Mudbox 2012 review
4/5 Very Good
- Enhanced paint layers
- Numerous other improvements
- Lagging behind ZBrush and 3D-Coat for sketching use
- Price and pricing policy
By Olli and Sami Sorjonen, February 6 2012
Mudbox 2012 is a digital sculpting software developed by Autodesk, designed to detail, shape and paint objects imported from other applications. It was originally conceived by artists at Weta Digital, while the studio was working on The Lord of the Rings. Mudbox’s developers founded Skymatter in New Zealand in 2005, and Autodesk acquired the company’s assets in 2007. Since then, the software has continued to evolve, gaining 3D paint tools and a considerably improved toolset.
In the latest 2012 version development has concentrated on improving the 3D painting system, making it more robust and adding UV-less workflow capabilities with the introduction of Ptex support. Posing tools have received new features and the software has been streamlined with many workflow improvements. Another major enhancement is the support for Linux 64-bit, which probably makes it a more desirable choice for Linux-oriented studios and users.
Note: all models illustrating this article have been created by Olli Sorjonen.
When put to test Mudbox 2012 seems to have noticeable performance improvements under its hood. Complex objects clearly load faster. They were really cumbersome to load in earlier versions, you sometimes had to wait for minutes before you got a requester saying that the object you were trying to load was a high resolution one, and that loading could only be continued after clicking a button.
In Mudbox 2012 larger objects and textures can be displayed, sculpted and painted more smoothly. Saving speed has also been improved, and there seems to be less file corruption problems.
A new Validate Meshes function helps check the integrity of objects that are imported into Mudbox, so you’ll get a better idea if the object will present any problems when you start sculpting or painting on it. In earlier versions of Mudbox it was really annoying to find out late in the process that you had bad geometry: you basically had to take a step back and fix the base mesh or bake the details to another mesh, so the addition of this feature is a very welcome improvement. It would be nice however to have the faulty geometry shown visually (as colored/highlighted vertices and polygons) instead of a list of vertex numbers and other text information. This would allow for finding and fixing the problem more easily.
Since 1.x, Mudbox has been able to import images to be used as stencils. In Mudbox 2012 the creation of stencils has been improved a lot: images copied to the clipboard can now be used as stencils and you can also deform the stencil plane with brushes, which makes it much easier to apply facial details or patterns with intricate and continuous textures on your model surfaces, without having to rely on Photoshop to warp and adjust the textures all the time.
Single-Step interoperability with 3ds Max, Maya and Softimage
New in Mudbox 2012 is the ability to use "Send To" in the file menu to send an object to be edited in 3ds Max, Maya or Softimage. Installation of this feature is quite transparent and no manual copying of plugin files or other such setup is required. You can send a new scene to the software in question, update the existing scene, update only the textures and you can also add objects to the current scene. A few export options also provide control on how texture and sculpt layers are handled. Objects can be brought back to Mudbox 2012 with the same ease.
The manual is bit vague regarding the actual functionality of the "Send To" feature, you may have to figure out by yourself what can and can’t be done to the model in order to have it preserve the sculpted details properly in Mudbox.