In case you've missed the thread, 3D-Coat has yet another rapid-development feature up its sleeve, auto-quadrangulation re-topology (say that three times fast!)
Some cool pics and vids inside...
The prolific Andrew Shpagin, the Pilgway developer behind 3D-Coat, is at it again. This time he's working on the initial stages of what's shaping up to be a nice auto-retopology algorithm, where the user lays down some guide strokes/slices overtop the high-res sculpt, then the retopo tool creates a smooth quad mesh for it.
It looks like it might be based on a SIGGRAPH 2010 paper titled "A Wave-based Anisotropic Quadrangulation Method" which shows a method for re-topology that constructs a special standing wave across the surface, allowing the quadrangulation to follow the "flow" of the underlying surface.
The 3D-Coat implementation is still a bit early, there seem to be some rough edges to work out. Finger tips are problematic, as are hard surface models, and the algorithm speed could use optimization.
It's amazing how well it works right out of the box, even without laying down any guide lines...
Does this foretell the end of manual retopo? Meh, probably not. We'll always be in need of the artist's trained eye. But it does look like it'll help reduce, oh, like maybe 75% of the work!