Unfold3D 8 review

Its developer says it’s the fastest UV mapper around. Cirstyn Bech-Yagher puts it through some thorough tests to find out

PRICE: €299

OTHER EDITIONS: 1-seat Networking, €699; 5-seat Networking, €2,800; 25-seat Networking, €8,750; Additional seat, €580

OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows / Mac OS X

MAIN FEATURES

  • UV unwrapping
  • Automatic unwrapping
  • Cutting
  • Welding
  • Stitching
  • Island editing functionality
  • Density painting
  • Packing

DEVELOPER: Polygonal Design

When 3D World last took a look at French UV mapping veteran Unfold 3D from Polygonal Design, we had some reservations giving it an enthusiastic thumbs up. For its eighth incarnation, the developer has fixed a lot of those issues, in addition to adding a few new aces up its UV mapping sleeve. Unfold3D 8 sports a much more forgiving import function, a blisteringly fast, overhauled, 64-bit unfolding core, updated select functions, multi-UV grid tools and several other tweaks and touches.

If you’re working with low to normally dense meshes, Unfold 3D is true to its word, and unwraps significantly faster than most other standalone UV mappers on the market. Some features, like the new alignment and straightening tools are on par with UV Layout’s, and probably a little more intuitive to use. Version 7’s welding and über-strict mesh hygiene issues also seem to have been resolved, as you can now import items version 7 wouldn’t, like objects with 3+ neighbouring polys, butterflies, or non-convex n-gons. It still won’t allow relative vertex numbering, and Unfold 3D would probably benefit from some import troubleshooting tools like UV Layout’s Weld/Clean/Detach Flipped UV’s but bar that, the import improvements over version 7 are significant.

In addition to the speed-optimisation and import-fixes, the easy-as-ever interface sports some new workflow features, such as Select Borders, which will select all the border-edges on a shell, and Select Similar Islands, which will select other shells with the same topology. Used with the existing Select Island UV and Copy Edge Selection tools, these tools make hard-edged UV mapping in particular a lot easier, enables you to define cuts or layouts on one island, and then copying them onto similar geometry, before stacking and packing them.

Together with the new Multi UV-Grid functionality, which enables you to stack or render on an underlying square on a 0,9 grid, rather the standard 0,0 add-to square/render/hide/repeat process many UV mappers still sport, you can save time in creating and rendering templates as well. All you have to do is select the shells on the square, select Pack, provided you don’t want to tweak the layout, and save the template out.

Despite the well-implemented new features and improvements, Unfold 3D is not without flaws: the largest being the million+ triangle or quad import function, which can cause lag and churning when cutting into, or unwrapping a mesh of that size, especially a complex one, wasting potential time saved. Developer Polygonal is currently working hard to fix this.

One feature is sorely missed: an option to select shells via Group or Material. Currently, you can only select manually per island or area in the user interface, which gets old fast if you’re working on large models with 6,000 shells.

PROS

  • Fast and easy to use
  • Major core overhaul
  • Significant bug fixes

CONS

  • Poly-heavy meshes can cause instability
  • Could use some additional tools
  • Only video documentation

If you’re in the market for a speedy UV mapper with an intuitive learning curve, Unfold3D is definitely worth checking out

RATING 4

Cirstyn Bech-Yagher is a long-time freelancing all-rounder, doing anything from project management to modelling, rigging and texturing

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