Autodesk presented some really nice additional features with the introduction of Mudbox 2010 this year, including the new painting tools: Dry Brush and Clone Brush, as well as new viewport filters. And as amazing as Mudbox is at its core purpose of digital mesh sculpting, its interoperability with other programs makes it so much better.
A few weeks back, Sergio Rosa covered some of the new features in his review, but I wanted to take a closer look at just how well Mudbox 2010 plays with other programs, especially now that Autodesk has also introduced their new Entertainment Creation Suites.
First, let me start with some of the basics, and what I found to be really cool. Now, mind you, I'm immediately much better at sculpting with clay, so my initial play that you'll see here in some of the following images is quite rough. However, it doesn't take too long to get to know the tools, so I am learning.
What Mudbox includes as far as sculpting and painting tools is really quite excellent and covers everything you could want or need, and you are never short of help. Just a rollover of any tool with the cursor and you are given an explanation of each tool. The same goes for the tool settings box at the right of the interface pertaining to the tool in use.
To help with sculpting, as well as for neat effect with painting, you can use stencils and stamp images. A very nice selection of these is already included with Mudbox, but you can also, of course, import your own images to use. As you can see in the following image, I am browsing through some scale textures just as an example (you wouldn't think I'd actually use scales on the old guy, would you?), courtesy of Renderosity member DreamWarrior, who offers these in her FreeStuff section here at Renderosity. Once you choose and orient the image, you can then set as stencil or stamp for use in your project.
Now, onto the interoperability of Mudbox 2010, I'll show you how easily you can integrate other programs, such as Autodesk's 3ds Max and Adobe's Photoshop. This should be the clincher for alot of folks.
With Mudbox 2010, comes the ability to utilize the Autodesk FBX file format, which is actually native to Autodesk's MotionBuilder. With the FBX format, you can now very easily transfer your work between Mudbox and both Maya and 3ds Max. In order to do this, however, you would first need to download and install the Autodesk FBX plug-in, which you can find here.
Mudbox mesh successfully imported into 3ds Max
From there, it's a snap to import/export FBX files as you can see. And as you will most likely be working with a high polycount mesh in Mudbox to get in the fine details, you can optimize your mesh to suit your needs after importing into 3ds Max with Max's new ProOptimizer (see below). This is just another example of these programs working together.
And now looking at Mudbox 2010 and its interoperability with Photoshop, you can do some really great things that you couldn't previously. This I thought was really cool. Not only can you send an image of your model as it appears in the 3D view as a paint layer in PSD format, but you can also choose to export a paint layer in PSD format to include the UV layer as well. For this example, I just did a quick paint of the hair and beard area of the old man model I'm working on, then exported the paint layer as a PSD including the UV layer.
PSD file exported from Mudbox and brought into Photoshop with both mesh and UV layers
(I added a white bottom layer for better visibility)
Once inside Photoshop, you can do what you will with that paint layer, save it, and quickly import it back into Mudbox. What I did here was run a quick Render>Fiber filter in Photoshop, saved the PSD file, and brought it right back into Mudbox with no more than a few clicks. Quick and easy.
All in all, I think the new additions this time around make Mudbox 2010 a worthy upgrade if you are using an earlier version. With the new paint tools, especially the Dry Brush which is fantastic, and the way you can now integrate other programs I can't see a reason not to give Mudbox 2010 some serious thought.
Autodesk has also released the “Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suites” of bundled applications. The Autodesk Maya Entertainment Creation Suite 2010 includes Maya 2010, Mudbox 2010 and MotionBuilder 2010. There’s also an Entertainment Creation Suite based on 3ds Max, as well as two Real-Time Animation suites (including MotionBuilder 2010 and either Maya 2010 or 3ds Max 2010).
For more information, please visit the Autodesk website.
In reviewing Autodesk's Mudbox 2010, I had the pleasure of using an HP Z800 workstation, part of HP's Z Series, complete with 2 Intel® Xeon® W5580 processors at 3.2GHz , 12GB RAM, a NVIDIA Quadro FX4800 video card, and running with Windows Vista. If you are looking for a workstation that packs power with a vast potential for upgrade, be sure to check out the HP Z Series.
Nick C. Sorbin is a digital artist, sculptor, writer, and Managing Editor for Renderosity's Front Page News.
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