View Full Version : Low poly Max to Mudbox, back to max

11-17-2010, 10:53 AM
Hi guys,

I am abit of an amateur when it comes to this so apologies if this is basic!

Basically, I can't find any tuts about importing a low poly model (a character in my case) into mudbox, applying detailing in mudbox, then baking the detailing onto the low poly model.

I know how to import the low poly model into mudbox and begin sculpting, I just don't know how to bake the detailing onto my low poly model so it shows the detailing without affecting the polycount.

I have tried extracting various maps in my mudbox and applying them to my model in max but to no success.

Any help greatly appreciated.

Cheers :poly122:

11-17-2010, 11:34 AM
for lowpoly stuff i wont bake in mudbox...
do your baking in max or xnormal...
mudbox cant handle hard/soft edges...

11-17-2010, 11:40 AM
Ok, I don't really understand what you mean. Like I said I am new to this. All I want to do is import my low poly char into mudbox, add detailing, and add it onto my low poly char. As the char is for a game the polycount can't be high.

Sorry if I'm being dumb here.

11-17-2010, 11:44 AM
step by step

1. import your lowpoly
2. sculpt details
3. export both
4. bake your textures (ao, normalmap) in xnormla or max
5. apply your maps in max

mudbox istn the best tool for baking lowres stuff...
xnormal is a free tool for texture baking...

11-17-2010, 12:04 PM
When you say export both, does that mean export both the low poly, and the high poly added detail? Also is that exporting the model or the maps?

Sorry for basic questions but I appreciate your help!

11-17-2010, 12:34 PM
Generally the process works like this:
#1 You create a "cage" mesh for sculpting. This isnt your "low" as lowpoly meshes for ingame use will be optimized and have very poor geometry for sculpting. For your "cage" you want nice evenly sized *square* quads, avoiding ngons and triangles if at all possible

#2 You import this "cage" mesh into mudbox, sculpt your details and all that stuff.

#3 Export your high res mesh back into max, you can use a program to reduce the detail, or export a lower-resolution(low sub-d level in mudbox) mesh. You'll load this into the "background" in max, and build your lowpoly around it. You'll likely start off with your base mesh(or export the level1 base mesh back out of mudbox and use that). The reason you want to create a new mesh is simple:
A. As you create your highpoly, the shape of your model with undoubtedly change.
B, Now you'll want to create that optimized ready-for-ingame mesh. Unlike the cage, you're going to want less detail in some areas, and more in others.

#4 Now you'll do the uvs, smoothing groups, etc etc anything else required before baking.

#5 Now you can either bake in max, or export your high and low into xnormal separately to bake your maps. Xnormal is nice in that it can generally load a much higher resolution highpoly mesh, so if you're having problems loading high res meshes into max, that can be a good option.

To sum it up, if you think you can just create a standard lowpoly mesh, throw it into mudbox, sculpt it, and bake it back, you're in for a rude awakening. =)

11-17-2010, 12:46 PM
Doh :( Basically I have this so far:


I realise the mesh is terrible, but I was under the impression I could just export that into mudbox and add my detailing, and bake it back onto that model in the picture. This sucks, spose to have this model ready for my lecture tomorrow, and I have done it completely wrong :(

Thankyou for the information, it's really helpful. Are there tutorial videos for this kind of thing because I can't seem to find any at all.


11-17-2010, 12:46 PM
#3 again, this is generally refereed to as "re-topology" and there are specific tools you can use to help like topogun and a few others i can't think of.

11-17-2010, 02:14 PM
There are some good base meshes here, to either start with or learn from: http://wiki.polycount.com/Base (http://wiki.polycount.com/BaseMesh)Mesh (http://wiki.polycount.com/BaseMesh)

"basemesh_arshlevon_toes.obj (http://wiki.polycount.com/BaseMesh?action=AttachFile&do=view&target=basemesh_arshlevon_toes.obj) " is a very good one to study.

Doh :( Basically I have this so far:


I realise the mesh is terrible, but I was under the impression I could just export that into mudbox and add my detailing, and bake it back onto that model in the picture. This sucks, spose to have this model ready for my lecture tomorrow, and I have done it completely wrong :(

Thankyou for the information, it's really helpful. Are there tutorial videos for this kind of thing because I can't seem to find any at all.


You're not thattttt far off here. The main problems is see are:
#1 Proportions(could be fixed in mudbox)
#2 Lots of long thin quads instead of the more sqaure shaped, this can be fixed by adding some cuts along those loops, and also removin some edge loops where you have excessive definition, keeping it simple is best for this sort of thing.
#3 Get rid of some of those tris
#4 Add some fingers!

11-17-2010, 03:06 PM
Install "Mudwalker" a Script that send a model to max and vice versa.

11-17-2010, 04:02 PM
Thanks for the information guys. Looks like I've got a late night ahead of me. Am I right in thinking that you can also texture a model in mudbox? There seems to be plenty of zbrush tutorials but, not many mudbox ones. Mudbox is free to students so that's why I am using it.

That base mesh you linked earthquake is brilliant. Definitely try and learn mudbox with it.

It seems like alot of work to then remake another low poly model based around your new high poly model. I think I have found a decent tutorial here (http://www.3dtotal.com/team/Tutorials_3/Mudbox_Modelling/mudbox05.asp), shows re-topology and stuff!

I might have a quick go at just making a sphere, adding detail, and then trying to bake the detail on, just so I know how to do it.

Thanks for the help! Will keep you updated

11-17-2010, 05:42 PM
I give up, I tried to texture my model in mudbox but my model distorts massively whenever I add a paint layer. I'm guessing it's to do with my UVs but I cant find any decent tutorials anywhere :@

So frustrating

Will Faucher
11-17-2010, 06:37 PM
Yes that is exactly it. Your model needs to be unwrapped before you start painting.

11-17-2010, 07:22 PM
After all this trial and error, you will get it and be glad you failed a few times to learn it. I would personally take the unwraps and go at it in Photoshop.

But there is one thing I don't understand, and I'm sure this would be a workflow thing, so not always the same for people.

Just say I have done my sculpt and everything and it's showing up on my low poly just fine, now time for texturing. Say I painted some bumps on an arm and want those bumps to be different colours to my skin textures. How do I know (UV wise) where the bumps are if they are not showing up on my low poly unwrap.

I hope that makes sense. I would assume I could take either the normal map or AO map and lay it in the background layer and use it as a guide as to where the bumps would be on the skin.

Man I hope that made sense. Just something I've been meaning to ask.

11-18-2010, 04:13 AM
Ok, I know pelt mapping etc, but can I use pelt mapping to unwrap it so it will be ok in Mudbox? I can unwrap it with pelt mapping and lay out the UVs, but how to I get it to apply so that they will transfer over to mudbox if you get me.

Thanks for the info.

11-18-2010, 05:32 AM
you dont need uv on your highres mesh...
only your lowres will need uvs...

but if you like to have uvs also on your high...
just import the uvs in mudbox... file --> import UV...

11-18-2010, 07:27 AM
Humm, I am using unwrella2, and when I make my seams, and then use unwrella, unwrella uses both the default seams max made and the seams I made. How do I just get uwrella to use my new seams? Sorry for 101 questions in this thread but you guys are being really helpful so I appreciaite it.

11-18-2010, 08:06 AM
Wohoo. I'm getting somewhere! I made a sphere, put it in mudbox,added a smiley face sort of thing, saved the high poly, loaded my low and high poly into xnormals, and made the normal map, applied the normal map to my sphere and it worked. This is what I got:

Now, a couple of things. The 'bumps' don't seem as defined as they do in mudbox. Do you need to change the bump ammount somehow? Also I had some high sculpted bits coming out as hair, and they havn't worked. I am guessing this is because I need to remake the low poly around the high poly as you guys said?


11-18-2010, 11:38 AM
normalmaps cant do magic... so you need to model a good base....

11-18-2010, 12:22 PM
Ewaf: This might be of help.


I got this from looking at the different tuts on cgtuts+ site

Hope it helps you out

11-18-2010, 04:50 PM

Yea I did the whole of that tutorial. All it does though is gets the high poly mudbox model into max.

I have been modelling most the day and I've actually made a really good base mesh (well it's good for me!). Will show you guys tomorrow so you can point out any dodgy bits. I also downloaded the topogun demo, and wow, what an awesome program! Makes the process of remaking a base mesh less daunting. However, what does the demo version not include? As it seemed like I could retopologise my model in it?


11-19-2010, 04:37 AM
I also am having a few problems with this within Maya and Mudbox but this thread has really help me understand alot more about it. I've followed Brams generic wall tutorial which is a must for anyone trying out this stuff except im struggling getting my hi poly mesh into Topogun as it stands at 3.2Million polys or so but brams tutorial explains that his is around 3.5million however I'm now just retoping it in Maya and then working with x normal from there.

so thanks for this thread it's cleared up alot of errors i'm making,


11-19-2010, 07:28 AM

Glad the thread has helped others! Thanks for pointing me to the generic wall tut, going to have a play around! I have made a new base mesh:


It's still not perfect but I hope you agree it's alot better than my other one. Is the poly count too high for a base mesh? I am going to try sculpt it in mudbox (Im very new to mudbox so it should be interesting!) then use topogun to retopologise, and then use xnormal!

Fingers crossed! Any criticism welcome about my base mesh!


EDIT: The actually poly count is 1988! I have no idea why it shows it as 3.5k there? I was using mirror so I deleted have and then used symmetry and welded the seams and it seems ok.

11-19-2010, 08:15 AM
EDIT: Seemed to of fix it. Do I need to properly unwrap the UV's of the base model? Do I just pelt map it, then save the UV MAP? Still abit confused about it. Cheers!

11-21-2010, 09:20 AM
Hi guys. Hoping someone can help.

So heres where I am. I managed to sculpt and paint my model in mudbox. I then imported the high poly sculpt into 3d coat, and used the auto topology thing, as I have no idea how to retopologize. I then put the auto-retopo into xnormal with the high poly to bake the normals, but I get an error saying my low poly has no texture coords assigned. What am I doing wrong? Would really appreciate if someone could help.


EDIT: Ah man, have I really messed up here. Was I supposed to unwrap the low poly from 3D coat, and paint on that instead of painting on my high poly? Im so confused, this is the most confusing process ever :(

11-21-2010, 03:13 PM
i think your just confusing yourself and trying to use too many programs. keep it really simple for now and just work with a low poly and a high poly cube/sphere or something similar just in 3ds max and 3ds max only with a bit of photoshop for texturing. until you understand the basic process. then start expanding into other programs and more complex models.

start with just making some crates or barrels

11-21-2010, 05:05 PM
I have got it working on basic stuff like spheres and cubes. I understand the process, it's just the retopologising thats screwing me up. Can't figure out how to use graphite tools to do it so tried 3d coat. Also confused as to what UV's I should be texturing. My low poly cage or my high poly sculpt?

11-21-2010, 05:21 PM
I have got it working on basic stuff like spheres and cubes. I understand the process, it's just the retopologising thats screwing me up. Can't figure out how to use graphite tools to do it so tried 3d coat. Also confused as to what UV's I should be texturing. My low poly cage or my high poly sculpt?

learn to use the graphite tools, they are powerful and easy to use/learn. you need to UV your low poly, if your asking that question you don't understand the full process and it would be best for you to slow down and keep it simple until you fully understand just the basics using just 3ds max and photoshop because once you start bringing multiple programs into the mix there are multiple ways to get to the end result and it is debately which route is better depending on what you are producing and for what purpose and to what specification

11-22-2010, 06:30 AM
I have UV'ed my low poly. I understand what you are saying, but I don't think you understand what I am asking.

I'll just have to try figure it out myself I guess.

11-22-2010, 09:40 AM
Hey, didn't mean to sound ungrateful in the above post, just getting abit frustrated :poly127:

HOWEVER, I have made progress! Where I went wrong is I UV unwrapped my base mesh and not my retopologised base mesh. I put it onto xnormal and it generated the normals, and although it doesn't look amazing it looks decent and I am pretty chuffed with myself! It's 6k polys too. Next time I am going to properly learn graphite tools to retopologise as I think it's a necessity.

Now I have hit another obstacle. I am texturing in mudbox, do I paint on my high poly sculpt or my lowpoly base mesh? Abit confused!


11-22-2010, 10:21 AM
Its up to you if you want to paint on your high and bake to your low, or just paint directly on the low. Keep in mind though that Mudbox does not like overlapping UVs much and might have problems if you decide to paint your lowpoly in it.

In reference to normal maps, the basic rule is: Silhouette via geometry, surface details via maps.

11-22-2010, 11:46 AM
Humm Ok, still confused because, if I paint on my high, my high has different UVs than my low?

11-22-2010, 01:03 PM
yes the high would have different UVs because it would have completely different topology and be made up of many more objects than the low. if you are painting the high just use an automatic unwrapping solution in 3ds max because you can't waste time making some super nice UVs for all those high poly objects, all that matters is that they are stretched as little as possible and take up the whole UV space. you then rebake this texutres you painted on the high poly using xnormal or 3ds max RTT onto your low poly

this is what i was trying to explain to you about just mastering the simple, very basic workflow using 3ds max and photoshop before diving into to using multiple programs

11-22-2010, 02:43 PM
I see. Thankyou for the pointers CompanionCube. Thing is, I am on a very strict time budget. It's for one of my final units in my university course, and it's a group unit where we have to make the game. Groups are formed randomly, and unfortunately, I am the only modeller in my group, so it's either do it now or get heavily criticised when it comes to my grade. Once I understand the process I will just be able to get my head down and do it, thats why I am very appreciative of all the guidance given so far.

I have done everything right it seems. I have painted on my high poly, and I now want to apply the texture to my low poly retopologised mesh, however simply extracting the texture in mudbox and applying it obviously does not work as the UV's are different. Now this is hopefully my final question! :D How do I bake the diffuse texture onto my low poly with xNormal? I have created a normal map in xNormal, but can't figure out how to bake a texture onto a model!


11-22-2010, 03:01 PM
for each high poly you that you painted a texture for you will have to import them into xnormal in the high definition mesh menu, for each high mesh right click and add 'Base texture to Bake'. then in baking options check 'bake base texture' whith what ever settings you want

11-22-2010, 03:16 PM
It worked! Thankyou mate! Finally...it looks terrible but hey its my first character model! xNormal is my new fav program!

11-22-2010, 03:31 PM
Ok, I promise this is the last question...

I currently have a Diffuse map (my texture) and a normal map (created with xNormal). Are there any other maps I should have on my model to make it look better?


11-22-2010, 05:46 PM
specular maps, which is what determins the color and intensity of reflected light. Do a search on the forums for more info on specular, there are many threads on the topic. There are several others but you probably shouldn't worry about them at this point.