Over 4,711 companies subscribe to ZBrush, but the total number of users is at least 151,111. The biggest advantage of ZBrush is its innovative tools and features that empower you to sculpt anything within your imagination.
It also has a wide range of built-in brushes you can use to create all sorts of effects.
ZBrush is a digital sculpting and painting program that has revolutionized how digital artists create. It allows you to quickly and easily create detailed three-dimensional sculptures from a virtual ball of clay. Artists love using this software for character and object design.
In the 3D modeling and sculpting world, there’s no doubt that ZBrush has reigned supreme for about two decades. While it’s easy to use and has a ton of features, a few shortcomings make it worth considering alternatives.
The main issue with ZBrush is its price tag. At $899, it’s one of the most expensive modeling software among many alternatives. It costs even more if you go for monthly subscriptions. For many artists, it’s simply too expensive.
Another downside of ZBrush is its learning curve. Yes, it’s easy to use, but there’s an annoying learning curve before mastering all the features and functions. The complex UI can be overwhelming for beginners, and even experienced users can find it challenging to exploit all the features.
Lastly, ZBrush is not as versatile as other modeling software. While it’s great for sculpting and painting, it lacks some key features that make other software more versatile.
For example, it doesn’t have boolean operations or edge-detection like other software.
Fortunately, you can look the other way and find better alternatives to ZBrush. Now, let’s go over the best 15 ZBrush alternatives. Stay tuned!
Blender is an open-source computer graphics software tool set used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, three-dimensional interactive applications, and computer games. Its features include advanced simulation tools such as:
- Rigid body dynamics
- Fluid dynamics
- Cloth simulation
- Soft-body dynamics
Are you an engineer, architect, product designer, or visual entertainer? Do you want to learn how to create three-dimensional models and animations? If so, consider the Blender suite supports the entirety of the modeling pipeline, including:
- Motion tracking
Did you know that Blender supports external renderers like YafaRay and LuxRender? It also features a compositing module that allows you to mix movie shots.
Not even ZBrush is as comprehensive as Blender in the entire three-dimensional design workflow. Just think about it; there are over 20 brush types and numerous beginning shapes.
Blender is available under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Its source code is freely available, meaning you can modify and redistribute it.
In addition to the exceptional capabilities and features, Blender seems irresistible, considering you have to part with $899 for ZBrush.
There’s something in Blender for you, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro.
Check out the many features that make Blender an amazing toolset:
- The user interface is consistent across all platforms.
- It’s easy to use and intuitive.
- The learning curve is gentle compared to the hassle of learning ZBrush.
- It’s incredibly powerful and flexible.
- It’s free and open-source, unlike the expensive ZBrush.
3ds Max Design is Autodesk’s flagship modeling, animation, and rendering software for architecture, engineering, and construction. Max Design provides powerful tools for designing and documenting models created with Autodesk Revit software.
It also supports the import of DWG™ drawings from AutoCAD® Civil. Design your dream home, pool, or garden using Max Design’s intuitive tools, and bring your vision to life with realistic rendering.
You can even create photorealistic images of your designs using the mental ray® renderer. Max Design is the perfect tool for any home improvement project.
3ds Max Design serves more technical purposes than just creating art and digital animation. You can use it for product design and engineering, including architecture and construction.
Thus, this premium software package is a powerful tool for many different industries.
Just like ZBrush, 3ds Max Design is a bit convoluted for beginners. Even those with some experience in design or engineering may find the software overwhelming at first.
However, once you get used to the interface and features, you’ll appreciate its robust potential. For example, I find that this premium software is the best for handling vast amounts of data.
Yes, it boasts efficient memory management and the ability to process large files quickly. It’s what most designers recommend for creating realistic Archviz projects for animation or rendering.
3. 3D Coat
3D Coat is a powerful tool that allows you to create high-quality art. It’s similar to ZBrush in many ways, but it also has unique features that make it a viable choice for particular projects.
Look no further than Pilgway’s official page for 3D if you’re looking for a reliable and user-friendly application to help you create amazing art.
Categories in common with ZBrush:
- Both are excellent software choices for anyone looking to create beautiful and intricate art pieces.
- Both software applications offer a wide variety of brushes, colors, and textures, giving you endless possibilities for creating.
- Both are also compatible with Macs and PCs, making them accessible to everyone.
Still, there are a few key differences between the two software applications.
What sets Coat apart is its ease of use and intuitive interface. It’s the better choice for beginners or those who want to create complex art without spending hours learning how to use the software.
You can quickly navigate and use the following features:
- New Brush Engine
- New GUI
- Low Poly Modeling
- Sculpt Layers
- Rich Curves Toolset
- Smart Retopo
And if that’s not enough, there’s also a FREE Smart Materials Library that comes with the software!
SelfCAD is among the top alternatives for ZBrush! It’s ideal for entertainers, marketers, and product designers looking for affordable, powerful sculpting software.
SelfCAD is a fully-featured, cloud-based CAD application that offers an impressive set of tools for novice and experienced users. It serves the same purpose as ZBrush but at less than half the cost.
ZBrush monthly subscriptions cost $39.95, while a complete SelfCAD version goes for $15/month. You’ll part with $599 for a perpetual license for independent enterprises.
What can you do with SelfCAD? 3D printing is one of the most popular uses for SelfCAD. The software is equipped with powerful slicing algorithms that allow for high-quality prints.
Its main edge over ZBrush is its simplicity, compared to the convoluted interface of ZBrush. SelfCAD is easy to use and has loads of tutorials to help users get started.
Another notable stronghold is its support for third-party plugins. SelfCAD users can now take advantage of the wide range of ZBrush plugins available. SelfCAD has also continued to evolve and add new features since its 2016 initial release.
Additionally, its impressive ability to export files in various formats makes it easy to transfer designs between different software applications.
5. Cinema 4D
Cinema 4D empowers creatives to create 3D computer animation, motion graphics, 3D prints, and visual effects. It’s easy to learn and super fun to use!
Cinema 4D has a similar set of sculpting tools to ZBrush, making it an unbeatable option for those already familiar with the latter. It also has an intuitive interface that makes it easy to get started.
The categories it has with ZBrush include:
- 3D Modeling
3D Modeling with Cinema 4D is easy to get started with, thanks to its intuitive interface. You can quickly create high-quality models for your projects.
- 3D Printing
Cinema 4D’s 3D printing tools let you quickly and easily create high-quality prints for your projects.
You can tap into the flexible potential of its Scene Node system with Capsules. It allows for data import and spline features for use within Scene Nodes. Thus, it makes for some unique and useful toolsets.
Cinema’s Node-based system is perfect for those who want the power and flexibility of a plugin without learning to code. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, Cinema has the features and tools you need to create amazing visuals.
At a monthly cost of $94 and an annual $719, Cinema 4D is noticeably much more expensive than ZBrush.
Dimension is part of Adobe Creative Cloud, and it can be used in conjunction with other Adobe apps like Photoshop and Illustrator. It’s a fairly intuitive program to use and can produce some stunning results.
Adobe Dimension was initially launched in 2017 as Project Felix. It was designed as a way for graphic designers to quickly create photorealistic renderings of their work without learning traditional CAD software.
In 2019, Adobe rebranded Felix as Dimension and released an updated version with new features and capabilities. Adobe Dimension then grew into a worthy competitor for ZBrush because it’s an intuitive program to use and produce some stunning results.
You can use Dimension to design and render:
- Brand visualizations
- Product packaging
- Environmental graphics
- Product mockups
- Other creative work
The dimension allows users to create real-life images and capture product shots. It also offers users the ability to create isometric views and change perspectives.
Dimension is just as good as ZBrush for design and rendering, and it costs less than ZBrush’s monthly subscription charges. Take advantage of the seven-day free trial, and decide if the $19.99 monthly fee is worth it.
Also, Adobe offers a comprehensive set of tutorials to get you started with Dimension.
Hey, are you creative and would like to sculpt? Do you want to create part of virtual realms that are rapidly coming to life? If so, Sculptris is the application for you!
Even if you have no prior experience, don’t worry! Your imagination is the only limit. Pixologic’s Sculptris is a great way to get started with digital sculpting. It’s easy to use and has a low learning curve.
It’s time to pull, push, pinch, and twist virtual clay.
With Sculptris, you can create detailed sculptures without worrying about the technical aspects of modeling. It’s a great way to relax and let your creativity flow.
This free-to-use software came into active development in 2010, and its inspiration is based on modeling clay. Unlike ZBrush, it’s easy to learn and doesn’t require a powerful computer to run smoothly.
Tomas Pettersson initially developed Sculptris, though Pixologic is the current owner. The following features make Sculptris unique to ZBrush:
- Automatic UV Creation
- Dynamic Tessellation
- Symmetry Mode
- Pose Tools
- Brushes, including Clay, Dam_standard, Inflate, Grab, and Smooth
Autodesk Mudbox is the proprietary computer-based three-dimensional (CAD) software used for creating and modifying organic models via sculpting and painting. Skymaster first developed it, and Autodesk acquired it in 2007.
Mudbox is commonly used to produce high-resolution textures for digital sculpture or other projects that require detailed organic models. The software’s primary purpose is to add details and texture to models created in another program, including Autodesk Maya or Autodesk Softimage.
Mudbox has many of the same features as other sculpting programs, like ZBrush and Sculptris. However, Mudbox’s focus on digital painting gives it an edge over its competitors.
The ultimate hacks on Autodesk Mudbox that help eat away at the market share of its competitors are:
- Mudbox’s focus on digital painting
- The ability to create high-resolution textures
- The software’s compatibility with Autodesk Maya and Autodesk Softimage
With these three features, Autodesk Mudbox is the superior sculpting program on the market today.
But ZBrush is a powerhouse in the digital sculpting world, with an array of features. Still, $39.95 monthly for ZBrush seems too steep, considering $10 can get you all the Autodesk Mudbox firepower!
You can get a free Mudbox trial here.
Makers Empire 3D is a powerful yet easy-to-use app that lets you create and print three-dimensional objects. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to make customer toys, models, or other objects. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!
Here are some of the things you can do with Makers Empire:
- Create three-dimensional objects
- Print three-dimensional objects
- Share three-dimensional objects
- Edit three-dimensional objects
This learning program allows you to design STEM learning objects. It’s used in over 2,000 schools in more than 60 countries.
Unlike ZBrush, Makers Empire 3D targets learners aged 4-13 years, and it’s also optimized for touch-screen devices. Still, the tussle between Makers Empire 3D and ZBrush is over ease of use and cost-effectiveness.
ZBrush is more difficult to use and costs $899 for everyone. Makers Empire 3D is free for individuals, but schools pay $1,999 annually. The cost is worth it considering the tons of features and support for entire schools.
Makers Empire also offers an online community where you can interact with other users, ask questions, and get feedback on your designs. The company behind Makers Empire is based in Australia, but they have a team of designers and engineers located around the world.
Modo has all of the features that you need to create professional-grade 3D models, and it’s also impressively user-friendly. Unlike ZBrush, Modo is designed to be easy to use from the start.
This polygon and subdivision surface modeling software also has an extensive toolset. Features range from keyframing to animating and sculpting.
Concept artists use Modo in film and game production, and you can also use them for creating 3D printable models. Foundry’s reputation for designing impeccable software for the creative industry means Modo is stable and reliable.
Illustrators and painters also use it to create beautiful 3D art. Modo is a wise choice if you’re looking for an all-around 3D modeling program.
Modo supports GPU rendering, creating photo-realistic renders with ease. Modo’s advanced lighting features also help you get the perfect shot every time.
Modo costs $65 per month, while ZBrush costs $39.95 per month, so it’s more premium than ZBrush. Still, it’s the 3D software professional artists use to create high-quality 3D models.
Geomagic Freeform is a 3D design software that combines touch-based haptic devices with traditional handcrafting skills to create organic, digital designs for custom manufacturing. You can use it to quickly and easily create one-of-a-kind products or parts without the need for expensive tooling or molds.
3D Systems’ Geomagic Freeform is the most advanced 3D modeling software available today for transforming traditional handcrafting into digital, organic designs.
Touch-based haptic devices provide a natural way to interact with and sculpt virtual 3D objects. It’s digital so you can make changes and iterations to your design with the click of a button.
Such capabilities are impossible with traditional handcrafting methods.
You can use it to solve complex, precision challenges for manufacturing and building. Geomagic Freeform is used extensively in several industries, including:
Geomagic Freeform beats ZBrush in a lot of ways. It’s more precise and has better tools for creating hard-surface models. Its interoperability with other software is better, and it has native file format support for all major CAD packages.
The only thing ZBrush has going for it is that it’s much cheaper.
12. Quixel Mixer
Quixel Mixer allows you to create your 3D models from scratch or use existing 3D models and illustrations as a starting point. You can modify these models by adding, removing, or rearranging elements to create something entirely new.
Quixel Mixer is a free online tool available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection. There are no hidden costs or subscription fees; you can use Quixel Mixer as much or little as you like.
Head to the Quixel Mixer website and create an account to get started. You can log in and access all the features and tools Quixel Mixer offers.
ZBrush is a complete, comprehensive software, while Quixel still seems to be beta.
13. Lightwave 3D
New Trek developed this graphics program that develops numerous films and video games. Lightwave 3D is a powerful tool for creating high-quality 3D models, animations, and images.
This software makes a suitable alternative for ZBrush, and it’s been keeping up thanks to features like:
- Processor-independent architecture
- Nodal shading
- Instancing geometry
It boasts a highly-customizable interface, support for 64-bit operating systems, and an integrated content management system.
The node graph architecture provides a flexible workflow and the new LightWave 3D features an improved render engine and faster modeling tools.
This program supports Python scripting language for customizing the application and automating repetitive tasks. LUA is also supported.
This iPad-only painting app from FlatBlackFilms puts the power of 3D into your hands, letting you sculpt worlds with just a few taps. It lets you create models from tiny cubes, unlike ZBrush polygons.
You can export your creations in several ways, including OBJ files that can be imported into other 3D apps.
Embrace the power to create simple 3D shapes and paint them with any color. The app also includes an undo button, so you can always start over or step back when things get messy.
The top pro of this alternative to ZBrush is its native nature on iOS, putting the power to create 3D models in your hands without any other specialized hardware.
This app is free to download, but it isn’t available on desktop PCs, and it only runs on iOS. ZBrush doesn’t limit you like that, but it costs $39.95 monthly.
ZBrush knows just how coveted the premium package is among users, and it appreciates that not everyone will always afford it. ZBrushCoreMini is for those who want to get their hands on the software for free.
It’s the perfect way to test-drive the software before upgrading to the full version. But think about it, the free version isn’t as comprehensive as the $39.95/month package.
ZBrushCoreMini comes with all the essential sculpting and painting tools you need to create professional-grade 3D models and illustrations. And with a smaller toolset, it’s easy to learn the ropes without feeling overwhelmed.
With ZBrushCoreMini, you get:
- A smaller set of tools than the full version of ZBrush
- The ability to upgrade to the full version at any time
- A fully functional program that can produce professional-grade results
This freemium was only launched in 2020 for humanitarian purposes, but don’t be fooled by its name. ZBrushCoreMini is a powerful program that can produce high-quality results.
Without a doubt, Blender tops the best ZBrush alternatives. It’s an open source, cross-platform software that gives you the power to create anything within your imagination.
You’re never alone in your journey to mastering 3D modeling, with Blender’s community of users and developers always there to support you.
Most importantly, Blender is the easiest to use among 3D modeling software, and it won’t take you long before you can create stunning 3D models and illustrations.
Now that you know the best alternatives to ZBrush, what are you waiting for? Get started on your journey to becoming a 3D master today!
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.