I’ve been trying Mudbox and I’ve found it pretty useful. Compared to Z Brush whose interface is totally different to most 3D packages, Mudbox seems really intuitive. Seeing that it comes from the Autodesk stable, those familiar with Maya and 3DS Max shouldn’t find it a stretch to navigate and use.
After trying out the various tools, I’ve found that sculpting folds in clothing is very straightforward. As long as the models brought into Mudbox have been unwrapped then the UVs show the deformation. I haven’t worked through to creating surface detailing like pores yet. That will come.
It has been useful to play with Mudbox because I've at least been able to sculpt some parts of the figure that I wasn't happy with; around the collar bones in the image above and also the triceps (see the left tricep in the image below). Although I couldn't really use the Mudbox sculpts, it was useful to see the workflow between 3DS Max and Mudbox and back again. I used the high resolution sculpts as 3D templates to shape the model in 3DS Max!
Also I looked into extracting the high resolution detail in the form of a normal map. This is a fairly straightforward process. The normal maps do appear a little dirty – I’ll need to check the settings to see if there’s anything that can be done to make it more accurate. However it has proved to me that my workflow for this project is flawed.
Ideally a low poly model should be imported into Mudbox already unwrapped. The high poly model should then be created in Mudbox with all the surface details – folds in the clothing, veins, muscle detail and surface detail like pores and scars. Then the high poly detail should be exported (in Mudbox the process is called extraction) through various maps including normal maps. These maps can then be applied to the low poly model.
However, as I had already created quite a high poly model in 3DS Max already, any further refinements and surface detailing that I then create in Mudbox can only be baked back onto this fairly high poly mesh. If I create a separate low poly version, the UVs will be different so baking the extracted maps from Mudbox won’t work. So any sculpting that I perform in Mudbox will only work for the high poly mesh and the low poly one will be independent.
With that in mind, I’ll track back to getting the unwrapped UV template painted and move onto the rigging and skinning.
Perhaps my next substantial portion of my work in my MA will involve the workflow of low poly model in 3DS Max, then putting in the detail in Mudbox, bake out the maps from Mudbox and apply them to the low poly model in Max for rigging. The poly count of the low poly model will depend on how my exploration over the next couple of months after I have my high poly character rigged.