I decided to do a comparison of the sculpting in blender (multi-res based) vs the sculpting done in Sculptris (dynamic mesh tessellation). A true comparison was hard to do because on my computer I have a weird issue that I can only get around 100,000 verts in blender. Also the sculptures I created are more of a study on human anatomy than trying to create a perfect model. I started each model with a base mesh that I created in blender.
After using both programs I found things that I liked and disliked about both programs. I have used blender for much longer and thus I am somewhat biased but I will go through the things I liked and disliked.
*Familiar interface – since I have used blender for so long I am already familiar with the buttons input.
*Clay Brush – the clay brush is the best tool for adding volume quickly without getting lumpy results.
*Multi-Res – Multi-Res has a big benefit over D.M.T. because you can move the resolution up and down, which allows for for more intuitive edits on large masses without creating lumpy results. Now I know you can do this in Sculptris by dropping the detail of the brush tool, but to me it feels less intuitive since I am still doing work on the same mass.
*No need for additional programs – When you created a model in blender, you have no need to export the model to another program to do things like retopo, rigging, rendering. This might not be directly related to sculpting but I feel it is an important feature.
*Missing Masks – Blender does not offer the ability to use paint on masks. This is one feature that is a must have for sculpting and needs to be implement.
*Less vertex display – When compared to Sculptris, Blender cannot display as many verts on my system, which I consider a pretty middle of the road system. While blender has created massive improvements to speed and memory use it seems to have introduced a bug that limits the number of verts displayed compared to previous implementations.
*No restrictions to base mesh – I mention this first as it is the “selling point” of Sculptris, since the D.M.T. constantly recreates the shape of the mesh instead of simply subdividing it. This allows for the user to (in theory) start with anything and end with anything. In practice I have found this somewhat challenging (I tried to create a human mesh from a default sphere with disastrous results). It could be argued that I do not have as much experience with creating meshes in this fashion, however when I tried out Zbrush I was able to quickly create base meshes with Zspheres with no previous experience and a short video on the interface. I use Zbrush as an example because blender currently does not have a quick way to create base meshes (I did it with box modeling, but again I have years experience doing this). To argue that D.M.T. allows for quicker modeling development because you don't have to create a exact base mesh I find to be a false hood, the learning curve is too high.
*Masks – The feature I beg for Blender to have. I cannot stress the importance of being able to mask out areas of a mesh while sculpting. It allows for close quarters editing.
*Additional tools – Sculptris has several additional tools that blender does not have, the most useful I find is the crease tool, which combines the process of drawing, pinching, and smoothing into one stroke. Also Sculptris has scale and rotate which when combined with masks allows for edits on large areas without the need to sculpt and smooth. I also found that the Flatten brush worked more intuitively than in blender.
*Higher Res – Sculptris displays higher resolutions. I got up to over 800,000 without any noticeable slow down in the tools or navigation.
*No Clay Brush – The clay brush is one of my favorite tools. The lack of this tool required me to flatten/smooth my mesh repeatedly while I was building up the forms, which ate up a lot of time.
*Interface not intuitive – I use a tablet for all my sculpting, which in blender and other programs requires middle mouse button simulation. So I am no stranger to having to use a button press and left click for navigation. However the space bar for navigation feels very unintuitive and even after using the program for several hours I still found myself hitting the alt key. Also sculptress does not allow for the changing of default keys. Also you cannot lock the views or change to orthogonal view.
*No multiple objects – In blender I can add a human character and the additional objects for clothing that I can sculpt around that character (very useful). You cannot do this in Sculptris.
*No reference images. - Sculptris does not offer the option to load background images for reference. Blender offers many options for referencing
*No baking – Creating a 800,000+ mesh is great, trying to use that in any other program is not. Without the ability to bake displacement/bump maps you cannot really use this mesh as anything but a sculpture in Sculptris which does not offer any rendering ability.
*No texture brushes – Blender allows you to use textures for brushes, Sculptris does not.
*No anchoring/ racking/ smooth stroke – More missing features from Sculptris that are in Blender.
I find both programs useful, each taking their own approach to sculpting. I have seen videos of the new features being added to Sculptris, as well as the D.M.T. being developed for Blender. However I feel that D.M.T. is not as practical as it may sound. The ability to add detail to where it is needed is nice, but most meshes are going to require hundreds of thousands of verts regardless of the style you sculpt in. The biggest benefit of D.M.T. comes into play when you get to very small details, which I think can be better solved with including the ability to sculpt bump maps. Also I have notice in some cases D.M.T. can add more geometry than required, which leads to the user having to go and reduce areas, adding an additional step. My conclusion from this is that I like both programs and will continue to use both, but my hopes for Blender sculpting does not include an advanced D.M.T. in the near future. I would rather Blender incorporate Masks, the ability to add and sub based on a gray scale texture, a simplified way of creating base meshes (for newer users, I feel the Array Sculpting still has too high a learning curve for doing something as simple as creating a base mesh) and overall improving the multi-res and sculpting features of blender.
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