Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

See BodyPaint 3D’s new GPU-based painting engine

Maxon has posted a preview of some of the new functionality being developed for BodyPaint 3D, the 3D texture painting toolset integrated into Cinema 4D.

The update will move BodyPaint’s viewport display from CPU-based software shading to an OpenGL-based painting engine, making use of the user’s GPU to improve performance.

Making up lost ground
Originally a standalone product, but integrated into Cinema 4D since R10 – you can still buy it separately, but aside from the UI, it’s identical to Cinema 4D Prime – BodyPaint 3D was widely used in VFX in the 2000s.

Since then, it has lost ground at the high end of the market to Mari, in part due to Mari’s ability to handle large real-world production assets interactively: something the changes to BodyPaint seem designed to address.

Interactive previews of paint strokes, even on large assets
The video above shows the new painting engine in use, providing an interactive preview of changes being made to a range of texture layer types, including diffuse, reflectance, transparency, alpha, bump and normal.

According to the video, performance will also be improved when projection painting, “even with textures of up to 65,536 x 65,536 pixels’; and there will be the option to display multiple 3D views of the model being painted.

Uses any GPU to improve performance, but can fall back to the CPU
The new engine makes use of the user’s GPU to improve interactive performance when painting. According to Maxon, “it was clear that BodyPaint’s reliance on CPU-based software shading was limiting a lot of its potential”.

It’s based on OpenGL, so it works with any manufacturer’s hardware; and will use the open-source Mesa library to provide a fallback to the CPU on machines that don’t have a suitable graphics card or drivers installed.

The update will also remove BodyPaint’s Raybrush system, which Maxon describes as “no longer compatible with our modern rendering pipeline and … no longer necessary thanks to technology enhancements”.

According to Maxon, the new functionality won’t form part of Cinema 4D R18 – which, if the company follows its usual release schedule, should ship this September – but will be available “within the R18 product cycle”.

Read more about BodyPaint 3D’s new OpenGL-based painting engine on Maxon’s blog