Overview Part I
3DCoat is full of functionality. Having a large selection of tools, commands, functions and workflows, 3DCoat is structured into clearly defined “Rooms” which house all of the appropriate functions for any given stage of model development. Think of each room as a thoroughly connected “mini-application”. This structure helps you concentrate on one set of operations at a time – making all of your working time the most productive it can be.
Like a 3D version of Photoshop, 3DCoat’s Paint Room makes creating detailed textures for your models extremely fast and fun. Maximizing productivity, The Paint Room allows you to create multiple kinds of textures, simultaneously – Diffuse/Albedo Color, Glossiness and Depth (Which can be exported as Bump, Displacement or Normal maps, or any variation thereof). Paint layers can also be exported out as other various maps, including Vertex Weight maps, Emissive/Luminosity maps and more. All the tools should be familiar to you, if you are familiar with Photoshop tools. Create seamless textures for everything from organic characters, mechanical objects or landscape elements – all with a familiar Brush based interface. Intuitive brush controls can be changed with the mouse, alone, on-the-fly.
Paint with the aid of Stencils, Strips of repeating patterns and Smart Materials are composed of separate Depth, Color, Glossiness (or it’s inverse, Roughness) and Metalness textures which operate only when enabled by the appropriate buttons in the interface. Use all the power in your tablet and stylus to produce the precise textures and effects you need for your models. Whenever increased precision is required, you can use the Stroke Mode panel’s various modes. Export each texture map in exactly the format you need with or without alpha channels and with just the right amount of padding for your UV maps. Use viewport reference images for enhanced guidance as well as any image as a “Paint Well” for color duplication and reference. Customize your Brush Alpha panel with a complete arsenal of your favorite Brushes and Brush settings – ready to be used each time you start 3DCoat.
Test your various UV unwrapping schemes within the Paint Room before you commit to any one of them for export. You can also paint Vertex Color maps directly on your Voxel or Surface sculptures as well as utilizing the newest texturing techniques with PTEX. Bake your vertex colors and PTEX textures to standard UV Maps for usage anywhere. When you need to paint very detailed and precise textures, choose the Per-Pixel texturing mode. Or, you can paint without the concerns of UV Map seams with Ptex and paint directly on your voxel creations with vertex color.
Probably the most unique set of tools and functions found in the 3D sculpting venue reside in this Room. Nicely divided from other portions of the 3DCoat’s environment – The Sculpt Room contains a set of tools and functions that allow you to construct the most detailed and elaborate organic and mechanical models that one could conceive. In essence, The Sculpt Room is composed of two working modes, Voxels and Surfaces (Polygons).
Voxels create models with modifiable volume and Surface Mode allows you to work with polygons, which can either be stretched, shaped, expanded and contracted with an adaptive subdivision mesh, adding extra geometry only when you desire, and which you control the density of. You can choose to begin in Voxels and eventually move your sculpture into Surface Mode (for increased performance, memory preservation and very fine detail work), or start from the beginning working with Surfaces.
Many of the Sculpt Room Tools lend themselves to free-form Brush-Based sculpting operations giving the artist the freedom of building with the equivalents of clay, wax, wood, stone and paint. 3D-Coat also makes full use of your graphics tablet’s abilities. Other tools provide for precision required in constructing mechanical model forms.
Read more about the Sculpt Room by clicking the title above or HERE.
All Topology creation and modification tools and functions can be found in Retopo Room. Whether you are fine tuning topology created automatically with 3DCoat’s AUTOPO (Auto-Retopology) routine, creating your mesh topology from scratch or adjusting and refining topology started in an external application, you can find what you need in the Retopo Room.
Every VoxTree object can be worked on separately via the Retopo Objects panel. These can be created automatically, (when AUTOPO is used), or manually as you isolate different areas of your model for different purposes and topology layouts.
Read more about the Retopo Room by clicking the title above or HERE.
If you’ve imported a mesh for UV mapping or if you need to change or edit your UV maps, the UV Room is available with a full arsenal of tools for modifying your UV maps. The UV map of a mesh is like the paper pattern used to cut out the cloth for your model’s clothing. (textures). As with any decent garment, you would try to avoid making your pattern from scores of small pieces – but rather, a good piece of clothing tries to keep all of its component pieces as large as possible – and as near the same size as is practical. The UV Room provides the precise set of tools that enable you to produce a balanced UV Map.
Like a paper pattern, each clothing part is separated from the others and economically laid out to make room for all the rest. The UV Room tools and functions are mainly designed to deal with positioning, sizing and the orientation of all the pattern pieces. Since you may change your mind regarding the placement of pattern seams, all of the tools found in the Retopo Room that deal with UV Mapping are also found in the UV Room. Tools are also present which help you prevent stretching of pattern pieces – and how all of the pieces are packed into the space of the overall UV map.
Since one model may have a variety of uses, you may find the need to have different maps. 3DCoat allows you to make and modify as many different UV maps as you need for any project. Once you have completed your maps and have baked your model into the Paint Room, for texturing, you can use the Texture UV Editor to place details and labels which require precision that is difficult to obtain by painting in the 3D Viewport, itself. Use the Texture UV Editor to Paint and position precise details directly on the UV Map, itself utilizing all the tools available in the Paint Room.
This Room is often overlooked and underused, yet it possesses some of the most simple and powerful means to create after the fact mesh modifications, model poses and morph targets. All the changes you make here can occur even after you have created topology, UV maps and textures. Great for last minute changes of mind – without ruining all of your hard work. Even minor sculpting can be done in the Tweak Room using Brushes and Brush Options.
As in other Rooms, the Top Bar contains the common Brush Settings. It is important to note that all of the Paint Room and Tweak Room both use imported mesh, which can found in the Paint Objects panel. If for any reason you wish to delete a mesh from either of these rooms, you can do so by clicking on the X for each mesh object in the Paint Objects panel.
The Render Room
This Room allows you to test your model and its textures in an environment much closer to a 3rd party rendering environment – and to create animated Turntables and Fly-throughs of your model and scene. You can add multiple colored light sources, adjust the Camera Depth of Field, soften or accentuate shadow effects and define how many Rays will be traced in the final rendering. Real-Time Rendering is also possible, making it quick and easy to see the many Lighting, Focus and Ambient Occlusion possibilities – from any angle or view.
Once you have brought your model all the way to the Texturing phase, you can instantaneously view the results by simply defining your Render Settings and clicking on the Render button in the Render panel. Render out stills or turntables and fly-throughs at any resolution, designating clockwise or anti-clockwise rotation with up to 32-bit color information and choose whether to include the alpha channel in your finished rendering. Upload your animated scenes directly to YouTube or Vimeo or choose to upload a screenshot to the Pilgway servers for sharing with other users – all by means of the Help menu within 3DCoat.
Customizing your 3DCoat Experience
From directly in the interface, you can assign single and multi-key shortcuts to nearly every 3DCoat function or tool. Simply press the END key while hovering the mouse over any item, followed by the keyboard combination of your choice. If you find that you rarely or never use certain, more obscure functions of the application, choose Customize UI from the Edit menu and uncheck any items that you wish no longer appear in the interface thus reducing unwanted clutter. Use the Edit/Preference option to completely customize the color scheme and appearance of the overall 3DCoat interface to whatever suits your fancy. We want you to make 3DCoat “yours” in every way possible.