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    Zbrush retopology replace 3ds max?

    I'm starting to rethink my retopology work flow, I've heard a lot of people doing it inside of zbrush now days. If you can go from nothing to a completely finished model within zbrush, normals and all then what's the point of using max for modeling anymore?

    I just need to know is it best to build low poly models in 3ds max rather than use the retoplogy in zbrush? Should I invest in Topogun? Thanks

    #2
    You can do quite a bit with Zbrush now, but there are still reasons to use 3ds Max--for one, you can't export anything out of Zbrush except for an .obj file
    And you would be able to create a more complex base mesh with 3ds Max, and you can do the retopologizing in 3ds Max as well.

    Mainly it's the control, if you really need to try and move specific vertices you'll have far more precision in 3ds Max. Also, if you're working on characters--you would still need to rig them in 3ds Max. And depending on how you're setting up your characters you might need to model them to fit an animation rig which you can't do in Zbrush.

    There's also the UV unwrapping you would need to do.


    So really, while Zbrush has come a long way, you really do still need an external 3D program to work with it.

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      #3
      I tried Topogun but went for 3D-Coat instead, it's great for retopology and a good alternative to Zbrush.

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        #4
        I already own Zbrush, but as Zbrush's retop tools aren't that great (we get version 4 within a couple of days, I'm waiting to see if retopology has changed) I would rather buy an external program. Thanks for the tips, but I would rather pay the 100 for baking/retop tools of Topogun, and depending on the results of Zbrush 4 that's what I'll do.

        Darthviper, I appreciate your advice as well, I have come up with a new work flow to try. Be warned this is a very extensive list, the purpose, some C&C. I appreciate anything anybody can clarify, anyway to stream line my process also appreciated here it goes.

        Make a base mesh in 3ds max for zbrush, sculpt, retoplogize, Layout the base UVW Map in UVLayout (a great tool) and finish the UVing in Max, back to Zbrush for more sculpting/base diffuse texture painting.

        Either to photoshop directly or Zaplink to finish off the diffuse. From here I will paint, or overlay the minute (billion polygon) details with the bump map shader in zbrush.

        Depending on what I decide to go with for retopo I will do normals in Zbrush, XNormal, or Topogun. Next I will convert my bump map to normals with CrazyBump, mix the normal maps together, render Ambient Occlusion in either CrazyBump, or directly from the Low and High res meshes, depending on the size of the meshes, and results of the nearly instant CrazyBump render.

        Finally, I will build some LOD meshes, get some texture mips, specular, emmissive etc. Bring everything into UDK and design a shader best suited for the asset.

        This is of course a general process and will need to be more specifically tailored to the type of asset I am creating. As I said above I appreciate any comments!

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          #5
          The workflow seems solid and you should expect great results if your art skills are substantial. My only personal preference that differs is that I prefer to build the LOD's either before or during the ingame mesh process. That allows for cleaner control but if you're going to reshape it later in ZBrush, you're probably still better off going your own route.

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            #6
            some of us just dont like ZBrush. if you're good with it and you have a rig that'll run it nicely then its worth it, but tbh after 10 years of 3dsMax id rather not switch. and i think the same goes for a lot of game asset artists.

            I, for one, dont see the need for high poly models in games when you can "fake" it with a lowpoly one with decent topology and mapping. but having said that, i was trained to care about how the final result looks rather than the topology/reptology side of it.

            with that in mind, the last "new" game i played was Bioshock so idk how far techiniques have come since that.

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              #7
              You could never achieve some character modelling alone with a polygon modeller, you need some sort of sculptor to get the detail needed for today's generation of games.

              Personally I'm not a big fan of Zbrush but it has it's place in the pipeline for complex models such as complex rock work or character work.

              Base mesh > Zbrush > Max/maya > retopo > Bake normal map, the retopo tools within Zbrush are just not robust enough and there are some cheap Max scripts that are just so good at retopology that it's not even worth doing it in Zbrush right now.

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                #8
                An alternative to ZBrush is Mudbox from Autodesk. I use that as I find it much less convoluted and able to produce identical results without all of the weird interface issues and strange requirements. No more having to create a brand new document because I can't undo what I did 10 steps ago and no more back and forth 3 times just to get things lined up. And no more stupid projection mapper as that thing drives me up the freaking wall big time. Mudbox interface is very close to max so I'm right at home with it. In all honesty, I haven't been this pleased and at home with a program since I found UDK.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by Deliverance6 View Post
                  some of us just dont like ZBrush. if you're good with it and you have a rig that'll run it nicely then its worth it, but tbh after 10 years of 3dsMax id rather not switch. and i think the same goes for a lot of game asset artists.

                  I, for one, dont see the need for high poly models in games when you can "fake" it with a lowpoly one with decent topology and mapping. but having said that, i was trained to care about how the final result looks rather than the topology/reptology side of it.

                  with that in mind, the last "new" game i played was Bioshock so idk how far techiniques have come since that.
                  For any games these days you can't be without a good sculpting program. Obviously you wouldn't use it to create the models, but you would need it for creating good normal maps. It's also helpful in creating morph targets or reposing models.

                  But I like both Zbrush and Mudbox--Mudbox is just much easier to use, but it's missing a lot of the tools that Zbrush has, and Zbrush runs better. The main difference is that you can paint directly onto the texture map with Mudbox, where in Zbrush you can only paint with polypaint that way which loses a lot of the functionality and requires that you have a really high poly count.

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by darthviper107 View Post
                    For any games these days you can't be without a good sculpting program. Obviously you wouldn't use it to create the models, but you would need it for creating good normal maps. It's also helpful in creating morph targets or reposing models.
                    .
                    =) I think that's where this thread is going, or can you? With the rise of retoplogoy, unless as you said in your opening post you have constraints, such as a rig, why can't you sculpt completely in the program? It's always possible to retoplogize and bring it into max for some tweaking, but with the new zspheres, there is no reason some thing's can't be modeled completely within zbrush, and a retopo tool.

                    About the poly paint vs mudbox's method, when you get into the millions of polys it's just like pixels. The new Zaplink plugin is genius, it allows you to still in a sense, paint on your model, while actually painting in your favorite program such as photoshop, even directly on the texture map. It is a simple thing to convert poly paint to texture and vice versa.

                    This discussion has shown me a few things, there are those who are willing to acknowledge change in the industry, but also those who like to stick to their old methods. Both choices are perfectly great, whichever work flow a person feels most comfortable in, and produces the most quality work in fastest is the one that should be used.

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                      #11
                      I think you can get really close, but there's still issues of scale and such, trying to work with a game engine. And again, I'm not sure how well the UV unwrapping tools are in Zbrush.

                      The main thing about textures--it's really great to be able to paint directly on the model, which is why Mudbox is great, you can paint directly to the model (and different map types, bump, specular, etc.) And you don't have to paint at such high poly counts, especially if your model isn't high enough for for polypaint.

                      Although 3ds Max has new model painting that has more functions like Photoshop, but it doesn't work as well with such high-poly models.

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