SHAPES Brush is plug-in for Maya intended to bring additional sculpting tools to Maya which have been missing prior Maya 2016.

With the introduction of the sculpting tools in Maya 2016 the need for the SHAPES Brush might not be obvious anymore but it brings some functionality to Maya which the default tools are still missing.

The general handling of the SHAPES Brush is different from a regular sculpting brush as the area which is affected by the brush doesn’t move with the brush stroke but rather stays until the mouse button is pressed the next time. Therefore the brush can be seen rather as an editing tool than a sculpting tool.

SHAPESBrush is under the terms of the MIT License

All files of the toolset are combined as a module. This allows for an easy installation and keeps all necessary files in one location.

To install unzip the download and drag the provided in the main Maya window. Depending on the type of chosen installation all files will be created and placed automatically. Also a log file will be created documenting the installation.

If you need help during the installation see the included installation guide which can also be opened from the installer window.

After the installation restart Maya. The Modify menu in the main menu bar now contains the menu item SHAPES Brush Tool.

When properly installed the modify menu in the main Maya menu bar contains the new menu item named SHAPES Brush Tool.

Activate the tool and click on the mesh. If the mesh is not already selected the tool performs the selection. LMB-drag on the mesh to drag the mesh. Hold the Ctrl-key to perform the secondary action of the current brush type.

Open the tool settings to select a different type of brush or adjust the settings. From the tool settings window it’s also possible to set up a hotkey for the tool for easy access.

The brush circle only displays when the mouse button is pressed. This is due to a missing Qt implementation and still needs to be addressed.

  • Smoothing: Shift-drag the mouse to smooth the mesh.
  • Secondary Brush: Ctrl-drag to use the secondary tool.
  • Brush size: MMB-drag the mouse left or right to adjust the size of the brush.
  • Smooth strength: MMB-Shift-drag the mouse up or down to adjust the smoothing strength of the brush.
  • Secondary strength: MMB-Ctrl-drag the mouse up or down to adjust the strength of the secondary tool.

SHAPES Brush features eight different brushes.
Each brush has three different functions, depending on whether no modifier key is used (Grab), SHIFT is held down (Smooth), or CTRL, which defines a different action depending on the brush:

Grab brush
Lets you to drag the mesh in screen space.

Smooth Brush
While holding down SHIFT the smoothing brush is activated. Smoothing is by default taking place as a relax function, which tries to keep the general volume of the mesh without shrinking effects.
If relax is turned off the smoothing will also shrink the mesh. The strength of the smoothing can be adjusted.

CTRL functions based on the different brush modes:

Slide Brush
Allows you to move the mesh while keeping the underlying shape. Note, that the sliding is projection based, so if the brush size is set too large, geometry facing away from the camera (or in enclosed spaces) can be badly projected. This can result in stray vertices and is usually not desired. The general goal would be to set the brush size for sliding not too large and work in iterations.

Pull/Push Brush
Lets you pull the mesh out along the normals while dragging the mouse. To push the vertices use the invert setting.

Twist Brush
Lets you twist the mesh around the view axis while dragging the mouse.

Blend Brush
Allows you to blend to a secondary mesh which previously has been set through the tool settings. Choose the blend brush and while holding down CTRL blends to the secondary mesh.

Erase Brush
Lets you brush your mesh back to it’s original state it was in when you began to start sculpting. The mesh is remembered as long as you don’t pick a different mesh and sculpt on that one.
Use the buttons in the tool settings window for additional options:

  • Flood Erase erases all modifications since the sculpting started and returns the mesh to the initial state.
  • Flush Cache erases any edits from the cache and bakes the current shape to the mesh. This can serve as a new initial state you can then erase back to.

Freeze Brush
Paint freeze areas to protect these parts of the mesh from any sculpting influence. Choosing this brush switches to the default Maya paint vertex color tool. Use the SHAPES Brush marking menu to switch back or access settings.

Erase Freeze Brush
Erases the previously frozen areas and makes them again respond to the action of the other sculpting brushes. Choosing this brush switches to the default Maya paint vertex color tool. Use the SHAPES Brush marking menu to switch back or access settings.

  • Size: The size of the brush in world units.
  • Strength: The strength of the smoothing effect.
  • Secondary Strength: The strength of the secondary tool.
  • Invert Pull: Invert the affect of the pull brush to push vertices along the normal direction.
  • Relax: When enabled the general volume of the mesh is maintained during smoothing. Use Shift+Ctrl to smooth based on the reference mesh set in advance through the tool settings.
  • Use Plane: Restricts the grab brush to a 2D plane depending on the view. The value defines the threshold angle at which the 2D restriction is turned off when leaving a primary 2D view.
  • Depth: Define at which depth the brush affects the mesh. The default value of 1 means that the foremost visible surface of the mesh is edited. If only the backside of the mesh should be considered in a non-overlapping mesh this value should be set to 2.
  • Volume: When enabled the editing is based on volume. When off the editing is based on the connected neighbours in surface mode.
  • Erase Flood: Erase the currently cached edits for the entire mesh.
  • Erase Flush Cache: Clear the erase cache. This sets a new starting point for the erase brush.
  • Freeze Invert: Invert the affect of the freeze brush.
  • Un-Freeze: Unfreeze the entire mesh. All freeze data will be cleared.
  • Symmetry: When enabled all editing is performed symmetrical, if possible.
  • Symmetry Tolerance: Sets the tolerance value for finding symmetry vertices. If not all symmetry vertices are affected during editing a higher value should be chosen. A value of 0 activates the automatic tolerance which is calculated through the average edge length.
  • Blend Mesh: Use the selected mesh as the target shape to blend to with the blend brush.
  • Smooth Reference Mesh: Use the selected mesh as the reference shape for smoothing. The mesh needs to be at the same position as the modeling mesh but can be hidden.
  • Draw Brush: Displays the brush circle while smoothing.
  • Brush Color: Sets the brush circle color.
  • Line Width: Sets the line width of the brush circle.
  • Show Wireframe: Displays the wireframe for the mesh when editing.
  • In-View Message: Displays the in-view message when the brush is active. The message also displays the names of the blend or smoothing meshes, if  these have been set.
  • Tool Tips: Display the tooltips for the toll settings window.

It is recommended to set up the brush marking menu with a hotkey to easily access major settings and functions. The hotkey can be set up from the hotkey section of the tool settings window.

First preview version.

Feature overview of version 1.0.

Feature preview for version 1.2.