Blender or Modo for Houdini-Substance-Unreal Pipeline?

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BoshyTime polycounter lvl 3
Hi,
  So a bit of background on this. I've been doing freelance game modeling for a while now and I'm at the point where I'm close to setting up a pipeline and have some funds just dedicated to that and i'm not sure what modeler to choose.
  I used maya in the past but started transitioning to Houdini for most things and now it's the core part of my pipeline.
  I currently use Houdini for modeling, Substance for texturing and bringing everything in Unreal.
  Now since i'm ditching Maya, I need to make a decision on which soft to use for modeling since modeling in Houdini is not the fastest ( already use Zbrush for more organic stuff).
  The choice comes down between Blender and Modo and I'm not sure which one to choose.
  I will only use them to model and UV stuff. I use Substance for texturing and Houdini for animations and VFX.
  Which one of them would you personally use for this pipeline?
  I know Blender is fast at modeling and can do a lot of other cool stuff ( Eevee, sculpting, animations and compositing) but I'm not interested in that. Just pure modeling speed with clean results.
  I have experience in Blender, but not in Modo. I did download it and played around with it and it seems powerful and It has substance and unreal bridges which blender hasn't ( big plus imho) but I need to make sure before I bite the bullet and get some paid training and invest 2-3 weeks in getting up to speed with it.

TLDR : Which one would you use in a Houdini Substance Unreal pipline and which one is the more efficient modeler in your opinion?

Any answers are appreciated.

Replies

  • Zack Maxwell
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    Zack Maxwell interpolator
    I'd say Modo, since you don't need it for animation/rigging. Assuming the price isn't an issue. If I was considering the price, I'd say the difference is nowhere near worth it and just go with Blender.
    I personally only use ZBrush/Houdini right now for modeling. I do the sculpting and majority of modeling in ZBrush, and use Houdini for retopology and UV mapping, as well as any modeling that requires a lot of precision or proceduralism.

    The modeling is generally better in Modo than Blender, and the UV mapping is way better in Modo. The UV packing is better in Houdini than in either of them though.
    As for the pipeline support in Modo for Substance and Unreal, I've... honestly never known what purpose those serve, and have never used them anyway. They just let you preview the end result of the textured model inside the modeling software. But since you don't do the texturing inside the modeling software, you're better off just loading it into the actual engine to preview it, if you need to see how the engine renders it. And Substance already lets you see what the model looks like with the substance on it as you're making it.
    I think some people use it when constructing scenes, but I don't understand why you would build the scene in the modeler instead of the engine.
    I can only assume it's some kind of compartmentalization of work done by certain studios.
  • BoshyTime
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    BoshyTime polycounter lvl 3
    Hi Zack,
      Thanks for the reply. I've actually seen your post about modeling in Houdini on the sideFX forums and I've tried it as well and it's not there yet. Maybe next release...
       I'm not super skilled in Zbrush so I tend only to use it when needed, that why I'm not just using Zmodeler as my main modeling tool.
       And the bridge stuff is mostly for scene construction. I'm mostly focused on modular stuff right not and I'd like to be able to preview how a scene will look like without having to assemble it in Unreal.That's it.
      I think I might bite the bullet and invest a bit more time in Modo and see if it works out as well as I'm envisioning it.

    Thanks a lot!
  • Zack Maxwell
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    Zack Maxwell interpolator
    BoshyTime said:
    Hi Zack,
      Thanks for the reply. I've actually seen your post about modeling in Houdini on the sideFX forums and I've tried it as well and it's not there yet. Maybe next release...
    Oh no, I also do as little of my modeling in Houdini as possible. It's mostly ZModeler. I just use modeling in Houdini when I come across something that can't be done well with ZModeler. Especially something best made with booleans, since the ZBrush booleans don't pair well with ZModeler.
    The overall conclusion drawn in that thread as well was basically that modeling primarily in Houdini is bad. Modeling exclusively with ZModeler is also bad, so I let them fill out each other's weaknesses. The fact that you can use GoZ to bridge them would, in theory, make the pairing that much better. If I could actually get it to work.
  • BoshyTime
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    BoshyTime polycounter lvl 3
    Have you tried this?
    Made by the same guy that made some hard surface modeling tools for Houdini which I've heard are pretty good. Haven't tested it myself yet though.

  • Zack Maxwell
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    Zack Maxwell interpolator
    BoshyTime said:
    Have you tried this?
    Made by the same guy that made some hard surface modeling tools for Houdini which I've heard are pretty good. Haven't tested it myself yet though.

    Nah, I saw that before, but in its current state it seems to have very little value over ordinary GoZ. And it's a paid product with no assurance it would actually work if GoZ isn't working.
  • gnoop
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    gnoop polycounter lvl 9
    I spent quite some time learning Modo Indie  few years ago and  found very little essential extra  over what Blender could offer.     It's  sometimes nicer organized probably, and allowing quicker access while in Blender features sometimes are not that obvious or buried deeper inside,  takes you 2-3 clicks more . Including UV unwrap Imo.  it's actually pretty good in Blender.  For years it was actually better than elsewhere and both Max and Maya had UV plugins based of Blender code that everybody used.

     With a  few ad-dons like Textools  Blender seems could do just same.  Having pretty much same auto-unwrapping/ UV keeping  behavior if you use insert "I" , edge /vertex slide "G" and bevel "B" commands as Modo and fails in same places Modo does.   

       It just my impression. I might be wrong.   Modo does have much superior texture baker imo.     Maybe UV packing is inferior in Blender too. It couldn't pack in UV tiles  like Modo  but Modo does it not that great  also.

    One drawback of Blender imo Is that you could easily do messy "rat nest" kind of geometry if you not careful  and "clean mesh" is not always working  while Modo or 3ds max for example  just wouldn't allow it or fix it for you automatically
  • BoshyTime
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    BoshyTime polycounter lvl 3
    gnoop said:
    I spent quite some time learning Modo Indie  few years ago and  found very little essential extra  over what Blender could offer.     It's  sometimes nicer organized probably, and allowing quicker access while in Blender features sometimes are not that obvious or buried deeper inside,  takes you 2-3 clicks more . Including UV unwrap Imo.  it's actually pretty good in Blender.  For years it was actually better than elsewhere and both Max and Maya had UV plugins based of Blender code that everybody used.

     With a  few ad-dons like Textools  Blender seems could do just same.  Having pretty much same auto-unwrapping/ UV keeping  behavior if you use insert "I" , edge /vertex slide "G" and bevel "B" commands as Modo and fails in same places Modo does.   

       It just my impression. I might be wrong.   Modo does have much superior texture baker imo.     Maybe UV packing is inferior in Blender too. It couldn't pack in UV tiles  like Modo  but Modo does it not that great  also.

    One drawback of Blender imo Is that you could easily do messy "rat nest" kind of geometry if you not careful  and "clean mesh" is not always working  while Modo or 3ds max for example  just wouldn't allow it or fix it for you automatically


    Thanks for the feeback and I do think they are very close, hence my posts and looking for other opinions. I decided to give Modo a try for a few weeks and see how it goes for now.
  • gnoop
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    gnoop polycounter lvl 9
    A few things I regularly do in Blender but never figured out  how to do in Modo Indie. Maybe someone could correct me if I am wrong

    1. Face weighted (rotated) normals .  There is just a button in Blender and in Modo I heard it's a 3d party script  not working in Indie
    2. Normal Theft , or attribute transfer . UV transfer etc.  Transferring such geometry features from one object to another.   UV transfer works pretty unreliable in Blender too if topology of objects differs essentially.  MAx could do it just fine in comparison .  In Modo Indie I just never figured it out.
    3. Gluing curve nodes to certain object/surface point without a complex rig. There is cool Ctrl+H  "hook to" menu in Blender . Never found how to do it in Modo
    4. Non destructive modelling approach based on Modifiers. Interactive arrays, interactive remeshing, interactive shrinkwrap/conform( best I ever saw) etc.  Heard recent full version of  Modo can do some of those too.




  • BoshyTime
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    BoshyTime polycounter lvl 3
    gnoop said:
    A few things I regularly do in Blender but never figured out  how to do in Modo Indie. Maybe someone could correct me if I am wrong

    1. Face weighted (rotated) normals .  There is just a button in Blender and in Modo I heard it's a 3d party script  not working in Indie
    2. Normal Theft , or attribute transfer . UV transfer etc.  Transferring such geometry features from one object to another.   UV transfer works pretty unreliable in Blender too if topology of objects differs essentially.  MAx could do it just fine in comparison .  In Modo Indie I just never figured it out.
    3. Gluing curve nodes to certain object/surface point without a complex rig. There is cool Ctrl+H  "hook to" menu in Blender . Never found how to do it in Modo
    4. Non destructive modelling approach based on Modifiers. Interactive arrays, interactive remeshing, interactive shrinkwrap/conform( best I ever saw) etc.  Heard recent full version of  Modo can do some of those too.





    Hmm, I can answer a few of them based on my experience so far

    1.The Modo version i'm currently trialing, 12.2 has it built in.One of the first things I've wanted to check and it works as it should.
    2.Never tried for normal transfer, but I know it has UV transfer.
    3.Can't help you there.
    4.People are talking about some procedural non destructive workflows in Modo but I doubt it's as good as Blender, but personally it doesn't bother me since I will be using Houdini for just that type of workflow.

    I just want modo for super quick and clean destructive modeling so I can get the base meshes in Houdini and work on them from there.

  • WilliamVaughan
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    WilliamVaughan greentooth
    I'd recommend joining Warren Marshall's discord.

    He uses Modo for game assets and has a pretty healthy community that is very active. lots of tips and tricks shared there.

    Here is a link for those interested: https://discord.gg/QuFSFq

    He also has a Youtube Channel you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5dRrOarPI6ufGWsabG28FQ

  • BoshyTime
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    BoshyTime polycounter lvl 3
    I'd recommend joining Warren Marshall's discord.

    He uses Modo for game assets and has a pretty healthy community that is very active. lots of tips and tricks shared there.

    Here is a link for those interested: https://discord.gg/QuFSFq

    He also has a Youtube Channel you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5dRrOarPI6ufGWsabG28FQ

    Just bought your book yesterday ( Crash Course in Modo). Only got through the interface section but really loving it so far.Significantly better than other introductions i've found so far.
  • WilliamVaughan
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    WilliamVaughan greentooth
    Thanks for the feedback. Be sure to grab the bonus files as well. 
  • Zack Maxwell
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    Zack Maxwell interpolator
    gnoop said:
    One drawback of Blender imo Is that you could easily do messy "rat nest" kind of geometry if you not careful  and "clean mesh" is not always working  while Modo or 3ds max for example  just wouldn't allow it or fix it for you automatically
    Oh no, from my experience Modo is even looser with the rules than Blender, allowing you to do a lot of things you shouldn't. If you really know what you're doing, it lets you work faster by taking shortcuts. But if you don't know as well, it can easily lead to you creating broken geometry without realizing it, and having to spend a bunch of time debugging.
    Earlier on when I was using Modo, it felt like 90% of my time was spent trying to figure out what I broke and how.
  • Andreicus
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    Andreicus polycounter lvl 2
    BoshyTime said:
    Hi Zack,
      Thanks for the reply. I've actually seen your post about modeling in Houdini on the sideFX forums and I've tried it as well and it's not there yet. Maybe next release...
    Oh no, I also do as little of my modeling in Houdini as possible. It's mostly ZModeler. I just use modeling in Houdini when I come across something that can't be done well with ZModeler. Especially something best made with booleans, since the ZBrush booleans don't pair well with ZModeler.
    The overall conclusion drawn in that thread as well was basically that modeling primarily in Houdini is bad. Modeling exclusively with ZModeler is also bad, so I let them fill out each other's weaknesses. The fact that you can use GoZ to bridge them would, in theory, make the pairing that much better. If I could actually get it to work.
    Just for curiosity, why doing a model with ZModeler is bad ? Because of the topology or the high polys count ?
    I pratically never touch Zbrush unless i need to sculpt some details so i'm not really a pro with it.

    In the past i tried it out for hard surface modeling but it seemed to me quite "clunky" in comparison with Maya but maybe it's because i don't use it very often.
  • gnoop
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    gnoop polycounter lvl 9
    BoshyTime said:
    gnoop said:
    A few things I regularly do in Blender but never figured out  how to do in Modo Indie. Maybe someone could correct me if I am wrong

    1. Face weighted (rotated) normals .  There is just a button in Blender and in Modo I heard it's a 3d party script  not working in Indie
    2. Normal Theft , or attribute transfer . UV transfer etc.  Transferring such geometry features from one object to another.   UV transfer works pretty unreliable in Blender too if topology of objects differs essentially.  MAx could do it just fine in comparison .  In Modo Indie I just never figured it out.
    3. Gluing curve nodes to certain object/surface point without a complex rig. There is cool Ctrl+H  "hook to" menu in Blender . Never found how to do it in Modo
    4. Non destructive modelling approach based on Modifiers. Interactive arrays, interactive remeshing, interactive shrinkwrap/conform( best I ever saw) etc.  Heard recent full version of  Modo can do some of those too.





    Hmm, I can answer a few of them based on my experience so far

    1.The Modo version i'm currently trialing, 12.2 has it built in.One of the first things I've wanted to check and it works as it should.
    2.Never tried for normal transfer, but I know it has UV transfer.
    3.Can't help you there.
    4.People are talking about some procedural non destructive workflows in Modo but I doubt it's as good as Blender, but personally it doesn't bother me since I will be using Houdini for just that type of workflow.

    I just want modo for super quick and clean destructive modeling so I can get the base meshes in Houdini and work on them from there.

    1. Vertex map tools couldn't do what I mean (as of I know)  Can it? Really?.   I mean what's Normals>"Set from face"  button  does in Blender. Rotate vertex normals  to be  perfectly perpendicular to the selected face  for purpose of killing normal map/shading gradients on flat surfaces. 
    2. UV transfer works only on perfectly same topology, same vertex count etc.     In Blender you still could  project  UV from one object to another one with slightly different geometry.  Not as good as Maya can do, sometimes doesn't work at all but still works for terrain geometry at least where I often use it when need to refine already triangulated mesh

  • Dataday
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    Dataday polycounter lvl 7
    Modo for out of the box modeling, UV edit workflow. You might even want to look at Modo Indie if the restrictions won't affect you.
    Otherwise, Blender is inching out to be a better option WITH affordable 3rd party plugins, such as decalMachine, meshMachine, HardOps, boxcutter...ect ( https://blendermarket.com/creators/machin3 & https://blendermarket.com/creators/teamc )

    For the short term, Modo is probably a better option, however if you are looking for a long term solution I would seriously suggest migrating over to Blender 2.8 w/ plugins.



  • BoshyTime
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    BoshyTime polycounter lvl 3
    Dataday said:
    Modo for out of the box modeling, UV edit workflow. You might even want to look at Modo Indie if the restrictions won't affect you.
    Otherwise, Blender is inching out to be a better option WITH affordable 3rd party plugins, such as decalMachine, meshMachine, HardOps, boxcutter...ect ( https://blendermarket.com/creators/machin3 & https://blendermarket.com/creators/teamc )

    For the short term, Modo is probably a better option, however if you are looking for a long term solution I would seriously suggest migrating over to Blender 2.8 w/ plugins.



    Yea my big gripe with blender 2.8 is that because it's in beta, add-on support is non existent.But I have a couple of projects that will need to be delivered this year so can't wait for Blender 2.8 to be officially released so will attempt MODO for now and once the add-on support catches up to blender 2.8 I might reevaluate then.

    Thanks for the feedback!
  • musashidan
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    musashidan high dynamic range
    I tried Modo 12.3(I'm sure it was) because I wanted a solution to bake rounded edges shader. After extensive testing over the course of 10 days I completely gave up on it. The baking results were poor - the baking wizard workflow was good, but the rounded edge baking left terrible arfifacts that were unacceptable.

    The geo transfer from Max(my main DCC) was absolutely terrible. I tried practically every every way of importing .FBX and it was a mess. Broken normals and scale.

    It crashed regularly and a LOT.

    The viewport performance is abysmal. It was chugging on 400K meshes(Max's can handle 100s of millions)

    What is considered illegal geo in other DCCs is completely fine in Modo, apparently, and if you're not careful you'll end up with all sorts of geo errors.

    In the end I decided to never return to Modo. I've since learned Blender 2.80 and can see it surpassing Modo this year once 2.80 is officially released along with the many useful(and necessary) addons. My money is on 2019 being Blender's biggest ever year. I can certainly understand that in its current state 2.80 isn't suitable for your pipeline, but futureproof-wise, Blender would definitely be the better option. Modo jusn't hasn't gotten the same amount of love/creative concepts/innovations since the Foundry bought out Luxology. All the original devs are gone now.

    By comparison Blender can bake rounded edges much better than Modo. The only problem is that for whatever reason Cycles doesn't sample AA(although the Textools addon does have the option)

    .FBX transfer between Blender/Max works perfectly - normals/uvs/mesh scale/materials/everything

    Blender can handle 10s of millions of tris in the viewport.

    Bender has some amazing addons that propel it ahead of Modo for modeling.

    Even though it's still beta, 2.80 rarely crashes.

    Blender's material/texturing/node system is set for a big update in the next few months and it looks like it will be very powerful.
  • gnoop
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    gnoop polycounter lvl 9
    Wow, just tried to bake that Bevel shader In the last Blender 2.8 build.  Thanks musashidan      It's  just perfect , the best it has ever been elsewhere. No need to even do face weighted normals  in many cases.

    Too bad they did that monstrous UI change. Everything I love about Blender UI:  hotkey approach,  interface colors, tools accessibility, all is gone now . It feels very much like  3dmax now and I spent years to make 3dmax somehow feels as comfortable as Blender. 

  • littleclaude
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    littleclaude polycounter

    Thanks for the posts everyone it’s just what I needed to read, lots of interesting information in this thread.

    Personally I need to choose what to put my efforts into moving forward. I am starting to transition from Maya to Houdini but I can’t help feel I need to focus more on Blender. The only trouble is Houdini does seem to house everything I need under one roof with lots of promises in the pipeline. While Blender has loads of great tools I am working at an educational institution which means I really need site licences and someone I can communicate with so again Houdini is ticking a lot of boxes. 

    Maybe for now Blender will have to be my hobby horse. These are some of the tools I love the look of in Blender FYI. And DECAL Machine just looks amazing. 

     


  • poopipe
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    poopipe quad damage
    Houdini is a risky one for education in terms of a primary dcc app IMO.   

    The price for commercial licenses is very high compared to maya/max.  the vast majority of studio artists won't be doing anything that can take advantage of the features you're paying for and the comparatively weak traditional modelling tool set means it's less effective in general use cases. 
    As such, it doesn't make any sense for studios to use it as a core dcc and thus opportunities for someone with houdini but no maya/max are going to be fairly limited. 


  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 6
    I think learning Houdini implies that you are more than just an artist. If you are not, then you didn't learn Houdini properly. It's an incredibly valuable skill to have in my opinion. As for the original topic I often use Blender to model some part of an asset if proceduralism is not required for that part and then take it to Houdini using gLTF or Alembic (or even OBJ if it's that simple)
  • poopipe
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    poopipe quad damage
    Precisely - it's a technical artist's tool and moreso one that lends itself to an environment where you hire specialist contractors to do specific things (Eg making movies) 

    It's difficult to build a business case for bringing it into a pipeline when you have a team of technical artists and tools developers there long term who can develop solutions in house. 
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