Author Topic: Zbrush to Substance?  (Read 31468 times)

Hi there folks, Just new to the forum and excited to learn the substance software :-)

So, my pipeline for years has been Zbrush>Keyshot>Photoshop and thats it, i got both Substance Designer and Painter because i loved the texturing options/layers etc... BUT, being a noob, ive absorbed all the tutorials i can, even on my Digital Tutors subscription, but i cant find anything that clarifies for me the following..

When importing a mesh from Zbrush to Substance, do i need to create Normal maps in Zbrush? I understand Substance can do this for me but im lost as to where my detailed mesh goes? if i decimate in zbrush then i cant use substance for my normals as there wont be high res details?

If any of you fine Substance users out there could either give me tips, or point me in the right direction of a guide on Zbrush to Substance workflow. (plus, zbrush tends to make a mess of normal maps) .

Thanks a bunch!


Indeed SPainter is currently more suited for lowpoly, where you bake all your "mesh data" maps (like normal, ambient occlusion etc.) from a hires model.
But you can still work on the source model (i.e. the highpoly), assuming you provide the right maps.
I doubt that SPainter can handle millions of polygons, but it might work on a decimated model.
Said that, what you really need to paint in SP is:
1) Be sure that your model has UVs.
2) Bake the necessary maps to apply effects in SPainter.

The 2nd step can be done in Substance Designer, and yes, you will need to bake the normal maps from the original hipoly if you decide to use the decimated version.
The maps you will need to bake from a hires mesh are:
1) Tangent Normal Map
2) Ambient Occlusion

Then, from these 2 maps, you will be able to extract:
3) Curvature
4) World Space Normal Map

And finally, you will not need anything more than your decimated mesh to bake:
5) Position map.

I hope that will help you a little. Sorry if I can't be more specific, but the whole baking process it's an art in itself.
If you don't know where to start, there is a good explanation about normal maps here:


I cant thank you enough, even what you have explained has cleared up the voices in my head :-) - Over the past 24 hours ive been checking out as many tutorials and guides i can, i have filled a booklet with notes etc.. (its been 20 years since i left school, so studying aint easy lol)

but things are certainly more clear now, thanks to you :-) so.. to recap..

ZBrush Output - High res model, low res (or decimated) model, both UV'd, and as many maps as i want/need.  Am i correct in saying i can use my polypainted UV texture map as a vertex colour map in SP/SD to assist with other map creation?

I feel the best thing for me to do is to stop the tutorials and note taking for a while and just go ahead and get into the software itself and get going.

Once again I thankyou for your help :-)


In theory, if your final output will be the decimated version, you need UVs on the decimated version only.
There are several ways instead to convert your zbrush polypaint data into a "diffuse map" to be used as a base.
One of these for example could be:
1) Decimate the current hires
2) Create UVs for the decimated version.
3) Subdivide the decimated version to ensure it has enough polygons to receive polypaint.
4) Transfer the polypaint from the hires to the decimated version
5) Create the Diffuse map from polypaint. The option *should* be under the Texture tab in the Tool menu.

Please forgive me if some of these steps are not totally correct, as I don't have zbrush with me at the moment.
But yes, once you have converted the polypaint to a texture map, you can feed it to both Substance Designer and Painter.

Cheers :)

Yip, that all makes perfect sense :-)

Thanks again mate for taking the time :-)


Where is the GoZ for Substannce painter 2 ? Fail !)