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Autodesk's Mudbox 2009

Let's all play in the Mudbox By Kevin McAuliffe

The world of 3D design and animation has always had a "what came first, the chicken or the egg" mentality. What I mean by that is when it comes to someone getting into the world of 3D animation, normally (not all the time), they are either strong at the computer/technical aspect, or strong in (classical) animation, and they end up having to bulk up on either one or the other. Well, Autodesk is looking to put the power back in the hands of the creative mind with its Mudbox 2009 application. Let's take a look at what I mean by that!

Mudbox ships with three versions of the software on one disk, so there is no need to worry about purchasing a specific version. You have access to the OSX, Windows 32-bit as well as Windows 64-bit.

The installation of Mudbox is quick and easy, and you will be up and running in about 5 minutes. Also keep in mind that Autodesk does offer a 30 day free "try before you buy", which is a big bonus!

What you get and how it works
I have made some interesting observations about how character design happens in most effect-intensive movies. In many cases, 3D animators don't actually do any of the design work themselves. The studio or production company has sculptors that they hire to create creatures out of clay, and then they are scanned into the computer, rigged and animated. Awhile ago, I thought to myself that it almost seems like it would be easier if the sculptor could just sculpt and paint the creature directly into a 3D application, and avoid the middle man. Well, Mudbox is just that. It is a digital sculpting and paint program that eliminates the need to scan anything into a 3D application. Originally created by Skymatter, a company comprised of former WETA Digital employees that worked on Lord of the Rings and King Kong, it was acquired by Autodesk in mid 2007, and later that same year, they released a point update (1.07), and then in late 2008, they released version 2 of Mudbox called Mudbox 2009.

Now, obviously with any new release, there will be new and improved features, and Mudbox 2009 is no exception. Here's what's new and improved:

  • Texture Painting
  • Mudbox 2009 lets you paint multiple diffuse, reflection, bump and specular textures on high-res maps on your models.
  • Performance Enhancements
  • Brush and Camera manipulation has been improved to help you work on models that have millions (and millions) of polygons.
  • ON-Target Display
  • New interactive rendering features gives you a look at what your models will look like on their target platform, be it for film and/or television, product design or game development.
  • Artist Friendly User Interface: I'm not going to go into any detail on this right here, as I'm going to cover it in the next paragraph.
  • Improved Interoperability with Maya and 3ds Max: Makes perfect sense that since it's part of the Autodesk family, and basically now a sister program to Maya/3DS Max, that Autodesk would make moving from one application to the other more seamless.


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Related Keywords:3D animation, 3D design , digital sculpting and paint

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