Auto-retopology tools compared

(Metin Seven) #5

Instant Meshes is mentioned in the article. I left it out of the test because it generates too many triangle dead-ends to be usable for smooth subdivision.

(Toka) #6

Hey. This was really fascinating to see.

I’ve been working a lot with 3D Coat again in the last couple of weeks. The 4.8 version now.
I have noticed the Auto Topo is hugely improved from what I remember. He does seem to have caught up a lot of the lost ground to ZRemesher now.

I’m not sure exactly when these improvements were first introduced. But I’ve tested it on all sorts of meshes and I’m getting solid clear and consistent results pretty much all the time now. The beauty is of course the dodgy area’s ( … if any … ) are so easily deleted and quickly fixed by hand.

All the best.

(Metin Seven) #7

Thanks Toka!

3D-Coat’s Autopo has definitely been improved somewhere in the last few versions. I often prefer its result when compared to ZRemesher, which hasn’t been touched since 2013 or so.



(theoldghost) #8

This was my concern about The Blender Market from day one. I don’t think any developer is working on a Autopo as you call it since for 72 dollars something is available as a add - on. Thank goodness the Denoiser wasn’t part of that deal. But, to paraphrase the box modeler from hell, in a podcast, many studios are hiring artist types to sculpture characters instead of box modeling. And, I would think the ease of retopo is part of that decision. At some point it would seem to me Blender needs to address that.

And, before all the entrepreneurs come down on me let me simply say Blender isn’t and never was Autodesk where for a mere thousand more you could have all the bells and whistles. And, my old opinionated ass is older then dirt and care not one wit about your thoughts. I simply said what I had to and am done with this. Except to say if Blender wants to be a complete program which it has been it would seem to me retopo would need to be addressed as evidently it has in other programs.


(juang3d) #9

I hope you understand that none of Autodesk apps have any kind of auto retopo with the exception of mudbox, wich on the other hand works awfully.
All those bells and wishtles you name are not a couple of thousands, basically you pay to Autodesk for a very expensive “base” to run plugins and scripts, and those plugins very often duplicating already existing functions that exists in the base app but don´t work as expected or are more limited than what the marketing makes you think.

Also there are some solutions for autoretopo that are open, I´ll name them here, but I cannot do that right now.


(Metin Seven) #10

I find it a pity that this Blender add-on has never lifted off, although the polygon flow doesn’t look as sophisticated as 3D-Coat’s Autopo or ZBrush’s ZRemesher, and six-sided singularities are visible:

(Toka) #11

Retopo flow is something very different. It’s not an auto topo method so much as a set of tools and workflows to make manual retopo as pleasurable and efficient as possible. As good as some of these auto routines have become. It’s still preferable in most cases to retopo by hand for characters and hero assets. And non organic hard surface is still a bit of a problem for auto topo routines. ZRemesher is mostly used as a step in the sculpting workflow. From Dynamesh to sub D modeling and sculpting. If auto topo routines are used for main assets then it’s mainly as a quick starting point for fine tuning with hand retopo work.

It’s also fair to mention that Blenders default retopo methods and tool set is no slouch either. The beauty is the flexibility. The fact you have access to the full poly modeling toolset. So it really is a happy blend between surface retopo and poly modeling. I know first hand of at least one content creation studio in London where Blender is the main retopo tool used. It’s also been my main one while working anywhere in-house for this sort of job for several years too.

I think it’s also important to remember that these auto retopo routines are unique to both 3D Coat and ZBrush and pretty much stand out on their own. There is nothing else anything like them or approaching their quality in any other of the 3D apps. Not Maya not Max and not Blender.
Also ZBrush and 3D Coat are both highly specialized and evolved boutique app’s for sculpting modeling and texturing. Both of them are reasonably affordable and great companions to have in a Bender centric workflow. In the same way they have complimented and been been used alongside Max and Maya for years. Both are all rounders in these areas but ZBrush still excels the best in sculpting, 3D Coat in texture painting and materials design. At least among popular opinion.

The whole auto retopo concept was originally first introduced into 3D Coat by it’s creator all the way back at version two. It was a novel and revolutionary concept but it was nothing really like what is there now. It lacked the clear edge flows and was very prone to spiral’s and other anomalies. Then ZBrush introduced ZRemesher created by the mind behind Sculptrus which was a big game changer. Suddenly there was auto retopo at the touch of a button with logical and consistent quad edge flow’s. Since then 3D Coat needed to play catch up to some extent. They managed to get the quality better very fast after ZBrushes version, but not as consistent and reliable as ZRemesher. But recently it looks like 3D Coat has caught up and has even nudged ahead.

(tyrant monkey) #12

Just to add-on to what Toka said retopo flow is freely available on github, the people paying $72 for it are doing in the form of a “tip jar” thank you to the developers.

I found this out because I wanted to drop some money on it this December but was a bit hesitant as this would have been the most expensive add-on I would have brought for Blender. I am planning to test drive it (March/April) and if I find it useful then I will gladly pay the $72 dollars for it.

(theoldghost) #13

Let me in spite of reservations attempt to clarify what I said. Blender Cookie has been a fine website for tutorials IMHO for years. As is The Blender Guru with both selling knowledge in parallel to Blender the program. And, now Andrew has a nice stock of textures and materials. Kudos to the originators who have given back to the community for years. And, while most add-ons on The Blender Market simply speed up a relatively simple workflow my concern was one so comprehensive that developers would simply say hey that has been done and is available.

And, @Toka no doubt you are more knowledgeable then me and what a interesting read. But, can you understand my concern here. If that happened would Blender the actual program still be the most comprehensive around. OK, maybe I didn’t convey that to well.



Metin, IR looks amazing and very helpful! I’m admittedly sad nothing has come of it in the last two years.

(Metin Seven) #15

Some updates regarding the auto-retopology subject:

@Albertofx has released the DynRemesh auto-retopology add-on for Blender. It’s not a custom auto-retopology algorithm, but an automation of several Blender techniques. More info can be found in this Blender Artists discussion.

• A new, improved version of the Instant Meshes auto-retopology algorithm called Quadriflow has been introduced.



(Metin Seven) #16

A new update regarding the auto-retopology subject:

A new paid Blender add-on named Tesselator has been released, offering a Grease Pencil strokes option to guide the auto-retopology flow.

More info about the add-on can be found in this Blender Artists discussion.

Tesselator Quad-Remesher
(Pitiwazou) #17

I don’t know for you but for me, all the Blender add-ons results are the same and are not usable if you want to add a subsurf or multirez.
The resulting mesh has too many stars and you know it’s a bad thing.

ZRemesh and 3dcoat give proper results and on ZRemesh there are some workflows to improve the result (cut, polygroups, Zguides etc).

On the blender add-ons, the result is unpredictable and mostly bad IMO.

(Metin Seven) #18

I agree, ZBrush ZRemesher and 3D-Coat’s Autopo are a level above the currently available Blender add-ons. But I think the add-ons are useful for quick and dirty retopology inside Blender while sculpting. Then you can take the result to 3D-Coat or Zbrush for the finishing touch.

(Metin Seven) #20

I’ve made a quick comparison between the Blender add-ons Tesselator / Particle Remesh and Dynremesh, using their default settings. In terms of even topology distribution, Tesselator / Particle Remesh seems to be the best of the two Blender solutions, using its own algorithm in stead of a combination of native Blender tools (Dynremesh). Interestingly, after subdivision, both solutions show topology artifacts in different areas.

In conclusion, these Blender add-ons don’t have the sophisticated results of 3D-Coat Autopo or ZBrush ZRemesher, but those are of course relatively expensive commercial tools. The polygon flow in both Blender add-ons could be better, and the six-sided singularities (star-shaped edge junctions) should ideally be absent, with as few five-sided singularities as possible.

Here’s the Blender file:

Blender auto-retopo add-ons test Blender (3.5 MB)

(Metin Seven) #21

For those who are interested, I wrote a brief review of both add-ons in my blog.

(Metin Seven) #22

Update regarding the auto-retopology subject:

@norgeotloic has released a free add-on called BakeMyScan, which includes a number of auto-retopology options. Note: it’s necessary to separately install executables of the auto-retopology tools, such as Instant Meshes.

(Loïc Norgeot) #23

Thanks Metin for linking the thread!

To anyone interested: I am not sure about distributing the executable files with the addon, but be sure that if BakeMyScan gains its little popularity, I’ll definitely contact all of the developers behind the software I interface to have a chat with them on this matter. I’ll definitely contact them anyway, I just need some 48 hours-long days :wink:

Also, and except for Quadriflow at the moment, “manually” installing really means downloading, and selecting a .exe file in your user preferences.

Hope you’ll enjoy !

(Metin Seven) #24

Good point. I’ve changed “manually” to “separately” in my post. :slightly_smiling_face:

(Metin Seven) #25

A fresh update:

@Albertofx has updated Dynremesh to 2.0, which is Blender 2.8 ready, and includes an additional QuadriFlow add-on called Autoflow. I don’t know if QuadriFlow is already compiled for macOS.