Originally posted on 30 April 2021. Scroll down for news of the 2021.1.2 update.
Quixel has released Mixer 2021.1, a major update to its free material-authoring tool.
The update adds a new Multi-Texture Set (MTS) system, enabling users to import models with multiple texture sets based on materials or UDIMs, and paint seamlessly across them.
The release also features Mixer’s “largest Smart Material addition to date”, adding 100 new Smart Materials.
A next-gen tool for creating PBR materials by blending 3D scan data
First released in 2018, Mixer began as a companion app for subscribers to Quixel’s Megascans library, enabling users to create custom materials by blending scan-based data.
Since then, it has steadily been evolving into a much broader material authoring toolset, with last year’s Mixer 2020.1 adding new 3D painting and procedural masking features.
The software uses a non-destructive layer-based workflow, and includes a brush-based toolset for multi-channel painting and sculpting, outputting standard texture maps at up to 32-bit resolution.
At the time of Quixel’s acquisition by Epic Games in 2019, Epic general manager Marc Petit told CG Channel that he saw the software as a long-term alternative to Adobe’s Substance tools.
Import 3D models with UDIMs or multiple materials and paint seamlessly across them
Another key step towards that goal in Mixer 2021 is the new Multi-Texture Set (MTS) system.
Quixel describes it as a “simplified take on how you treat UDIMs and texture sets”, enabling artists to use the same texturing workflows for assets on which separate materials have been assigned to different parts of the model as they do on models where those parts have been split out as separate UDIM tiles.
On importing a model with UDIMs or multiple materials, Mixer generates separate texture sets for each original material or each UDIM tile, each containing the standard PBR texture maps.
A new Layer Sets system makes it possible to select which texture sets a layer within Mixer affects.
Together, the new features make it possible to “texture or paint seamlessly across Multiple Texture Sets”.
The video above shows a user applying paint strokes to a model in the 3D viewport that display seamlessly across multiple materials: we assume the process works similarly for UDIM tiles.
New options for working with complex assets
To make it easier to work with complex assets, users can also now control the visibility of the parts of a model corresponding to individual texture sets in Mixer’s viewport.
The Active Area Focus setting, shown in the video above, dithers out parts of the mesh that aren’t affected by the current layer set, but you can also choose to toggle them off entirely.
In addition, a new Flatten Mix feature merges all the layers in a Mixer project into the individual texture maps for each texture set. It’s a destructive operation, but one that reduces a project’s complexity and file size.
Other changes: simpler export to other DCC apps, 100 new Smart Materials
Mixer 2021.1 also simplifies the process of exporting textured 3D models from the software to other apps.
In addition, the release adds 100 new Smart Materials, mainly plastics, to Mixer’s material library, bringing the total of readymade materials available to “nearly 400”.
Updated 2 September 2021: Quixel has released Mixer 2021.1.2.
The update, which is currently available for Windows only, further extends Mixer’s handling of texture sets, adding a new option to automatically create a new Layer Set for each Texture Set.
Workflow for selecting Texture Sets and moving layers between Layer Sets has also been improved, as shown in the video above. There are also a number of other smaller changes, listed in the release notes.
Pricing and system requirements
Mixer 2021.1.2 is available free for Windows and macOS. The software is officially in beta.
All users get a selection of Smart Materials and assets from Quixel’s Megascans library available in Mixer for free; Unreal Engine users can use the entire library for free in Mixer for UE4 projects.
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