zbrush 3d tutorials
Photo via Pluralsight

Best ZBrush Tutorials & Video Courses For Teaching Yourself

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Every artist looking for a career in 3D should know about ZBrush. It’s one of the best modeling tools on the market and one of the most popular for concept art.

I recently covered a large list of ZBrush books for all skill levels. But some people are visual learners and they prefer video courses over text.

That’s why I created this post of the best ZBrush tutorials and video courses online. I’ve split this into two sections for free & paid courses so you can decide which best suits your goals and where you are in the learning process.

Free Tutorials

You’ll find a bunch of great free tutorials on YouTube if you look hard enough. ZBrush is one of those programs that artists are more than willing to teach because it’s just so important to the 3D pipeline.

But with free videos you always want to check the source and gauge quality. I’ve curated my favorites here which are both practical and easy to follow regardless of your skill level.

ZBrush Basics(10-part series)

zbrush 10part basics

Artist Richard James Cook spent a lot of time on this 10-part ZBrush series and it’s one of the most popular ZBrush tuts on YouTube.

Each video lesson totals around 30-60 minutes so if you follow this multipart series to the end you’ll consume a massive 7+ hours of ZBrush video lessons. Crazy right?

The fact that all of this can be found for free just goes to show you really can teach yourself. It’s definitely not easy but if you stick with it and practice daily you’ll master the ZBrush workflow in no time.


Intro to Sculpting with Zbrush

zbrush sculpting

North Pixel is a digital creative agency specializing in entertainment & 3D work. They have a fantastic YouTube channel and this intro lesson covers sculpting from the ground-up.

It’s just over an hour long with a lot of handy exercises throughout. The goal is to teach you sculpting without going too fast or pushing concepts too quickly.

For only an hour this may not seem like much. But since it’s so focused you really do take away a lot. This is no question a complete beginner’s guide so if you aren’t sure where to start with sculpting this is worth watching.


Zbrush for Beginners

zbrush for beginners video

Here’s another intro sculpting course that I think works incredibly well for beginners.

It’s one of the many awesome tuts on the Edge-CGI 3D YouTube channel.

Absolute beginners need to learn the fundamentals of sculpting before they can dive into project work. That’s why this video is so handy because it teaches the fundamental concepts along with the software itself.

It certainly can’t compete with the massive 10-part series I mentioned earlier. But I also realize not everyone has time to work through ten hours of video so this is a much shorter intro with content that’s easier to consume.


Creature Concepting: Sculpting the Base

modeling creatures

ArtStation’s YouTube has a bunch of cool tutorial videos and this one is perhaps the best on ZBrush.

It’s a multipart series teaching how to create creatures in ZBrush working with a few different ideas. This first video teaches you how to sculpt the base of the creature and how the many tools work in a ZBrush pipeline.

If you like this vid you might also check out some creature design books since they can help you sculpt and envision your own ideas for a kick-ass concept art portfolio.


Organic Modelling in ZBrush – Full Character

organic modelling zbrush video

If you’re willing to push your limits then check out this character video on organic modeling. It’s only a preview of the full course hosted on Cubebrush but this gives you a strong place to get started.

I haven’t seen the premium course myself so I can’t say if that’s worth the price or not. But based on this preview it definitely seems promising!

Organic modelling is no easy topic but once you start practicing frequently you’ll get the hang of it.


Create A Fantasy Character in ZBrush

fantasy character in zbrush

If you feel up to a real challenge then bookmark this tutorial and go through it when you can.

It’s a massive 10-part series teaching how to create a fantasy character in ZBrush from start to finish. This means starting with thumbnail sketching, designing a full concept, then turning this into a complete 3D character model.

The artist Raul Tavares teaches in a very easygoing manner so it’s the perfect video for newbies who want practice in ZBrush.

But note it does help if you know a little about ZBrush so you can follow along without too many questions.


Premium Tutorials

Digital premium courses are worth paying for if you can get real value from them. Learning ZBrush on your own is not easy.

But without paying for a teacher the next best option is to pay for a premium course.

I personally like Pluralsight because they have dozens of ZBrush courses and they offer a free trial where you get access to all these courses at once. If you’re thinking of testing some premium content then check these out and see if any look cool.

Introduction to ZBrush 4R7

zbrush 4r7 intro videos

This is one of the newest intro courses covering an Introduction to ZBrush 4R7. It’s not a perfect introduction but it is very lengthy totaling over 4 hours of premium video material.

The instructor Justin Marshall is a lead modeling author on Pluralsight so he’s taught a lot of courses on similar topics. But this is perhaps one of his best since it’s really geared towards beginners and helps you get a jump start into the software.

You’ll learn about the 3D workflow and how 2.5D designs work in ZBrush. Topics include the ZModeler, ZSpheres, and the ShadowBox feature among many others.


Your First Day in ZBrush

first day in zbrush video

Another course that might help newbies is Justin’s related course Your First Day in ZBrush.

This one is a lot shorter with about 1.5 hours of video material. But it’s meant to be a quicker guide to ZBrush teaching your first day and all the tools you’ll need to learn.

Early lessons share info about the tools and UV mapping along with modeling from scratch. You won’t gain a complete understanding of the software but you’ll have a much easier time moving forward after this course.


Texture Painting in ZBrush

texture painting in zbrush

Texturing is a big part of the 3D process along with 3D painting. Texture Painting in ZBrush introduces the concept of 3D painting and how it applies to ZBrush work.

You’ll learn all about the process of texture painting and how it works on 3D elements. Early videos cover some fundamental tools and the differences between polypainting and a map-based workflow.

Once you understand how painting works you’ll dive into the process and work through step-by-step lessons that’ll bring you from a novice to, at the very least, a competent 3D painter.


Getting Started with ZSketching

zsketching tutorial

In one of the newer releases of ZBrush the team added a ZSketch brush library to help improve modeling work. This mostly works on ZSpheres while modeling and you can use it for a number of different scenarios.

Check out the ZSketch docs page to learn more and figure out if this video course is right for you.

ZSketching is definitely something that all modelers should learn but there are different times & reasons for learning.

I recommend this course for intermediate-level users who know a bit about ZBrush and want to improve their performance time.


ZBrush for Mudbox Artists

zbrush for mudbox

I recently covered a detailed post on the best Mudbox courses which really is the best place to start for beginners.

However if you already know Mudbox then you might work towards ZBrush after the fact. And Justin Marshall again comes to your aid with his course ZBrush for Mudbox Artists.

This assumes you already know your way around Mudbox and want to move into ZBrush fast. He uses relevant terminology that most Mudbox artists have come to understand, plus the guided videos are super clear and easy to follow.


Skill-Builder: Sculpting in ZBrush and Maya

skill builder sculpting zbrush

Surprisingly this course is a beginner course even though it feels really in-depth.

In this skill builder on Sculpting in ZBrush and Maya you’ll learn through practical examples how to sculpt items from scratch. It’s the perfect way to pick up ZBrush and delve into the Maya environment too.

Once you’ve worked through these exercises you’ll have no fear of the modeling process. You may not be an expert but you’ll at least understand the whole process from start to finish.


Posing Characters in ZBrush

posing characters zbrush

If you work in character design then you’ll be doing a lot of modeling and posing in ZBrush. This requires a certain workflow and in this course you’ll pick up all the fundamentals for it.

With over 10 years experience artist Kyle Green teaches you how to pose characters from scratch in the ZBrush software.

This course would be most useful for aspiring character designers but also relates to 3D animation and game design. Overall a fantastic course to work through if you just want more practice using ZBrush.


Creating Realistic Clothing in ZBrush

realistic clothing zbrush videos

Here’s another similar course on a related topic that I think every ZBrush modeler should study.

Creating Realistic Clothing in ZBrush teaches you how to model, color, and finalized polished clothes on characters. You’ll learn how to design realistic fabrics and how to find tension points in the human body to make the clothes fall naturally.

Character artist David Jones teaches this one and it’s a beauty with over 3 hours of video.


Tileable Texture Creation in ZBrush

tileable textures zbrush course

Tiling is a big topic for ZBrush work and it’s something that every artist needs to learn. The course on Tileable Texture Creation in ZBrush is perhaps the best place to start if you have no experience.

It explains how tiling works and which tools fit best into this workflow. It’s not a complete guide but it sure is the perfect guide for beginners.

However this video does touch on other programs like Photoshop and 3ds Max so it helps if you already have experience with that software too.


Sculpting Necroknight with ZBrush

necroknight zbrush course

Looking for an incredibly detailed guide to ZBrush sculpting from start to finish?

Then you’ll love Sculpting Necroknight with ZBrush. It’s a fairly new course and it spans a whopping 5+ hours long with a ton of handy techniques for full-character modeling.

Each step covers a new idea from sculpting a skull to designing armor and posing.

An excellent guide for anyone trying to pick up the practical side of ZBrush and build their portfolio.


Sculpting Modular Structures in ZBrush

sculpting modular structures zbrush

Environment designers may not care much about character modeling but they should care about modular structures & props.

That’s why this great video series made my list and is well worth trying if you want to get into environment work.

Modular structures are designed through smaller elements which can be reshaped and styled as needed.

It’s not an easy workflow to pick up but this course really helps things along. I’d say these videos are practically a must-watch for anyone who wants to design realistic environments in ZBrush.


Game Environment Texturing Fundamentals

game environment texturing zbrush course

One other environment course I highly recommend is the Game Environment Texturing Fundamentals video series.

It totals about 3 hours long and again comes with the Pluralsight library so you can pick this up for free with a trial signup. It does touch upon related programs like 3ds Max but it’s one of the most complete guides to material work and environment modeling.

Aspiring game artists should absolutely check out this course because it’s crammed full of professional tips and industry techniques.

However it really helps to understand the fundamentals of ZBrush first so try following a few beginner courses before moving onto the advanced ones.