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Polygon method vs Voxel method?


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#1 Paint Guy

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 09:48 AM

I want to know if I should be sculpting the model using the "Voxel" Mode or the "Polygonal" mode. What are the advantages and disadvantages to both methods?
Could someone please explain the steps to take to import, sculpt and paint a model using the "polygonal" method and the "Voxel" method?

It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you :)

#2 MarkG

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 10:36 PM

I want to know if I should be sculpting the model using the "Voxel" Mode or the "Polygonal" mode. What are the advantages and disadvantages to both methods?
Could someone please explain the steps to take to import, sculpt and paint a model using the "polygonal" method and the "Voxel" method?

It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you :)


PaintGuy, I'm trying to get some answers to a few of these questions myself. I don't have them, but this is what I think (maybe someone can jump in and either confirm or correct...)

First off, there are some "overloaded" terms here. The term sculpting, for example, used to mean painting with a 3D brush -- similar to what zBrush does. That isn't really sculpting in the classic sense, but it looks and feels similar to it.

However, with the newer release of 3DC, there is now a full blown sculptor. They are not the same thing.

Which one to use? It depends on what you are trying to do. More specifically, it seems to depend on where you start.

If you want to bring a mesh in that you created through a different program (ie lightwave, Silo, Modo, etc) then you do not really need to use the voxel sculpting tools. You can simply use the pen and its variants. You will be effectively be adding a 3D layer on top of your underlying mesh. This can be used to create a displacement map, a normal map, a UV map, or what have you.

The end result is that you will be adding a lot of detail to an existing mesh, and you will end up with a highly detailed model.

I think of this as paper mache. If you do Paper Mache, you don't start with nothing. You will start with some kind of form, build up layers of paper mache on top of it.

If, however, you want to start with a primitive, say a sphere or a cube, and mold it like a lump of clay, then you would be using the Voxel sculpting. This would be like sculpting in clay: You start with nothing, and all of its form is created by adding more and more clay to your model.

Neither way is superior to the other, which is why 3DC (and tools like it) now give you both.

Of course... I may be wrong as I am new to 3DC as well... but this is how I understand things as of now...

#3 Paint Guy

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 01:36 AM

Thanks Mark.

I hope someone can chime in here soon so we can start to figure this out! :)


There just seems to be a lot of unanswered questions so i am finding it difficult to get anything done. A page with answers explaining "how to" to some questions would be very helpful! :)

1) Can I Import separate pieces of geometry (like an .obj file) into layers (if this is possible) in Voxel mode and Polygonal mode and How is this done? I have also asked, can I import an .obj file with separate geometry (like a head and eyes) and if the head and eyes would be preserved on separate layers? I want to know if you can import a head and eyes (for example) and have them remain separate in voxel mode and in polygonal mode?[/b]

2) Explaining the differences between the polygonal sculpting and voxel sculpting. I understand the basics, but in what situations would it be best to use "Polygonal" sculpting and "Voxel" sculpting?

3) How do i create a UV map in Voxel Mode. In Polygonal mode I can use the "UV" map but what is the method for creating a UV map in Voxel Mode?

#4 MarkG

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 02:18 AM

I hope someone can chime in here soon so we can start to figure this out! :)

You and me both!

There just seems to be a lot of unanswered questions so i am finding it difficult to get anything done. A page with answers explaining "how to" to some questions would be very helpful! :)


From your lips to God's ear... I couldn't agree more... Especially some of the ideas that are new to 3DC... There are some terms I have never seen before, which would be nice if someone explained.

1) Can I Import separate pieces of geometry (like an .obj file) into layers (if this is possible) in Voxel mode and Polygonal mode and How is this done? I have also asked, can I import an .obj file with separate geometry (like a head and eyes) and if the head and eyes would be preserved on separate layers? I want to know if you can import a head and eyes (for example) and have them remain separate in voxel mode and in polygonal mode?[/b]


You got me there... I know you can make changes to a mesh on a layer -- similar to how Photoshop uses layers in a 2D image... but I don't know if you can have entirely different geometry in different layers... haven't tried that yet. BTW, have you watched the GeekAtPlay videos? They are pretty good (and free!)

I saw in your earlier post you talked about similarity to zBrush... to me, the closest thing I see in 3DC is importing the image, and then using the depth of your pen to do the "sculpting". This felt very much like ZB to me. I found the default settings of the Pen were far too high, and I had to adjust them down... but once I did, I got a nice effect -- very similar to ZB.

If you have the mesh, I'm thinking that voxel sculpting is not the way to go. That seems to be a counter to mudbox or something. Starting with a mesh, I think you want the Pen and depth idea...

The one big difference is that it appears you have to select your subdivision level upon import of the mesh. You can't CTRL D up and down like you can in ZB (or C in SILO) to change different subdivision levels.

Hopefully someone who actually knows what they are talking about will answer your questions soon!

#5 lc8b105

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 04:11 AM

In 3D-Coat 3.0 there are three types of sculpting.

1. Image-based Sculpting.
2. Mesh-based(Polygon-based) Sculpting.
3. Voxel-based Sculpting.

“Depth” is Image-based Sculpting, in this mode you drawing the depth, you’re actually creating vector displacement, the normal map and displacement is generating "on the fly", if you want to get the normal map, just save it, no need to wait long time for baking, because the normal map is generated in realtime.

“Sculpt” is Mesh-based Sculpting. In this mode you sculpting, you’re really changing the vertex positions of the mesh. This method is the same as ZBrush and Mudbox.In this mode if you want to get correct normal map, you may use “File” - “Texture baking tool”.

"Voxels" is Voxel-based Sculpting. It's the new revolutionary sculpting method of 3DC, which ZBrush and Mudbox don't have.

The main advantage "Voxel-based Sculpting" beyond "Polygon-based Sculpting" is:
With "Voxel-based Sculpting" you don't need to consider the topology of the model. You can see the comparison between "Polygon-based Sculpting" and "Voxel-based Sculpting", as show in the picture below:
Left is polygon-based, right is voxel-based.
Posted Image


You can learn more about voxel sculpting from here.
Real World Lathe with 3D-Coat - sculpting has never been so fun(HD Video Tutorial)
3D-Coat Hotkeys Master - Speed up your workflow, free PDF ebook
Free OS X Style 3D-Coat folder icons
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#6 lc8b105

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 04:23 AM

The steps to take to import, sculpt and paint a model using "Voxel" method is:

Workflow A:

1. Use "Merge" button in Voxel mode to import a model.
2. Just sculpt in Voxel mode.
3. Auto-Retopo (Right click on Volume in VoxelTree panel, then choose "Quadrangulate for per pixel painting")
4. Painting
5. Export Textures(ColorMap, NormalMap, etc.) and model using "File" - "Export model".

Workflow B:
1. Use "Merge" button in Voxel mode to import a model.
2. Just sculpt in Voxel mode.
3. Auto-Retopo (Right click on Volume in VoxelTree panel, then choose "Quadrangulate Object")
4. Create UV using "UV" tool. When finished, using "Retopo" - "Merge for per pixel painting"
5. Painting
6. Export Textures(ColorMap, NormalMap, etc.) and model using "File" - "Export model".


Also there are many other workflow, for example replace step 3 with "Manual Retopo".
Real World Lathe with 3D-Coat - sculpting has never been so fun(HD Video Tutorial)
3D-Coat Hotkeys Master - Speed up your workflow, free PDF ebook
Free OS X Style 3D-Coat folder icons
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#7 lc8b105

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 04:41 AM

Sorry "MarkG" and "Paint Guy", limited to my English skill I can't answer all your question one by one, when I saw your long dialog I really feel headache.
But I try my best to make a good answer, hope that helps.
By the way, since there are many non-English mother language people here, the shorter of the dialog, the better. Thank you!
Real World Lathe with 3D-Coat - sculpting has never been so fun(HD Video Tutorial)
3D-Coat Hotkeys Master - Speed up your workflow, free PDF ebook
Free OS X Style 3D-Coat folder icons
CGDigg: Your daily fresh CG News Discover, share, vote, comment CG News everyday
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#8 Paint Guy

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 09:10 AM

Thank you lc8b105. I now am starting to understand the differences.

In ZBrush you have something called "Subtools' which allows you to have many different objects but they are still all part of one model.

I am wondering how I would import multiple pieces of my model into 3DCoat like a head and the eyes for example and have them both visible but on separate layers?

#9 lc8b105

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 10:13 AM

I am wondering how I would import multiple pieces of my model into 3DCoat like a head and the eyes for example and have them both visible but on separate layers?


In paint mode:

1. Use "File" - "Merge object into scene" to import multiple of your model one by one.
2. Use "Windows" - "Popups" - "Show Sub-objects" to manage sub-objects, you can rename, hide, lock sub-objects from this panel.

In Voxel mode:

Just use VoxTree panel, merge each part of your model on different Volume(Volume is like Layer).

Attached Thumbnails

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  • 2.jpg

Real World Lathe with 3D-Coat - sculpting has never been so fun(HD Video Tutorial)
3D-Coat Hotkeys Master - Speed up your workflow, free PDF ebook
Free OS X Style 3D-Coat folder icons
CGDigg: Your daily fresh CG News Discover, share, vote, comment CG News everyday
http://resizeMyBrowser.com

#10 MarkG

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 06:10 PM

Sorry "MarkG" and "Paint Guy", limited to my English skill I can't answer all your question one by one, when I saw your long dialog I really feel headache.
But I try my best to make a good answer, hope that helps.
By the way, since there are many non-English mother language people here, the shorter of the dialog, the better. Thank you!


Your answer was very good, and helps me understand better. Thank You.

(I understand the non-English issue -- my Wife speaks Russian and Ukrainian to her son. Just listening often gives me a headache!)

#11 Paint Guy

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 05:39 PM

In paint mode:

1. Use "File" - "Merge object into scene" to import multiple of your model one by one.
2. Use "Windows" - "Popups" - "Show Sub-objects" to manage sub-objects, you can rename, hide, lock sub-objects from this panel.

In Voxel mode:

Just use VoxTree panel, merge each part of your model on different Volume(Volume is like Layer).



Thanks lc8b105, just the answer I was looking for. :)

#12 Heath_3d

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 08:33 AM

Hi All,
I just thought I'd clarify a few points here for some of you so there is no confusion.

Polygon sculpting refers to sculpting by moving around the SURFACE of an existing object. A good metaphor for polygon sculpting in the real world is the process of beating copper plates to sculpt a scene in relief:
Posted Image

Voxel Sculpting refers to sculpting on a VOLUME. A good metaphor for Voxel sculpting in the real world is the process of sculpting useing clay, where the artist is free to add or take away clay as they see fit.

Overall Voxel sculpting has the potential to be a lot quicker than polygonal modeling, especially when creating from scratch. Especially now that
a lot of the polygonal sculpting tools can be used seemlessly while voxel sculpting. The downside to voxel sculpting is that unlike polygon sculpting in other packages, you can't make broad changes to a lower resolution model and have the changes passed up to you final sculpt, you've really got to be set on the proportions of your model before adding details(there are tools for effecting change but they are fiddly). The other thing is that the voxel resolution will be generally lower than the mesh resolution, meaning subtle changes made using polygonal surface tools may be lost when your model is converted back to a voxel model.

#13 Silentman

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 08:57 AM

Thanks for asking the questions, i was curious too, and thanks too lc8b105 & Heath_3d for giving such good descriptions.


With CGI you can create the beginning and the end of the world Well imaginary anyways :P

#14 MarkG

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 09:16 PM

Polygon sculpting refers to sculpting by moving around the SURFACE of an existing object. A good metaphor for polygon sculpting in the real world is the process of beating copper plates to sculpt a scene in relief:

Thanks Heath! I appreciate your clarifications.

Your comments on the disadvantages of Voxel sculpting were very good. Thanks for adding that.

But your copper plate example (which I really liked, btw) wouldn't it actually be describing Image Based sculpting -- using a 3D Brush?

It seems to me that Polygon sculpture would be more like starting with an Armature (wire frame), and then building clay up on top of that -- while retaining the ability to manipulate the frame later... or something... don't you think?

Posted Image
Posted Image

#15 Javis

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 10:50 PM

It seems to me that Polygon sculpture would be more like starting with an Armature (wire frame), and then building clay up on top of that -- while retaining the ability to manipulate the frame later... or something... don't you think?


No definitely not. What you just described is VOXEL sculpting.


Polygonal sculpting is exactly how he described it; There is no volume, you're just pushing around vertices in 3D space. The further from it's compatriots, the more vertices you'll need to place between them to have a smooth surface.

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#16 MarkG

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 02:15 AM

No definitely not. What you just described is VOXEL sculpting.

Polygonal sculpting is exactly how he described it; There is no volume, you're just pushing around vertices in 3D space. The further from it's compatriots, the more vertices you'll need to place between them to have a smooth surface.


Hmmm.. just when I thought I was beginning to understand... Because I thought what Heath_3d described was Voxel sculpting was like putting on lumps of clay, and that you could not move a polygon mesh to change its shape (which you can, in fact do with an armature...)

Do I have that confused? (I realize that at some point metaphors break down, but I am trying to understand it...)

#17 Javis

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 02:57 AM

Polygons are literally like a wire mesh. For instance, what you would use for a chicken coop or whatnot. You can push the wire mesh around a bit and get a general shape of what you need, but you can't stretch it out and shape it. There is no volume to the mesh on the inside, just empty space.


Voxels are just like clay. There is true volume, substance for each voxel. You can push it and move it and poke holes, or whatever else have you.

Hope this helps. :)

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#18 MarkG

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 05:03 AM

Voxels are just like clay. There is true volume, substance for each voxel. You can push it and move it and poke holes, or whatever else have you.


OK... That makes sense. So, let me ask you this then... Do you think Polygon modeling will go away in 3DC? It seems like everything that you can do in Polygon modeling, you can do in Voxels -- except being able to drop down to the base mesh to resize things -- but I'm imagining there will be some sort of scale ability in Voxels, which is pretty much the same thing...

And... did I read right that there is a "Make Low Poly mesh from Voxel Sculpt" option? If so, I see that as allowing much of the resize and rescale...

I guess what I am asking is for someone coming to 3DC fresh, and they were asking you what they should start with, would you ever advise "Polygon sculpting?" Or does Voxel sculpting pretty much trump all now?

#19 WillBellJr

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 09:04 PM

Unless I've missed something in 3DC or some tools are added, I don't believe you can get the precision with voxels that you can get with polygons.

When you're creating a polygon model (depending on the modeler in use), you can precisely set the X/Y/Z coordinate of each vertex - so far example, if I had the blueprints to say the Starship Enterprise, I could model it to scale using polygons.

Voxels (currently) are more of a free form, artistic / creative medium that doesn't focus on exact surface precision.

Now can you create precise models using Voxels, I'm not even sure??

So for organic / character modeling, Voxels certainly could become the preferred way to work in 3DC. However for tanks, guns, cars - hard surface models, I'd think polygons will be the preference - unless somehow voxels or the tools to manipulate them can be made to provide the similar precision that present day polygon modeling affords...

-Will

#20 MarkG

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 05:25 AM

Unless I've missed something in 3DC or some tools are added, I don't believe you can get the precision with voxels that you can get with polygons.


So for organic / character modeling, Voxels certainly could become the preferred way to work in 3DC. However for tanks, guns, cars - hard surface models, I'd think polygons will be the preference - unless somehow voxels or the tools to manipulate them can be made to provide the similar precision that present day polygon modeling affords...


Will, thanks for adding to the discussion. What you say makes a lot of sense...




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