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To Buy or not to Buy – that's the question.

2019 ZBrush Free Download: Is There a Free Full Version?

Picture of Max von Übel
by Max von Übel
Jun 4, 2019

Looking for a ZBrush free download but don't want to commit to buying the full version of the popular CAD software? Here are the best answers to the question: Is there a free full version?

The correct answer if there is a free full version would be “Yes, but …” or “No, but …”, depending on your point of view.

ZBrush is an award-winning 3D modeling software that enables a workflow that is akin to sculpting with materials like clay. And of course, the full version isn’t free.

Luckily (here’s the but), there is a fully functional ZBrush free trial version for you to test before you buy it. Pixologic also offers a substantial discount for students and educators. In case you can make do with a streamlined version of ZBrush, take a gander at ZBrushCore.

And just in case the price tag of these paid versions is out of your budget, check out the best free ZBrush alternatives.


2019 ZBrush Free Download - Is There a Free Full Version? What is ZBrush?

Image of 2019 ZBrush Free Download - Is There a Free Full Version?: What is ZBrush?
ZBrush 2019. Credits: Pixologic.

ZBrush is a 2D and 3D modeling software, whose features include customizing brushes to shape, texture, and paint visual clay. All of this is intended in a real-time environment. For a comparatively accessible license, you will be using the same software that film studios, designers, illustrators, and game developers and other disciplines use across the globe.

Different categories are available, from free basic software (Sculptris), an intermediate license (ZBrush Core), and a full version (ZBrush). Moreover, lessons on ZBrush are available at Pixologic for free.


ZBrush Free Trial & ZBrush Core

ZBrush Free Trial & ZBrush Core Full Version

Image of ZBrush Free Trial & ZBrush Core: Full Version

Pixologic offers a free full version of ZBrush for download that runs for a generous 45 days, with no watermarks and no other types of functional restrictions. The trial version lets you test drive all the exciting 3D sculpting features this software has to offer. Keep in mind that you need an internet connection when running it.

Even if you decide against buying ZBrush, you can keep the designs you made. The trial version lets you import, save and even export ZBrush designs. How great is that! Yet, this license is only available for non-commerical nor profit purposes.

However, note that if you decide to purchase ZBrush, you will have to use a fresh installer. Since the free version of ZBrush you downloaded cannot be unlocked permanently.

As for May 2019, Pixologic still offers on their website the trial version from 2018.


ZBrush Free Trial & Budget Versions How to access the free trial?

Image of ZBrush Free Trial & Budget Versions: How to access the free trial?

The process to access the free trial is not quite straightforward:

  1. Register on the Pixologic website.
  2. Pixologic then sends you an email that contains the link to download the free trial version of ZBrush.
  3. In addition, you need to generate an activation file to unlock ZBrush. Follow the link provided to the Pixologic website and enter your email address and license key. Then download the activation file.
  4. Once you have both files on your computer, install the free version of ZBrush.
  5. When you first open the program, it will ask you to load the activation file. Once the file is loaded, click “Activate”.

Note that the free version of ZBrush requires an active internet connection to work.


ZBrush Free Trial & Budget Versions ZBrushCore

Image of ZBrush Free Trial & Budget Versions: ZBrushCore

As the name already suggests, ZBrushCore is a streamlined version that provides the same basic functionality. This lite version of ZBrush will only throw you back $149.95 which is a steal considering the $895 of the full version.

So what are the “Core” functionalities that Pixologic has packed into ZBrushCore? You get ZBrush’s popular brush system, you can sculpt with the acclaimed DynaMesh dynamic digital clay. ZBrushCore also offers mesh optimization for 3D printing and Pixologic’s own KeyShot rendering software!

To get beginners started quickly, Pixologic included a host of mannequins that provide the basic layout of humanoid characters and animals. Similarly, the program comes with templates that facilitate producing jewelry, pen holders and many more items.

On the other hand, most advances features have been removed from the core version. In example, you won’t get any Texture map support, 2D painting and drawing tools, material renderings, and no Sculptris Pro.

Explore this table to find out if ZBrushCore is sufficient for your purposes. Additionally, check this comparison of ZBrushCore to ZBrush.

There is no harm in starting out with ZBrushCore. When you feel that ZBrushCore is not powerful enough for your work, you can always upgrade and receive a  $100 discount.


ZBrush Free Trial & Budget Versions ZBrush Academic and Educational License

Image of ZBrush Free Trial & Budget Versions: ZBrush Academic and Educational License

Pixologic offers educational licenses of ZBrush to academic institutions and individual students alike. This version of ZBrush comprises the full feature-set of the regular version. To cut it short, there are no watermarks or other limitations of any kind. The only restriction Pixologic places on licenses is that that they may only be used for non-profit projects.

Educational licenses of ZBrush are available via resellers (check this website to find a reseller near you). The license will cost you about half of the price of a regular license. Once having an individual student or faculty academic license, it can be upgraded to a full license through Pixologic Support at any time. The discount obtained will amount to 50% of the current commercial price at the time of upgrade. Hence, you will end up paying just the full price once upgrading. Note that this option is not available for institutions (i.e. when a license is required for more than five computers).


ZBrush Free Trial & Budget Versions Available Features

Image of ZBrush Free Trial & Budget Versions: Available Features
ZBrush features. Credits: Pixologic.

The developers at Pixologic have made their name with a series of handy techniques that simplify the 3D sculpting workflow. For instance, ZBrush is capable of creating a new model with a higher, uniform polygon distribution to counter the effects of polygon stretching.

The main concept that beginners often struggle to grasp that you don’t try to create a high-resolution mesh right from the start. Instead, you build up levels of detail step by step.

Unlike commercial competitors like Mudbox that rely on external programs to create base geometry, ZBrush is completely self-sufficient. You can block out your 3D model step by step quickly and intuitively.


ZBrush Free Trial & ZBrush Core What's new in 2019?

Image of ZBrush Free Trial & ZBrush Core: What's new in 2019?
ZBrush 2019 features. Credits: Pixologic.com.

ZBrush has been updated to the 2019 version with features that seek to maintain the industry’s standard for digital sculpting. These features are intended to allow artists working faster, as well as creating-hard surfaces and mechanical shapes in an easier and more efficient way.

  1. Non-Photorealistic Rendering (NPR): this feature allows to visualize your 3D masterpieces in a hand-drawn 2D style, just like it was taken out of a comics book.
  2. Snapshot3D: project texture’s color information onto a sculpted surface AND convert any grayscale image into a 3D model.
  3. ZRemesher v3.0: this enhanced system can sustain creased edges, as well as automatically detect sharp surface angles. The resulting more efficient final polygon count is ideal for mechanical models, which also comes with an increase in speed.
  4. Folders: Aimed for increased organization and productivity, this tool enables to apply an action to all contained meshes.
  5. Universal Camera: the ZBrush Universal Camera offers control over the focal length, crop factor, supports undo and redo commands, and stores various camera settings.
  6. Intersection Masker: this is a simple and quick solution for creating masks in a few clicks.
  7. ZColor: the plugin is a new color manager for any digital painting tasks. Create unique projects that represent your mood with consistent colors in the available palette.

Free ZBrush Alternatives

Although at $895 for a single user license ZBrush is reasonably priced when compared to other professional CAD software, that price tag can clearly be out of range for many users, semi-professionals and hobbyists. Luckily, there are a number of free 3D sculpting alternatives to ZBrush available for download that offer a comparable feature set. The most notable among them are Sculptris, SculptGL, and Blender.

For information on even more free 3D modeling software, check out our article, 2019 Best 3D Printing Software (All are Free)

In case you want to learn more about free and commercial 3D modeling software, take a look at our extensive list:

2019 Best 3D Modeling Software / 3D Design Software

Free ZBrush Alternative Sculptris

Image of Free ZBrush Alternative: Sculptris

Sculptris is a free 3D modeling software by the same developers as ZBrush. Pixologic acquired the program to integrate some of its features. The most remarkable feature is its automatic level-of-detail that frees users from the pains of manual subdivision control and re-meshing.

Understandably Sculptris has fewer features than Pixologic’s commercial alternative. On the other hand, even beginners can grasp the basic techniques of Sculptris quickly and create impressive 3D models.


Free ZBrush Alternative SculptGL

Image of Free ZBrush Alternative: SculptGL

Anyone who wants to get a taste of the 3D sculpting workflow should take a gander at SculptGL. If you want to level up, give Sculptris a try. The best thing is, the entire free 3D modeling software runs in your web browser.

This being a free tool, the complexity of objects is limited. SculptGL includes only the basic tools necessary to give you a sense of the sculpting workflow. But this should not stop you if want to get your feet wet in 3D sculpting.


Free ZBrush Alternative Blender

Image of Free ZBrush Alternative: Blender

Blender is a professional grade, free 3D modeling software that is completely open-source. With its comprehensive feature set that covers the entire 3D modeling and animation pipeline Blender is a true jack of all trades.

Apart from the traditional 3D modeling functionalities, Blender can be used as a 3D sculpting suite that is comparable to ZBrush. The sculpting brushes allow creating complex 3D models. However, the learning curve of Blender is steeper when compared to the other alternatives on this list.

License: The text of "2019 ZBrush Free Download: Is There a Free Full Version?" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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