3D-Coat as a companion to Blender

:date: Last edit: January 17, 2023 ─ Added a link to the post featuring 3D-Coat App Link info.

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In the light of the changes for ZBrush users since the Maxon takeover (forced subscription, price increases), this thread is aimed at discussing 3D-Coat as a useful companion application next to Blender.

In my humble opinion, next to Blender’s Sculpt Mode, right now the most interesting ZBrush alternatives are:

  1. 3D-Coat [$, no subscription, optional rent-to-own plan]
  2. Nomad Sculpt [$, no subscription, tablet-only]
  3. Substance 3D Modeler [$, subscription, Windows-only]
  4. Mudbox [$, subscription, doesn’t seem to be actively developed anymore]
  5. MagicaCSG [$, Patreon supporters only, Windows-only, not feature-complete yet]

:point_right: If you’d like to talk about ZBrush, please do so in the dedicated thread, thanks. :point_left:

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I’ve been spending time rediscovering 3D-Coat lately. It’s an affordable long-time ZBrush competitor, and I quite like it. Some things have been improved since I used version 4.9, such as the brush engine, some UI elements, and the amount of different brushes for Voxel mode and Surface mode has been reduced, making switching between Voxel and Surface layers easier.

In essence, 3D Coat’s Voxel layers are comparable with Blender Voxel Remesh or ZBrush Dynamesh (revoxelizing and reprojecting to build volume with evenly distributed faces), and Surface layers are like dynamically working with meshes in Blender Dyntopo or ZBrush Sculptris Pro (adding polygon detail where you brush).

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:link: There are two versions of the 3D-Coat applink for Blender:

─ Check out this post for more info.

Here’s a Blender Artists discussion about the add-on(s).

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:tv: Here are some instructive 3D-Coat video tutorial channels I advise to view, then try what you’ve learned in 3D Coat, to build muscle memory:

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:bulb: 3D Coat Tips

  • If you notice that your GPU is working hard when running 3D Coat, even with a simple scene, check the FPS rate at the bottom left of the UI. If the FPS rate is high, go to Preferences ➔ Viewport, and check the box “Vertical synchronization”. The FPS rate should now significantly reduce. This is also very beneficial for working with high-polygon scenes.

  • One of the important things is finding the right brushes. Some brushes are a bit older, but others have been improved during the past years. I personally prefer the Surface type brushes, which also tend to behave better in Voxel mode. Surface mode is 3D-Coat’s Dyntopo / Sculptris Pro type dynamic mesh topology mode, while Voxel mode is real-time voxel sculpting. Voxel sculpting is more suitable for concepting, while Surface mode is for detailing.
    :point_right: I’ve submitted a brush analogy post to the 3D-Coat forum, comparing brushes between Blender and 3D-Coat.

  • When customizing navigation controls, be sure check duplicate hotkeys, as that can interfere with your navigation hotkeys. I usually delete all entries I don’t use, keeping it tidy.

  • Here’s a 3DC forum thread where I ask a number of questions, most of which have been answered by the 3DC community.

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:bird: 3D Coat on Twitter

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Also check out the 3D Coat forum and the 3D Coat Discord channels. They’re great platforms for finding answers to your 3DC questions.

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Update:

I’ve been watching video tutorials and experimenting with 3D-Coat all weekend, and I must say that I’m getting more and more enthusiastic. Among other things, the new brush engine feels better than the old one, the UI has been slightly improved, the amount of different brushes for the Voxel mode and the Surface mode has been reduced, resulting in a more seamless experience in switching between the Voxel and Surface modes.

But there are also a lot of small but pleasant refinements everywhere, such as: when you use Shift to snap to a view, the view doesn’t freeze like in ZBrush, but you can still pan the snapped view to your liking. And the hierarchical object layers make working with objects a breeze. The object layers are like a marriage between ZB subtools and objects in Blender’s Outliner.

Among the things on my 3DC to-do list is trying out the 3D-Coat Applink add-on for Blender.

I’ve also started a thread at the 3DC forum trying to determine 3DC equivalents to Blender / ZBrush brushes:

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The link below too is a very good source for 3DCoat related tutorials. It has some of the best tutorials around -despite their being a little bit outdated- for the pbr material and texturing system of the app also. The material and texturing tools of 3DCoat are very powerful. They are something like the Substance Painter, so they deserve a special attention:

https://www.youtube.com/user/AlienMinefield/videos

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I have started testing it myself and one thing that is great is that 3d Mouse works the best in 3dCoat. Blender has support for it too but panning can be choppy at most times. 3d Mouse feels like a natural extension in 3dCoat.

This also sounds great

A subscription plan of 11 continuous monthly payments. With the final payment you get a permanent license.

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mifth revived the applink and that works now on all versions

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Just upgraded my 3D-Coat 4 license to 3D-Coat 2021, with one year of free upgrades (so 3DC 2022 will be covered), for only € 89. Pilgway sales support responded rapidly and friendly to my questions too.

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I am somewhat interested in upgrading my v4 license which I only use once in a blue moon. Just looked at the website, and it seems that it is now node locked! When did this happen? Even Zbrush and Houdini indie allow you to use 2 machines. That is pretty much a deal breaker for me…

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Hadn’t seen that yet. To me personally it’s not an issue, as I’m sculpting on only one system.

On the positive side, the OS restriction has been released. You can now freely switch between Windows, macOS and Linux.

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I also upgraded to the current version. 3D Coat is simply amazing, but they have to focus a bit more on what most people need, as great as their unique and sometimes pretty experimental tools are. But they seem to have the right direction, finally. ZBrush will help 3DC and Blender get way more traction. :slight_smile:

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Not sure but I thought its just locked for multiple usage concurrently, or is that also a problem for you. The limitation to just allow 3 machines on the other hand is pretty old.

( Still on 4.9 here too, @Metin_Seven do you have an option to check if the latter is still possible?)

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I upgraded to 2021 too and I am loving it all so far, but there is still so much I need to try out. I originally got on board around version 3.05 since initially getting excited by the concept and vision. Back then there was just nothing else like it. ZBrush still didn’t even have Dynamesh yet. It’s been a fascinating ride following how it’s been developed which in many ways seems to be in a similar way that you would expect an open source project to be. There was always an open beta and the user community is very closely involved in development through the public forum and they take on user suggestions and feedback quite often too.

Yes I concur with Debuk. As far as I always knew it was allowed on several machines two or three ? to use personally but not concurrently. I remember that this was so since I started using it around 3.05. But so far I only have it running on one machine and will probably leave it like that since I use it so much for heavy duty texture painting. So desk workstation based work rather than light laptop. But they always seemed a very approachable company to talk to if you need more clarification.

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For your own use, you can install one and the same license on two computers and run the program on both, but not simultaneously.

License upgrades policy

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I wouldn’t know where to check that, but you can get answers pretty swiftly on the 3D-Coat Discord channels:

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That is good to know, but how do they check that? Do I have to be online to use the software and does it try to “call home” each time I run it? I keep my work machines offline (except when absolutely necessary), so initial web activation is ok, but not after that.

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@Metin_Seven The one question I still try to answer for myself is: how would I be in total control over the quality of my meshes? I mean first and foremost as we all know it: by working in MultiRes. With 3DC, an alternative way may occur.

Decimate and Reduce are cool options, but both seem to be lossy and very hardware intensive. Being restricted to Surface Mode would be ok for me, as long as I can go up and down in resolution and reproject at any given time.

If someone finds some high class sculptors who create printable figurines for world known collectibles, or high res scultpures for film or games - I’ll gladly look at it.

Plainly put, to do all my ZBrush work from now on in 3DC. :smiley:

@Jamez I just had to install a license file to my 3D-Coat after upgrading - so now I think it should be good offline. I could of course be wrong. (I just turned my internet off and started 3dc, and it worked as usual)

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Thanks Metin, I thought you might have a second system at hand to try it out. Thanks to @carlosan the question luckily has been answered, thanks for the links.

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3D -Coat is a sculpting/painting program. With this 3D -Coat /Blender applink add-on you can exchange objects and textures between these two programs.

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Yeah, I’d also love to see multiresolution subdivision sculpting in 3D-Coat, although I’m already content with adding details in Surface mode, then in the end (if necessary) (auto-)retopo, subdivide and reproject.

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Golden Gate Concept art blender Cycles 3DCoat IvyGenerator timelapse by Alex Pi

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Wait, 3dc doesn’t have a multi level sculpting system? :fearful:

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