Modo 501 Review: The Creative Terrain
At the time of this writing, modo 501 has only been in the hands of its users a few short weeks. One particularly creative and innovative use of the new nodal system has been implemented by a veteran modo user and Shader tree wizard Yazan Malkosh of 9b Studios (http://www.9bstudios.com). If you're familiar with modo at all and its outstanding library of material presets and Assemblies, you've no doubt seen Yazan's work. Being one to push the edge of innovation, Yazan has taken the flexibility of modo's rigging system in a very creative direction by creating an assembly that controls and drives the complex material stack in the Shader Tree. The entire assembly is controlled by a single Constant layer. Simple and elegant! To describe this process falls outside of the scope of this review, but deserves to be examined fully. For a comprehensive look and walkthrough of Yazan's implementation of this process, please see these videos (http://vimeo.com/groups/30325/videos/18754631).
Multi-Res sculpting: The integrated sculpting tools have always been a part of modo, but now with the support of multi-res sculpting, it's a whole new experience. If you're familiar with other dedicated sculpting apps you know the concept of multi-res. You can dial up or down the subdivision levels revealing more or less detail as it relates to its respective subdivision level. This is a huge difference from image based sculpting and totally easy to use. Literally, with a single click of a single box you have a multi-resolution surface to sculpt on. This ability to sculpt directly on your mesh with an enormous amount of detail is a lot of fun, but to make the experience even richer, 501 is packed with new sculpting brushes (alphas) found in other software packages and runs the gamut from image brushes like skin pores, to hardware rivots and traditional sculpting tools, etc.
Noted modo user and sculptor Greg Brown comments that the 501 brushes and settings are remarkably well done and implemented and that quick masking is on his wish list for future releases. Greg fancies modo's sculpting tools so much that he's taken it on himself to create a custom UI complete with custom viewport lighting more typically associated with dedicated sculpting apps. In addition, he has created custom tools, brushes and new icons.
As modo continues to innovate and grow, so does its creative community. The modo developers actively listen to users and continually respond with updates and new releases, as seen in 501. As artists armed with new technologies seek out new ways to express themselves, their appetite for powerful tools grows. However, and more important, beyond the need for these powerful tools is the need for an effective way to use them without sacrificing power or flexibility. modo 501 continues to meet those needs and adapt itself to the artists' every changing creative terrain.
Warner McGee (www.warnermcgee.com) is a freelance illustrator specializing in 3D artwork and with an extensive traditional art (2D) background. In addition to being an accomplished children's book illustrator with more than 60 titles, he is also a concept designer and digital sculptor for the toy industry working regularly with clients such as Hasbro, Mattel, Nickelodeon and others.