All over modo

Past 2 days I’ve gone from doing general overview of MODO to concentrating on scene lighting & rendering and a little bit of modeling. One recent realization was to RTFM since a lot of the mouse input behaviors are not so standard – for example, try to subtract from your selections.

Most of the movies I have watched have been from the section of their website and the extra, downloadable tutorial supplements – over 1.5 gb of them in fact.

I have also listened to a few “modcasts” from the website, but most of the topics are advanced – i.e.. model rigging, scripting, UVs and displacement maps. Although not too hard to grasp, most of these (except scripting) are disciplines for work on completed models. Although they are important to take note of while modeling from the beginning or you might run into problems later.

One of the mega awesome scripters from the MODO forums is Seneca from id software. He has quite a repository of scripts that are worth checking out – at least to see what is possible to automate in MODO.

Another great help has been a thread, from the MODO forum, about creating a pencil. A few techniques emerged, but the one detailing Boolean function of intersecting foreground and background meshes was really inspirational.

Watched the reference tutorials that can be download to supplement the MODO help menus – in particular the Snapping tools behaviors and the Action center modes.

Precision tools (that is what they are called in the palette buttons)  like Scale Absolute looks quite good for fitting geometry against existing geometry. For example, the tutorial scaled a column without extreme distortion, to the ceiling in a background layer. A globe shaped handle is used to set the original scale, and the cube shaped handle will resize the object.

Unspecific to this tool, but affecting all MODO tools is a settings option called Unit Averaging. Not sure what the benefit of the default “Fine” setting is, since my meshes didn’t seem to quantize similarly and did not approximate to similar dimensions. So I chose to turn off Unit Averaging completely for finer control over the increments for deformation.

Action center modes are really important when working with parts of objects or adjusting the whole mesh. In the drop down menu’s there are presets for certain modes, and the 2 options at the bottom are used to mix and match the Axis and Action centers.

  1. Local action center is great for multiple selections to edit them all at once according to their own axis of a normal.
  2. Element mode will modify your selections according to a single selections normal axis. For example selecting numerous polygons, then using an axis of a vertex somewhere else on the model, by clicking it, to modify the selection.
  3. Select Center Auto axis mode will automatically calculate the center of your selections, and use that as an axis for deformation – useful for rotating many selections around.
  4. Action Center Pivot will use the selected pivot position for modifying
  5. Origin will use the 0,0,0 point for you deformations
  6. Screen mode will use your screen orientation, for example an angle in perspective mode will yield an axis center based on that angle – pointing towards the camera. This mode is a bit tricky because initially, the deformation widget will appear as if it is aligned to the world coordinates. You must click on the viewport to select your screens axis – however, it will orient itself with a perspective or the the invisible trackball that MODO uses for camera orientation. It is a bit strange since it will orient the axis on this invisible sphere even if trackball movement is disabled for the view port. Also while clicking to select your axis, it is 99% guaranteed you will click and drag slightly, resulting in mesh deformation.

I also listened to the Seneca “modcast” available on the Luxology website, and it drove me to watch a couple of videos about Vector and Regular mesh displacement. This largely concerns mesh sculpting. A vector dsiplacement map is a 2D representation of XYZ positions, while a regular displacement map is a 2 color height map.

A mesh can  be deformed by modifying its actual polygon and vertex positions, or by modifying the fake shader on it.

Not to get confused, you can also paint Vertex Maps to do such things as Soft Selections.

Also tried some rendering of glass in MODO. The Render tutorials bundled with the MODO help menus and the glass tutorial on

I used planar lights, directional lights and environmental settings to affect the renders. I also picked up a technique from the forums to create Spherical and Cylindrical gradient lighting, by using gradients in the luminosity masks of a light material applies to the inside of these objects. Placing your backdrop and objects inside these luminous objects yielded some nice light effects. Some have attributed this technique to IES light system that I haven’t looked at, and probably don’t need to.

The main savior is that 401 will come with presets for lights and backdrops so concentrating on strictly modeling is sufficient now.

Didn’t dive into Material Masks yet but this is the way to mix and match things like glossy and matte finishes on a single surface. This tutorial is found in the rendering section of the help movies accessed from inside MODO.

Good movie of a model being built (without narraration) by Andy Brown

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