The 5 best 3D tools for October

October sees the arrival of shorter days, but that provides the perfect excuse to stay indoors in the evening tinkering with the latest releases that we couldn’t justify using at work. With that in mind let’s take a look at what is new to play with in the world of 3D art and VFX this month. 

01.  ZBrush 4R8 

Popular 3D sculpting package ZBrush has been updated with a good number of new tools

Just announced is the unexpected 8th free update to the ever popular 3D sculpting package ZBrush. When the roadmap was discussed some time ago, we were told that 4R7 was to be the last release in the cycle before version 5, but it looks like there are more free goodies set to hit our tool palettes. 

4R8 brings a good number of new tools, but perhaps the most exciting is the new support for vector displacement maps. These have been around for a while in other apps so it is great to see them here. Vector displacements allow for angled and overhanging displacements, rather than the uni-directional ones standard maps offer. This means making more believable detail is easier than ever. To top it off there is a new transform gizmo as well, which is much more like other’s in the industry. 

02. Vue 2016 

The new heightmap terrains in Vue 2016 look very useable

Although the naming feels a bit late (most software names a release after the coming year) the announcement of Vue 2016 is a welcome one, as it feels like quite some time since a major new update has come from E-on software. The preview probably doesn’t show us everything that is coming but the new heightmap terrains look very useable and set to work well alongside the existing terrain tools. 

03. Modo 10.2 

MeshFusion, the very powerful Boolean system, is now a part of Modo

Modo 10.2 is the latest announcement in the new release schedule from the Foundry and, while it may not have as exhaustive list of new tools than previous versions, the headline act will be welcomed by many. MeshFusion, the very powerful Boolean system which is now a part of the host app, has been given an overhaul, or at least some new options. The main change is that you can now work in MeshFusion without the need to rely on the schematic view, which makes for a cleaner workflow for many projects. Users can now package up projects as assemblies, to distribute and reuse with ease, as well asa few other modeling enhancements. 

04. Cycles4D 

Insydium, developers of the hugely popular XParticles, has announced it’s newest product, Cycles4D, which brings the power of the Blender Foundation’s Cycles renderer to Cinema 4D users. Alongside the powerful node-based material editor and physically correct shader system there is also full support for XParticles, making for a comprehensive all round package for Cinema 4D artists in all areas. The node editor itself is powerful and offers support for cinema 4d material tags that makes it easy for newcomers to get started. Shaders include support for GGX and Beckman reflectance models among many other high end pbr effects. The software is due for release in November.

05. Maxwell Render 4 

Nextlimit’s Maxwell Render has now shipped and the details are all out in the open. The high-end render engine now offers GPU rendering as well as it’s original CPU engine. Although they operate in a similar way there are a few discrepancies, so check the website to see what works best for you. 

A big helper is the tweaked materials gallery, a huge database of ready made materials that is searchable from within the software and makes scene setup much faster than before.