Thursday, March 15th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk ships Mudbox 2018.2

Autodesk has released Mudbox 2018.2, the latest update to the digital sculpting software, adding a long-awaited dynamic tessellation system, new brushes for refining mesh density, and support for Hi-DPI monitors.

The release is the first in several years to introduce significant new functionality to Mudbox, arguably adding more major new features than the entire Mudbox 2016 and Mudbox 2017 release cycles.

‘Reinvesting’ in Mudbox development
The update makes good on Autodesk’s promise to “reinvest” in Mudbox development, following a period of several years in which the software seemed to be stagnating.

Mudbox 2018.1, released last October, laid the groundwork for new development, fixing over 75 bugs.

“[We] knew the first thing we had to do for Mudbox was to raise the quality bar and general stability of the product,” commented principal product designer Trevor Adams in a post on Autodesk’s blog.

“But a lot of you asked a very crucial question soon after checking out that release: where are the new features? The Mudbox 2018.2 update … is our direct answer to that very question.”

Dynamic tessellation makes it possible to sculpt a complex model from a simple primitive
The major change in Mudbox 2018.2 is a new dynamic tessellation system, along the lines of Blender’s Adaptive Sculpting, or 3D-Coat’s LiveClay tools.

The system makes it possible to increase the resolution of the mesh locally on the fly while sculpting, rather than requiring an artist to subdivide the entire mesh in order to carry on adding detail.

With dynamic tessellation, it becomes possible to create a detailed sculpt entirely inside Mudbox, starting from a simple primitive, rather than needing to import a low-poly base mesh created in another application.

Unlike ZBrush’s DynaMesh feature, dynamic tessellation can be used throughout the entire sculpting process, rather than being designed primarily for roughing out the base form of a sculpt.

Autodesk first demoed such a system in 2015, albeit for Maya rather than Mudbox. At the time of the 2018.2 update, it was the most popular feature request in the firm’s Mudbox Ideas forum.

Control mesh tessellation automatically or manually
Although Mudbox primarily determines how much to tessellate the mesh according to how far zoomed in the user is while sculpting, it is also possible to set tessellation paramters for each sculpting tool globally.

Geometry count can also be controlled manually via three new brushes: the self-explanatory Reduce and Refine, plus Remesh, which again increases or reduces mesh resolution according to zoom distance.

Other new features: support for HiDPI displays, new painting and map extraction options
Other new features in Mudbox 2018.2 include support for HiDPI monitors; and a new gamma correct blending option, which eliminates dark edges where colours meet when painting a model.

There is also now the option to set a custom edge bleed value when generating texture maps from a sculpt, over and above Mudbox’s global setting, and independent of the size of the maps being created.

Pricing and availability
Mudbox 2018.2 is available for Windows 7+, RHEL and CentOS 6.5 and 7.2 Linux, and Mac OS X 10.11+. Like all of Autodesk’s software, it is available rental-only, with subscriptions starting at $10/month.

At the time of posting, the free trial version of Mudbox hasn’t been updated to version 2018.2 – Adams describes this as an “an accounting rules thing” – so to test the new features, you’ll need a subscription.

Read an overview of the new features in Mudbox 2018.2 on Autodesk’s blog

See a full list of new features in Mudbox 2018.2 in the online changelog