KeyShot 8.1 Released – Available Now

KeyShot 8.1

KeyShot 8.1 focuses on stability, feature updates and new usability features to improve output, issue reporting and the visual creation workflow.

Just over a month ago, KeyShot 8 was a pivotal release introducing features like displacement mapping, bubbles, flakes, interactive image colour and intensity curve adjustments, and much more.

KeyShot 8.1 follows quickly on the heels of that release to introduce 16-bit PSD output, in-view indicators for geometry shader, full-resolution HDRI update, in-app problem reporting, and invert selection capabilities, along with many other improvements and bug fixes. Head to the bottom of this post to see the full release notes.

Current KeyShot 8 users can update to 8.1 for free starting today. If you already have KeyShot 8 installed, you’ll be prompted to update, or you can also go to the KeyShot “Help” menu and select “Check for Updates“.

If you purchased KeyShot 7 after August 15th 2018, you’re also entitled to a free upgrade to 8.1 by using your current serial code.

You can view the release notes below, but in the meantime, don’t forget that we have great deals on KeyShot starting November 26th through to November 30th across new licenses and upgrades. View our KeyShot Deals blog post.

Release Notes

New Features

  • In-app Problem Reporting. Presented automatically when a crash dump is detected or accessed via Main menu > Help.
  • 16-bit PSD Format for Still Images, Animation Frames, and Configurator output.
  • In-view indicator button to Execute Geometry Nodes when change is detected.
  • In-view indicator button to Generate Full-Resolution HDRI when change is detected.
  • Invert Selection command in right-click context menu of Real-time View and Scene Tree.

Improvements

  • Added five new splash screens.
  • Added “Add Geometry Node” button on ribbon in Material Graph.
  • Added a Label input indicator on the Material Graph root node.
  • Execute Geometry Nodes button in material properties now only affects that material.
  • Improved Displacement mesh quality. Resolution is now Triangle Size with option to define by units or pixels.
  • Added unique icons for Bubbles, Flakes, and Displace.
  • Added Seed for Flakes and Bubbles.
  • Added support for multi-selection of objects in Cutaway > Add Excluded Objects dialog.
  • Added support for object outlines when selecting Excluded Objects in Cutaway properties.
  • Added pointer support for Spotlights in the Geometry View.
  • Now supporting Move Tool hotkey in Geometry View.
  • Added a right-click context menu to the Image Styles list.
  • Now retaining Photographic-specific Image Style values when toggling to Basic.
  • Added message when “Use GPU” is disabled and Photographic Image Style Mode is enabled.
  • Now automatically enabling Accurate Tessellation on Import of Datakit formats for periodic surfaces i.e. springs, screws to improve mesh quality.

Noteworthy Bug Fixes

  • Fixed issue with Bubbles applied to geometry with per-triangle vertex normals or no normals i.e. C4D, 3ds Max, Maya, ZBrush.
  • Fixed UV meshes with custom UV layout and Displacement.
  • Fixed Geometry Nodes respecting disabled state.
  • No longer showing Splash Screen as top-most window.
  • Now ignoring Show Only Hotkey when Mapping Tool is open.
  • Fixed radio buttons in Move Tool dialog.
  • Now using fixed format for Render Layers output format is set to PSD.
  • Fixed crash when loading scene with Motion Blur.
  • Fixed error in node type changes in the Material Graph.
  • Fixed removal of discarded sub-materials from Material Graph.
  • Fixed occasional crash when removing Multi-Material.
  • Fixed issue with lost material name when toggling Multi-Material.
  • Fixed crash when assigning Curve Color Randomizer to a geometry node.
  • Fixed crash when loading large .png in Library.
  • Fixed error when right-clicking on Free Camera is scene tree.
  • Fixed selection in pivot move tool dialog.
  • Fixed performance of Project > Materials list with many materials in scene.
  • Fixed loss of textures with same name in different folders when saving .ksp.
  • Fixed FOV not being saved with camera.
  • Fixed Global Illumination Quality when using Custom Control with Global Illumination Cache disabled.
  • Fixed extraction of .hdz from KeyShot 6.3.
  • Fixed corruption of KeyShot 6 color library when loading into KeyShot 8.
  • Fixed dielectric-based material Cutaway Caps.
  • Fixed tiling in ground shadows visible through cutaway object.
  • Fixed Cutaway color caps when camera is inside Cutaway object.
  • Fixed Glass and Thin Film as Excluded Objects for Cutaway.
  • Fixed issue with Color Cutaway Caps in Interior Mode.
  • Fixed issue with hot pixels caused by Cutaway on Windows.
  • Fixed Move Control Point for Camera Path animation.
  • Fixed flicker when moving Animation Wizard.
  • Fixed dataloss when cancelling Re-Tessellation.
  • Fixed issue with non-default location for KeyShot 8 Resources folder.
  • Fixed issue Rendering KeyShotXR via scripting with Add to Queue to Send to Network.
  • Fixed issues with import settings when using scripting to import.
  • Fixed issue with Queue thumbnail when Add to Queue from Options.
  • Fixed issue pasting a copy into a Model Set.
  • Fixed quality of image-based HDRIs with HDRI Editor Adjustments applied.
  • Fixed gamma handling of colors saved from the color picker to the Library.
  • Fixed Delete key in Scene Tree.
  • Fixed crash with Copy/Paste Position.
  • Fixed blur when rendered in Background mode.
  • Fixed KeyShotXR flicker in Microsoft Edge.
  • Fixed Zoom buttons for the Project > Materials list.
  • Fixed Exit button visibility in Compact Presentation Mode.
  • Fixed Preferences > Screenshot > Quality slider.
  • Fixed text visibility for Studios in Presentation Mode.
  • Fixed Parent/Component tab text when single top level titles are hidden.

Phoenix FD for 3ds Max and Maya updates are available now

Phoenix FD for 3DS Max and Maya

Phoenix FD for 3ds Max now supports V-Ray Next for 3ds Max, and GPU rendering of Phoenix volumes. It’s also fully compatible with 3ds Max 2019.

What’s New?

  • RGB channel simulation for foam, splash and mist particles
  • Particle texture color based on particle channels
  • Loading and rendering of sparse OpenVDB caches over 2.1 billion voxels
  • 2x faster particle rendering in bubble, cellular and splash modes using the Phoenix light cache
  • Quicker displacement fade volume and body force with complex or moving geometries
  • Faster scene interaction with complex or moving geometries
  • For a full list of changes, check out the Phoenix FD for 3ds Max and Phoenix FD for Maya release notes.

If you’re itching to get up to date right away, you can download the update here.

Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood with MODO 901

Ingenuity Studios put MODO 901 through its paces, along with HIERO, MARI, NUKE and NUKE STUDIO to bring pop megastar, Taylor Swift’s latest video to life.


On May 17, at 8:00 p.m., the Billboard Music Awards rocked pop culture with the premier of one of the most anticipated videos of the year, Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.” Within 24 hours, the video broke the Vevo world record, with 20.1 million views.

While Taylor heavily promoted the video on Twitter in the weeks leading up to the Billboard Awards, the team at Ingenuity Studios methodically (and slightly feverishly) pounded away, creating the visual effects behind this film-noir style video. From trons to explosions to the London sky-line, Ingenuity Studios put MODO 901 through its paces, along with HIERO, MARI, NUKE and NUKE STUDIO, to create what Forbes Magazine called “an action-packed epic, and a major production by anyone’s standards.”

Read the full article here… 

V-Ray 3.0 for 3DS Max Features

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Progressive Rendering

V-Ray 3.0 introduces a new Progressive Image Sampler. Fast to set up and easy to control, the Progressive Image Sampler generates fast feedback even with complex features such as Environment Fog, Depth of Field, and Motion Blur. The Progressive Image Sampler uses a path traced rendering engine compatible with multiple GI solutions including Brute Force, Irradiance Map, and Light Cache.

With the new Progressive Renderer it’s possible to set up a scene in seconds and iterate even with the most complex V-Ray features. This example showcases how to easily fine-tune V-Ray Fog.

 

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Faster Ray Tracing

Ray Tracing Performance
V-Ray 3.0 introduces significant optimizations to the ray tracing core. This speeds up calculations for Brute Force GI, Progressive Path Tracing, Reflections, Refractions, and more. Beta testers have reported speed increases of up to 5X.

Integrated Intel Embree Raycaster
V-Ray 3.0 includes the Intel Embree raycaster, specifically designed to increase the performance of photorealistic rendering.*
*requires compatible hardware.

Dynamic Bucket Splitting
Dynamic Splitting automatically reduces the size of render buckets to maximize the use of all CPU thread.

This short video demonstrates the improved rendering speeds of V-Ray 3.0.

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Simplified User Interface

Designed with new and experienced users in mind, V-Ray 3.0 introduces a simplified user interface with 3 modes. Each mode, Basic, Advanced, and Expert, can be selected to match an artists’ preference.

 

 

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Quick Settings

Quick Settings provide artists with production-ready presets and simple rendering quality controls all within a single compact interface.

 

This short video takes a look at the new V-Ray Toolbar and Quick Settings added to V-Ray 3.0.

 

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Advanced V-Ray Frame Buffer

The new V-Ray Frame Buffer introduces advanced color controls for Contrast, HSL, and Color Balance. In addition, the VFB now includes support for LUTs (.cube), ICC (.icc), and OpenColorIO (.ocio) color management profiles.

 

This short video demonstrates the improved Frame Buffer in V-Ray 3.0.

 

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Render Mask

Render Mask uses an object selection, include/ exclude list, or texture map to control the exact pixels to be rendered.

This short video demonstrates the new Render Mask feature in V-Ray 3.0.

 

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Faster Hair

V-Ray 3.0 introduces core ray tracing improvements with optimizations for shading and rendering millions of strands of semi-transparent hair. Beta testers report speed increases up to 15X.

This videos demonstrates a quick example of rendering hair created using Ephere’s Ornatrix plugin and compare the render performance gains in V-Ray 3.0.

 

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New Skin Shader

V-Ray 3.0 introduces the VRaySkinMtl. With artist-friendly controls, the VRaySkinMtl is a dedicated skin shader with built in Subsurface Scattering and layered reflections.

 

 

 

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Ray Traced SSS

V-Ray 3.0 introduces improved Subsurface Scattering with support for object-based and ray traced illumination. V-Ray RT CPU also adds SSS support.

This short video takes a look at the new Ray Traced option for the VRayFastSSS2 shader.

 

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VRmats

V-Ray 3.0 introduces VRmat functionality to 3ds Max. Previously known as Vismats, VRmats are an XML-based material description for sharing V-Ray shaders across multiple applications. VRmats are currently compatible with V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max, V-Ray 2.0 for Rhino, and V-Ray 2.0 for SketchUp. Support for additional applications including Maya and Softimage is currently in development.

This video demonstrates VRmats – a new set of universal shaders for use across multiple applications.

 

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OSL Support

Program custom shaders using Open Shading Language (OSL) developed by Sony Picture Imageworks.

 

 

 

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Alembic Support

V-Ray 3.0 adds support for the open source Alembic file format (.ABC). Import Alembic geometry caches (including particles and hair) using the V-Ray Proxy loader.

 

 

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Deep Image Support

V-Ray 3.0 adds support for Deep Image output including the OpenEXR 2.0 format.

Deep images store color and depth information for each pixel, enabling artists to take advantage of Deep Compositing workflows.

 

 

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Metaballs

Introducing a new VRayMetaball object for ray traced isosurfaces based on particles.

 

 

 

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VRayClipper

The VRayClipper is a new helper for creating cutaway and section renders. Using a simple plane, it will clip away parts of a scene at render time.

 

 

 

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V-Ray RT GPU Render Elements

Render final frame images using V-Ray RT GPU with Render Elements for compositing.

V-Ray RT GPU supports:

  • Increased performance using CUDA, NVIDIA’s parallel computing platform
  • Motion Blur (Transformation and Deformation)
  • Instanced Geometry
  • VRay Proxy Objects
  • Layered Materials using VRayBlendMtl
  • Texture-mapped Area and Mesh Lights
  • Skylight Portals using Simple Mode

 

 

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Probabilistic Light Sampling

Probabilistic Light Sampling reduces the number of lights evaluated at render time. This optimizes rendering scenes with many lights.

 

 

 

 

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Max Ray Intensity

Max Ray Intensity clamps secondary rays to remove noise generated by very bright sources. This removes artifacts while retaining dynamic range.

 

 

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Distributed Rendering

Distributed Rendering gives artists the ability to use multiple computers working in parallel to render a single image. V-Ray 3.0 adds two new Distributed Rendering options: Transfer Missing Assets and Use Local Machine.

 

 

 

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Purchase V-Ray for 3DS Max

Cinema 4D R15 Features

Key Highlights of CINEMA 4D Release 15

The new and enhanced 3D modeling, animation and rendering workflow features and performance enhancements in CINEMA 4D Release 15, available for both Mac OS X and Windows, include:

Rendering Enhancements

The new Team Render delivers quick control over an entire network to take advantage of all surplus processing power – either manually or automatically via Bonjour. Utilize an unlimited number of render nodes with CINEMA 4D Studio and 3 nodes with CINEMA 4D Visualize or Broadcast. Users can distribute the rendering of a single frame or complete animation directly within the CINEMA 4D interface and view the results in real-time within CINEMA 4D’s Picture Viewer for a streamlined workflow.

A new irradiance caching algorithm for faster approximation of Global Illumination and improved ambient occlusion, physical rendering and multi-threading features in R15 has been added offering artists unprecedented rendering performance.

 

Modeling Enhancements

Introducing all-new interactive beveling for improved manipulation and control over object edges and curves for adding depth and dimension to designs and ensure that resulting meshes are clean and flow correctly.

Improved Typographic Tools

Significant typographic, text editing and control capabilities via MoText and Text Splines directly in the 3D view. New kerning, and tracking tools can be applied with MoGraph effectors or used in XPresso and edited at any time to create complex typographic elements and animation.

 

Dynamic Sculpting

Improved dynamic sculpting tools in CINEMA 4D Studio Release 15 ensure artists can sculpt with finesse and optimize with ease. In cases in which there are adequate subdivision, sculpting tools can be used directly on any polygonal model. Advanced masking, mirroring and duplication options, as well as the new Amplify brush that gives control to interactively inflate and use new draw modes to sculpt lines and areas defined by lasso, polygonal drawing or a rectangle, gives artists complete control and flexibility for adding and preserving desired sculpted details.

 

Miscellaneous Workflow, Modeling and Animation Improvements

Renowned for outstanding ease of use, CINEMA 4D R15 also includes many new productivity-boosting features including:

Texture Manager– Provides artists with powerful new texture management tools to fix broken texture links and wrangle bitmaps with ease to control even the most complex scenes.

Architectural Grass – Based on the powerful Hair and Fur engine in CINEMA 4D Studio, the new grass material features lets users quickly and easily simulate and add grass to any object within CINEMA 4D Release 15 Visualize and Studio.

Camera Crane — A new Camera Crane rig offers customers a dependable, production-friendly solution to easily simulate real-life Jib crane shots by adjusting the angle and length of the base, arm, head and the camera itself.

 

Key New Features of Vectorworks 2013

It’s easy to step back from updates when you feel you’re happy with the way your software is currently performing. However, even with the most cynical software developers, most updates are usually very beneficial to the user, resulting in improved efficiency and greater ease of use.

Nemetschek’s Vectorworks software is now updated annually, which means if you’re not on the VSS automatic updates, you may wonder whether it’s worth upgrading. In short, the Vectorworks 2013 release should be very useful to relatively heavy users of the programme and a large jump up for those users still running Vectorworks 11, 12 or 2009.

 

So, Why Upgrade to Vectorworks 2013?

 

Improved Door & Window Tools
[Vectorworks Architect  Vectorworks Designer]
Greater room for custom settings, adjustments and new controls for global/bulk changes. One of the most requested improvements.


Surface Array Object
[ Vectorworks Architect | Vectorworks Spotlight | Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]
A hugely significant feature – especially for commercial architects, the surface array tool allows users to accurately repeat items across a complex surface. This is pitched particularly at users creating buildings with organic forms using large volumes of glazing units or other architectural/structural features.



Golden Proportions
[Vectorworks Fundamentals | Vectorworks Architect | Vectorworks Spotlight | Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]
An interesting new feature, that some may find useful, others a little unnecessary, is the golden proportions tool. A simple device to draw golden rectangles directly into your plan.


Hyperlinks within drawings
Links to other drawings, external files or web links. Not groundbreaking – just great for sending documents to clients and exporting to interactive PDFs.

2D & 3D Visualisation & Navigation
[Vectorworks Fundamentals | Vectorworks Architect | Vectorworks Spotlight | Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]
Vectorworks 2013 now incorporates some user interface tools that have been commonplace in other 3D apps. Users of Sketchup may see some familiarity here.

 

Small Efficiency Improvements
[Vectorworks Fundamentals | Vectorworks Architect | Vectorworks Spotlight | Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]
Several key improvements have been made throughout the application. Furthermore, many processes have become faster (especially screen redrawing).

 

Plant Object Improvements
[ Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]
Greater control over plant objects.

 

Speaker & Speaker Array Tools
[Vectorworks Spotlight | Vectorworks Designer]
A completely new tool for audio/visual event planners. Specify speaker types accurately – both for visualisation and data generation.

 

Site Model Improvements
[ Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]
An important new tool for Landmark users that should help significantly when planning cut-in and landscaping work within a geographical environment.

 

Physical Sun & Sky
[Vectorworks Renderworks]

 

Hidden Line Render Improvements
[Vectorworks Fundamentals | Vectorworks Architect | Vectorworks Spotlight | Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]

Cinema 4D R14 Released

MAXON unveiled CINEMA 4D Release 14, (R14) a milestone release of the industry-leading 3D motion graphics, visual effects, painting, and rendering software application. Leveraging more than two decades of 3D graphics programming innovation, R14 delivers breakthrough performance offerings including a new, fully integrated sculpting system, new camera matching functionality, the debut of exchange plugins to two key applications — The Foundry NUKE and Adobe Photoshop Extended — and improved integration with Adobe After Effects. Packed with a number of other powerful workflow feature enhancements, creative professionals – motion graphics and visual effects artists, as well as visualization designers – will benefit from features that accelerate productivity to produce spectacular 3D content more fluidly, and the ability to collaborate with increased efficiency.

NEW to R14!

Easy to Use and Easy to Learn, Stable, Fast and State-of-the-Art Technology

There’s a reason why these terms are included for each Release – and this tradition continues with Release 14! These are the qualities upon which customers have always been able to count and they continue to guarantee the satisfaction of MAXON customers and CINEMA 4D users.

Sculpting

Organic modeling is made easy with the fully-integrated Sculpting system in CINEMA 4D Studio Release 14 and BodyPaint 3D. Transform any base mesh into virtual clay, shaping it with tools like pull, pinch, smooth, knife or scrape. Advanced symmetry tools allow you to mirror a single stroke along multiple axes, and even radial fashion. Fine details can be added with stamps and stencils, and you can apply masks to limit the sculpt to specific regions. You can even organize your sculpt project in a hierarchical layer system, and modify mask and strength options for each layer. Finally, directly texture, animate and render your sculpted mesh, or easily bake it into a low-poly mesh with displacement and normal maps.

Modelling

Model faster and more accurately with new interactive workplane modes, dynamic guides and a completely redesigned snapping system. Easily align your workplane to any world axis, the camera or the current selection, then snap to the grid or adjust global coordinates based on the workplane orientation. Draw linear or planar guides directly in the view, or snap to dynamic guides generated around each component. You can also easily select objects or components by simply painting over them with the right-mouse button pressed.

Animation

Accelerate your animation workflow with enhancements to cameras, dynamics and character tools in CINEMA 4D R14. Quickly morph between camera positions and create dynamic camera animations with the Motion Camera system. Gain greater realism and control over dynamics in CINEMA 4D Broadcast and Studio with aerodynamic forces, plastic springs and breaking connectors, as well as enhanced Xpresso control over dynamics. Give life to your characters with updated rigs and enhanced capabilities of the Character Object.

Rendering

Achieve greater rendering realism and compositing control with CINEMA 4D R14. Simulate wood grain, weathering effects and normal mapping with new shaders. Enjoy faster, more accurate GI calculations with Multiple Importance Sampling and radiosity maps. And, you have even more control over your renderings with color grading in the Picture Viewer and as a post effect, and you can optimize your compositing workflow with the position pass.

Workflow

R14 offers amazing enhancements to exchanges with key applications like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects and Nuke. Now you can manipulate 3D objects, lights and textures directly in Adobe Photoshop. New options have been added for exchanging your 3D scene with After Effects. And, a new seamless connection to NUKE has been added that automatically creates your multi-pass composite, through multi-layer OpenEXR support.

Interface

Work faster and smarter with numerous enhancements to the workflow and interface in CINEMA 4D R14. You’ll enjoy the more attractive and responsive 3D view with new object highlighting and outlining, and improved OpenGL shadows. Easily access commands and add tags using the new spotlight-style Commander. New composition helpers have been added to arrange your scene based on grids or golden spirals, and you can easily choose the focal distance with the new camera focus picker. Arabic speakers will especially enjoy the CINEMA 4D interface in their native language including a specially-designed right-to-left layout mode.

 

To see more information or if you’re interested in buying one of the C4D R13 Products go to CAD Software Direct.

Mass Effect 3 – Behind the Scenes with Pixologic!

Pixologic recently interviewed the amazing Bioware team that’s behind the spectacular game, Mass Effect 3. The artists talk about the progression within Zbrush that has helped move the process faster for them and the new and improved tools that have contributed towards these fantastic characters. Here is some of what they had to say…

Of course, the software industry moves at lightning speed, so the tools have evolved dramatically since you began work. How has that impacted you the most?

Herbert: Polygon limitation is now a thing of the past because now most software can handle millions of polygons without any major lag. My primary modeling tool for hard surface modeling is XSI and a lot of my models are millions of polygons in my XSI scenes. There is a lot of software to choose from and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example there are now great tools for generating AO, UV’s, etc. It is because of this that I feel character artists spend less time dealing with technical issues, allowing them to focus more on the art creation process.

Rafael: Tools that have been developed which speed up the process affected the pipeline a lot. ZBrush tools like Decimation Master, SubTool Master and UV Master are very handy on every model. Most recently, DynaMesh is a very amazing tool that helps a lot when sketching a new idea for a character.

Rodrigue: The biggest impact was on time and quality. We can now really go to town with the details on our characters. ZBrush and 3DS Max allow us to work faster, yet also put more and more details and love into our characters with a lot of flexibility. (Layers, etc.) But of course having great high-res models is not enough and you need a good engine with nice rendering and nice shaders to really show all the hard work put into the high-res models. On that side we were very lucky on ME3; we had a very nice budget for the polycounts of our characters and I was able to re-work some of the shaders to add more reflection and sweetness to our armor. If you compare the rendering between ME1, ME2 and ME3 you can see a big jump in terms of character details and quality between each installment.

Tools and tech are very important but on top of it the biggest impact for us came from the Art Director and the concept artists. It’s a great feeling to see a new concept and think, “Wow! This guy looks awesome I want to work on it!” and you know that ZBrush and the ME3 engine give you all the tools you need to deliver it without losing quality.

You’ve also seen significant advancements in ZBrush since you first started using it. How have those changes affected you?

Herbert: Greatly! I remember the first ZBrush version that I used was 2.5. I had to sculpt my characters in pieces because of the polygon limit and there was no SubTool Master or Decimation Master at the time. I sometimes like to generate my normal maps outside ZBrush and my AO with Mental Ray. Without decimation master, getting the best results outside ZBrush was very difficult. The new selection of brushes is awesome as well. With each update, sculpting in ZBrush feels more like sculpting in real clay but with symmetry, undo and “save as” enabled!

Rafael: I kind of adapted my workflow when I first started using ZBrush, so all the changes haven’t really impacted my work. But for sure tools like the new DynaMesh, SubTool Master and Decimation Master, sped up my pipeline like crazy.

I use DynaMesh a lot to concept new characters and ideas. Decimation Master is a must now for the pipeline in all my projects.

Rodrigue: Again, speed. The workflow is getting smoother and all the new brushes and layers give us so much flexibility and creative freedom. One of my favorite parts is the sculpting feel. I don’t feel like I’m moving points around anymore. Now I feel like I’m actually sculpting. That feeling is great and because it’s so fun I try to stay inside ZBrush as much as I can.

How much were you able to carry forward from ME2? Was there anything that you significantly re-worked like what you did for the Salariens with Mordin?


Rafael: We had to re-work almost all the assets we used from ME2. I had the pleasure to re-design the Keeper and Rachni Queen. I did this by using the same base model and with ZBrush I changed all the details and textures. For other models like civilians and romance bodies we added more details on top of the existing models using ZBrush and re-working normal maps and textures.

 

How did you use ZBrush for Shepard and his squad? How was it beneficial for things like armor?

Herbert: For the humanoids armor, ZBrush was used mainly for the cloth and rubber areas.

Rodrigue: We used ZBrush on all the faces, but also on most of the armors for the cloth and leather parts. In ME1 all the folds were modeled in 3Dsmax and were very basic but with ZBrush we were able to bring greater realism to our more organic parts.

What are the advantages to using ZBrush for concept creation as opposed to traditional methods like going from a drawing to the game’s base mesh and then finally to detailing?

Rafael: With ZBrush it is really easy to play with shapes and try different designs. The best thing about doing concept creation in ZBrush is that you have a base to start modeling on top of or a 3D feeling for how the character will react later with skinning and with the other characters in the game. On the other hand, it’s really slow to do a lot of major variations. So if you don’t have a base idea to start sketching in 3D the work can become useless in the hands of the art director.

Rodrigue: I used ZBrush on some armors to quickly test designs as well as different shape and size variations. It’s really fast, especially when the team is not sure about a specific design. With ZBrush you can quickly make 3D propositions to show to the Art Director and the rest of the team. Seeing the design in 3D helps to make decisions; a 2D concept can be interpreted differently depending on who looks at it but with a 3D model it’s easier to get everyone on the same page.

With the various Reapers you really got to go all out creatively. How did ZBrush help with that?

Rodrigue: These guys were a lot of fun. We had concepts but they weren’t precise. The team really wanted us to have more room with these guys and they are the characters that the 3D artists changed the most. We really had the opportunity to just let loose in ZBrush and let the sculpt talk. After so many armors, it was great to be able to go with an all ZBrush sculpt on these creatures. The Cannibal, the Banshee and the Brute had multiple revisions based on gameplay requests. Using ZBrush, we were able to quickly make them and propose different solutions.

What techniques in ZBrush do you find work best for detailing characters?

Rafael: ZBrush has a lot of brushes that truly help the detailing process. I don’t find myself playing a lot with alphas and other tools. Only brushes and patience are needed to handle the job.

Rodrigue: Like Rafael, I mostly use simple brushes and a lot of work and patience. But I would say that sculpting layers are still my favorite tool in my pipeline. I sculpt almost everything on different layers. With that I can boost or reduce the effect of my sculpting or delete it and do something different. Or I can close the mouth of a character or re-size the arms and quickly show the difference to the Art Director. I do use alphas and Drag-Rect once in a while. Or in the case of faces I texture them and then convert the texture to a mask and use that mask to add some details. When I do use these two techniques I always do it very subtly and add most of my details by hand. It’s just the best way to get exactly what you want.

This is probably your last chance to speak as a team to the ZBrush community. Is there anything else you’d like to say while you have our attention?

Hertbert: Big thanks to Pixologic to keep updating ZBrush with awesome new features, ZBrushCentral is a great forum for people to get inspiration and feedback to keep growing as artists. So keep posting!

Rafael: ZBrushCentral for me is one of the best communities online. All the tools you need to learn are available online. Keep studying and building your portfolio because we always keep an eye on ZBC!

Rodrigue: Keep rocking, Pixologic! Every new release is amazing and the ZBrush community is huge and full of awesome artists. What you do is great, so continue doing it.

And to all the characters artists out there: like Rafael said, we always keep an eye on ZBC.

 

To read the full interview click here.

If you are interested in more information on this product or to buy ZBrush click here.