• Price When Reviewed: 450 . 270 . 225

  • Pros: pros: Fast, interactive viewing, painting and sculpting; 3D texture painting solution; multiple meshes and layer-based workflow; HDR lighting support.

  • Cons: cons: Windows only; tight restrictions for importing models; can be sluggish – fairly powerful PC required for effective use; no animation or character modelling.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

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BodyPaint 3D from Maxon would be the most direct competitor for the Paint tools, especially as it also uses a layer-based workflow. It’s more expensive, though, and doesn’t offer Mudbox’s sculpting tools. These have been expanded from the previous version and keyboard shortcuts allow on-object adjustments for the strength and size of brushes and tools, as well as at subdivision level.

You can bring objects in on different layers, updating the scene at any time and allowing you to combine your work (or other team members’) on one model, or blend between layer iterations for facial animation. Mudbox also supports multiple meshes within the scene, with multiple maps and textures channels for each mesh, which means that you can build more complex models more accurately.

Mudbox 2009 is intended to work smoothly as part of a studio workflow, and this version improves the matching of normal and displacement maps from Maya and 3DS Max. There are strict caveats for importing, though – so Subdivision surfaces must be converted to polygons first.

Although the application can handle complex models created within Mudbox, and is fast, it crashed once when we tried to import a very high-resolution file directly from an archive, and we encountered memory errors
at other times.

On the right PC, this is a quick and powerful solution for adding fine detail and painting, but the lack of a full posing and animation toolset, and tight adherence to import strictures may put some users off.