Despite the perceived distain of ZBrush and potentially Pixologic’s business decisions based on the title alone, I love ZBrush. It is in no way putting down the tool that so many professionals use on a daily basis, even I use it! However, ZBrush’s UI and UX; for better or worse, hasn’t changed all that much over the years. While this is great for professionals who tire of software like Windows 10 that constantly keep changing the experience while leaving it in a perpetually broken state, some functionality that’s become more affordable over the past few years hasn’t really garnered much support in at least the initial 2018 release of ZBrush.
The one thing I find missing in ZBrush that would at least fit into my workflow is touch gesture controls. This wasn’t really an issue in years past, as I never had access to a quality display tablet until I started digging into the options of mobile creative workstations. Specifically, that would be the Wacom Cintiq Mobile Studio Pro (13 inch), the Microsoft Surface lineup, and the Apple iPad Pro. But now that I actually own and use one of these devices (Wacom’s improved chimera of a Cintiq) and had plenty of use out of it with both 2D and 3D work, I now realize how clunky it feels to use Zbrush and even Blender with a limited control set.
The problem lies in the fact that many 3D modeling and sculpting suites heavily rely on keyboard shortcuts to keep the process fast when working at a proper workstation with a full-size keyboard. When you’re out and about like at a local coffee shop, or maybe at a park bench, you may realize that having only 6 or 8 programmable hotkeys (like on the mobile studio pro) you’re likely going to have half of those buttons set up just for modifier keys just to orbit, zoom, or rotate the viewport while you work. This leaves what few hotkeys you probably have available being set to only the most common of commands. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Leonardo (an infinite canvas drawing application, great for sketch work!) by being able to pan the canvas with just a finger or two. In ZBrush, you can still orbit the camera for sure, but it doesn’t differentiate touch input from pen or mouse input. So, if you happen to touch your mesh with a finger with whatever powerful brush one may be using, one may very well have to hit undo more than a few times as a result.
I love ZBrush. Even if it has quirks, an outdated UX, no Linux support, and nonexistent touch gestures. I just wish for a better experience with ZBrush on a touchscreen display.