May 10, 2014

New Autodesk Mudbox 3D Modeling Software Empowers Indies for $10 a Month

autodesk mudbox 10 dollar monthly subscription perpetual license software 3d modelling animation design sculptingAdobe's move to CC and a "software as a service" model is still met with much controversy. This is in no small part due to the lack of any perpetual license ownership choice for those (many) who want one. Such is not the case with Autodesk's release of Mudbox 2015, a powerful CG 3D sculpting tool originally developed by artists of Weta Digital for Peter Jackson's King Kong. This release comes with the option of a subscription -- starting at $10 per month and scaling out to an annual plan -- as well as the option for a traditional perpetual license. Read on for more on Mudbox 2015 and Autodesk's Desktop Subscription plans.

Autodesk Mudbox 2015

Autodesk is the developer of industry standard design tool AutoCAD, as well as the widely used 3D modelling & animation programs Maya and 3ds Max. Having earned an Academy Award for its Technical Achievements, Mudbox complements the modeling aspect of such programs with its specialized 3D sculpting and digital painting capabilities.

As part of an ongoing commitment to equip indie game makers and artists with powerful, accessible 3D tools, Autodesk announced that its Mudbox 2015 digital painting and 3D sculpting software is now available as a Desktop Subscription license for $10 USD a month.

Of course, game developers aren't the only "indies" Mudbox can empower -- the software was originally developed for use in film visual effects, after all. Here are some of Mudbox 2015's features, with the following videos showcasing "symmetry options for retopology, efficient layer grouping, & enhanced interoperability with Maya for Ptex," respectively:

Obviously Mudbox is a tool for use in a chain -- it's not like you're getting an end-to-end 3D package for $10 a month -- but it's still a powerful one with a unique place in that chain. Now, it's also a tool widely accessible to even more artists than ever before.

Autodesk Desktop Subscription

As mentioned, Mudbox 2015 is available for $10 monthly, but also goes for $250 annually or $500 for outright purchase. This pricing actually puts monthly subscribers at a kind of advantage -- the uncrippled 30-day free trial may be enough for new users to get into using Mudbox, but it would still take them another 50 months (over 4 years) to pay the $500 of an all-at-once purchase. The flip side of the coin would be reaching that mark and realizing you could've paid up front and owned the software forever instead of starting at "square one" after 4 years, having shelled out $500 anyway. Updates and upgrades can complicate matters and make this kind of budgeting a bit murkier, but in any case, these prices seem reasonable enough for serious consideration by those in the 3D animation or VFX fields.

In terms of its Desktop Subscription options, here's how Autodesk breaks down [PDF] the payment-plans available. Note that, because it retails for much less than something like 3ds Max or Maya, the quarterly pay-as-you-go option isn't available for Mudbox:

autodesk mudbox 10 dollar monthly subscription perpetual license payment plans software 3d modelling animation design sculpting2

With this variety of subscription schemes, Autodesk allows flexibility in getting the best bang for your buck over whatever time frame you may be dealing with. This seems to make quite a bit of sense -- especially since those who would benefit from an all-at-once purchase still have that option. Desktop Subscription extends to 3ds Max and Maya, which retail for about $3700 each. Alternatively, either can be rented for $200 a month or $600 quarterly.

Ultimately I think more and more software will start to offer "monthly rental" options, which could help put powerful tools in the hands of more artists. The caveats of a subscription only model have been articulated quite a bit, but given the option for permanent licensing as well, many of those downsides are alleviated. If more software packages do become available "as a service," a best-of-both-worlds approach like Autodesk's here may result in happier users -- and probably more of them -- across the board. For a more in-depth exploration of Mudbox's features, and Desktop Subscription pricing information, check out the links below.

What do you guys think? How does this multi-option approach to licensing compare to what you want as a software user?


Your Comment


The option to go for a permanent licence if you want it strikes me as the civilised way to do it (if they don't pull it later on !).

May 10, 2014 at 8:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


And why would I consider working with mudbox instead of Maya, C4D, 3D Max, and or my beloved blender?

May 10, 2014 at 9:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


mudbox is a sculpting and texturing tool. It's like photoshop, but for 3d.

May 10, 2014 at 10:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

Alex Mand

Mudbox's only competitor is ZBrush.

May 11, 2014 at 4:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


M... I see. In the end, there is nothing really special about it. "It is there... But you don't have to use it"

Again, as DLD said, their rental price tag is not justified. And having to deal with a completely new 3D software from scratch is really a heavy task. If any of you see something interesting I'm not noticing, let me know, so I can give it a try. Is that, or Mudbox will have to come with something out of the box for already 3D Modelists such as I.

May 11, 2014 at 3:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


Well, it's not meant for modeling but for sculpiting. Of course you can create a low poly version from it and the normal map, so you can render it without problems on maya (the one I use). Texturing can be a pain in the arse with photoshop, but using ptex methods you can texture directly on the model with realtime feedback with a faster workflow. You can do it also on Zbrush, but i really enjoy Mudbox's workflow. Simple and yet efficient.

May 11, 2014 at 7:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

Alex Mand

I see what you mean about texturing. (Notes that Blender can also texture directly on the model in real time).

Right... Maybe I'll put Mudbox on my to do list. Thanks Alex.

May 12, 2014 at 9:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


Mudbox has been around for a while, it's not a change in the program but a change in the pay structure that people are actually concerned about.

May 15, 2014 at 6:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


Mudbox is a sculpting tool, not a modelling tool. It is used to refine models made in Maya etc and add things like wrinkles, scratches and all the fine detail stuff for high-poly models. In games, that’s then used to produce a normal map. I think that’s it anyway.

May 10, 2014 at 9:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


I don't get the Mudbox rental fee structure - $10/mo but $250/Y, which is the double of a monthly rate?

If the purchase price is $500 and it's based on some sort of a 4-year breakeven point with the rental rate, then the annual rate should be around $100.

May 10, 2014 at 11:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


Now we just need Cinema 4D to join in on this.

May 12, 2014 at 1:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


Nowadays we just need movies 3d to join on this.

May 23, 2014 at 5:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM