See the new sculpting features due in Blender in 2022
New sculpting features due to be merged from development branches to the main branch of Blender this year include a new implementation of Dynamic Topology preserving Face Set boundaries and vertex colours.
The Blender Foundation has announced the new sculpting features coming to Blender in 2022.
The features, including vertex painting in Sculpt mode and the option to preview sculpts with Eevee, are due to be merged to the main branch of the open-source 3D software over “the next several releases”.
Assuming that development goes to schedule, Blender 3.1 to 3.4 are all due out this year.
Already in development, but due to become available in the main release
Although sculpting has been one of the fastest-evolving parts of Blender, there were fewer changes in Blender 3.0 last December, following the departure of lead developer Pablo Dobarro a few months earlier.
The Blender Institute’s blog post listing the key development targets for Blender in 2022 last month did not include the sculpting tools.
The new blog post, from current developer Joe Eagar, emphasises that new sculpting features are already available in development branches, and are now due to be merged to the main branch of the software.
Paint models directly inside Sculpt mode
One of the biggest new features is the option to paint vertex colours directly in Sculpt mode.
As well as surface colour, users will be able to paint other vertex attributes: “The idea is to decouple color layers from the types of data used to store them [although the] exporters have not been updated yet.”
The paint tools also get support for cavity masking, making it possible to weight paint strokes according to the surface curvature of the geometry being painted, automatically picking out edges or recesses.
Preview sculpts interactively in Eevee
Other features due to be merged from development branches include the option to sculpt while previewing changes interactively using Eevee, Blender’s real-time renderer.
Eevee previews will initially be supported in Sculpt mode when using Dynamic Topology (Dyntopo).
Changes to Dyntopo itself include better preservation of edge boundaries like UV seams and Face Sets, with the flow of subdivided geometry generated by the Topology Rake brush now following those boundaries.
The new version of Dyntopo is also “much faster” and supports ‘just-in-time’ triangulation, rather than triangulating the entire mesh.
Further off: updates to Texture Paint mode, multires sculpting and brush management
Longer-term goals include updates to Texture Paint mode following those to painting in Sculpt mode.
Multires sculpting and brush management are also listed as “key development goals”, although the blog post doesn’t list any specific changes planned, or a proposed release schedule.
Release dates and system requirements
Blender 3.1 is currently scheduled for a stable release on 9 March, with Blender 3.2 to 3.4 due later in 2022.
The software is available under an open-source GPL licence. The current stable release, Blender 3.0, is available for Windows 8.1+, macOS 10.13+ and Linux.