Creating 3D Sketches in ZBrush

Himesh Anand discussed the workflow behind his ZBrush-made sketches, talked about the favorite brushes, and shared some tips and tricks on sketching in ZBrush.


My name is Himesh Anand and I'm a 21 years old Concept Artist from Bihar, India. In this article, I'll share my design thought process and how I go about sketching things in ZBrush or Photoshop.

To introduce myself a bit more, I started working professionally at the age of 19 after I completed high school, I got to work in Technicolor Bangalore as a Concept Artist. I worked there for one year then I switched to freelance and have been doing it since then. I have contributed to a few AAA titles for Ubisoft while working there in the company and few freelance projects with Netease on an upcoming Marvel project. 

Using ZBrush

I started using ZBrush primarily for sketching in 3D almost 3 months ago, I have used ZBrush in the past as well but very little and I gave up thinking it was too complicated. There was a big reason why I started learning ZBrush in-depth. I remember I was working on a freelance project where I had to build weapons which was a mix of Organic + Hard Surface. Plus I had to do a bunch of different ideas in a day or two. And I was trying to pull it off in Fusion back then. Oh my god, that was a really tough time for me to get anything to look organic yet good in Fusion, Plus CAD and Poly I feel both are quite slow for Experimenting/Concepting in general because there are so many restrictions with topology and surfaces. And other artists on the project were using sculpting programs like 3DCoat and ZBrush. They were able to come up with great design solutions in a matter of hours! That really got me interested in ZBrush.

I think after finishing that project I was quite frustrated with how slow I was in designing in general, And that's where my luck really helped me because I became friends with Stefan Vlajic, Cane Townsend, Alex Senechal, and Gregori Vorontsov. These guys really helped me to get better in design and 3D in general. I bought some tutorials from Mike Nash and my friend Cane T. Those tutorials really gave me a good foundation for tools and techniques you are required to use while working on hard surface concepts. After that, I've been experimenting with ZBrush on my own.


I really love the brushes in ZBrush, Most of my go-to brushes are simple. I mostly use Clay Build Up for creating big form changes etc, Flatten & H-Polish to clean up areas and make sweeping surface transitions, Planar brush to make certain areas very flat and clean, Move brush to adjust the overall silhouette and shape of the design, Dam Standard to make paneling details, and a few others.

You don't really need to know crazy brushes or anything to design something good in ZBrush. That's what I like about it too that the tools become simpler once you know how to use them well and then you can purely just focus on the design itself.

Designing Sketches

Now let's talk about the main thing which is the design itself. So, I'm not a master or anywhere near "Damn that insane" in design yet because I'm still learning more about it almost daily. It's funny that the more you learn about design the more you will realize that you know less of it.

So I'll try to share my perspective on design here. I come mostly from a 2D background, as you might have seen on my ArtStation, so the majority of decisions I make are done from a very 2D perspective, even if I'm executing them in 3D. What I mean by that is that design is basically pattern recognition and knowing when and where to use certain principles of design. As you all know, there are several principles of design like repetition, emphasis, contrast, balance, proportions, scale, etc. So whatever I'm working on, I always think about the basic 70-30 rule which is basically having a balance of Rest vs Noise areas. Have them in a way that can lead your eye towards the main focal point of the design just like a good composition in a painting, because the composition is a part of the design too. It's the same when I draw in 2D as well, I try to focus on the bigger picture first and then narrow it down to its details.

But sometimes my method is the complete opposite of this. What I mean by that is sometimes when I'm sketching I don't think too much about its function and start with details directly, I try to switch my brain into only thinking in cool forms/shapes. This way I practice my brain to come up with shape/visual solutions for designs, mostly layering of details, having a balance of shapes, etc. because if I try to think both in function as well as the form it would be too much for my brain to calculate both of them simultaneously. But usually, when you're designing with constraints, it's better to have a clear idea/brief where you're heading towards this way you know what not to do and what to do. You can see some of the sketches I do every night just to train my brain below.

As you can see in these sketches the function of the object is not making realistic sense, I leave them sometimes up to the viewer to decide. For me, these kinds of sketches are like meditation because I'm not forcing my brain to think of something complex. My brain is completely empty while doing this (which is not a great way to design if you're doing something for a client)

And the same can be done with ZBrush-made Sketches:

As you can see in these sketches, they look cool but don't necessarily make any mechanical sense. That was my exact goal.

Thoughts on ZBrush 2021.7

I have seen the new ZBrush update, it's amazing to see they are coming up with tools like Knife tool which is going to speed up our workflow by a lot! I think that tool and the Bevel/Chamfer were my favorites.


I have a tutorial where I explain how to draw faster so you can focus solely on design and not so much on the technical side of things. You'll be able to learn how to draw like these above examples and how I go about designing these from start to finish. The tutorial is available via Gumroad and ArtStation.

My advice for new artists or for Concept Artists is to really consider getting into ZBrush, I highly recommend it for concepting! It's the fastest tool for idea generation after drawing. It might look super complicated at the beginning but trust me, once you know half of the tool in 3-4 weeks you will feel free and unstoppable as a designer. So definitely give ZBrush a try and I hope this article helped you out in some ways. Feel free to drop me a message on Instagram or ArtStation if you have any questions.

Himesh Anand, Freelance Concept Designer

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev

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Comments 2

  • 9992 4-1j

    You're insanely talented Himesh, especially for someone so young. Very inspiring work.


    9992 4-1j

    ·2 months ago·
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    Sunday Emiola

    ·2 months ago·

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