View Full Version : MudBox and ZBrush

03 March 2007, 05:21 AM
I have both demos and I am foolin' around with each app. I am new to this technology so I am alittle confused. I posted here because I felt alot of people using MudBox have also used ZBrush so I could get some opinions. I am not looking for which app is better, because neither is, but what I don't understand is what can be done in MudBox that can't be done in ZBrush and vice-a-versa. I want an app to model in, texture/paint, and render with. Any preferences?


03 March 2007, 09:14 AM
hi there, if you're going for texturing, painting, Zbrush is the option then because zbrush have the painting ability. wheareas mudbox i just modeling, i guess. Cheers:)

03 March 2007, 05:05 PM
Hi Pesto,

Both apps are really good at what they do.

The main difference (by public preference, not technical) is that Mudbox has a much
easier user interface and most people new to the program have come up with some
nice 'doodles' in the first 20 minnutes, tops! Me included ;)

With ZBrush, the learning curve is steep. You really need someone to hold your hand with
that app. Of course, there are some who dont need the holding-hands, but on the majority, Mudbox wins hands down in the user interface war...

...BUT (and this is a big one!)

Comparing both the apps generally doesnt make sense. They do similar things when it comes to sculpting and detailing, but there are huge differences. One that comes to mind is that ZBrush is more than just a sculpting tool. You still need to texture and paint your models, no matter which app you use. And then there is this very huge community around ZBrush that Mudbox will take sometime to build. It will get there eventually, but that time is not now.

Depending on your render platform (Maya, XSI, 3DS MAX, etc.), you will find ZBrush has a complete pipeline guide available on their forums, and the whole industry knows about it (those who use it anyways). With Mudbox, there are still a lot of people trying get their maps into their preferred application for rendering, etc. Check on the forums.

Like I said, its getting there. Just give it time.

Dont get me wrong here, I love both apps equally well for what they offer, and I look into the subject as more of a compliment than competition. They are worlds apart, and then some.

Keep trying the demos, and see what suits you best. I suggest you go with ZBrush if you have the patience and time. Once your done, you will already know Mudbox. Thats the beauty of the app.



03 March 2007, 12:58 AM
Yeah, im in the same boat i use Zbrush to sculpt a rough mesh and send it to Mudbox to get this basic beige shader they use just to make it appear as if i used Mudbox all the way :D

03 March 2007, 03:51 AM
I dont even use ZBrush for texturing anymore, because I loathe projection master and having to rotate around an object a thousand times looking for every little nook that isn't covered. I switched to bodypaint for texturing a while back, that is until Z3 comes out ;)

All of these points are irrelevant here in another month or so, so take it with a grain of salt, but here are the reasons I switched to Mudbox:

- Skymatter's attentive staff & evolving product. If it's missing a feature that slows down your workflow, chances are it will get implemented. Pixologic is very community-centric, in that they release tons of things pro bono, but when it comes down to the core of it all (bug fixing, regular updates for professionals) they're a little behind the curve. But not much! ;)

- Lack of a *real* perspective camera in ZBrush. I find it incredibly aggrivating trying to sculpt in an orthographic viewport, and dropping the mesh to simulate perspective distortion is tedious.

- Mudbox has layers. Not much to say about this, other than the fact that their layers could still stand quite a bit of improvement in terms of workflow.

- Mudbox has a far superior local subdivision method. This may be a matter of opinion, but I see it as being a huge step ahead of ZBrush in terms of how it handles the division of local polygons. Instead of tesselating the border faces and creating a ton of unnecessary tri's, it locks the area outside of the subdivision and subdivides each face as if the entire mesh were subdivided. This makes for a very fluid workflow on high resolution meshes because you can work your mesh to a certain point, then start locally subdividing area by area without destroying your geometry.

- Mudbox allows you to work with multiple objects easilly, without resorting to plugins. Kudos to marcus_civis by the way, his marker master plugin single handedly brought Z2 to another level, but the functionality was limited due to things outside his control. I can't tell you how many times I forgot to mark an object before moving on and totally losing it ;)

Now then, on the other side of the coin- ZBrush still reigns supreme in terms of 'bang for the buck'. It is packed full of features, and since it has been around for longer, there are a number of plugins, alpha and material packs available.

Zbrush is quite a bit more responsive with high poly meshes on average/below average machines.

ZBrush has projection master (oh, curse you projection master.. curse you and bless you). I was complaining about it earlier for various reasons, but it does have it's uses. For example- when you drop your mesh to projection master, you can add details to it essentially in real time, regardless of the poly count. The draw back is that when it's in projection master, you're in "2.5d" mode, and you'll find yourself rotating/dropping/smoothing/repeat/repeat/repeat.

If I had to make a decision, I would honestly buy both. Sounds lame, yes.. but that's what I did, and I don't regret either purchase. Now then, if you're limited on funding, I might recommend you buy ZBrush over Mudbox. As I mentioned, it's a better bang for the buck, especially since you will get ZBrush 3 for free (if history serves as an indicator, there will be a price increase on ZBrush when 3.0 is released). If Z3 weren't right around the corner, however, I would recommend Mudbox hands down. Although who knows what those guys at Skymatter have up their sleeves.

I hope this long post has been of some use to you in your decision making process ;)

03 March 2007, 04:52 AM
Thank you ALL for your replies, especially Eldee and khurrum_j.It is kind of a tough decision with ZB 3 soon to be released. I think I will play with the demos some more to try to decide because I really cannot really afford to buy both at this point and time.

One more thing about modelling - which program provides a more versatile modeller in people's opinion?

03 March 2007, 05:24 AM
Thank you ALL for your replies, especially Eldee and khurrum_j.

You mean i wasn't helpful ?

03 March 2007, 06:12 AM
FreeWaldo - well the other two did have more words in their replies but the quality (not quantity) of your reply was unsurpassed ;)

Seriously thank you also...all replies were very helpful

03 March 2007, 11:15 PM
in my opinion i see mudbox as the best of the 2 if time was irrelivent.
mudbox just works nicer the only difrence is is that zbrush is inovetive as in it discovers new features and possebilaties.
I think Mudbox is always gona be behind Zbrush a step, but Mudbox is always gona be the nicer aplication to work with in terms of controll interface and creative expression.

03 March 2007, 03:16 PM
I must agree with the previous post that Mudbox is definitely the better product. ZBrush is way too complicated to use and there's really no reason for it to be as Mudbox has shown. The whole 2.5D thing in ZBrush is rather stupid if you ask me. Mudbox uses full 3D with a real perspective camera and has Maya controls for viewport navigation. The ZBrush interface is way too cluttered and complex.

As for comparing the two, I think it's an unfair comparison because ZBrush is on version 2 and mudbox is still on it's first version. I definitely see Mudbox adding a lot more features in the future such as paint tools which, I believe will really put it through the roof. Z3 looks good but I would still recommend Mudbox anyday of the week. It's easier to get into and learn. I tried to learn ZBrush on my own and I eventually gave up on it. I got into Mudbox immediately without problems and haven't looked back since.

03 March 2007, 02:35 AM
In my opinion, it really depends on how motivated you are to make it through the learning curve.

I have seen some amazing tutorial videos for ZBrush that really show off many capabilities that Mudbox does not currently have, but you might have to spend a few days playing around with ZBrush before you can comfortably do that stuff....

I have tried out both, but I still am no expert on ZBrush. Whereas Mudbox maybe took me a few hours (at MOST) to fully learn every function and method. I mean, you can read through the documentation and learn all the shortcut keys very intuitively, particularly if you are familiar with Maya camera controls.

I love how holding down S and using your mouse (as if you were holding down ALT in Maya) can completely control your stencil size/position/rotation. And you don't have to worry about projection mode, you just treat it like Artisan in Maya - just rotate that camera around and keep sculpting.

Eldee really said it best. One has a very simple learning curve, has a good interface and layer support, but is limited to sculpting operations. The other can do some 2.5d painting and has way more features... but the UI badly needs a redesign, IMO.

Why wouldn't I go into the File menu to import something, for example?

ZBrush doesn't adhere to (unofficial) typical Windows menu specifications, but if you can handle watching some Zscript tutorials (which IS an awesome feature), and you have the motivation to work through it and teach yourself the software, ZBrush is right now the better buy. It will be interesting to see where Skymatter takes Mudbox in the next few years, though.

I guess a lot of this depends on what you prefer to paint/texture in. I love modeling in XSI, UVing in Maya, sculpting in Mudbox, painting in Deep Paint 3d and Photoshop, and bringing things back into Maya/XSI for normal map baking and rendering....but texturing in ZBrush while you're sculpting definitely has its advantages.

03 March 2007, 12:33 AM
i have tried zbrush from the first version and the interface is cluttered, and the learning curve is steep. i tried learning it but man it was a challenge. i basically gave up on it after a while. a few years later mudbox is here i tried it for the first time and i was in heaven. so easy to use, it made me wonder why zbrush couldn't be like this.
another thing, if you are strapped for cash like me, you can buy the cheaper version of mudbox and then eventually upgrade it to the professional version. check the FAQ section of the site for this info.

03 March 2007, 06:10 AM
Zbrush is the more powerful tool overall....However it has way more facets and components than a typical production artists needs. Zbrush was initially intended as a illustration tool, Mudbox was designed as a high-fidelity modeling tool.

The Pixologic guys are talented and smart, hopefully they are taking the time to use thier tech effeciently, strip out un-needed functions, and make seperate version that can compete with Mudbox. As of right has painting tools over Mudbox and a few other nice features, thats it ( as far as 3d production pipelines go/ illustration is a different matter). If they want a large stake in the 3d community they should do a major overhaul pretty soon...Especially if Mudbox adds painting tech to thier app, and Zbrush stays the same route - they will fall out of favor very fast.

Even the most basic parts of a 3d app are confusing in Zbrush. My geometry/mesh is a "tool"??? How confusing is that to someone coming from any other 3d app, I thought I used tools to modify/sculpt my object? Anywho, hopefully they are listenting to the community and make some very basic changes so they can compete down the road.

As far as what app to learn. If you want an illustration tool with some great 3d/2d tech - Zbrush. If you want to learn a 3d sculpting tool (and more likely to be in industry pipelines in a year) - Mudbox + (Bodypaint if you wish).

Erik Heyninck
03 March 2007, 06:50 AM
Imo, ZBrush is like a Swiss army knife. It can do about everything, but you have to find where what is hidden and you have the impression there's always something in the way.
Mudbox is a sculpting toolset. Nothing more, nothing less. And is pretty good at that.
I already have ZBrush, but I'll probably get Mudbox too. Because I don't need a Swiss army knife all the time.

This said: ZB3 looks pretty awesome. And is free for existing users... I do hope though that Skymatter follows the example , and does not start charging for updates/upgrades.

03 March 2007, 05:03 PM
The Pixologic guys are talented and smart, hopefully they are taking the time to use thier tech effeciently, strip out un-needed functions, and make seperate version that can compete with Mudbox. If they want a large stake in the 3d community they should do a major overhaul pretty soon...Especially if Mudbox adds painting tech to thier app, and Zbrush stays the same route - they will fall out of favor very fast.

Even the most basic parts of a 3d app are confusing in Zbrush. My geometry/mesh is a "tool"??? How confusing is that to someone coming from any other 3d app, I thought I used tools to modify/sculpt my object? Anywho, hopefully they are listenting to the community and make some very basic changes so they can compete down the road.


I agree the way ZBrush does things confusing and is quite different to any application I've used. You said ZBrush needs to get a major overhaul pretty soon. I hope ZBrush 3 is the overhaul we've been waiting for. In ZB 2 you have to save the tool to save a 3D scene. I don't know if this has been changed in ZB 3 but I hope so.

04 April 2007, 09:02 AM
Zbrush is coming with layers and higher poly count. But I think Zbrush would be WAY better if they consolidated and simplified their tools into a MUCH easier using package like a GFX editing app like Photoshop. Layers seem REALLY cool though because you can add crazy things and mask their intensity, add clothing and armor to characters, should be cool. Zbrush does need an interface overhaul. I think one of the apps need to CONFORM to some great modeling app such as Silo. We need THAT type of simplicity that we can model from scratch, and select edge loops to use as brush paths, and be able to model with REAL poly modeler tools. There's still alot of optimizing that could be done.

04 April 2007, 08:17 PM
If they put painting into Mudbox (which seems like they could) I think Skymatter could have one hell of a killer app.

By itself right now, I still think the ease of use in Mudbox is wonderful, mainly because I am a Maya user. The shortcuts and hotkeys and navigation all match Maya.

And the layers, oh the layers are so beautiful.

04 April 2007, 11:58 PM
I'll always be a student at heart. With the graphics packages I started with Quark and Photoshop, then was able to work with Painter, which I prefer, being more of an artsy program. Now I'm moving into illustrator. With all of the previous experience I had on the other programs, picking up and navigating the basics of Illustrator wasn't difficult. The same thing happened in toon world. My first app was Animation Master, then Maya. I then tried Max but couldn't get through it. From there I stayed with Maya and opened the door to ZB (with the help of the Digital Tutors), again if i hadn't experienced those forementioned programs, my experience with Mudbox might be different. It is easier to learn, especially if you've taken the time to learn something of a similar product. Like anything else though, it will boil down to focusing on learning...I'm just starting out, but my hundreds of characters, sketched out on paper are screaming to be let free...

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