Modo 501 Review: The Creative Terrain
UVs: UV mapping is one of those necessary, but sometimes tedious, processes found in a lot of 3D work. UVing in modo, however, makes the processes faster and more easily understood. With 501, modo introduces a helpful new feature called Show Distortion. This visual aid is an interactive color map showing the user where the texture distortions of a model will occur. The colors update as the user adjusts the size and shape of the polygons in UV space. This is especially helpful with organic models such as a face where there are different sections requiring different levels of detail. modo's sculpting tools can also now be utilized directly on the UV map to smooth out, move and adjust the map as needed.
Preserve Curvature and Add Loop: Like a lot of users, one of my favorite features in modo is its ease of loop slicing and sliding. 501 makes it even better by introducing the Add Loop and Preserve Curvature tools. When using Add Loop you get the visual feedback of pre-highlighting of the intended loop before you add the loop. Preserve Curvature allows you to add or slide a loop and maintain the curvature of your model. Awesome!
Retopology is good with 501, but not the best. It now supports edge extend with a background constraint. Products such as Topogun and 3D Coat have gained some attention from the 3D community because of their ease of use and innovation with retopology. I'm waiting -- and really hoping for -- an improvement here from Luxology.
Animation/Rigging: modo has introduced its new visual animation rigging system (nodal). This is a big deal. To best describe this huge leap forward, it's a good idea to look back and contrast 401 with 501. The raw power of Assemblies and rigging with channel linking, IK, Dynamic Parenting, etc. were introduced and present in 401, but was a bit challenging to work with because of its lack of a front end or UI components that a Node-based rigging system offers. Also, there was an ocean of missing documentation, instructions and tutorials on how to actually use the system to extract its power, making it extremely challenging, or in some cases, useless to those new to rigging in general. Furthermore, unless you had training from another software package, you really had to do your homework to make any real use out of it.
modo 501 has changed all that, and much of the pain associated with working with a blind system has simply gone away.