N-Sided has recently anounced the arrival of Quidam Studio 3, a popular tool for 3d characters creation. As the organic modelling needs a very special skills and usually lot of experience, it always nice to see the kind of software that makes our work much easier and faster. Not only it provides us with a high-quality models, but also gives us vary options for adjusting them in the way we need.
The first thing you notice, especially if you had no experiences with the earlier versions of Quidam Studio before, is a very intuitive and clear user interface. All the options are located in a logical clusters and the icon's graphic style of available Studios (Combine, Proportion, Sculpture, Pose, Texture, and Render) fits perfectly to their destinations. We can use dozens of models (bodies or just the heads) as a base mesh for our work. Not only they may look just like people from real life, but as a cartoon and fantasy characters as well.
Sadly such packs as children and animals have to be purchased seperately, although you should not forget about the download section at www.n-sided.com. There are planty of free 3d characters models, objects and textures that we may use in our projects and scenes.
Let's have a look at Combine Studio, where we can exchange the body parts of our chosen model. We can replace them with another ones by pointing them with the left mouse button. There are several different shapes of hands, lips or heads available, but remember, that instead of using models from the Quidam collection you can always import your own ones (.obj format required). Except exchanging body parts you can also swap clothes, hair or for instance glasses. Moreover you can randomize this stage of your work by hitting "dice" button that may lead to some really surprising results (be aware that loading new character takes a few extra seconds).
Here you can improve the look of your model by shrinking or growing its chosen parts. By moving your mouse cursor around your character you highlite "diamonds" hidden inside. They are located in a key parts of the model, such as chin, stomach, thighs or toes. Hitting them with the left mouse button results in changing the size of the body nearby. You should not be worried about the low number of diamonds. Instead of a limitation you should consider it as a guarantee of a simple and fast work (less control points mean less time to set them all together). Most of the Quidam users find it very handy and funny as it gives them full control over their model including turning it into a caricature. For those who don't have enough patience for manual adjustments there's always an Automatic Proportions tools. With just a two mouse clicks you can pick the proportions of the head and body you are looking for.
Using Quidam Studio 3 modeling tools is probably the best part of our work. Here we can actually change the geometry of our model by moving its chosen faces. There are a few types of selecting methods, brush types and their influences on the mesh. Notice you are not allowed to add as many details as in Zbrush, Mudbox or Blender and such brushes as rake or inflate along with alpha feature are not available.
Instead or working only on a chosen faces you can active Jelly Brushes by hitting a two-drops icon located on the right side of the screen. Unlike standard brushes they operate continuously so that you are able to draw the shape of your model's body. Of course all the operations are made in a realtime which turns our work in a great piece of fun.
There are several other options that give us even more control over the topology of our model. We can keep it smooth or sharp and choose its subdivision levels. The last feature is probably one of the most important ones as it help us to create low poly models for animations, realtime visualisations and games. Moreover with its assistance we can decrease the number of polygons in objects that we import to Quidam Studio. In order to reshape heavy geometry models properly you should use a Soften/Accent slider. It helps you to remain their base look and avoid problems such as twisted faces during all the stages of your work. The last but not least feature of Sculpture Studio is the Morph option. It provides us with the ability of creating morph targets for facial expressions in just a few steps. Along with other objects and settings they can be saved in a special catalog for further work before final export.
After sculpting you can move every part of your model using a base bone structure and the well known x, y, z movement parameters. Here we can apply predefined pose to our model or create a new one. When working with an imported object we can attach a skeleton to it. There are several ways to do it - we can use armatures from the Quidam Studio 3 collection or build a new one. Nevertheless painting weights for every bone is no longer absolutely necessary. With an Auto SKin option we are able to assign all the Verices to the nearest bones automatically. It's a real time-saver that usually does not need any additional improvements.
Quidam Studio 3 provides us with a simple UVW Editor with some basic kinds of projections (Plane, Sphere, Box, Envmap, Mercator and Cylinder). It becomes quite useful with rather simple objects - when working with more complicated models I suggest using other proffesional aplications.
Quidam lets us set 4 light sources with customizable multiplication and color parameters. We can decide whether to use a real-time Open GL rendering or a photorealistic Ray Tracing rendering. There are several shadow presets that simulate different light sources and a special cartoon mode. It comes with a slider that determines the width of the characters contour line. Notice all ot these settings can be saved for future projects.
After the first glance I considered Quidam Studio 3 as a very modest programm due to the low number of its options, tools, windows and sliders. After a while it turned out to be the biggest advantage of Quidam - it provides you with all the features you may need and arranges them in a very thought-out way. Mastering its interface took me less than ten minutes, although I kept on discovering tools I didn't expect to find. The ways we can adjust our models make Quidam a perfect solution for both 2d and 3d graphic artists. In case of any problems there is a large number of tutorials published at the N-Sided website; you can also find there large and active forum community in case you would be interested in sharing your opinions and experiences. Unfortunately the prize of the programm along with all the additional packages becomes the biggest disadvantage of Quidam. Still instead of giving up N-Sided products you should take a look at Argile. It's much cheaper version of Quidam, limited to some essential functions such as Sculpture Studio, that you should definitely try out.
You can download N-Sided QUIDAM 3.0 trial from here:
QUIDAM 3.02 for Windows (242 MB)
QUIDAM 3.02 for Mac OS X (244 MB)
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