PDA

View Full Version : Mudbox painting tools way behind the times...


twosheds
06-02-2011, 10:38 AM
I'll tell you what, I love Mudbox and it's an amazing program to use for sculpting and painting, but its brushes are woefully incomplete when compared to almost everything else out there for painting.
Even Photoshop now has extreme customization built into its brushes, and it's not really even a painting app primarily.
It seems like Mudbox has had these same brushes forever, and they're about as basic as basic gets. You have your basic set of brushes and the limited functions they perform on their own, plus then the adjustable falloff graph and of course Stamp and Stencil. Nice tools, but very limited.
Sure, you could spend half your time in Mudbox away from Mudbox creating custom Stamps and Stencils in Photoshop...
But although the ability to do so is great, it's not very efficient and not totally controllable either.

Look at Photoshop's brushes. The customization abilities are amazing nowadays. It's almost to the point of rivaling Painter's brushes, which is saying a lot.
And Body Paint 3D seems to have almost the same level of control and customization, although I only gather that from videos, not from personal use.

So why is Mudbox still using 30 year old brushes? Painter 3D back in 2000 had more variety and customization ability than Mudbox in 2012. ;)
It would be fine for a $100.00 application, but for what AD charges, it doesn't offer anywhere near enough, IMO. Now sculpting and the integration with other AD apps is another story, but certain other apps offer much more there as well.

But back to brushes.... I would think especially now that Mud has Ptex, the need for better and more customizable paint brushes will become painfully obvious, and soon, so I'd say it's about time to do something about it.

robinb
06-02-2011, 11:52 AM
What are you finding to be lacking with them? They can have their strength or size dictated by stylus pressure, the spacing, orientation and scale can all be jittered, complete with flipping the stamp. You can combine stamps and stencils at once. It's really quick and easy to get nicely varied results.

I'm actually very happy with the painting tools now. There's still room for improvement of course but I'm finding I don't send files to Photoshop for much at all now. When I do it's for silly little stuff that isn't in mudbox but could easily be added, like filling a whole layer. I was previously using it to do layer colour adjustments, but I don't need to now as that's in Mud 2012.

There's no selections or freeze in paint which is a bit annoying, but less so now that paint layers can have masks.

I'd like to see cavity masking. Drybrush doesn't really cut it for me. It's slow and since the size of the cavities it fills is dictated by the brush size, you can't really use it with stamps.

I'd also like to see random hue variation and the ability to colour adjust stamps, but it's not major stuff for me at all.

So you say the brush engine is ancient, but not how you'd like to see it improved. Any suggestions?

twosheds
06-02-2011, 02:42 PM
Well yeah as I said, the only thing that has any real options is when you use stamps or stencils, but since those are image-based tools you have to create your own. And still you don't have anywhere near the control with them that you do with, say, Photoshop brushes.

Since more people are familiar with Photoshop than with Painter, I'll use 'shop as my example. Just have a look at the Photoshop Windows for Brushes and Brush Presets. That pretty much tells the story right there, and one look at the controls in those two windows says more than I could say in ten paragraphs.
You have your Shape Dynamics, for one, Bristle Qualities, your roundness, your hardness and *spacing*, which is a huge thing, Noise, wet edges, so forth and so on, plus all kinds of brush styles like fan brushes and regular bristle brushes, presets, and more importantly, the ability to *save* your own brush presets. And that's with all the regular brushes, no alphas required. I suspect some of them do use alphas under the hood, but I don't know, they could be procedural or shape-based.
Just doodle for a few minutes in Photoshop, just playing around with the brushes, and you can create strokes in just a couple minutes that might take all day to pull off in Mudbox and require a whole lot of experimenting with making your own custom alphas.

In Mudbox, unless you use stamps or stencils, your options are completely limited to size and pressure, plus the falloff controls which really can't be used for any kind of advanced strokes.
For example, there's no rake-like brush in Mudbox possible without a stencil. No procedural brushes at all, like in Modo. No spread or spacing out of how the brush lays down its pixels of color, no jitter.
You can create your own vector displacement maps in Mudbox now and use them as stamps, which is cool, but a lot of work. Can't use them in painting though, so that feature is only halfway there. If there were a way to do that but to save as a paint brush it would be awesome.

As for sending files to Photoshop, that's great but it's only partially implemented. For example, if you often use models that use multiple UV tiles (like I do), you can't use the Photoshop exchange because it won't send each UV tile in its own set of layers (like I would hope), but rather, it sends only the tile in the 0-1 space.
(And I would like separate layer and export control of each individual tile and its associated image files too, but that's a whole 'nother subject entirely)

I thought I did mention what I would like to be changed in my first post - give us the brush options like we have in Photoshop. Not much to ask from an $800.00 program, IMO. And if you think about it, *especially* an 800 dollar program that specializes almost entirely in techniques using brushes. Mudbox does little else - it paints and sculpts. Yeah sure you can do rudimentary modeling with it but its main focus is in creating textures and sculpts and exporting maps. The brushes are at the very heart of all that is possible in Mudbox, and stronger brushes equals a stronger product.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't hate Mudbox's painting tools, and I still think it's the best 3D painting app there is (or at least the easiest to learn and use) in spite of all this. I just think it could be so much better.
I think Autodesk is going about it sort of backwards. Adding the new blend modes and layer masks while the brushes are still primitive. Adding Ptex, while not only are the brushes still primitive, but nothing Autodesk makes can render ptex right. ;)
(To their credit however, the "send to" is an awesome feature in both Maya and Softimage (and probably 3ds max) and works exceptionally well and is much-appreciated. It's just FBX, but being able to do it in one click to send and/or update is very cool.)

And of course, adding photoshop-like brush styling to Mudbox could be implemented not only in painting, but in sculpting as well.

http://Two-Sheds2.home.comcast.net/Images/PshopBrushes.jpg

robinb
06-02-2011, 03:47 PM
I don't think there is as much of a difference as you think. I think you're getting held up on the provided presets in Photoshop. There's lots of brushes, but most are set up using a system that's quite similar to Mudbox.

I reckon I could make fair approximations of most of those example brushes in Mudbox, no problem. You're right there isn't really a procedural brush that isn't round. But Photoshop only has procedural round and square, so not much difference. You can squish them to make oval and rectangle brushes which is handy with procedurals all right. You can't scale them non-uniformly in Mud.

All the non-round and square brushes in Photoshop are based on brush texture/alphas just like Mudbox is, but it provides a lot of very useful ones by default and sets the brushes up in a lot of varied ways, whereas Mudbox doesn't really. You can still do much the same, but it doesn't give you as much set up by default.

There's nothing to stop you pasting down a single dab of each Photoshop brush at it's native size and saving them out and using them as stamps in Mud. I believe there is also a script around to export them all at once if you want to look for it.

The settings for hardness, spacing and jitter are all right there. they might be called different things or in different parts of the interface, but they are there. Hardness uses the falloff, spacing is in the command panel on the right where it lives for all brushes, both sculpt and paint and jitter in all forms is available with a stamp.

As I said earlier, you can't jitter the hue or value with a brush. That would be handy.

I think you can save presets too, although I never have.

I'll do a test this evening when I get home and see if i can set up a suite of brushes that act like those in the screengrab.

I don't know about the new natural media brushes mind. If you're talking about those I can't help. I've not used the most recent few versions of Photoshop.

oglu
06-02-2011, 03:51 PM
suggest it as feature in the help menue...
if you are not the only one im sure we will see it improved...

twosheds
06-02-2011, 04:23 PM
There's nothing to stop you pasting down a single dab of each Photoshop brush at it's native size and saving them out and using them as stamps in Mud. I believe there is also a script around to export them all at once if you want to look for it.

The settings for hardness, spacing and jitter are all right there. they might be called different things or in different parts of the interface, but they are there. Hardness uses the falloff, spacing is in the command panel on the right where it lives for all brushes, both sculpt and paint and jitter in all forms is available with a stamp.

As I said earlier, you can't jitter the hue or value with a brush. That would be handy.

I think you can save presets too, although I never have.

I'll do a test this evening when I get home and see if i can set up a suite of brushes that act like those in the screengrab.

I don't know about the new natural media brushes mind. If you're talking about those I can't help. I've not used the most recent few versions of Photoshop.

Well you definitely caught my attention with that bit about saving out dabs of brushes. I'll have to look into that.
The falloff, yes, is for hardness, but from what I've seen isn't useful for much more than that. Well that's not entirely true, but the falloff controls are pretty limited.
And I tried to make it clear in my earlier posts that the jitter, spacing etc., are only available when using a stamp. Whether that's exactly what Photoshop is doign behind the scenes, as I said, I really don't know, but it's much more intuitive and visual than Mudbox's way of "pick a stamp, experiment a lot and hope for the best".
If Mudbox does in fact have a way of replicating and creating such advanced brushes, then it should be better documented.
Looking forward to seeing what you come up with. I'd much rather be happy with Mudbox and be able to use it more efficiently and know how to do certain things than be irritated at its seeming shortcomings. ;)
Even so, the entire brush palette needs a complete visual overhaul, IMO. it's a pretty primitive system they have for all the tools really, IMO.

@ oglu:
I did send AD a feature suggestion, much like a combination of my first two posts here, and received a confirmation email that they at least received it. Whether they do anything about it another story, but I can't be the only one who would like to see some more variety and visual intuitiveness in the brushes.
In other words, just because you can use alphas to get anything you want, doesn't necessarily mean that you know how to do it well in the first place. I guess I'm saying then that Mudbox should have more presets or at least a n easy way to easily design your own brushes within Mudbox itself. And to be able to actually save them into a library as well.

Sorry about all the typos, but no time now to fix 'em. ;)

robinb
06-02-2011, 10:09 PM
You're right it's not amazingly easy to set a brush up and it's not well documented what you can do with the controls, but the settings do much the same for painting as they do for sculpting, so once you've got to grips with them it works in both. And once you've set up a preset you can indeed save it. Then it's easy enough to tweak the settings for similar results.

I also agree the shelves aren't the best format for painting tools. I'd like to see a separate tab for painting stamps to sculpting ones as it doesn't make much sense to have multi-coloured stamps in sculpting and they clutter the shelf up. I think there's improvements to be made there.

And I agree there could be a much more useful set of presets and stamps.

Here's three copies of Photoshop brushes.

I just pasted a single stamp in Photoshop, cropped it and saved it on transparent background for each, then set the randomise settings, the spacing, min size and strength and the follow option in the stamp image section as required.

Then I saved them as presets so I can recall them.

You can't do the dual brush ones or ones with variable colour, but it's pretty flexible really.

twosheds
06-02-2011, 11:10 PM
Interesting and very cool!
I'm going to have to try a lot of that. Well that gives me something to do tomorrow at least. :D

Now those are useful. Maybe not the stars so much, but the grass and the bristle stroke are great.
I personally find most of the ones included with Mudbox to be pretty useless. I only use a handful regularly and most of those I found at Mudbox Community.

Well thanks for the mini tutorial! :D

I would like to see tear-away pallets that I can place on my second monitor. Especially when I have a lot of layers, trying to use everything on that bar at the right becomes a serious nuisance sliding everything up and down all the time. Ideally I would like to have a separate floating window for every control and be able to dock them into custom pallets as well.
And they could at least get the brushes into alphabetical order. ;)
But the Stamps and Stencils tabs need the most work, IMO.
Another feature request in the works...

CGTalk Moderation
06-02-2011, 11:10 PM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.