Mudbox Quickstart

Getting Started In Mudbox

These are notes for getting sculpting quickly on Mudbox. Mudbox is a wonderfully simple and effective sculpting package. It’s extremely easy to pick due to it’s intuitive interface. Although I use ZBrush for most of my sculpting I encourage animation students to begin on Mudbox without wasting time on learning a deeply complicated tool like ZBrush. Mudbox is free for students and is also good for texturing too.


The following videos show my workflow for sculpting faces in Mudbox.

Sumo Sadness – Andrew Silke

King Fergus – Andrew Silke


Navigation and Cameras (2 mins)

This section goes over Mudbox basic navigation and camera setup.
Rotate/orbit = alt pen down
Pan = alt middle click (pen lower button + hover drag)
Zoom = alt middle click (pen upper button + hover drag)
Focus on a location (under pointer) = f
Frame All = a60

Also best to use the mudbox camera with a zoom on the lense which won’t fisheye models.

Video 1.1: Navigation (1:14 mins)

Video Notes

Same as maya, use the alt key and mouse. On first startup select “Maya style” user interface.

A stylus is a must for Mudbox as it gives us full pressure sensitivity which is needed for proper sculpting workflow.

You’ll need to setup your stylus as per the Mudbox instructions.

Correct Mudbox Wacom/Stylus Settings

Rotate/orbit = alt pen down
Pan = alt middle click (pen lower button + hover drag)
Zoom = alt middle click (pen upper button + hover drag)

Focus on a location (under pointer) = f
Frame All = a

Mudbox also supports new multi touch devices. To set them up go here. Multitouch is not necessary. I recommend a Wacom tablet and keyboard.

Video 1.2: Cameras (1:26 mins)

Video Notes

Camera’s are straight forward in Mudbox. There are a couple of things to remember.
1. Camera’s are found in the Object List Tab (far right top of screen) It’s like the outliner in Maya.
2. Right click on a camera to look through it.
3. Use a long lens for modelling faces, the default is too wide.
Mudbox uses a FOV setting which is different from Maya’s lens values.
Select the camera and make sure the fov (Field of View) is set to something like 15. This equals a lens of about 60 in Maya and won’t make your models look so distorted.
4. While importing models from Maya you’ll be looking through an imported camera, not the perspective camera.
Right click on the perspective camera and look through it.
Delete the maya camera, by right click > delete Camera


Fundamental Notes (10 mins)

A couple of notes before we jump into brushes that are worth knowing. Save a lot of time later.

2.1. Setting image planes are very fast and easy, possibly the best image planes in any program!
2.2. Get to know the hotkeys they are easy and come well setup.
2.3. Fix the annoying yellow areas which are turned on by accidnetally hitting “v”60

Video 2.1: Setting Image Planes And Camera Bookmarks (4:06 mins)

Video Notes

1. Find the Image browser tab at top left of screen.

2. Navigate to a folder containing your images using the Open Directory Icon.

3. Set your image plane image by clicking on the image first then the “camera/return arrow” icon. This will set to your current camera. So make sure you are looking through the correct camera usually Perspective.

4. The image plane settings can be found under the camera in the object viewer (like outliner). Click the plus next to your camera (make sure you’re looking through it, can be more than one camera in your scene) and you’ll find the image plane. Under it’s settings you can set opacity and move it around.

5. To place the image plane more easily hold down the “e” key in the view port. The following mouse combinations and place the image plane. You can also use the values in the image plane in the object viewer.

Pan Image Plane = hold e + mouse middle click drag
Rotate Image Plane = hold e + mouse left click drag
Size the Image Plane = hold e + mouse left click + mouse right click drag
Place the image far or close to the camera (z depth) = hold e + mouse right click drag

For images of heads I have a pinterest boards with lots of heads here

Camera Bookmarks

The camera bookmarks tab window is found in a tab to the lower right of the screen.
They record both the camera position and orientation and also the image plane settings. This is really handy.

1. Set up your image plane and perspective view as you wish
2. Click the (>) Icon in the camera bookmarks window > Add Camera Bookmark
3. Type the name of your bookmark, since they are Icons I usually call them a number ie “1″.

Video 2.2: Main Hotkeys (4:59 mins)

Video Notes

Brush Size = b (hold it down while click dragging the mouse).
Brush Strength = m (hold it down while click dragging the mouse).
Subdivide Mesh = shift D
Navigate up and down the subdiv levels = page up and page down (can change for laptops)
Invert Brush = hold “control” while clicking on mesh
Smooth Mesh = hold “shift” (temporarily disables the current brush)
Mirror Sculpting = select any brush > under object list > Mirror (local x is usually good)
Other Handy Hotkeys
1-9 correspond to your brushes in order.
Tip: To move around your brush icons click left and middle click the brush icons to move around in the interface. This will change the 1-9 hotkeys and depends which set of tools you’re using (paint sculpt etc).
Wireframe on off = w
Position the imageplane = e (Hold like alt) and navigate it around
Delete Freeze = shift + u
Invert Freeze = shift + i
Use falloff tab (screen lower right) for easy access to change the falloff brush types.

Video 2.3: Yellow Areas and Transforming Models (1:28 mins)

Video Notes

It’s easy to make the model go yellow, yellow is mudbox’s way of selecting polygons. To turn the yellow off
1. Hit the v key to go into polygon mode
2. click anywhere in the viewport in the grey area.
The yellow select polygon features is part of the transform tools found in the “Select/Move Tools” tab.
v is simply the hotkey for “faces” in that window. This is also where we can move scale and rotate our objects.


Sculpt Tools/Brushes (22 mins)

The main sculpting tools are in the videos below. It’s also important to keep in mind that our brushes may want to be bigger than smaller as I’ve found the brush size area often looks a little small. So make it bigger than you’d think.

Brush Size = b (hold and drag)
Brush Strength = m (hold and drag)
Smooth = hold shift
Invert Brush = hold ctrl60

Video 3.1: Grab Brush (1:18 mins)

Video Notes

The main sculpting tools are in the videos below. It’s also important to keep in mind that our brushes may want to be bigger than smaller as I’ve found the brush size area often looks a little small. So make it bigger than you’d think.
Smooth = hold shift
Invert Brush = hold ctrl

Grab is the tool we use to start to push our mesh around. Go side on to the area you wish to move and simply grab it out.

Video 3.2: Wax Brush (with the square stamp) (5:23 mins)

Video Notes

Wax is the preferred tool by most mudbox users, wax builds up areas evenly while sculpt builds up areas based on the angle of the surface leaving lots of room for distortion. This is easily demo’d in the following video.
Note that the wax tool builds up from the furthest point away inside of the brush area, so if we use a large brush it can sometime seem like the wax tool is cutting down our surface. To fix this, use a smaller brush size (hold b) or increase the strength (hold m) of the wax brush.
I also like to use the square stamp (bw_square.tif) in conjuction with the wax brush, this gives a hard edge to the brush and is good for building up a hard edge in difficult to reach areas. Usually I leave this square stamp on all the time.

Video 3.3: Freeze (shift u = unfreeze shift i = invert freeze) (3:48 mins)

Video Notes

Freeze is great for stopping areas from being sculpted and is very useful. It is not to be confused with the mask tool which is used more for details and in conjunction with sculpt layers. I call the freeze tool the blue makeup tool.
Note that “shift U” will unfreeze all of an object and “shift i” will invert the freeze. These can also be found int he menu
Freeze All = shift m
Edit > Freeze Selected
Unfreeze = shift u
Edit > Unfreeze All
Invert Freeze = shift i
Edit > Invert Freeze

Video 3.4: Sculpt tool (with knife like settings, see below) (3:40 mins)

Video Notes

The sculpt tool simply raises areas on the model according to the surface. In technical terms we call this according to the surface normal.
The sculpt tool may be used to sculpt large areas but I generally prefer the wax.
There’s a hidden trick to use the sculpt tool as a nice knife like effect which I use a lot.
1. select the sculpt tool
2. in the stamp tab (bottom right) scroll all the way to the far right and select the bottom last swatch. vwrinkle_vdm
This is what’s called a vector displacement map and cuts into your object like the knife but it actually does a much better job. This tool is perfect for wrinkles and knife like effects.

Video 3.5: Pinch Brush (3:41 mins)

Video Notes

In mudbox getting sharp edges can be a little tricky, the work around is highly useful and that’s to use the pinch brush.
Simply use the pinch brush over areas you want to harden together. This brush will suck the polygons towards the center of the brush causing nice sharp edges.

Video 3.6: Flatten Brush (1:24 mins)

Video Notes

Flatten Brush does exactly what it says, it flattens the surface being painted over.

Video 3.7: Scrape Brush (with the bw_rake4.tif) (3:05 mins)

Video Notes

The scrape brush works the opposite of the wax brush. It takes out high areas on the surface.
Used in conjunction with the lines stamp (bw_rake4.tif) The scrape brush is handy for very high polygon areas, working them down for smoothing.

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