Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Foundry ships Modo 16.1

Foundry has released Modo 16.1, the latest version of its 3D modelling and rendering software.

The release – the second of two in the Modo 16 Series, and originally due to ship last year – adds interesting new geometry-based workflows for applying decals to the surface of a model.

Other changes include support for triplanar texture projection, a new Particle Clone operator for object scattering, and updates to Modo’s modelling tools, Advanced Viewport and mPath renderer.

In separate news, Foundry has announced major changes to the development of Modo, including an expanded dev team, a broader market focus, and a switch to a single major release of the software per year.

Texturing: new geometry-based workflows for applying decals to models
Modo 16.1 introduces interesting new workflows for applying decals to models to represent surface detail.

The most unusual is the Seam Decal system, which uses a workflow akin to Boolean modelling, with two pieces of intersecting geometry used to create the decal.

Modo generates a material containing a normal map with a seam texture that is applied to a strip of polygons that sits on the surface of the target mesh, running along the line of the intersection.

The Planar Decal system applies standard decal textures, although rather than being projected directly onto the model, the texture is applied to a mesh plane that is itself projected onto the model’s surface.

According to Foundry, this makes it possible to manipulate the decals “as if they were a 3D object … without having to worry about how the decal is impacting your model or any additional materials”.

Once positioned correctly, floating decals can be baked to the surface of the target mesh for rendering using the Surface Probe, a new item in Modo’s shader tree.

Texturing: support for triplanar texture projection
Users also get a more conventional, non-geometry-based texture-projection system: triplanar projection.

Supported in many other DCC applications, and often used as a way to create a quick base texture that can be refined later, it lets artists project textures seamlessly onto a model without the need to UV unwrap it.

Set dressing: new Particle Clone operator for object scattering
For set dressing, Modo 16.1 introduces a new Particle Clone operator, which scatters copies of a mesh throughout a scene at positions determined by an underlying particle system.

Unlike the output of Modo’s Replicator system, the copies can be edited individually, providing more precise control over the look of a scene at the cost of higher render times.

3D modelling: updates to the direct, Boolean and procedural modelling toolsets
As usual with new versions of Modo, the software’s modelling toolsets have also been updated.

For direct modelling, Poly Haul is a new collection of commonly used modelling tools intended to let artists block out models quickly via extrusions and bevels without having to switch tools or operation modes.

There is also a new Select from Falloff tool, intended to help artists make geometry selections more quickly by converting falloff weights to component selections.

The existing Primitive Slice tool, used to cut into geometry along a 2D curve, gets new control handles and snapping options; and the Bezier tool gets new tangent controls.

For Boolean modelling, the Curve Booleans system added in Modo 15.1 now supports open curves and self-intersection; and the quality of the output from real-time Boolean system MeshFusion has been improved.

For procedural modelling, a new Select by Previous Additions option is intended to make it easier to select which geometry in the scene a modelling operation is performed on.

Viewport: speed and quality improvements to Advanced Viewport mode
Modo’s Advanced Viewport gets a series of improvements to performance and visual quality that Foundry pitches as making it more suitable for interactive modelling as well as high-quality previews of an asset.

Improvements to visual quality include support for curvature shading to help complex forms read more clearly. The display of transparent materials has also been “considerably improved”.

Performance improvements include faster planar projection, and the option to toggle illumination from lights to improve response times while leaving the lights themselves visible in the viewport.

mPath: support for Metal for GPU ray tracing, and support for CUDA for GPU shading
mPath, Modo’s path tracing renderer, now supports Apple’s Metal API for GPU ray tracing, resulting in “speed increases of between 20% and 100%” on macOS compared to the Foundry SSE CPU ray tracing engine.

The implementation does not currently support motion blur or hair primitives.

mPath’s shading engine now supports CUDA, enabling it to run on Nvidia GPUs as well as the CPU.

In the longer term, Foundry has announced a new rendering strategy that will see mPath “set aside” and a new API that will enable Modo to connect more easily to third-party renderers.

Pricing and availability
Modo 16.1 is available for 64-bit Windows 10+, Linux, and macOS 11.0+.

Foundry stopped selling new perpetual licences of Modo in 2021, though maintenance contracts are still available for users with existing perpetual licences.

Individual subscriptions now cost $71/month or $719/year, up $3/month or $30/year since the previous release. Studio subscriptions are priced on enquiry.

Read an overview of new features in Modo 16.1 on Foundry’s website

Read a full list of new features in Modo 16.1 in the online release notes