Monday, February 5, 2007

Mudbox 3D Tutorial #1 - Meshes & Levels

Where does one begin in learning such a huge application as Mudbox? We open it up and look at all the options and say, "Now, what???"

Well, we've decided to work in small steps and limit each tutorial to one or two principles at a time. So, we've devoted this first step to exploring Meshes. A mesh is the basic shape that we use to build our 3D model. The reason it's called a 'mesh', even though the form looks solid when we bring a basic shape up on the screen, is that behind the surface is a wireframe (actually a mesh of interconnected wires) that gives the surface its shape.

In this lesson we'll look at the three basic mesh shapes; Cube, Plane and Sphere. We'll look at how to increase the detail of the mesh (more 'faces' in the mesh) to permit us to work in greater detail on the surface of our object. And, we'll show how Mudbox gives us the remarkable ability to choose the optimal number of faces to select the proper balance between computer performance and design detail by working in various 'Levels'. Total time (9:30)

Mudbox 3D Tutorial #1 - Meshes & Levels

Friday, February 2, 2007

Why this Particular Mudbox 3D Fans Blog?

At a family gathering during the holidays, I was lamenting the fact that all the 3D packages that I could afford, and had tried to learn, seemed awfully artificial and non-intuitive. A nephew, who works with one of the big video game companies piped up and said, "Then you haven't seen Mudbox! It was created by artists and it's just like working with clay." We immediately found a computer and he took me to the Mudbox web site. That was the beginning of my becoming a Mudbox 3D fan.

I am not an artist. My quest for a virtual sculpting tool had come about because of my interest in my daughter's art and my background as a video animator (and video game designer) in the days when resolutions and available colors were low and animation required more programming skills than skills as a real artist. This video clip from 1985 is a perfect example from that period of time... not much art; but, a LOT of programming!

Lip-Sync Animation - Tom Meeks, 1985

OK! So, even a few minutes of that and I'm sure you'll agree with my assessment of my artistic skills! But, my daughter, Cheryl Meeks Manger IS an artist... and a very accomplished one at that. Here is a sample of one of her carved clay sculptures. (My only contribution was the photograph.)

Fleurette - Chery Meeks Manger

I'm artistically challenged and my daughter is computer challenged. Both of us were interested in the potential that the new 3D fabrication processes offer to artists. So, we decided to work together to learn Mudbox. As a software designer of more than 25 years, I'd repeatedly had to learn completely new software software languages and packages. In doing so, I've developed a strategy for learning new computer skills based on the principle of small, simple steps. So, we decided that I would forge ahead, learning the Mudbox tools and environment. Then I would produce short videos that she could then use to reduce her learning curve.

But, we also thought that others, might benefit from these same lessons and tips. Thus, this blog was born.

The videos won't be flashy (no pun intended). I'll stumble around for words and my chair will sqeak occasionally. They may even contain some wrong information from time to time. But, we thought it would be helpful to have a series of tutorials that were created by a non-expert that truly reflected some of the things newbies face in learning such a powerful and huge product. Expert tutorials are wonderful; but, sometimes experts can forget what they went through at the beginning of their learning journey. And, that's what we are trying to capture by sharing our family's quest to learn Mudbox.

Lastly, during my search for a more intuitive 3D Model package, I came across another wonderful family of products by Solidworks. The first is a 3D modeling program called CosmicBlobs. My granddaughters and myself thoroughly enjoy it. There is also a 'pro' version called CB Model Pro, that is currently in early beta. If you don't need all the power and detail of Mudbox, or you simply want to get started in 3D Modeling, then I urge you to also look at these packages. CB Model Pro is free during the beta period.

I've also started a BlobFans blog, with tutorials, covering the CosmicBlob family of products. For us, it's not either/or when it comes to Mudbox and CosmicBlogs... it's BOTH!

So, if you are new to Mudbox 3D or new to 3D modeling in general,then I hope that you find that THIS is the place for you!