The new features in Marvelous Designer 8 (MD 8) kick everything up a notch. First, there is the beta remesh tool, aimed at handling retopology inside MD, rather than the user having to use, for example, ZBrush’s remesher or transfer UV to geometry space in applications like Maya.
Then there’s 3D sewing, which enables the user to stitch their items together in the 3D View. Finally, there is brand new sculpting tool functionality, auto arrangement point creation, and the ability to trace patterns from a UV map.
It’s pretty clear to see that the new features are aimed at improving the existing workflow for CG artists, as well as minimising the time you have to spend tweaking an exported garment once you’re done creating it in Marvelous Designer (MD). The question is, are the new features any good? Well: yes, they are. Let's take a look.
Beta remesh tool
Despite the remesher still being in beta, it is a huge improvement over the existing Quadify option, as it gets rid of a lot of the ngons the function generates. Found in the 3D View > Right-click Mesh menu, it generally gives you a nice, even mesh – even if you, for example, dive into some sculpting like smoothing after the remesh.
The only area where I had issues was on mesh edges, especially on thick cloth, where it could get pretty ugly. However, as it’s still in beta and presumably still being refined, the current beta implementation creates a much easier mesh to retopo, that’s for sure. Let’s just hope the final tool doesn’t take as long as Quadify to fully fall into place.
The ability to automatically add arrangement points and bounding volumes on avatar import is another new feature many users will welcome, as it saves you from the tedium of manual creation. Being able to also do your sewing in the 3D View is another great new timesaving feature, as you can see whether the sewing is straight right away, or headed for ctrl+B.
However, the best new feature by far this release is the fledgling sculpt tools. Located in the drop-down next to the Store icon, the Sculpt option comes in five flavours: Sculpt, Smooth, Grab, Stamp and Pinch, and they work pretty much like you’d expect, especially if you’re used to ZBrush for example. Smooth in particular came in handy for me when I didn’t want to alter the mesh, but wanted to get rid of those telltale MD folds in the back of a clothing item.
I also really enjoyed taking the Stamp tool for a spin, especially with some of the cloth-fold brushes available from Gumroad. However, all flavours are good, as they finally allow you, the artist, the tools to fine-tune and sculpt your garment.
The ability to sculpt natively is a timesaver and a half, rather than solely tweaking and relying on the physics of the draping algorithm(s). It also works really well with one of the other new features, the ability to adjust trim weight to an object, like belt buckles and other imported garment accessories.
The last strong feature of this release is the ability to create a new garment based on a UV set, by tracing patterns from a UV map. This is a super-handy feature for content creators who want to avoid the manual morphing from one type of figure to another, or for users who have exported modeller files that could use some cloth TLC, or even DXF file issues.
The workflow is easy: simply load your OBJ file as a garment, check the ‘Trace 2D Patterns from UV Map’ option, and it will import the object as a garment, complete with sewing lines – all you have to do is adapt or detail it, and you’re done.
An excellent release
All in all, this is one of the best releases I have seen from the Marvelous Designer team since I first reviewed version 2.0. I do of course still think its pricing is way too steep, especially for Steam users, but for once I also think that the improved features, the bug fixes and increase in user friendliness warrant the pricing.
Marvelous Designer 8 is an excellent release. It seems the focus has changed a little from solely working with cloth to allowing artists more freedom in the application. The new sculpting, retopo and trim weight tools help it well on its way to becoming a one-stop clothing shop for digital garment creation.
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