Using Mannequins
to Explore Posing

Ben Courtenay
Art Heroes Collaborator
Mannequins are a great way to test poses without messing around with a finished model. You can make your own... but Zbrush has a library of mannequins waiting for you!

To find them you can open the Lightbox (or use the comma key) > Project > Mannequin or ZeeZoo (Loads of animal mannequins!)
3d character posing tips
The mannequins in Zbrush are made using Zspheres. Zspheres are awesome! Let's have a look at how they're used for mannequins specifically.

The mannequin is made up of two structures: limbs and joints. It's important to know that they both respond differently to move, scale and rotate (which can be quite fiddly when you first give it a go).


As you can see when you click the limb it moves the rest of the arm, while clicking the joint only effects the it's self and the two connecting limbs.

Important Tip! You can move the whole mannequin in two ways; either by clicking the root zsphere with Ctrl + Move or clicking the root limbs with Alt + Move!
3d character posing tips


Like with move, scaling the limb effects the whole arm, while scaling the joint only effects the it's self and the two connecting limbs.
3d character posing tips


Rotate is a little different from scale and move. Rotating the limb effects the whole arm and can rotate the arm in any direction. When rotating the joint, the rest of the arm is rotated on the joint's axis.
3d character posing tips
Now that we've covered moving the mannequin, we'll touch on another feature: Adaptive Skin. Adaptive Skin let's you turn your mannequin into a mesh with two options: subdivided or dynamesh. So if you're exploring a pose and want to start sculpting this is a great way to take it further!
3d character posing tips

Mannequin Posing Techniques

Now that we've familiarized ourselves with how to move the mannequin, let's look at how it can be applied to a mesh.

You can create custom mannequins but if you want to pose on the fly you can just modify an existing one from the Zbrush library. Once you've found the pose you like, it's just a matter of masking/moving the mesh to match the mannequin.
3d character posing tips

Polygroup Posing Techniques

If you're not a fan of the mannequins or have a complex model that doesn't fit the mould, you can still explore poses really quickly!

  • Duplicate mesh and hidden the original
  • If you polygroup your model into different sections (forearm, hand, head, foot etc.)
  • Use Group Split. Each polygroup will become it's own subtool.
  • Make sure all subtools are visible then click Merge Visible. Make sure weld is turned off!
  • Using the Gizmo tool and masking you can then move the parts to explore pose ideas!
3d character posing tips
Hopefully these techniques and tools help you explore posing even further!

Did you find this tutorial useful? If you'd like to share your WIPs with us you can do so by tagging us on Instagram - @artheroes - for a chance to get featured in our stories and get your art seen by all of our community.

Ben Courtenay,
Art Heroes Collaborator
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