Marmoset Toolbag3 has just been released, and it sports a host of new features, many of which will make using it in your 3D modeling and TurboSquid release pipeline so much easier.
This release represents a monumental shift in the product’s capability with some great headline features like improved rendering, texture baking, game engine export, and animation support. This article covers what to watch for when using the tools as a TurboSquid artist.
We’re also giving you a template scene that will help you get a head start making high quality spinners for your TurboSquid models.
The biggest new feature is the ability to bake textures, which is a cornerstone of real-time pipelines. Marmoset Toolbag 3 has a high speed baking solution designed for rapid turnaround that has the ability to tweak and fine tune your cage meshes.
The baker is easy and intuitive to use – naming your meshes properly in your 3D application will even allow the tool to automatically group high and low poly meshes together, so an object named box_high will group and bake to box_low without any input from the end user. You can also do it manually and group or regroup the meshes to your liking, and pull in objects to group from multiple mesh files. The baker is designed to be very flexible.
Bake groups exist completely independent of each other as well, although they’ll bake to the same texture map, they won’t need to be separated from each other (exploded) to avoid overlaps. Even with bake groups, you can move submeshes around to manually explode the mesh as well.
If you’ve assigned materials and even textures to your highpoly, you can carry those materials over to TB3 – the baker handles a collection of maps, and will bake down values from PBR spec/gloss maps. Furthermore, if you choose to bake it as a multi-layer PSD, it will break down your high-poly’s materials into separate masked layers. Add automatic material ID map generation, and TB3 comfortably becomes an end to end texture baking and inspection solution that can do heavy lifting before and after working with a texture generator like Substance Painter or the Quixel Suite.
What sets Marmoset’s baker apart from others is the ability to tweak your bake in real-time. If you have cage hit issues, you have the option to paint changes to the cage offset and skew and get immediate feedback on your adjustments.
With just a few minutes of work, you can now get a great idea of how your high-poly mesh bakes to your low-poly mesh, complete with placeholder spec/gloss materials.
Marmoset Toolbag 3 ships with a sample scene to help illustrate a texture baking setup, which can be found in C:\Program Files\Marmoset\Toolbag 3\data\scene\examples\Bake Widget (assuming you installed it in the default directory).
Export to Engine
Toolbag 3 now supports package export to Unity as well as an Unreal Engine importer. On release, both are functional, but come with more than a few issues that you may want to be mindful of.
The new Marmoset Toolbag will convert your maps to PBR Specular and generate a new FBX that includes the entirety of your scene. The importer will give you empty objects for lights and cameras that should make rebuilding your scene much easier. That said, there are a few caveats:
- Heightmaps are currently misinterpreted, and may cause undesired results in Unity
- Scale may be off on import, regardless of the scale you were working on in Marmoset Toolbag 3
- The texture conversion may produce less than desirable effects
If you are producing content for Unity for sale, you should import it manually and generate your own .unitypackage files.
Marmoset Toolbag includes an Unreal Engine 4 Plugin that you’ll need to install separately.
Once it’s up and running, you’ll be able to import whole .tbscene files, and it will do last gen and spec/gloss material to PBR metalness conversions of your textures on import. You can also choose to import the scene as a blueprint, which will place your imported meshes and give you reference points to lights and cameras from your scene.
Like the Unity exporter, the UE4 importer has some caveats, although there are more to watch for with this tool:
- The import process for meshes brought into UE4 via .tbscene is highly destructive. Data like smoothing groups, animations, morph targets, vertex colors, and even pivots & rotations can be damaged, lost, or otherwise improperly imported.
- FBX files in the .tbscene will go through some level of rescaling, as well as a full reimport. All scenes with various settings that were tested came in at 100x scale in blueprint, regardless of settings in Toolbag. Individual FBX files retained the correct scale, although there was some negative scaling that flipped the meshes (i.e. a flipped right/left caused by importing X as -1).
- Materials for textures that that did not start as PBR Metalness have complex material graphs that may be hard to track or modify, and these materials broke during the conversion of the test project from 4.13 to 4.14, until an updated version of the importer was released. That said, the conversions from the input maps in Toolbag, be they spec/gloss, Unity optimized packed metalness, or other arbitrary material settings to UE4 metalness are very consistent.
- The plugin is hard tied to the version UE4 you are using. For example, the 4.13.1 plugin would not import in 4.13.2 or 4.14. Given Epic’s rapid update schedule, it is worth keeping this in mind. The importer on release works with 4.12, 4.13, and 4.14.
Although Marmoset Toolbag 3 now provides rapid conversions to these engines, you should still import these manually to ensure consistency. That said, the Marmoset Toolbag can act as a starting point to work forward from, especially if you’re new to real-time engines and are looking for a jumping off point. It’s also very important to note that the importers that were tested are subject to change.
Another critical addition to the Toolbag is the ability to playback animations and even animate in TB3.
Marmoset adds to the animation playback with the ability to keyframe all kinds of scene properties. Mesh position, rotation, and scale can be animated per-object, as can light properties, camera, and image post-process settings.
The only noticeable limitations are lack of material and skinned mesh editing in the toolset, but Toolbag now supports FBX animation playback. Toolbag is capable of playing back both skinned mesh animation data and keyframed vertex morph target data through FBX and Collada DAE. Between imported animations, keyframing in the tool, and rendering video directly, Marmoset is fully capable of previewing and showcasing animations.
Marmoset Toolbag 3 also ships with a sample scene for animations, and it can be found in C:\Program Files\Marmoset\Toolbag 3\data\scene\examples\Animated Fox (assuming you installed it in the default directory).
The TurboSquid Toolbag 3 Turntable Kit
With the addition of animation tools, making a turntable for TurboSquid is now much easier with more options to fine tune. Instead of the turntables being a set of global variables, you now create a turntable object that you you can drop in and focus on, and drop meshes into it to allow for unique partial or full scene turns. For TurboSquid spinners, Marmoset Toolbag now has the ability to export an exact number of frames, and the timeline gives you the option to scrub through each frame for pre-inspection. Exported image sequences have a naming convention that is friendly to our importers. Still image and video export settings are now separated; you can use the same Toolbag scene for your thumbnails and spinners.
For those of you looking to get a jump start on using TB3 for TurboSquid Turntables, we are proud to offer the The Toolbag 3 Turntable Kit, a Marmoset Toolbag 3 scene that is set to export 1:1 ratio 32 frame turntables (1200×1200) , and a version that renders in 1:1.85 (2960×1600).
Marmoset Toolbag 3 is a huge product update, packed to the brim with substantial updates and improvements, as well as a few features – a few need a little work, but overall, it’s a solid improvement. This article barely scratches the surface when it comes to new features – rendering has seen great updates with improvements to screen space reflections, lighting, improvements to subsurface rendering, custom shader support, as well as voxelized scene lighting and reflections. Materials are now easier to work with and are more accurate than ever, and simple updates like safe frames for cameras make the experience Marmoset has always done well work substantially better.
If you own Toolbag 2 and are wondering if you should update, there is no question– the answer is yes. Even with a few minor caveats when it comes to game engine export, it’s still an incredibly useful tool that builds value on its previous iteration. If you’re even somewhat interested in real-time pipelines, are in the market for a texture baker, or are looking for a fast way to generate good turntables for TurboSquid, Toolbag has never been easier to use or provided a better value. Toolbag 3 is available now, with freelance and studio licensing. If you’re upgrading from Toolbag 2, it is available for less than half the introductory price. You can get it at Marmoset’s website and it is available on Steam.