View Full Version : Looking for solid Mac-based character mapping/texturing solution

02-19-2013, 08:18 AM
I understand LW 11.5 has introduced a new related feature but the jury seems to be out on whether it makes LW a stand-alone tool for mapping and texturing--especially of organic character models. I've dome some looking around and it seems that 3D Coat provides a lot of bang for the buck in this area. ZBrush also makes a showing, but I believe it's a lot pricier.

I tried to watch the UI intro videos at the 3D Coat site but they were so scattershot and poorly organized that I gave up partway into the second one. I'm the sort who learns with project-based material (so the manual was likewise not all that helpful). If that's really the best solution for the Mac, has anyone released better how-to material that I could review before deciding?

To help focus on what matters most to me, I'm especially interested in a solution for seamlessly texture- and bump-mapping scales onto an up-coming flying dragon model I'm working on.

Many thanks in advance!

02-19-2013, 09:28 AM
I own 3DCoat and ZBrush.

3DCoat was purchased because of its price; zb, also, but it was more by twice, at the time.

Based on updates and the like, ZB is the better investment as it keeps on giving and giving.

While it is pricier, it is so for all kinds of reasons. Fun and less frustration being my main points.

02-19-2013, 09:45 AM
I have 3D-Coat, and I use it on my Axiotron Modbook. It's a pretty sweet combo.

BUT, it's decidedly non-standard. Nowhere close to a Mac-centric UI, and it's barely usable without just throwing yourself into the 3D Coat UI and pretending interfaces haven't evolved in the last 20 years.

The lack of a decent Mac solution annoys me to NO FREAKIN' END. So no, I have not found a decent 3rd party solution to this on the Mac. I learned the 3D Coat UI out of necessity. It's definitely not a standard UI. Which is unfortunate, because it would be so much more useful if they'd done that.

ZBrush doesn't offer a demo, so I can't say for sure on this, but based on the videos I've seen, I think its user interface was designed by throwing poo at a wall, and then seeing what parts turned orange.

There are a few iPad solutions as well, but none let me import my LW objects and work on them easily. I need to look at that again because I gave up on using my iPad for this about 4 months ago. Maybe there's something new.

-Chilton of the Mac People

02-19-2013, 09:52 AM
I have to agree with Robert. I have both and both are excellent programs. I use zbrush almost exclusively lateley. See this thread for more discussion on the subject. http://forums.newtek.com/showthread.php?123894-ZBrush-or-3DCoat-Which-should-I-choose

The integration of goz into lightwave makes zbrush a must have tool for me. The main features about zbrush that I like are that:
Work on objects in the 1 to 5 million poly range with no problem.
Sculpt new geometry on top of existing geometry. The new geometry can conform to the underlying shape. For example draw blood vessels on the surface of a heart.
The sub tool transparency done very well. It is very easy to see what you are doing in relationship to a background sub tool.

The interfaces for each program are hard to get used to. For zbrush I think it is for historical reasons. It started out as a 2.5D drawing program and it is weird to have 2.5D features mixed with 3D features.


02-19-2013, 10:12 AM
And sorry, I didn't address your question directly, I see.

Go to zbrushcentral.com and look at the classroom link. Look at a few of their gorgeously presented vids. Buy.
Or, that's how it went for me.

02-19-2013, 10:36 AM
I also own both. I recently forced myself to just "get over it" while in ZBrush. It's interface is a little wonky but the tools are without peer. I also suggest you go to the zClassroom and watch a few vids. Also I've said it before but Digital Tutors has incredible training for both zBrush and 3DCoat. As far as a Mac solution - I'm on Mac only and feel like recently (last couple years) the playing field is pretty level. There isn't any Win software I know of that I feel like I'm missing out. Mudbox, 3DCoat & zBrush all have Mac versions.

02-19-2013, 10:55 AM
I think my reply came across as a tad bit too negative. That happens when it comes to Mac software ;-)

I have to say that at least with 3D Coat, once I stopped being mad at it for its weird UI, it's a pretty good tool. Based on the other replies here, it looks like ZBrush is the same way.

The UI is a big point for me, but it might not be for most people. And it's definitely usable, even if it's not perfect.

But as for being 'solid' solutions, both seem to be that.


02-19-2013, 11:09 AM
....I'm especially interested in a solution for seamlessly texture- and bump-mapping scales onto an up-coming flying dragon model I'm working on.

While the power and awesomeness of Zbrush and 3Dcoat go without saying....
It seems as though sculpting the scales (at least at this point) is not your primary concern. Maybe I've misunderstood....

If it's a more comprehensive Mac friendly (and affordable) UV solution you're looking for....
Blender.... free
Headus UVlayout.... starts at $100

Of course, any package is going to have it's "getting used to the interface" period. Some, perhaps more than others. But, you know this... you've come over from Rhino, correct?
BTW, Headus in particular is kinda bizarro in it's interface.... but it does a good job.

Also, if you want a very easy interface transition.....Modo.
It's got a "use Lightwave interface" setting. But..... #@!%$ expensive. Might as well get Zbrush and have all the extra capability for when you want to venture down that road.

.... just a couple of options. I'm sure there are others.

02-19-2013, 11:20 AM
Thanks for the inputs thus far, definitely taking it all in.

Actually sculpting high-density geometry might be overkill, at first blush. I think I'm more into keeping the poly density manageable and using bump mapping where possible? Looks like ZBrush could handle that, too, but again it might be overkill.

I was really impressed with this 3D Coat tutorial on unwrapping an organic model:


Still looking through the ZBrush videos for something comparable so I can see how it stacks up. I'll have to check out those other suggestions, JoePoe, and thanks (and yes, I have about 10 years of building in Rhino under my belt so I'm not afraid of interfaces). :)

Thanks again!

02-19-2013, 11:53 AM
Check out Adam Gibson's 3D Coat videos on Liberty3D.com (also Zbrush videos).
I got 3D Coat when it was on offer at Xmas and have only touched the surface (no pun intended).
I have only been using the Normal Map / Color Map tools and feel it is worth the purchase.
Adam's video's are project based and very good.

02-19-2013, 12:26 PM
Actually sculpting high-density geometry might be overkill, at first blush. I think I'm more into keeping the poly density manageable..../

Well, that's (part of) the beauty of Zbrush/Coat. Ultimately, your final model can be very LOW poly. The high density sculpt is used to generate a perfectly fitted normal map for visual detail on the low density animated model.

02-19-2013, 01:03 PM
The high density sculpt is used to generate a perfectly fitted normal map for visual detail on the low density animated model.

Ah, I did not know that. Cool.

02-19-2013, 01:15 PM
I got a chuckle out of that video and how he started out in ZB. :-)
UVMaster in zBrush is crazy-easy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8u-JGiYP-w8 and on Pixologic - http://www.pixologic.com/zclassroom/homeroom/lesson/uv-master/
For really complex UVs 3DCoat may have a slight edge but for 99% of the time UV Master in ZB is so quick and easy it's ridiculous.


02-19-2013, 03:49 PM
Zbrush will also let you paint regular bump maps http://vimeo.com/33068445, and can generate displacement and vector maps from the high res. geometry, as well. Vector maps are *really* nice on low res. models, but I don't think LW can take advantage of them (yet).

I run into problems exporting maps from Zbrush, though. For LW you are/were (features change often, don't know if this is still true and can't test it right now) supposed to Flip V when exporting maps, otherwise your texture will look backwards (mirrored) on render. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. There may be a way to get consistent results, but someone else will have to tell you how.

The UV maps are usually tight, with little or no distortion, so you don't need to tweak much, if at all. Can't say this is a point over 3dCoat, because it undoubtedly gives good results, too.

For color maps, Photoshop is better than Zbrush's polypaint, imo -- but YMMV.

02-19-2013, 04:22 PM
LW can; Denis made sure of that.
Vector maps, that is.

02-19-2013, 06:31 PM
I use LW for all my UV needs. The new mapping tool seems to work pretty good and with minor tweaking you can acheive really good results. Being able to use the familiar edit tools on the UV's helps..at least for me.

02-21-2013, 08:37 AM
Thanks again for all the input; I certainly have a lot to think about. Just nabbed the Liberty3D video series on UV Mapping a human in ABF, so we'll see whether the new native tools will actually do what I want. Since I have Photoshop CS6 Extended I can already paint diffuse and bump maps right onto a model. The sculpting stuff ls nice and all that but not really something that I'd be using right now.

It might come to pass I don't need to spend a lot of extra cash after all.

Thanks again!

03-08-2013, 08:11 AM
You may also want to take at look at Topogun for retopology ($100 USD).


And let's not forget Mudbox, but it's rather pricey compared to 3dCoat. But I find it has the most standard UI of the lot (Zbrush, 3dCoat).

It's interesting that Mari was originally created on the Linux and MacOS X platform by Weta:

Jack Greasley of the Foundry wrote in Sept 2012: "Hi,

It is true that Mari was originally developed (for the 1st year or so) on Linux and OS X. We sadly did have to drop OS X support when the version of OpenGL available on Mac wasn't cutting it any more.

To get the performance we do in Mari with we needed certain modern (6 years ago) OpenGL features that OS X did not provide.

OS X is slowly catching up in this space, but they are still VERY behind Windows and Linux and it is very difficult to find out what their roadmap or plans are.

That said, this hasn't gone away for us and we are listening intently to the requests.

We are working with closely ATI and although we don't qualify their cards just yet, Mari can be run on modern FirePro and Radeons with up-to date drivers. We will qualify their cards formally as soon as we can.

Thanks for all of the interest.

We live in interesting times.