Maxon, the maker of renowned 3D package Cinema 4D, has released the next version of its 3D texturing module, BodyPaint 3D 2. Unusually for a 3D developer, BodyPaint is available as a stand-alone version for use with competitors’ products as well as being a Cinema 4D module. The strategy makes sense because, while it makes the potential BodyPaint market bigger, it also offers a glimpse of what would-be side-graders are missing out on in Cinema 4D.
The interface is excellent and, because it’s based on Cinema 4D, it’s highly customizable. There are two main preset layouts available though: one focused on UV (texture) editing, and the other on 3D painting. Unlike some packages that require you to purchase extra modules, BodyPaint comes with 3D painting and UV editing as standard.
Both of these sections of the program have received a fair amount attention in this version, but one of the most impressive improvements has to do with overall workflow, which is greatly improved. 3D painting and UV editing are complex tasks, and BodyPaint has undergone a rationalization of many of its panels – though it can still be confusing at times.
The Material Manager now sports a list view and groups, and adds the features of the Layers panel (which is still available), but with more options. This reduces the number of panels you need open, for a start. But it’s the wizard that steals the show.
With the setup wizard, Bodypaint does most of the legwork of setting up materials, textures and projections. Your object might be a single mesh or a hierarchy of objects – either way, the wizard walks you through each part of the process and creates everything necessary to begin painting straight away.
This is where the fun begins. The new projection paint mode means that even if you have multiple surfaces and textures, you can paint directly on them without the brush stroke smearing or changing size across seams. This is one of the biggest headaches of 3D painting, and the fact that Bodypaint more or less solves the problem is a colossal step forward.
An Optimal mapping method has been introduced, as well as simpler interface for assigning other projection types. A Relax UVs feature helps with clustered UVs, but it can be temperamental at times. The manual UV editing tools are good, but you can’t help wishing they were a bit easier to use.
BodyPaint comes with plug-ins for Maya, 3DS Max and LightWave – so no matter which 3D package you use, Bodypaint will integrate with its workflow.
Bodypaint is a must-buy for serious Cinema 4D users, and for users of competing packages, it should be high on their list of 3D-texturing purchases.