I received my email yesterday with the instructions and links to upgrade to ZBrush 4. One of the things I like about Pixologic, the makers of ZBrush, is that they have given me free upgrades since I purchased version 3.1 a couple of years ago.
I am drooling over some of the new features. I cannot wait to play with Alpha Roll, available under the stroke pallet to modify your brush using the Roll and the Roll Distance sliders. You can load up an alpha, and lay it down in sequence to create rope or other interesting designs, and as you change directions, so does the alpha you lay down. See the video on YouTube. The Move Elastic brush looks great. As you push and pull the mesh about to make a shape, the polygons can get stretched unevenly, which negatively impacts on texturing your sculpty. The Move Elastic brush keeps the vertices more evenly distributed.
Not all of the new features will be able to be used to make sculpties, such as Shadowbox. Shadowbox gives you three planes on which you mask out a shape, and the mesh is created according to where they intersect on each plane. I experimented with resolution, til I was able to get to just over 1000 active points, and tried to export that using, but unfortunately Sculpty Maker choked on it and did not create a sculpt map. Perhaps someone else will have more success playing with it, but I suspect that this will not be a useful feature until (if and when) mesh import is implemented in Second Life. However, I was able to use Shadowbox to make a form, append a properly initialized sphere for sculpty making, and then use the ProjectAll button on the subtool menu to make it form to the shape created in Shadowbox. After then deleting the Shadowbox, the new mesh was successfully exported by Sculpty Maker to an uploadable sculpt map.
ZBrush is one of the lower priced 3D modelling packages and it permits you to directly paint and transfer textures onto your model and then make a texture from it that you can tweak in Photoshop or Gimp and upload to Second Life. Professional 3D modelling packages can cost $3,000 plus. ZBrush 4 costs around $600 US, but will go up to about $700 US in about a month, so if you are interested check it out now. There is a free trial of 30 days. Before spending the money, I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of the free trial. There is a bit of a learning curve with it, but the interface is still more intuitive than Blender and there are many excellent free tutorial videos on the Pixologic website and YouTube.
ZBrush exports models in .obj format. To be able to export to sculpty, you need to download Sculpty Maker from Shiny Life. There are videos available on Shiny Life that show you how to use ZBrush to make sculpties and texture them. These videos turned me on to ZBrush and made me decide to try out ZBrush.
On Shiny Life, you can also find some sculpty making in ZBrush tutorials by Pan Bunny. They are excellent, and even as one who has used ZBrush for some time I picked up a couple of things I did not know!
I would write more, but I feel the need to play with ZBrush 4!