Jan 17, 2019 - 01:51 PM
The material/shader engine in Realsoft 3D is very powerful. While beginners can use the preset materials and basic shader functions, those who want to truly harness the power of Realsoft 3D's material engine would use the Visual Shading Language. Underlying the "VSL" is a shader programming language, but you actually control it from a high level drag-n-drop interface. A number of VSL objects are available (e.g. Texture, Bump, Specular) which can simply be dragged and dropped into the material VSL editor.
The VSL editor is really a damned amazing feature, which allows experienced users to build shaders that would otherwise only be available as aftermarket plug-ins. Some users on the Realsoft 3D mailing list have already created completely new shaders such as Fresnel and Cel-shaders, sharing them with other Realsoft 3D users for free. With other packages, you'd have to pay for these shaders as aftermarket options.
There is also a 3D painting toolset that allows you to paint directly onto 3D objects. I found that the tools were generally okay for drawing simple shapes, but it doesn't compare with dedicated 3D painting applications such as Right Hemisphere's Deep Paint 3D and or Maxon's BodyPaint 3D.
On the animation side of things, Realsoft 3D holds more feature-packed surprises. There's the standard keyframe animation toolset which also allows you to edit function curves. You can also perform path animations for animating objects along predefined paths, animate materials/textures, even image effects such as global fog are animatable.
For character animation, Realsoft 3D comes with the ubiquitous skeleton which features Inverse Kinematics. You can also anchor joints so that IK can't move it, and apply IK targets to joints to produce IK goals. I found it a little difficult to see the bones in Realsoft 3D, as they only seem to come as wireframe objects. Shaded bones would be nice.
Now here's the interesting part: Realsoft 3D comes with some basic footstep-driven animation tools! You can create footsteps on the ground plane and your skeleton will walk along the footsteps, similar to discreet's character studio. I got really excited about this feature...Unfortunately, after playing around with it, I found that although the skeleton DID follow the footsteps, the resulting animation didn't look like a natural walk cycle at all. Bummer.
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