Zbrush - Pathway into the industry?


Hello guys!

This is something I’ve been ruminating on recently and would love to hear your opinion on it. I am absolutely in love with digital sculpting and find myself wanting to do nothing but that. I attend an AI school and I have various classes where I need to be on other 3d packages, game engines, etc and the enthusiasm level for those things run very dry compared to sculpting.

If someone is to put all their eggs in one basket and focus solely on Zbrush, mastering it to a world-class level, what are his/her chances of being hired in the game industry as a specialist on that?



Chances are pretty high, but the eggs must be of high quality too.
Can’t comment on your case, since you are still studying and you portfolio will change.
Just a friendly advice, sculpt like your life depends on it. No slacking no nothing. If you do it half assly then you might as well learn other software too.


I would say yes to this, and I would recommend this sort of focus but with one caveat. Having exceptional ZBrush art in your folio is one thing, but you need to be able to show how this translates to production ready game art. It doesn’t matter if you can model the best characters in the world, if you can’t make them work in game then you are missing a key skill.

So I would make sure that you also include low poly versions of your models, preferably rendered in engine. You don’t necessarily need to do too much with the engine itself, just get yourself a nice presentation scene and lighting setup and drop your work in there. Showing work in an actual engine would win points for sure.


Agree: If you make awesome ultra-hi poly model turntables then you have to ask somebody else to make them useful… then you sound like a slow character designer, why didn’t you just use a box of prismas? “Because then I wouldn’t be able to luxuriate over the delicate writing on the zipper pulls. See how the light catches on the edge of ‘TALON’?” … 1) Prismas and bigger paper; 2) Yeah, so what?

Nobody in the world anywhere needs you to be awesome. Productivity and wealth* come from giving people what they need/want. Find out what people need/want and work towards giving to them better than anybody else.

  • wealth here means the ability to feed yourself and keep the internet on; it does not necessarily mean vast surpluses of income, sailboats in Cancun and fancy penguin love slaves.

Don’t forget that nobody needs “an awesomely sculpted model. full. stop.” They need “a model of this, meant for that.” Focus too much on being awesome at ZBrush and you become a technician who can’t really sculpt. Focus too much on being awesome at sculpting and you become a technician who can’t really deliver a character that makes people swoon/shiver/laugh/drool/scream/smile. And please, dear god, read a book on color theory. And massing. And anatomy. And lighting. And…

*** Do not set out to be a great Z-Brush user. Set out to be a great artist who uses Z-Brush. ***

And if in the course of so doing you find that Mudbox, or Photoshop, or SketchUp, or a box of Prismas suit your and your clients’ ends better than ZBrush then you’ll just move right on over without caring. Or perhaps, even with delight - OMG look at what I can do with this!

And you don’t have to get hired in the “I work for… My job is at…” sense. Maybe you break open the “screw physical stuff, buy this digital sculpture” market. Or maybe you fab limited editions hand painted by svelte penguins in… no, they have color printers that are as good as your models, screw the penguins. Or maybe you turn out to be a freelance commercial illustrator and do magazine art out of your sailboat studio in Cancun.

Maybe becoming awesome at ZBrush turns out not to be about the tiny writing on the zipper pulls but rather about the deftness and fluidity with which you create 3d spaces and you revolutionize set design (please, somebody, revolutionize set design. I’m begging.)

It might not end up being games and you might get to work for yourself making awesome ZBrush sculpts.

  • Box of Prismas :wink:


Zbrush is just a tool.
Those are examples of good portfolios, allmost solely done in Zbrush. If you can achieve this level of artisty, then you might get noticed. Those people are great at drawing, that’s why they stand out.
People often get in the trap of learning just the tools. Also it’s hard to see one’s own flaws, especially when making characters. So between being good and great is a huge gap.
What you think is an obstacle (learning other pragrams) is nothing compared to artistic obstacles. Learning retopology might take you up to month. Learning maya or max for hard-surface modeling might take half a year. But becoming a great artist might take many years.
Being a great artist is more important than technical things, which you will learn later anyway with practice or in production.


I’m starting at the basics of digital sculpting, so I may not give the best answer, but if someone wants to be completely zbrush-based, they should go into 3d printing or toy design rather than any of the CGI careers. Zbrush is more of a choice rather than the be-all, also beautiful and amazing models should be part of your portfolio, if your employer tells you to make a simple model, you should make it simple, production should be cheap and fast. Which is why I’d recommend if your only interest is in Zbrush, you should just sell your models for3d printing. (You may make much more).