Monday, April 5th, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Marmoset ships Toolbag 4.0

Marmoset has released Toolbag 4.0, the next major version of its real-time rendering toolkit, and the first full-point update to the software in almost four years.

The release adds a new GPU-accelerated ray tracing engine, GPU-accelerated texture baking, a new 3D texture painting system, and a more customisable UI with support for custom workspaces.

A real-time look development and rendering toolkit, particularly for games assets and portfolio work
A lightweight system for lookdev, compositing and final rendering, Toolbag is widely used by games artists, but is also increasingly being used in other sectors of the industry.

It enables users to visualise imported models quickly, setting up PBR materials and lighting.

Users can then either bake texture maps for export to other DCC software or game engines – Toolbag exports directly to Unity – or render stills or animation directly.

The software is often used for rendering portfolio material, and exports directly to ArtStation.

New hardware-accelerated ray tracing engine runs on all modern GPUs
One major change in Toolbag 4.0 is the new GPU-accelerated ray tracing engine.

According to Marmoset, it has native hardware support for Nvidia’s current-gen RTX GPUs, which included dedicated ray tracing cores, but it works on “all modern GPUs”, including AMD cards.

The engine makes it possible to generate ray traced renders in near-real time, with support for ray traced global illumination, reflections, caustics and subsurface scattering.

In addition, the existing raster renderer has been updated, with new features including the option to customise ambient occlusion and local reflection settings, and set diffuse light bounces.

According to Marmoset, the update also improves anisoptropic and GGX microfacet shading in the raster engine, and makes anti-aliasing and transparency effects smoother.

New shaders include a new cloth shader with a microfibre system to recreate surface sheen on fabrics; and a new clear coat reflections system for materials like car paint.

Paint directly onto the surface of a model with the new 3D texturing system
Toolbag 4.0 also introduces a new 3D texture painting system, making it possible to paint directly onto the surface of a model in the Marmoset viewport.

Brushes can be customised via a range of standard properties like size, hardness, opacity and flow, and by assigning textures to the brush tip.

The painting system is layer-based – as well as paint layers, users can add colour fills, procedural textures and adjustment layers – with support for infinite layers.

Improved texture baking
In addition, the software’s GPU-accelerated texture baker has been revamped with a new ray tracing backend: the demo material shows baked textures being previewed on a model in real time.

Bake Projects can also be live-linked to the new Texture Projects system, with baked ID maps controlling material assignments on an asset, and surface and lighting maps driving procedural weathering effects.

More customisable UI with support for workspaces
Toolbag also gets a “new customisable interface” with “drag-n-drop functionality, workspaces, smart loaders and dual monitor compatibility”.

The new workspaces system includes a set of preset interface layouts targeted at “every stage of production” from “scene setup to final render”.

Users can also create and share their own custom UI layouts.

Free accompanying library of readymade assets
Toolbag already had an add-on library of custom shaders and plugins, but the library system seems to have been expanded considerably in the latest release.

Toolbag 4.0 features a free library of readymade assets including “hundreds of Marmoset-made skies, materials, textures and presets”, plus Smart Materials, grunge maps and brushes.

It can also be used to manage third-party content, with users able to import assets manually or sync them from a shared repository, and apply colour-coded labels.

But direct export to UE4 and support for .sbsar files has been removed
However, Toolbag 4.0 also removes a couple of features, including direct export of Toolbag scenes to Unreal Engine, available in versions 2.x and 3.x via the free Marmoset Toolbag Scene Importer plugin.

In addition, materials in Substance .sbsar format are no longer supported natively, although users can export bitmap textures from Substance Designer or Substance Painter for use in Toolbag.

Pricing and availability
Toolbag 4.0 is available for Windows 10 and macOS 10.15+. It is compatible with any Direct3D 11-capable GPU on Windows, and macOS GPU family 2.

Prices have risen since the previous release, with new licences now costing $299 for individual artists, up from $189, and $799 for studios, up from $399.

Subscriptions are also now available, costing $14.99/month for individuals and $39.99/month for studios.

Read an overview of the new features in Toolbag 4.0 on Marmoset’s website

Watch video tutorials on the new features in Toolbag 4.0