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Hi Elliott, This is a great breakdown and very generous in sharing your process and insights, you came a long way from the vending machine days!
Are you planning on releasing the UE4 project to the public? Or only builds? I'd love to play around with it in the editor if possible!
A digital artist Pablo Munoz shared a guide to customizing the ZBrush user interface with purpose, so that it optimizes your workflow. The HOW part is not that difficult to deal with, so the artist decided to break down the WHY part. You can change your UI easily, but making it useful is not that simple. So, the tutorial is split into two parts: The HOW and the WHY. The second part shows a method to customize the UI and how to make it a part of your workflow.
Here is a small piece of the second part:
Personalising your custom UI
The best way is to “track your needs” and pay attention to what you really use all the time. There might be other ways to do this, but my favourite is to record a full ZBrush session using the Standard UI. There are many tools to record your screen, I personally use BandiCam for my tutorials, but I’ve also used Camtasia and Screen-O-Matic in the past. If you want a free option, you can try Open Broadcaster Software (which is actually very very good) or IceCream recorder, (mmaximumof 5 min per video on the free version) which will be more than enough for this exercise.
Obviously, you can also record the sculpting session directly from ZBrush using the Movie options. However, I did use it to record the sample video below and I found it a bit harder to spot the ‘clicks’ and figure out how many times I use a specific tool.
The video below is a recording of a quick sketch I made from scratch. I recorded myself doing this sketch using the ZBrush standard UI, and then I play the video and counted how many times I looked for a UI element within the ZBrush sub-palettes.
So you don’t get bored, I’ve turned the video into a time-lapse, but I’m tracking the clicks on the most used tools and features.
I realised I use quite a bit of hotkeys and shortcuts for the buttons that are already in the standard UI like Perspective (P), Polyframe (Shift+F), Solo mode (S, my custom hotkey), BPR render (Shift+R) and Frame (F) so I can get rid of them because I work faster with these hotkeys that I already know (Obviously you cannot see this in the video, but while sculpting, I kept reaching for the keyboard to access this tools).
Also, I have one of the keys on my Wacom mapped to space bar which gives me access to the Quick menu from where I can change the Z Intensity, Draw Size, Focal Shift and all those sliders at the top of the ZBrush UI. What’s interesting is that other things such as the colour picker, MRGB, RGB and M, which are also part of the Quick menu, I always go to the top to click them. So I can get rid of some things at the top, but not all of them.
Make sure to study the full guide here.