Free ZBrush Tutorials to Help You Level Up

Take Your ZBrush Skills to the Next Level

We all know that getting good at art is a lot like playing through a really grueling RPG—you grind, and grind, and occasionally you gain enough experience points to level up.

Here are twenty free tutorials to help you get your ZBrush skills to that next level. Whether you're a​beginner or advanced, hard-surface or organic, there should be something on this list that piques your interest.

We'll stay away from raw time-lapse videos without any narration or instruction—that kind of stuff can be really fun to watch, but if you're inexperienced it's also a really tough way to learn. Everything we include here will be an actual training video.

In no particular order:

At this point, I'm pretty sure I've mentioned the ZClassroom in at least five different articles, but it really wouldn't feel right leaving it off the list. Pixologic's official training library should be your home base if you're just starting out in ZBrush. There is so much to learn here—it's honestly one of the best developer produced training repositories out there. More »

This is a great little nugget from Eat3D that covers the creation of a highly detailed stone trim piece. You'll use morph targets and the mallet brush to rough up a piece of stone, and then learn how to use an alpha stamp to add an intricate knot pattern to the sculpt. This opened my eyes the first time I watched it a few years ago, and all the techniques still apply. More »

Even though Pixologic has introduced the Wax Preview as an easier way of “faking” sub-surface scattering, it's good to know both methods so you can pick and choose depending on the project. If you're doing organic sculpts, this stuff is essential! More »

Vincent “Orb” takes you through the methods he used to create his now famous “Orb Cracks” brush. More »

This is a good little blurb on creating mechanical bits and bobs for Zbrush's relatively new Insert Brush system. Fantastic info if you do a lot of hard-surface/mech stuff. There are a lot of insert brushes available to be downloaded, but there's a ton of freedom and power in knowing how to do it for yourself. More »

At just over an hour and a half, there's a lot of material here to wade through, but it's all in real-time and it's very beginner friendly. There are certainly better portrait sculpting demonstrations out there, but most of them are from widely recognized artists, which means they cost money. The nice thing here is that you get to watch Duylinh work through the process of sculpting a head in real-time, mistakes and all. More »

This is another extensive real-time sculpting demonstration that goes through the process of recreating Pumba from Disney's LionKing. Now, it's four hours long, but before you run for the hills, consider this: Ravenslayer is very, very good at this kind of sculpting, and it's really quite interesting to listen to his commentary as he works through the process of translating a stylized 2D character into a 3D model.

If these are the types of characters you're interested in it's probably worth your time to watch him work—I'm not saying you have to sit down for four hours and watch the process straight through, but definitely watch enough to get a good feel for the way he makes decisions and uses his tools. More »

This is an hour and twenty-minute anatomy lecture from Ryan Kingslien, who really knows his stuff. One of my favorite things about Ryan as an instructor is that he's just a pleasure to listen to—not only because he knows anatomy very intimately, but also because his unique philosophy about art and the creative process always comes through in his videos. More »

Speaking of Ryan, although he mostly offers premium content over at ZbrushWorkshops and Visualarium, it's a really good idea to subscribe to his YouTube feed and his professional mailing lists. When Zbrush upgrades with new features, he's very frequently the first person to post a walk-through and tutorial explaining them—almost like a first responder. More »

I really can't recommend this enough for anyone coming to Zbrush from a standard generalist package like Maya or Max. If you're used to a standard box modeling workflow, Zbrush can take some getting used to because it doesn't really have any traditional modeling tools. Although I wouldn't necessarily recommend this workflow in production work, these techniques are very useful in a pinch if you need to model a (clean) secondary asset and don't feel like jumping back to Maya, Modo, Max, etc, just to work up a base mesh. Zbrush is still pretty clumsy for low-poly modeling, but sometimes you just don't feel like bouncing around from program to program. More »

This is an excellent training series developed by Scott Spencer and ImagineFX. Spread out over six videos, Scott goes through the character creation process and offers up over four hours of training. More »

Alex is really an amazing instructor, and over the course of his career, he's done some pretty incredible things for the CG community. This two and a half hour tutorial goes through the entire creation process behind one of Alex's recent illustrations—it doesn't focus solely on Zbrush, but there's quite a bit of material devoted to the sculpting process. More »

I just stumbled on BadKing about a week and a half ago, and he's really got quite a site started. There are a handful of tutorials, including some great stuff on hard surface modeling, and an extensive list of alphas and brushes available for download. Check him out! More »