New 3D tool makes cloth design more natural

Digital artist Antony Ward unleashes his inner fashionista with version 3 of the cloth design software Marvelous Designer.

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Marvelous Designer 3 review

Most popular applications have their own built-in cloth dynamics. They can be complicated and a pain to control though, so in the end it’s usually quicker and less stressful to just model the clothing from scratch. That’s what I thought until I tried Marvelous Designer 3 – an application that has been on my radar for some time but I’ve never taken the time to actually try.

Originally created by CLO Virtual Fashion in 2009, the third version of Marvelous Designer takes a more natural approach to creating clothing. You become the tailor and create your garments as you would in real life. Using a pattern-based approach, you define each panel of your clothing with textures, and then stitch them together. These are then combined and relaxed around your chosen avatar using a relatively speedy dynamics simulation.

Marvelous Designer 3 review

Marvelous Designer 3 takes a more natural approach to creating clothing

Once the garment is on your avatar, you can then interactively adjust it by simply pulling it around. So if for example the strap has slipped off the shoulder, you can pick it up and pull it back into place. It sounds like it should be complicated but in practice it’s far from it.

The interface is clean and easy to follow and the learning curve is almost vertical, so in a short amount of time you can have a decent-looking dress, jacket or shirt hanging on your character. It’s easy to see why the likes of Weta Digital and Ubisoft have adopted it into their workflow.

From my perspective I wanted to treat it as I would in my own pipeline. Even though you can import animated characters as well as morph targets to help interactively move and pose the avatar, all I wanted was to bring one of my own creations into the scene and dress her.

She was dressed and ready to be rendered within 30 minutes, and the results were far superior to what I could have achieved manually in the same time.

Using Marvelous Designer 3 you can have a decent-looking dress, jacket or shirt hanging on your character in a short amount of time

Using Marvelous Designer 3 you can have a decent-looking dress, jacket or shirt hanging on your character in a short amount of time

Export garments

Taking this further you have the option to export everything as a .OBJ, along with a good set of UVs, and work on it further in ZBrush. This can then be used as a high- detailed mesh for game development or even just a rendered illustration.

It’s when you are exporting the garments that minor issues do arise, and what you are given is a triangle-based mesh. Ideally a quad solution would be preferable - I suppose you could use ZRemesher to rework the topology, but the option would be nice.

I found Marvelous Designer 3 to be a well-thought-out cloth design application, and I can already see the benefits of bringing it into my own pipeline.

When comparing it with version 2 though, I’m not sure it needed to be classed as a brand new version. I admit I only compared the two briefly, but my initial thoughts were that v3 felt just like v2 with a nicer user interface, and a new subscription-based payment option.

Marvelous Designer ia a well-thought-out cloth design application

Marvelous Designer ia a well-thought-out cloth design application


Marvelous Designer 3

Score: 8/10

A well-thought-out application that takes the frustration out of fashion. Those using v2 may want to wait before upgrading.


  • Easy to use and offers good results
  • Works with multiple 3D applications
  • Fast and interactive cloth simulation


  • Feels a lot like Version 2
  • Quad-based export not supported
  • Subscription model may put people off

Antony Ward has been happily provoking pixels since the early 1990s. He has worked for some of today’s best CG studios.

This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 175 - on sale now!

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