What is TopoGun?
TopoGun is a stand-alone resurfacing, and maps baking application. The resurfacing functions in TopoGun will help you modify and/or recreate the edgeflow of your digital 3D models. The maps baking functions, will help you bake various types of texture maps from your high resolution 3D models and then allow you to apply them to your newly created optimized meshes. These texture maps contain information that will help you recover the appearance and features of the original high resolution mesh.
In today's 3D graphics, high quality 3D models, due to their nature, usually have millions of polygons. This is because most of today's 3D models are created from real world scanned models, or they are digital sculptures, created using brush based 3D sculpting applications.
In order to better serve their purposes, 3D models should have a much lower polycount and must provide for a deserved ease of handling. Even more than this, they need to have specific edgeflows in order to be more easily animated, or further detailed.
A lot of artists nowadays create their concepts as 3D models, using brush based sculpting applications. They usually start from basic primitive objects, such as cubes. At a certain point, they need to rework the topology of their models.
There are several reasons for doing this: to make the 3D models more animation friendly, to create lowpoly versions for gaming or further sculpting and detailing, or as a way to change the highres topology in order to improve the model's capability of handling the highres information at a lower polygon budget.
A resurfacing tool like TopoGun is needed for these purposes.
Furthermore, you can use TopoGun to bake multiple maps out of the original highres meshes. These maps can be used by texture artists when texturing the models. They can also be used by 3D engines in order to preserve the original mesh's features, (i.e., small details that couldn't be recovered after retopologizing due to the limited polycount an engine can render in realtime).
TopoGun is a standalone application available for Windows, OS X, and Linux operating systems. TopoGun licenses are cross-platform and after buying one, TopoGun can be installed on any of these operating systems.
TopoGun supports several widespread viewport navigation models and there's a great chance you'll get used to it quickly.
The interface is simple, straightforward and very customizable, giving you the freedom to modify it to fit your needs.
You can add/delete interface elements and/or rearrange them easily. In TopoGun, the buttons are treated just like shortcut icons, so you can move them around, even place them on the viewport area. You can add a button for just about any menu item, to have it in hand for a much quicker later access.
You can also redefine keyboard shortcuts for any command and option in TopoGun.
Dedicated Topology Tools
Unlike any other 3D packages, TopoGun is a specialized standalone application, aimed for retopology in the first place. Each TopoGun tool is designed for topology creating and editing.
The newly created geometry wraps around the highres model in realtime. When you move the retopologized mesh components around, they will stick to the highres mesh's surface.
Friendly File Formats
TopoGun uses the .obj file format which is becoming more and more of a standard in today's 3D graphics. TopoGun's own file format is XML based and very easy to parse. Furthermore, TopoGun also supports the .ply file format (including per-vertex color information), used extensively in the 3D scanning industry.
TopoGun's baking and subdivision modules are fully multithreaded and up to 256 CPU cores are supported.
Native 32 and 64 Bit Executable
TopoGun is available in 32 and 64 bit executable code. The 64 bit version can access and use much more memory, thus increasing performance and capabilities.
Multimillion 3D Meshes
TopoGun can handle extremely highres 3D data. The polycount limit is set by the available RAM on your system. It uses special rendering techniques to achieve unparalleled highres mesh rendering framerates.
One Pass Maps Baking
One great feature TopoGun has is one pass maps baking. Instead of baking one map at a time as most of the baking engines do, the types of maps you select are baked in a single pass, thus saving you precious time.
Hardware Ambient Occlusion
TopoGun uses the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) for baking hardware ambient occlusion maps. The speed that GPU computing and multithreading offers is much greater than the ambient occlusion baking methods used by today's existing software.
32 Bit Floating Point Maps Output
TopoGun's maps baking module can export 32 bit floating point .tiff displacement maps and ambient occlusion maps. The advantage of using 32 bit floating point displacement maps are that you don't have to worry about displacement maps parameters such as "displacement amount" and "offset", because the displacement values within the displacement map are real worldspace displacement values.
Using the displacement map, as is, in your rendering engine will lead to perfect results, without ever having to tweak any displacement parameters. Another advantage of 32 bit floating point maps are that you can modify them without the fear of getting dithering artifacts, (the dynamic range a 32 bit floating point image has is huge compared to the dynamic range of a regular 8 bit image).
Subdivision Surfaces Support
TopoGun can help you recover all the details the original mesh has, by using the Subdivision feature.
Use it to create a highresh version of your digital sculpts, once you've created a lowpoly retopology. You can use an arbitrary starting topology to create a quick mock-up sculpt and once you're happy with the overall form, bring it to TopoGun, create a lowpoly version and have the Subdivision do it's magic.
Another example where the Subdivision feature can be used is when you need all the details from a 3D scanned model.
It is convenient to create a lowpoly model to have it animated and UV mapped, but you may also need the highpoly subdivided version, with all the details intact, to clean it up or add new features, in a digital sculpting application.
A highres subdivided mesh is created, (starting from the retopologized model), and is "wrapped" on the original mesh's surface in order to recover all the fine details.
Furthermore, the subdivided mesh can be used to fully recover the intermediate subdivision levels for later use within applications like ZBrush or Mudbox.
The Morpher Feature
Morpher is an extension which helps you bounce the modified reference mesh back to the scene geometry.
This way you can basically review the highpoly sculpting process after the lowpoly retopologized version was created.
It's very useful for those situations when the artist gets feedback for a highres sculpt, but has already created a lowpoly retopology. The retopology proces becomes more linear, since he can later transfer the modifications done to the sculpt back on the retopologized lowpoly mesh.
Another use case is when a digital sculpt is created from an existing one (a head, for example).
If a lowpoly version is already available too and even if an animation rig was created for it, adapting the vertices positions to reflect the changes on the original sculpture is now possible, with the Morpher feature.
The Morpher can also be used for creating lowpoly versions of digitally sculpted blendshapes or for posing lowpoly geometries like their corresponding highpoly references.