Book Review: Digital Sculpting with Mudbox

May 23, 2010 2:55 pm

Tags: 3D, Autodesk, book review, Focal Press, Mudbox

file_453293.jpgA 'Must Have' for Learning Autodesk's Mudbox

Digital Sculpting with Mudbox
Essential Tools and Techniques for Artists

By Mike de la Flor and Bridgette Mongeon
Publisher: Focal Press
Pages: 288

Autodesk's Mudbox is a wonderful application for digital sculpting, with a plethora of digital tools which replicate a clay sculptor's own toolset. So, in learning Mudbox, it is also a good idea to learn the basics of real-world sculpting when one approaches digital sculpting. This is exactly where Digital Sculpting with Mudbox comes in.

As a polymer clay sculptor myself, and more recently working with Mudbox, I was especially happy to see the parallels drawn in this book, between the traditional art of sculpture and the digital application of it, which is present throughout.

A quick look at the table of contents shows a logical learning progression:

  • Chapter 1 - Sculpting Concepts
  • Chapter 2 - Introduction to Mudbox
  • Chapter 3 - Sculpting a Portrait Bust
  • Chapter 4 - Sculpting a Figure
  • Chapter 5 - Painting Sculptures
  • Chapter 6 - Creating Displacement Maps
  • Chapter 7 - Scanning, Printing, and Milling
  • Appendices (which include a gallery, resources, and references)

The first chapter is an excellent look at traditional sculpture, including the concepts of form, gesture, and emotion. Anatomy is also introduced here, and continues throughout, which is one of the great things about this book. Human anatomical illustrations abound in this book, making this also a great reference to keep around.

The second chapter gets you familiar with the Mudbox interface, tools, and a general look at how things work. This also includes an excellent beginner's tutorial, which is a step-by-step project in sculpting a bell pepper. A great example to show the relation of tools and tool strengths in a first project.

This tutorial approach continues with the next chapters, where you learn to sculpt a portrait bust, then a full figure. After sculpting comes the surface treatments, of course, and that is covered very well in the chapters on painting and displacement maps. It should be noted that this book is based on Mudbox 2010, and though Mudbox 2011 includes some new painting tools, this book is still very relevant and you will learn what you need.

The chapter on displacement maps includes great examples of making Mudbox a part of your workflow with other 3D applications, like 3ds Max, Carrara and CINEMA 4D.

The last chapter introduces a Mudbox workflow in 3D scanning, printing and milling. This includes bringing 3D scans into Mudbox, as well as the use of Mudbox in bringing your digital creations into a physical form.

Note that there is no DVD to accompany this book. However, there is a supporting website ( that offers all the files you need to work through the tutorials, as well as supporting forums.

All in all, this is a wonderful book that provides a solid foundation in the art of sculpture, while teaching the skills needed to make the best use of Mudbox, from first steps through to the painting stage, as well as making Mudbox a part of your regular workflow with other applications. The authors here equally make this a successful book, with Bridgette Mongeon's traditional sculpting experience, and Mike de la Flor's medical illustration expertise, and their combined software knowledge. This book not only serves as a solid learning tool, but also a perfect reference that you will be reaching for over and over again. For those looking to learn Mudbox, as well as fine art sculptors looking to move into the digital arena, this book is highly recommended.

Price: $49.95 (USD)

For more info, see the book description on the Focal Press website.

Also, be sure to read: Autodesk's Mudbox 2011 in Review


Nick C. Sorbin is a digital artist, sculptor, writer, and Managing Editor for Renderosity's Front Page News.
Renderosity Homepage


June 7, 2010

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