Mudbox Practice – Making Armour

I’m not particularly adept at Mudbox (by which I mean I’d used it twice before now), so it was nice to have part of a class to look at how we could use it for modelling character armour. We’d had a guest speaker in beforehand from a company called Bede, but after that we were told to have a bit of a mess around with the standard full-body model.

We looked at the Freeze sculpt tool that we could then isolate the location we’d like to make a shoulder pad on the model – it was easier to have the mirror function set to the x axis, so we didn’t have to try duplicating our work on both sides of the model. This sort of thing is so useful and can always be turned off when you’re ready to add some individuality to the items on either side.

I ended up using a variety of tools just to see what they would do.:


I think I ended up using all of the tools except a few, but the most useful ones were the knife (which has to be inverted so it would actually cut into the “clay”) and the smooth/flatten options to get the right look. Tony actually suggested, to get a really nice clean line along the edge of the shoulder armour, to cut a channel all the way along and then use the pinch tool to tighten it all up. I think this ended up making it look pretty good. I had to use a lot of flattening and smoothing to get rid of the rogue creases. Using Shift-D to add new sublevels also helped (I think I ended up with 5 sublevels and over 8.4 million faces… which is crazy but apparently is all right because this whole sculpture would become our normal map once imported into Maya (I believe).

After adding some fun details, such as some bone spikes and rivets, I also thought I’d just add some colour differentiation to see how the different areas looked against one another. For a fun little practice project that took no more than 90 minutes, I think it turned out all right!

Of course, the actually colouring ended up being very flat and I could add much more detail, but there was a second part of the class that I wanted to try out as well. Rather than building the armour out of the mesh in Mudbox, Tony showed us how we could use Maya to make something and bring it back into Mudbox to add finer detail to then use as a finished product again in Maya.

I imported the basic human body sculpture into Maya from Mudbox and began using some tools I’d never used before.


I first needed to make my model live, which was done by clicking on the last magnet-looking icon in the modelling menu.

After that, I needed to open up my modelling toolkit and use the Quad Draw to add new topology to my model. Since I actually did this at home rather than in class, I somewhat forgot which tools Tony had used to get the new topology… I should have written better notes!

quad_drawIn the end, I looked through the keyboard/mouse shortcuts (which are handily provided in the toolkit) and, with some trial and error, I realised I could add new quads with Tab+LMB and resize them using Tab+RMB.

I just drew a few quads to understand the mechanics rather than actually make something resembling my first shoulder armour. I didn’t really play with any of the other settings in the options menu, so I’m wondering if it would be more beneficial to look up a tutorial online on how to add topology and follow along with that instead.

Either way, I could then extrude my new topology to start making it look like a pauldron:


After that, it would be a matter of adding creases to the edges I wanted to keep sharp and then re-import it into Mudbox. It would then be treated as a separate part of the layers/topology and could be manipulated without changing the basic sculpture. I thought this was actually quite neat and almost better than trying to get the right size/shapes just in Mudbox alone.

All of this will end up being useful as we start designing our characters for a new project. Below is a description of what Tony will be looking for:


It all sounds quite good, actually, if only because I’m not being restricted to a “standard” human look. I can make something peculiar or even nightmarish, so I’m going to start thinking about something from my own past experiences that might be able to inspire a character, starting with making some rough sketches/thumbnails so I can then pick an idea and run with it.


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