Paint Layers & Blending

Paint Layers are a familiar concept in the digital painting world, so why reinvent the wheel? 3DCoat uses this familiar architecture for it’s basis of Paint Layers.

You can have as many layers as you need to. You can group layers together, using different blending modes and even set clip masks. 3DCoat also has a default layer that contains the mesh data, and is also available to edit. It is highly recommend that you do not edit Layer 0 until you are familiar with the more advanced functions of Layer 0.

A Paint Layer contains multiple channels; Depth, Specular Color, Alpha Transparency, Metalness & Roughness. Paint Layers not only work with Paint Objects for pixel/image based painting, but also vertex color data for when you wish to paint on Sculpt Objects as well.

Layers Panel

Layers Panel

Color/Depth/Glossiness Opacity

Controls the opacity amount of color, depth or Glossiness respectively.

Color blend Mode

Choose how a layer’s colors blends with other layers in the stack. You can also specify a layer’s color to be something else entirely. For example, if you import a non-3DCoat generated normal map, you can specify that layer as a normal map, and 3DCoat will know to convert it to it’s depth map. You can also set color information to be used as Specular Color, Emissive (Luminance) and Highlight Emissive. Lastly, you can set a greyscale colored (black and white) Paint Layer to be used as a Weight Map, which is set from the Layers Blending panel. More on that below in the Layer Blending section.

Let’s look at the different modes:

Blend Modes

  • Standard
  • Dissolve
  • Darken
  • Multiply
  • Color Burn
  • Linear Burn
  • Lighten
  • Screen
  • Color Dodge
  • Linear Doge
  • Overlay
  • SoftLight
  • HardLight
  • VividLight
  • LinearLight
  • PinLight
  • HardMix
  • Difference
  • Exclusion
  • Hue
  • Saturation
  • Lightness
  • Modulate2X
  • Add
  • Subtract
  • Normal Map
  • Use as Specular Color
  • Use as Emissive
  • Highlight Emissive

Depth Blend Mode

Choose how a layer’s depth blends with other layers in the stack. Let’s look at the different modes:

  • Add
  • Subtract
  • Max.
  • Magnify
  • Suppress

Spec. Blend Mode

Choose how a layer’s Glossiness blends with other layers in the stack. Let’s look at the different modes:

  • Add
  • Subtract
  • Maximize
  • Suppress
  • Overwrite
  • Alpha Blending


By clicking the eyeball next to a layer, you can toggle the visibility of that layer.

Double Click Rename

Double click the layer’s name to rename it

Drag & Drop to Move Layers

Hovering your Brush over a layer, you can see a line with a two vertical arrows, one up, one down. LMB+Drag to reposition the layer.

Lower Panel Icons

Layer Panel Icons

Along the bottom edge of this panel reside a few other functions. Let’s look at those.

  • New Layer: Creates a new layer in the Paint Layers panel.
  • Delete Layer: Deletes the currently selected layer.
  • Merge Down: Merges the currently selected layer with the one below it.
  • Move Up/Down: Moves the layer up or down in the stack, depending on which icon you click.
  • Clear Layer: Removes all paint data on the currently selected layer.
  • Group: Creates a Group Layer. To parent layers to the Group, use the Drag & Drop icon and release the layer on upon the Group layer.

Layer Blending Panel

Layer Blending

Hovering your Brush over a layer, you can see a dashed-downward facing arrow. LMB click to reveal the Layer Blend panel. You can also access the panel from the menu Window>Popups>Layer Blending.

Lock  Transparency

Allows you to lock the transparency of the selected layer. Which means you can only then paint or effect pixels that have some kind of paint data on them, for that layer.

Use as Weight Map

A very useful feature for painting weight maps directly inside of 3DCoat. While you’re not painting weight maps directly, you use image based painting, but if you set 3DCoat to use for this parameter, it will then convert the greyscale values to whichever value range you specify in this drop-down list. Values 0..100% will convert black to 0, and white to 100. Values -100..100% will convert black to -100, and white to 100.

Depth/Color/Spec. Opacity

Control the opacity for the layer’s respective value. This is mirrored from the Layers panel for convenience.

Emboss Power

A multiplier effect to increase the layer’s depth value. If the value is an extrusion, the extrusion will be higher. If the value is a cavity, the cavity will be deeper.


Allows you to control the contrast and brightness of the selected layer.

Glossiness Brightness

A multiplier effect to increase the layer’s Glossiness value.

Clip Mask Layer

Clip Masks are used, when you wish to mask a selected layer, with another layer. In this function you can specify the layer you want to use to Clip Mask the selected layer. Using the Invert Clip Mask function, will invert the clipped area. Note that channels from one layer, will mask the other. For example, Color channels mask only Color. Depth channels only mask Depth, Spec. only masks Spec., etc..

This function is very good for when you have a detailed painting that looks new in appearance, and you wish to “dirty it up” or make wear and tear. You can use one layer to paint the areas you wish to have wear and tear, and use it to Clip Mask the painted layer with all the details you want to be worn.

Paint Layers Menus

For more information on these menus click the title above or go to the Paint Layers Menus page.

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