Alexey Vanzhula releases Modeler 2021 for Houdini
Developer Alexey Vanzhula has released Modeler 2021, the latest version of the hard surface modeling toolkit for Houdini, adding new tools for retopologising high-res character models, and a live link to ZBrush.
Full disclosure: the release actually shipped earlier this year, but we only spotted last week when it popped up on other CG community websites.
A classic hard surface and Boolean modelling toolkit for Houdini
First released in 2018 under the name Direct Modeling HDA and later renamed DM, Modeler streamlines hard surface modelling workflows inside Houdini.
The name ‘Modeler’ originally referred specifically to the toolkit’s ‘classic modelling environment’, intended to make modelling workflow in Houdini more similar to that in other DCC applications.
The add-on also includes a real-time Boolean modeling system, and a library of geometric components from which users can build up models via the software’s KitBash tool.
New tools for retopologising high-res meshes like character sculpts for animation
To that, Modeler 2021 introduces new tools for retopologising high-res geometry like character sculpts.
The new Topo Strokes tool makes it possible to draw edge loops over the top of a high-res model and have Modeler generate corresponding low-res geometry matching the high-res surface.
The principle is similar to tools like Maya’s Quad Draw or Blender’s Poly Build, but being based around drawing entire edge loops rather than placing individual vertices, the workflow looks much more streamlined.
For tweaking the placement of individual edges or vertices, the release also introduces PolyPen: a new hybrid modelling and retopology tool, which can also be used to cut new edge loops into a mesh.
In addition, a new ZBrush live link makes it possible to work on character sculpt inside ZBrush and retopologise it for animation in Houdini, with changes passed automatically between the two apps.
The live link is currently available only in the Windows edition of Modeler.
New Lattice deformer, Lazy Drag and Lazy Selection
Other features shown in the demo video include a new Lattice deformer, and updates to existing tools for UV unwrapping and aligning meshes.
According to the text accompanying the video, other new features include Lazy Drag and Lazy Selection.
Neither is shown explicitly, and at the time of writing, the link to the release notes is broken.
However, Lazy Drag sounds like a system for automatically smoothing manual strokes along the lines of ZBrush’s Lazy Mouse, reducing “the number of extra pen/mouse clicks” required.
Lazy Selection makes it possible to use “objects/components without explicit selection”.
Interface changes include a new viewport toolbar for quick access to key tools and for controlling symmetry. The UI has also been “optimised for tablet devices”.
Pricing and availability
Modeler 2021 is available for Houdini 18.5. According to comments in the release thread below, it requires Python 3. Individual licences cost $100; new Studio licences cost $400, and provide unlimited seats.