Some shrewd improvements and a significant price drop mean that mud is likely to stick
A lower price point and a raft of 2D-like features means this 3D software now has greater appeal.
If you’ve ever wanted to try out Mudbox to give your professional or personal art another dimension, then now is the perfect time.
Mudbox has always been great for beginners as a creation tool. The interface is much more appealing and intuitive than its main competition, ZBrush. True, the sculpting feel isn’t quite as intuitive, but it’s still quite fluid and natural. You can make use of the powerful VDM (vector displacement) stamps for your sculpting, and you can easily customise the UI colours, layout and hotkeys to your taste. The 2015 version also includes many presets for lighting and shaders for you to play around with.
However, by far the strongest function of Mudbox is its painting capabilities. It features the power of Paint Layers, Photoshop-like blend modes and the ability to export your layers straight to Photoshop for extra control. All these aspects have been in Mudbox for a while, but the new elements in Mudbox 2015 build upon the previous release’s feature of auto-retopology with curve control. In essence, we’re talking about layers. You can make changes to your original sculpt, and revert back without any damage to your original. This is handy if you’ve started out with a primitive base mesh and created a complex sculpt that has completely different form language.
You can use the retopology tools to give you a much cleaner and animation-friendly mesh if you’re thinking of breathing life into your character creation. This even works for asymmetric creations such as characters or creatures with subtle design nuances on either side of a certain axis. The use of sculpt or paint layers has been a proud staple of Mudbox, but now the Autodesk team has introduced layer groups, too.
As part of the group’s Enhanced Workflows, the creation of blendshapes using layers in a Sculpt Layer Group will be seen as a blendShape node in the top-end 3D program Maya (another Autodesk release). Painting-wise, the live interoperability with Maya’s Ptex and multi-tile UV layout is a bonus. These enhancements will improve the speed of file saving and scene setup in your professional or personal workflow, and gives you that much more time to focus on art and creation.
Mudbox 2015 is even more attractive now that the price has dropped from near £800 to £425. Already a powerful piece of software, it’s clear Autodesk want Mudbox to be a relevant solution in the production environment, and for individual users on a budget.
The latest version of Mudbox has improved the way in which it handles an object’s mesh. As a result, animating your concepts is made much easier.
With the price dropping to a very reasonable £425, Autodesk is targeting individual users with less-fulsome budgets. There’s also a 30-day trial available.