Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 Posted by Jim Thacker

The Foundry launches Colorway

Originally posted on 11 July. Scroll down for updates.

The Foundry has launched Colorway, a new tool for ‘speeding up the process of iterating on and finalizing an image’, intended for use by designers and their clients.

The software is currently in an odd halfway state: you can download a trial version of the main application, and the free satellite tools that come with it, but the official commercial release follows later this year.

So what does Colorway do?
The software enables users to test different colour, lighting and material combinations of a 3D scene in real time, at final quality, without having to rerender that scene each time.

It also generates a simplified version of the data that can be viewed in Colorway Presenter, a free accompanying desktop app. Clients can try their own combinations in Presenter, speeding up sign-off.

How does it work?
Workflow begins in a host 3D application – for now, Modo, though The Foundry says Cinema 4D will be supported in future and now Cinema 4D – in which the Colorway exporter has been installed.

After a bit of light and shader tagging, the user can render the scene and export a .dci file to Colorway or Colorway Presenter, where they can adjust materials and lighting interactively, without re-rendering.

They can also prepare the file for export to Colorway Presenter, by locking off options they don’t want clients to be able to change.

Once a look has been decided upon, the material and lighting data can be pushed back to the original 3D app from Colorway, although not from Presenter. You can see the process in detail in the video below.

Doesn’t this sound a bit familiar?
In essence, Colorway does a similar job to Colimo, Motiva’s real-time tool for relighting rendered images, but in a product aimed at designers rather than visualisation professionals or VFX artists.

Compared to Colimo, there seem to be fewer options for fine-tuning the results; but the workflow and UI are more streamlined, and any offputting technical stuff is kept well away from the client.

How well will it sell?
It’s a new market for The Foundry, although it is more in keeping with Luxology’s old philosophy of targeting the ‘CAD to ad’ market, set out before the two firms merged, but not much discussed since.

It will be interesting to see whether Colorway has the right balance of ease of use and functionality to appeal to users outside its more tech-savvy core audience – and whether it’s priced appropriately.

So far, The Foundry hasn’t announced a price for Colorway itself, though the Presenter app and the export kit for Modo are both free. All run on Windows and Mac OS X, with an iOS version of Presenter in development.

Updated 9 September: The Foundry has just released its free Colorway exporter kit for Cinema 4D. Looks can be exported from Colorway itself back to Cinema 4D R15 with “testing underway on R16”.

Read more about Colorway on The Foundry’s website

Download the trial version of Colorway