This is a tutorial about using masks in ZBrush. Masks are a very powerful feature of ZBrush because you can build up geometry with them and also model details into your mesh. Masks can be used for hardsurface and also for any other sculpting techniques.

Let’s assume we have a cube in ZBrush which is subdivides a few times:

ZBrushstart with Cube

ZBrush start with Cube

We want the upper part to be rounded and thicker. A good way to go here is to define an inverted mask of the upper part by using a rectangular mask brush (keys B-M and select Mask Rect brush).

After adding the mask your cube looks like this:

Mask on Cub in ZBrush

Mask on Cube in ZBrush

Then the upper part of the cube is not editable when we deform or draw on this surface. So let’s invert the mask by pressing CTRL – I key. Then we increae the size of the editable part with Deformations -> Inflate in all directions (x, y and z):

inflate

And this is the result, astonishing isn’t it?

inflate_result

Applied mask in ZBrush

There are a lot of other things you can do with masks, for example creating new Subtools fromout the selected mask. Here I have selected a part of a polymesh with the loop mask brush (B-M and select Loop Mask):

Mask with Lasso brush

Mask with Lasso brush

With that seletced you can go to Subtools -> Extract, set the thickness of the extraction and press Extract and then Apply:

Extract the lasso mask

Extract the lasso mask

The panel-like object that has been created is a new subtool which we can manipulate separately from the other polymesh. Such objects can be moved around also or scaled like this for creating hair or a helmet:

New subtool with Extract

New subtool with Extract

Another great feature is masking with an alpha. Select a mask pen brush and press Control key for using the mask. With the control key pressed you set the stroke to DragRect and the Alpha to this one:

Alpha mask and DragRect stroke in ZBrush

Alpha mask and DragRect stroke in ZBrush

When painting the mask with the mask pen onto your mesh you can define nice mask patterns:

Applied alpha mask on mesh

Applied alpha mask on mesh

Of course this masks can be extracted, inverted and deformed like any other mask – you’ll get the idea.

Extract of alpha mask

Extract with an alpha mask

Masks are a great feature in my opinion. Most of the people try to model everything with other brushes when they start working with ZBrush but most of these things could be done better by using masks.

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