mar­velous de­signer 8

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We test and rate the new fea­tures in this lat­est re­lease

You can set your sea­sonal clock by some com­pa­nies’ re­lease cy­cles. E-on’s Vue usu­ally has a win­ter re­lease, you see the an­nual 3ds Max re­lease some­where in early spring, and when Mar­velous De­signer starts show­ing pretty ren­ders of new gar­ments, post­ing more on Face­book, or pro­motes new tu­to­ri­als, you know it’s au­tumn and a new re­lease is im­mi­nent.

This year was no dif­fer­ent, but when open­ing Mar­velous De­signer (MD) 8 for the first time, you re­alise they must have worked very hard to make this year’s re­lease roughly on time, as the new fea­tures kick ev­ery­thing up a notch.

First, there is the beta remesh tool, aimed at han­dling re­topo in­side MD, rather than the user hav­ing to use i.e. Zbrush’s remesher or trans­fer UV to ge­om­e­try space in ap­pli­ca­tions like Maya. Then there’s 3D sewing, al­low­ing the user to stitch their items to­gether in the 3D View, as well as the brand-new sculpt­ing tool func­tion­al­ity, auto ar­range­ment point cre­ation, and the abil­ity to trace pat­terns from a UV map.

It’s pretty clear to see that the new fea­tures are aimed at im­prov­ing the ex­ist­ing work­flow for CG artists, as well as min­imis­ing the time you have to spend tweak­ing an ex­ported gar­ment once you’re done cre­at­ing it in MD. So, are the new fea­tures any good?

Yes, they are! De­spite the remesher still be­ing in beta, it is a huge im­prove­ment over the ex­ist­ing Quad­ify op­tion, as it gets rid of a lot of the ngons the func­tion gen­er­ates. Found in the 3D View>right-click Mesh menu, it gen­er­ally gives you a nice, even mesh, even if you, for ex­am­ple, dive into some sculpt­ing like smooth­ing after the remesh. The only area where I had is­sues was on mesh edges, es­pe­cially on thick cloth, where it could get pretty ugly. How­ever, as it’s still in beta and pre­sum­ably still be­ing re­fined, the cur­rent beta im­ple­men­ta­tion cre­ates a much eas­ier mesh to re­topo, that’s for sure. Let’s just hope the fi­nal tool doesn’t take as long as Quad­ify to fully fall into place.

The abil­ity to au­to­mat­i­cally add ar­range­ment points and bound­ing vol­umes on avatar im­port is an­other new fea­ture many users will wel­come, as it saves you from the tedium of man­ual cre­ation. Be­ing able to also do your sewing in the 3D View is an­other great new time­sav­ing fea­ture, as you can see whether the sewing is straight right away, or headed for Ctrl+b.

How­ever, the best new fea­ture by far this re­lease is the fledg­ling sculpt tools. Lo­cated in the drop­down next to the Store icon, the Sculpt

op­tion comes in five flavours: Sculpt, Smooth, Grab, Stamp and Pinch, and they work pretty much like you’d ex­pect, es­pe­cially if you’re used to Zbrush for ex­am­ple. Smooth in par­tic­u­lar came in handy for me when I didn’t want to al­ter the mesh, but wanted to get rid of those tell­tale MD folds in the back of a cloth­ing item. I also re­ally en­joyed tak­ing the Stamp tool for a spin, es­pe­cially with some of the cloth-fold brushes avail­able from Gum­road. How­ever, all flavours are good, as they fi­nally al­low you, the artist, the tools to fine-tune and sculpt your gar­ment. The abil­ity to sculpt na­tively is a timesaver and a half, rather than solely tweak­ing and re­ly­ing on the physics of the drap­ing al­go­rithm(s). It also works re­ally well with one of the other new fea­tures, the abil­ity to ad­just trim weight to an ob­ject, like belt buck­les and other im­ported gar­ment ac­ces­sories.

The last strong fea­ture of this re­lease is the abil­ity to cre­ate a new gar­ment based on a UV set, by trac­ing pat­terns from a UV map. This is a su­per-handy fea­ture for con­tent cre­ators who want to avoid the man­ual mor­ph­ing from one type of fig­ure to an­other, or for users who have ex­ported mod­eller files that could use some cloth TLC, or even DXF file is­sues. The work­flow is easy: sim­ply load your OBJ file as a gar­ment, check the ‘Trace 2D Pat­terns from UV Map’ op­tion, and it will im­port the ob­ject as a gar­ment, com­plete with sewing lines – all you have to do is adapt or de­tail it, and you’re done.

All in all, this is one of the best re­leases I have seen from the Mar­velous De­signer team since I first re­viewed ver­sion 2.0. I do of course still think its pric­ing is way too steep, es­pe­cially for Steam users, but for once I also think that the im­proved fea­tures, the bug fixes and in­crease in user friend­li­ness war­rant the pric­ing.

Mar­velous De­signer 8 is an ex­cel­lent re­lease. It seems the fo­cus has changed a lit­tle from solely work­ing with cloth to al­low­ing artists more free­dom in the ap­pli­ca­tion. The new sculpt­ing, re­topo and trim weight tools help it well on its way to be­com­ing a on­estop cloth­ing shop for dig­i­tal gar­ment cre­ation.


the beta remesher and new sculpt­ing tools in Mar­velous De­signer 8 make work­ing with cloth and folds so much eas­ier

Left: the new auto ar­range­ment tool takes a lot of the tedium out of cre­at­ing bound­ing vol­umes and adding ar­range­ment points Below: the remesher is still in beta, and it shows, as it will still give you un­de­sir­able re­sults near seams or edges, even on rel­a­tively sim­ple gar­ments

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