. This will use the 16bit tiff plug-in to load :wink:

  4. You have your low poly model loaded in Layout, so open the modeler and convert the model to SubPatches.

  5. Back in Layout open the Properties for the object and set subdivisions to 10 and 20 in render (This depends of each object so you will have to play with this settings to get a good resolution for your object when you load the DispMap)

  6. Open the Normal Disp. plug-in from Lynx3D. Set Luminance Center to 50%. In the texture button load the DispMap and set UVs.

  7. You will see nothing happens… increase the Dispalcement to 1m more or less and you will see the displacement appear. You will have to play with this value until you get what you need. Make renders to see it at full resolution and adjust the subdivisions.

That´s it :slight_smile:

If there is something I didn´t mentioned please tell me :wink: I´ll write a good and detailed tutorial at the end of the next week :thumbsup:

Hope this helps!!


Yes, just one, is the detail painted or is it modeled? I am asking because I am banking on either using A converter that converts my grayscale targas into normal maps… or get zbrush…


thank you, thank you, thank you

I don’t know if I’m just getting old and can’t learn anymore or what, but I’ve had the hardest time getting this to work as well. You cleared it up perfectly.


Yeh… I gave it another shot and it does work using the process you describe Guillermo… the only problem i’m having now is that i’m getting these strange pinches in the mesh… Not all over the place, but enough of em…


With Zbrush you can do both :slight_smile: You can export the displacement map which will “model” your low poly subdivided object with real geometry or you can export normal maps which will work like bump, without adding real extra detail. The real power of using ZB is the fast and easy way to model the detail in the object… something quite impossible to do with any traditional modeler :slight_smile:


mmm… Is your original model very complex and detailed? I mean, I had the same problem adding detail to a complex head model…

That problem is in the mapping I think. Try using a bigger size for the map export. Also try increasing the SubDivision resolution in LW… And don´t forget to flip vertically the map before export :slight_smile:

Hope this helps!