By Michael Burns | on September 25, 2008
Price When Reviewed: 559 . 1369 . 2399
Pros: Faster operation; 64-bit support on Mac OS X; Projection Man; rendering enhancements; non-linear animation; ghosting; Doodle tool; custom brush and Collada support, BodyPaint 3D included with core application.
Cons: Some bugs; no Linux support; more expensive than nearest competitor.
BodyPaint 3D also offers a RayBrush mode to paint directly onto a raytraced image, with a choice of working views. BodyPaint 3D fans will be gratified to learn there’s something new for them in version 4 too, such as enhanced Wacom tablet support and greater integration with Photoshop, including full support for Photoshop layers at 8-bit and 16-bit colour depths. Though not confined to BodyPaint 3D, Collada support has been introduced, which means you can now import and export 3D assets between Cinema4D and other Collada-aware applications, such as Photoshop CS3.
There’s also new support for Photoshop’s .abr custom brushes. Thousands of such brush presets are available to download and once opened and imported into the BodyPaint 3D 4 Paint layout, can be accessed via the Brush tab or the Content Browser to select and paint with. The PC version we tested this on had a couple of bugs – when we loaded the new brushes, the Content Browser stopped showing any previews whatsoever. A restart fixed things and the problem wasn’t repeated on the Mac version.
We tried R11 out on a MacBook Pro – Mac users on newer machines will benefit from this release, as it’s the first to be built on a Cocoa-based architecture that supports 64-bit processing on Mac OS X 10.5. It did seem very fast, though it, too, crashed several times during testing. As well as taking advantage of faster CPU throughput, the 64-bit mode also allows greater amounts of RAM to be used. You can switch between modes using a check box on the application’s Get Info panel. On another first for the Mac, BodyPaint 3D now supports a 3D mouse.
Among the module updates, Advanced Render (version 3) stands out, as its Global Illumination (GI) settings have been revamped. The setup time for this ‘natural’ lighting process has been cut via a simpler dialog, while the GI rendering engine has been re-written to be faster, with reduced artifacts and flicker-free animation rendering. Under GI each object becomes a light source and it’s simple to make objects influence the lighting of their neighbours.
It performs well, and was slightly faster on the Mac than the Windows version in our test. Advanced Render also now includes CineMan, for output to Pixar’s Renderman servers. Rendering in the core application has also been given a boost with a new setting for transparency called Absorption. This is an effective way of emulating the colour changes caused by light passing through transparent materials. Quick to set up, the results are nevertheless realistic. However,
it doesn’t work in conjunction with Soft shadows.