80 Level Digest: Useful Retopology Tools for Your 3D Projects

80 Level Digest is back with a list of great retopology tools that will make sure your 3D model works right.

Image credit: Pixelmachine, Georgian Avasilcutei

Understanding the process of retopology is crucial for any 3D artist as it greatly influences the final output of their model. In this article, we will explore some popular apps that will help you keep your model nice and clean.

First things first, we need to know what retopology is. I think Blender documentation provides the best answer to this question: "Retopology is the process of simplifying the topology of a mesh to make it cleaner and easier to work with."

It is especially important if the model is going to be used in animation or physics simulations as it is deformed in the process, and retopology will make sure everything works right.

Most 3D software, like Blender, Maya, and 3ds Max, have their own tools to deal with this task, but you might want to explore these handy options.

TopoGun 3

Let's start with this very popular standalone retopologizing and map baking application. TopoGun 3 offers a set of intuitive and powerful tools that make the retopology process easier and faster. It also supports the creation of normal, displacement, or ambient occlusion maps from high-resolution 3D models. What's more, TopoGun bakes all the maps you select in a single pass.

Its Subdivision feature can help you recover all the details of the original mesh, and the Morpher is used to update the retopologized mesh when the reference mesh is modified.

The latest update for the tool introduces new features for both manual and automatic retopology, as well as enhanced capabilities for baking a wider range of texture maps.

Node-locked licenses cost $149.99 and floating licenses cost $349.99.

RetopoFlow 3

Next on our list is RetopoFlow, a retopology mode for Blender that helps you create custom mid- or low-poly meshes on top of high-resolution sculpts quickly.

The tool by Orange Turbine provides more detailed information about models and presents geometry in a more user-friendly way compared to Blender. It is designed to assist with rigging, animation, and texturing tasks. The creator describes the process of working with it as "quick sketching" that will make monotonous actions more engaging.

Its features include Contours, PolyStrips, Strokes, PolyPen, Relax, and more. Personal licenses cost $85.99 and studio ones start at $151.99.

CozyBlanket

Not everyone enjoys working on their computer, so if you're one of such people, try CozyBlanket by Sparseal, an iPad application offering a comfortable experience. Its features include manual retopology, seam-based UV unwrapping, packing, and baking.

More to love:

  • Gesture-based mesh editing, including creating/deleting polygons, edge loops, edge slides, merge/collapse, and grid generation.
  • Full Retopoloty/UV/Baking workflow support with coherent UX and tooling between stages.
  • High-performance CPU viewport for handling large data sets on mobile devices.
  • Python API and plugin integration with desktop software and pipelines using the local network for data streaming.

You can get CozyBlanket for free but without the ability to save or export. You can unlock those for $19.99 or purchase a Standard license for $89.99, which provides access to advanced features.

QuadPatch

Another great retopology tool for Blender is QuadPatch. It helps you to effectively create quad surfaces on 3D models. The plug-in comes with a variety of features such as edge-loop path highlighting, dynamic path drawing, segment control, and surface relaxing.

This tool is available for purchase at $15.

ziRail

The ziRail plug-in for Maya allows you to generate patch polygons along strokes drawn directly on a mesh. It simplifies the process of creating polygons, making it a great help for retopology tasks.

It is still in beta, be warned, but the developer is still working on updates. The latest one introduces MacOS compatibility, an enhanced undo/redo mechanism, and bug fixes.

ziRail will cost $69 for individual artists and $149 for studios.

Alpha/Beta Quad

If you want something cheaper, try this add-on for Blender. Previously called Alpha Quad, Beta Quad is an experimental retopology tool for selected faces that can only handle simple meshes for now. You can use it to quick-remesh a single N-Gon face or use it to remesh a part of your mesh. It can create quads that smoothly follow the shape of the original face. 

This little helper is available for $7.

Smart Auto Retopo

Finally, we have this effective ZBrush plug-in for ZBrush created by Yuri Stamat, which automates most of the retopology work with a single click. It intelligently analyzes high-poly sculpts, creating optimized polygon flows that follow your model's forms and details. It's great for animation, games, and concept art as it handles both organic shapes and hard surfaces with ease.

A Standard License will cost you $27 on ArtStation.

As we've mentioned earlier, there are other retopology tools, but they are parts of wider-functionality software. For example, in his Retopology Best Practices for Faster Mobile Game Development article on our site, Ahmad Merheb pointed out that 3DCoat has an incredible set of tools for this task. You can read the whole thing to learn more about the process.

Here is our list, but what are your favorite retopology apps? Share your ideas and join our 80 Level Talent platform and our Telegram channel, follow us on InstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn, where we share breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more.

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