What Are Voxels

Voxels are the 3D version of pixels, in a nutshell. A pixel is represented by a square, having the same height, width and a specific size. Given any two dimensional area, this area can only contain a set number of pixels. In this context a voxel is really a volumetric pixel , since it has depth, as well as height and width.

Mathematically, voxels are numerical values [0..1] placed in a cubic grid. The object’s surface is located where the value is equal to 0.5. Like pixels, voxels have the same width and height, but also have dimension along the Z axis, which is the same as the distance for its height and width, making a voxel a cube. For any given 3 dimensional volume, there can only be a set number of voxels occupying this space.

An additional benefit of voxels in 3DCoat is their ability to be assigned a color and a shader.

For the user, this experience simulates working with a solid or semi-solid material (like clay or molten wax) by means of functions that mimic the use of real world sculpting tools. This approach lets you sculpt without any topological constraints, it lets you build up complex objects from “nothing” and to endlessly add and subtract volume mass, and easily punch holes in the objects. This approach gives you total freedom in your 3D sculpting.

With voxels, you can work like an old-fashioned, real-world, clay-based sculptor. One who never needs to think about technical things like polygons and topological flow and who, therefore, can just freely and easily express themselves. If you need to sculpt an ear, an arm, or a leg, simply start putting together lumps of digital clay!

As fantastic as voxels are, you should also understand some of the limitations of this technology. For instance, objects can’t be extremely thin in a voxel form. If you want to make a very thin surface, like cloth, you need to increase the resolution of the voxel object to avoid the appearance of 3D “jaggies”. A more convenient way to work with very thin layers is to use the Surface Sculpting mode. This can be done by clicking on the “V” icon next to the particular voxel layer you wish to convert to Surface mode. The “S” icon tells you that you have entered the Surface mode.

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