Mudbox is a 3D sculpting tool, akin to Zbrush. Currently developed by Autodesk Limited, Mudbox was originated by Skymatter, founded by former artists of Weta Digital, where it was first used to produce the 2005 Peter Jackson remake of King Kong. With its interface simplified to allow for a more intuitive experience, Mudbox's primary application is high-res digital sculpting, displacement and normal map creation, though it also used as a design tool. The current version available is 1.07. Plans for expanding artists' tool sets in 2.0 include texture painting, using what Skymatter calls the "Chameleon Engine".
- The Mudbox user interface is a 3D environment that allows the creation of movable cameras that can be bookmarked. Models created within the program typically start as a simple polygon mesh that can be manipulated with a variety of different tools. A model can be subdivided to increase its resolution and the number of polygons available to sculpt with. 3D layers allow the user to store different detail passes, blending them with multiplier sliders and layer masks. Using layers the user is able to sculpt and mould their 3D model without making permanent changes.
- As a detailing app, Mudbox can import and export .obj and .bio files, as well as its own .mud format. A standard workflow is to import a low-resolution mesh with good edge flow then subdivide and sculpt until finally exporting a displacement or normal map for use within a rendering package. The local subdivision feature uses the Catmull-Clark subdivision algorithm.
- The sculpting tool set contains an assortment of brushes with adjustable falloffs.
- The use of 3D layers allows for rapid design visualization, non-destructive sculpting, and high polygon counts. Since the layers combine additively, their ordering is unimportant for the final model and may be created arbitrarily. Curves can be created and projected on a mesh for use as precise masking. All of the standard transform and selection tools are here as well.
- As stated above, design visualization plays an important role in Mudbox's production value. As such, simple poly primitives can be created from within Mudbox, facilitating the creation of busts, props, terrain, etc.
- Other features include stamps and stencils. Stencils work by overlaying a grayscale, or "alpha channel" image, such as a bump map, over the mesh. The artist can then project part or all of the image's detail onto the mesh through brush strokes, providing a method to quickly paint surface detail.
- Mudbox's tabbed interface, along with its key and mouse mappings, are largely customizable.
- Currently, Mudbox is supported only under Windows XP, but according to Skymatter, a Linux and Mac OS X version could very well be in development. Q&A: Mudbox co-creator Dave Cardwell. 3D World. Retrieved on 2008-07-22..
On August 6, 2007, Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire substantially all the assets of Skymatter, Inc., the developer of Mudbox
3D modeling software. This acquisition will augment Autodesk’s offering for the film, television and game market segments, while offering additional growth opportunities for other design disciplines.
In October 2007, Autodesk released version 1.07 of Mudbox.