House modelled entirely with SpeedMud (Sketch & Toon Render)
SpeedMud is a modelling toolset helper utility that allows you to model and draw with CAD (Computer aided design) precision. (The house above was modelled by me in about 10 minutes exclusively using SpeedMud tools. The only CINEMA 4D tool that I used was the Live Selection tool). SpeedMud is developed by Francesco Guazzi and available at his site kekko3d.com. The plugin costs 79,00 € (Approx $105 US). The plugin comes as a download consisting of the plugin, a pdf manual and a license file that you need to copy into the same folder as the plugin.
The SpeedMud plugin can be found in the plugin menu and consists of 5 tools:
In practice what you will want to do is to dock the tool palette into your layout somewhere and or assign short cuts to the tools. I'll explain what each of these tools does in the videos that form the vast majority of this review.
The sixth item is the SpeedMud Manager. Pressing this button brings up the SpeedMud Manager. When you use any of the SpeedMud tools the SpeedMud Manager automatically pops up. All settings and options are displayed here rather than in CINEMA's Attributes Manager.
This review / tutorial is done using CINEMA 4D Release 11.5 running Windows 7 32 bit. The plugin comes in 32 and 64 bit versions for both PC and Mac.
For this review I decided that rather than writing and explaining how the plugin works I would record a series of videos showing me using the plugin and these videos would be in tutorial format. There are many things that the plugin does that would be far too difficult to describe in writing. Although the plugin developer has made some video tutorials and these explain how the plugin works, following them isn't that easy. Cafe member Dave Angelini (3DPangel) and I have both been blown away by how powerful this plugin is. Both of us wanted to help out with the documentation and make this plugin a success and hopefully see it get further development. In Dave's case he has completely rewritten the documentation and done a superb job of explaining how all of the tools work. I've chipped in by making videos of me using all of the tools and demonstrating how all of the options work. One thing that CINEMA 4D badly needs is modelling tool enhancements and this plugin fills a huge gap if you're into Architectural modelling and or mechanical modelling. The videos then serve a dual purpose of both a review and as a tutorial. I acknowledge the help that Dave gave me answering questions about how various things work.
Video Review / Tutorial (By 3DKiwi)
There is almost 2 hours of tutorial format videos of me using SpeedMud. Consequently the combined file size is large at 185mb. I've broken the videos up into 2 parts so that downloading is easier. Also to assist, each video has a Table of Contents. This is hidden and can be accessed by clicking on the icon on the video controls toolbar. You can then easily to get to the video you want to watch because if you're like me you'll need to watch a video tutorial several times for things to sink in.
Part 1. 60 minutes 102mb can be downloaded here. Extract the zip file and open the html file with your browser.
Part 2. 57 minutes 83mb can be downloaded here. Extract the zip file and open the html file with your browser.
There is good and bad news about the documentation. The bad news is initially the pdf manual that came with the plugin was hard to follow and incomplete. The plugin developer is not a native English speaker and much better at making plugins than he is at explaining things. The good news is by the time you read this review the manual will have been completely rewritten by Cafe member Dave Angelini (3DPangel) as mentioned above. Dave has done a superb job at rewriting the documentation. It is thorough and easy to follow. The plugin is quite complex and does take some time to get used to, so learning it is a matter of having a go and referring to the documentation rewritten by Dave also by watching my videos. Like me, Dave was blown away by what the plugin can do that he wanted to help make it a success so volunteered to rewrite the documentation. Similarly I wanted to assist by recording the videos of me using the plugin.
Video Tutorials (By The Developer)
There are free video tutorials available at the Plugin Developer's site. While these are quite comprehensive they are hard to keep up with at times. While I could understand the Author's English I'm certain many people will struggle to follow what he's doing in some places. I know I did and had to watch some sections over and over again as it appeared the author was saying to press Ctrl plus the "H" key in addition to left clicking. He was in fact just pressing Ctrl plus the "H" key. What was a big help, was referring to Dave's rewritten manual.
First up, let me say that I really loved SpeedMud. This is a set of tools that I can see myself using regularly in my modelling. Initially I found I had to keep referring back to the documentation to get an explanation of how things work. Things improved immensely once I got my hands on Dave's excellent rewritten documentation. After a day or two it all clicked and in fact the plugin is pretty easy to use. If you do a lot of architectural or technical type modelling like cars or airplanes then buy this plugin as it will be a huge work flow improvement for you. If you're into character modelling then the plugin is only of limited use.
I had seen some of things like Dynamic Guides in Nurbs modelling programs and drooled over having the same functionality in CINEMA 4D. The wait is over and I will be using the plugin and Dynamic guides regularly. Even if you're not modelling using SpeedMud just using the SpeedMud Move Tool in your regular modelling is a huge help.
One improvement that I would like to see is the Draw Plane be dynamic and change orientation in the perspective viewport depending on your view angle. e.g. looking downwards you get the XZ plane, tilt you view upwards and you get the draw plane vertical. modo has a dynamic Draw Plane and this would speed up modelling. In addition if you change to say a front view the drawing plane doesn't update and you have to manually change it to match your view. I would also like to see more development of the Dynamic Guides and snapping. While these are really useful they don't work as well as the Construction Lines and Snapping in the excellent Nurbs Modeller MoI (Moment of Inspiration) that I own.
With version 1.0 of the plugin I experienced frequent crashes or C4D froze on me using the plugin. I'm pleased to report that version 1.1 is much more stable, however I do recommend that you take frequent backups as you may still get the occasional crash. The Developer in these early stages has updated the plugin a few times already as he has been made aware of bugs so further fixes seem likely. As mentioned, Dave has been working on rewriting the documentation and by the time you read this it should be finished. Dave's version of the manual is top notch and I would suggest watching my videos first if you haven't done so already then read through the documentation while playing around with the plugin. The plugin does have a few rough edges and at times doesn't seem to do what you want it to do but for an initial release the power it gives you is awesome. I can only hope that the plugin developer keeps on working on the plugin to tidy up a few things and to add more enhancements.
So conclusion? An outstanding plugin, reasonably priced at 79 Euros and a plugin with enormous potential for further enhancements. A Demo version of SpeedMud that works with the Demo version of CINEMA 4D is available. Go try it out!!
Simple example of hard surface (no hypernurbs) mechanical modelling using SpeedMud and a couple of C4D tools
Review by 3DKiwi / Nigel Doyle