MJSA. Professional excellence in jewelry making and design.

Z-brush texturing NoiseMaker still

Digital Texture, Part 2

Applying texture to CAD models for 3-D printing

By Darla Alvarez, GIA Jewelry Design & Technology Instructor

Applying a texture to a finished jewelry piece is a nice alternative to the high polish status quo. It’s usually done as a final step, but some textures are achievable in the initial CAD design, saving time on finishing later on. In part one of this series, we looked at how to apply textures using displacement in Rhinoceros 3D. In part two, we will look at how to apply 3-D printable textures with NoiseMaker in ZBrush, using a half-domed band as an example piece.


Half-domed band example

1. The example band was created in Rhino, exported as an STL file, and then imported into ZBrush. It is a half-domed band, size 7, 6 mm wide, and 2 mm in depth. Once imported into ZBrush, use Dynamesh or Tessimate to reorganize the topology of the piece and add points. The point count will vary depending on the texture applied: More detailed textures will require a higher point count, a simple texture will not. For this example, Dynamesh was used to give this ring approximately 500,000 points.


Masking example

2. Mask the center and the sides of the ring so that the texture is applied to only the outside of the band.


NoiseMaker Plugin

3. In the right tray, go to Surface and click on “Noise.” This will open the NoiseMaker dialog box. Click on “NoisePlug” to open the NoiseMaker Plugin, which can be broken down as follows:

A. Noise Generators: These are the different texture options available within the plugin. For this example, Voronoi is selected. 

B. Noise Generator Settings: These options vary depending upon which texture is selected. They control such things as the style of pattern, the pattern layout, the texture detail, etc. For this example, they are set to the default.

C. Common Settings: These settings change the scale, orientation, and position of the texture relative to the model’s surface. They are also available in the NoiseMaker preview window, which updates changes in real time. For this example, they are set to the default.


NoiseMaker dialog box

4. Press OK to return to the NoiseMaker dialog box. The dialog box consists of the following: 

A. Preview window: This window updates live as settings are changed within the menu and provides a preview of the texture before it is applied to the model. Zoom in and rotate the model to view the texture from all angles. 

B. Plugin Scale: This changes the scale of the texture applied. A higher value will cause greater model deformation. For this example, it is set to 0.6. 

C. Strength: This changes the intensity of the texture, but not the scale. A lower value will not be as evident as a higher value. For this example, it is set to 0.2.

D. Mix Basic Noise: This will add an additional background “noise” texture to the applied texture. For this example, it is set to 0 so the only visible texture is the applied hammer texture. 

E. Noise Curve: Adjusting this curve can drastically change the look of the applied texture. Click “Reset” to return the curve to its default setting. For this example, the curve is set to the default. 

F. Offset: This shifts the image of the texture along the chosen axis or axes and updates in real-time. For this example, they are set to 0.

G. Angle: This rotates the image of the texture along the chosen axis or axes and updates in real-time. For this example, they are set to 0.

H. Scale: This scales the image of the texture along the chosen axis or axes and updates in real-time. For this example, they are set to 1.

If the ring had not been masked, the texture would show on the entire ring. To change the texture, click on “Edit” toward the top of the NoiseMaker dialog box to reopen the NoiseMaker Plugin. To accept the texture, press OK. To reopen this dialog box, click on “Edit” in the Surface sub-palette. Other settings exist in both dialog boxes, but these are the primary settings used when creating a texture using NoiseMaker.


Texture application

5. Although it appears that the texture has been applied to the model, this is not actual geometry, only a preview render. To apply the texture to the model, click on “Apply to Mesh” in the Surface sub-palette, then clear the mask. At this point, the texture is part of the model and the band can be prepared for 3-D printing.  


Texturing models is just another way ZBrush can be used either on its own or in conjunction with Rhino to create interesting effects for jewelry objects.


MJSA Advantage

MJSA members receive exclusive informational and marketing benefits, from free promotional placements to information research services.