Amid the wave of new releases in recent weeks, good advice from Ricky (content editor at Renderosity) on “Focusing on the Tools at Hand”…
“I’m seeing a lot of animators jump from tool to tool as new ones are released. It’s no longer uncommon for there to be several tools that basically do the same thing installed on one’s system. … [creatives suffer from] informational overload when it comes to tools. Our inboxes are stuffed with announcements and there are getting to be so many vendors at the various conferences and expos that its difficult to see all them.”
Very true. I see a lot of CG news, though not being in the USA I don’t get to the trade expos to pound the floors and see the launches. But the wash of CG news gets filtered before it reaches this blog. The bits you read here are only those that make it through the filter of being somehow relevant to Poser / DAZ / digital landscapists, or to digital comics creation, or to fantasy/sci-fi artists. Thus when Lightwave gets sold, that’s of mild interest here because it interfaces nicely with Poser. Plus, the CG news often gets questioned, tested or investigated before it’s posted — it’s not just ‘link the press release’.
Luckily I’m also somewhat constrained, in that I now… i) avoid nearly all ‘animation’ (fun to watch, not fun to make) and am trying to build up to a set of skills in comics making instead (less work, quicker rendering, a bit more fun); and ii) not being able to afford the uber-PC and ninja £600 graphics-card to run everything new and shiny. Several recent bits of demo or review software have even refused to install (Substance and AI Gigipixel) because my PC was deemed under-par. Not even an install!
Ricky suggests in his article that we should stop and think if software we already have duplicates the features of the shiny new software. Again, good advice, but sometimes you also want to support software that’s more open. For instance I was enamoured of Sketchbook Pro for about 18 months, in my slow move toward finding time for 2D painting/overpainting. But now I want to support the similar but open-source Krita 4.x. That Sketchbook Pro has now slipped back from being supposedly ‘free’ to having a paid version, and within a year of Autodesk’s ‘free’ announcement, seems to partly vindicate my choice.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, prompted by Ricky here’s my list of currently frequently-used software on Windows:
Poser 11.x Pro. REVIEW COPY (no expiry).
DAZ Studio 4.x (with Scene Optimizer for iRay). FREE.
Carrara 8.5. PAID.
PzDB (for Poser/DAZ content management and selection). GIFT FROM THE MAKER (for helping with v.1.3).
3DXChange (3D file converter). WON IN A CONTEST, with iClone 7.
Meshlab 2016 (3D file wrangler). FREE.
Vue xStream 2016 R4. REVIEW COPY (no expiry).
Flowscape 1.2. PAID.
PTGui 8 (panorama stitcher). PAID.
Krita 4.x (2D digital paint). FREE.
Dynamic Auto-Painter 6.x (aka DAP 6). PAID.
Photoshop, mostly CS6 – plus a half dozen plugins, mostly tried and tested old-school ones. PAID/FREE.
IrfanView for quick image previewing and basic processing in Windows. FREE.
FastStone Capture for screenshots. FREE.
+ Ugee 1910b ‘draw on the screen’ pen monitor + main 24″ monitor. PAID, but both cheap Amazon ‘warehouse deals’.
You’ll notice iClone is missing. Many long-standing readers will know I used to be a big fan and user of it, but then they changed the UI wholesale and more. I did win a copy of iClone 7 recently in a contest, installed it and was glad because I gained the latest 3DXChange utility, but… I just don’t tend to use iClone itself any-more, these days. I’m far more fond of their fine CrazyTalk Animator and its potential for rapid comics production, these days.
Back to Ricky’s article. Perhaps we need a big ‘decision tree’ flow-chart, to help in choosing the right software for the task?