Mudbox vs Zbrush – 3D Sculpture Software Comparison

mudbox vs zbrush3D character modeling and the ability to create 3D models for use in games, television or film is fast becoming a very lucrative career option. 3D modeling applications like Zbrush and Mudbox offer artists and developers amazingly powerful tools that enable creators to quickly and efficiently produce whole new worlds that dazzle and enthrall games and moviegoers all over the planet.

Learn 3D Digital Sculpting with Mudbox and join thousands of students learning to harness the power of Mudbox to create awesome 3D models and artwork. This course includes 76 lectures that will teach you how to create a model in Mudbox from start to finish. The course will teach you the basics of the Mudbox software and it includes lessons on the Mudbox menus and how to use them. It contains lessons on Mudbox sculpting tools including the sculpt, pinch, grab, flatten, spray and the other sculpting tools. It also includes comprehensive lessons on how to paint your sculpture once the model has been built. It will teach you to work with advanced features included within the application like working with layers, filters and sculpture extraction.

Now let’s get into the different Mudbox vs Zbrush features so you can decide which is best for you.

These applications can however be quite expensive for those new to the industry so choosing the right application is essential. Here are the features of both Mudbox and Zbrush so you can compare the features to make the best selection for your purposes.

Mudbox Features

Mudbox uses accepted standards in terms of functionality and layout. If you have used 3D modeling programs or software applications in the past, then the Mudbox interface will seem familiar in a lot of ways making it easier to use, based on your past experience of this type of software. The software is also made by the same company as Maya and 3DS Max so the compatibility between Mudbox creation and Maya or 3DS Max has been streamlined, making Mudbox a great choice if you are intending to use Max or Maya for further development. Cameras, image plains, meshes and textures can all be easily transferred between these three applications to ensure smooth workflow and to ensure projects lose as little time as possible between the various sections of development. Mudbox accommodates the workflow pipeline to allow it to integrate seamlessly with work that needs to occur after the model is built using Mudbox. To enable this, Mudbox uses depth shadow mapping technology to create shadow effects for your models.

Mudbox also uses familiar painting technology. It uses Photoshop styled layers and layer stacks, so if you are used to working in this type of environment, then Mudbox may the obvious choice for you. It allows for multiple channel type painting that Photoshop users will be familiar with like opacity, bump and specularity, and you can view all of the layers in the viewport at the same time to ensure a rich, full impression of your work as it progresses. The application allows 3D painting and has a number of brushes designed for these purposes making it highly suitable for artists looking to create these effects. The 3D brush tools, like the grab tool, make model creation and adjust a lot easier for developers and artists. Color adjustment windows within Mudbox allow developers and artists to fine tune colors quickly within their models by adjusting the hue and saturation of the colors used.

Mudbox offers texture management systems that allow you to manage large texture maps. It also offers UVless painting allowing artists to begin the painting process without spending time on creating UV’s before painting. Support for PTex files is also included in Maya for improved workflow.

The software offers tablet friendly marking menus to help artists select the menu items with ease and proficiency. These menus are similar to the menus used in Maya, so for artists or developers familiar with working in the Maya environment, these menus ensure a smooth transition between the various applications.

The stenciling features make it easy to modify stencils for use on various models or to use the paint brushes to create new stencils. Tileable stencils can be used and painted with ease.

Mudbox comes with 22 different layer blend modes, allowing the artist or developer the freedom they need to create models and the blend modes are compatible with Adobe Photoshop, making it really easy to import and export layers between these two applications. Painting opacity has made simulating real world objects, like glass, simple using Mudbox.

The application allows artists to create symmetrical pairs of joints for their models as well as enabling the weighting of joints. Posing joints can be used for interior or surface placement. These features are all designed to make it easier for artists and developers to pose their models quickly and efficiently. Artists can also sculpt the model whilst the models have been posed in different poses and these changes are then saved and transferred to the new pose or other poses. This feature is particularly helpful for hard to reach places and for testing the model in different poses.

Zbrush Features

Zbrush is essentially aimed more at the artist than the programmer or developer. It allows artists to create illustrations directly using tools like the PaintStop tool. The tool contains a wide variety of tools such as pencils, inks, paints and markers, to allow the artist to take advantage of their preferred medium. Images can also be loaded into the image plain to allow for further development or to be used as reference models for further model creation.

The application uses a tool called ZSpheres to create base meshes for your models. ZSpheres allows the artist to create and develop a flexible armature for the model quickly and easily. This tool also make adjustments and modifications of the base meshes simple.

Once the model has been created using the ZSphere tool, Zbrush offers a number of different sketch sphere brush tools that allow artists to build up the base mesh using brush stroke type techniques to build up the model. Masking brushes can be used to paint a mask over certain areas to stop those areas from being modified by the sculpting brushes. Zbrush also allow artists to create their own custom brushes thus placing creativity directly within the artists’ reach.

Rigging the sketch spheres allow artists to pose and rig their models in preparation for the animation process. Transpose master allow artists to reduce the entire model to one object to allow for posing and positioning of the model, where poses incorporate all the objects included in the model.

Get the complete beginner’s guide to Zbrush here.

The dynamesh tools allow artists to inflate or modify their models using another range of specific brushes. These brushes make modification of the model simpler. Dynamesh instantly allows for retopology of models. Zbrush offers a unique tool called polygroups. This tool allows artists to group items to create new items or models or assets. Radial symmetry options allow artists to create symmetry and patterns of symmetry within their models, and the transform brush can transform those patterns into 3D objects or layers quickly and efficiently.

Tools like the inflate, clay buildup and the move brush, allow artists to have complete control over the creation of their model, whilst Zbrush automatically takes care of geometry behind the scenes, making the creation process more intuitive and artistically driven than Mudbox. Zbrush makes the generation of topology for your models really simple with the ZRemesher tool and with another set of brushes that allow for changes to the topology of the model.

There are also brushes designed to allow artists to cut away from the geometry of the model. This makes sculpting details like the inside of a mouth really simple. Hide brushes also allow for easy access to parts of the model that are hard to reach or partially hidden. Clip and slice brushes make it really easy to modify your models in highly accurate ways.

The Spotlight tool allow artists to access highly realistic 3D painting tools for their models to add to the sense of realism.

If you are keen to explore the power of Zbrush for sculpting and model building, try this course on 3D character creation. This course offers an introduction to sculpting for games using Pixologic’s ZBrush. The course contains 23 lectures that are designed to familiarize you with the majority of the basic tools offered in Zbrush. You will learn to prepare the mesh, as well as learning valuable workflow techniques. You will also learn about wood sculpting, metal sculpting and rock sculpting.

Selecting the Right Program

Essentially, MudBox and Zbrush are capable of the same or similar end results, with the major differences in the way these results are created and obtained. As an artist, Zbrush offers the “familiar” feel of working with brushes and tools that are similar to the brushes and tools one would use in a real world sculpting environment. As a sculptor, Zbrush offers the look and feel of really building a sculpture.

As a developer and programmer, Mudbox offers the development and programming environment you would expect to be a part of the development of new games or 3D applications.