Marvelous-D, road-tested


Chat Sofa / Carlo Colombo

I had read about Marvelous Designer in a review by 3DWorld some months ago and remember being intrigued. But it wasn’t until Kizo posted on ronenbekerman about the application’s potential for furniture-modelling that I decided to visit their site and download the 30-day trial.

MD is a CG cloth-making app that allows the user to cut cloth patterns as fashion designers would before draping and sewing them around an “avatar” (an A-posed character). For our purpose, however, MD is first and foremost an amazing cloth simulation engine, with striking real-time capability. Although it evokes 3ds Max’s garment maker and seems based on similar principles, its engine is incredibly fast and allows real-time interactions (pulling and pushing of the cloth while draping).

Above and below are examples of what I came up with when trying to apply MD’s tools to furniture making. Since this is not what the app was developed for, this involves quite a few steps and workarounds.

MD is good for draping cloth around objects, but it won’t help you for things like cushions and pillows. So I first defined the base shape in Max, using simple volumes that were given some puffiness and a degree of “weight” using Max’s own cloth tools (see here about how to blow things in Max).

I then imported the model in MD as an .obj and proceeded to dress it up – very much like you would wrap a pillowcase around a pillow. Attempting to drape fabric around individual cushions when they are so tightly squeezed together will send any simulation engine into the computing equivalent of mental breakdown. Not a problem here, though, since MD supports .obj as Morph Targets. Just prepare an “exploded view” of your base mesh, drape it in MD, then import your original base mesh (making sure to tell MD it is a morph, not a new avatar) and MD will animate between the two .obj over a set number of frames, allowing the cloth to fall into place as nature intended it to.

There are still limitations: the engine is very fast when dealing with a single avatar but struggles when faced with a bigger number of collision objects and interacting cloth pieces. In this case, I had to run four separate simulations to complete the sofa while retaining reasonable simulation speed.

Another limitation is that MD (like Garment Maker) only outputs tris. Without quad output, MD’s meshes cannot be further subdivided in Max, nor can they be properly sculpted in ZBrush, and they need to be very high-poly (something that can be set within MD’s simulation engine) in order to render without artefacts. I worked around this problem by importing the original 1.8m-poly mesh into ZBrush and using its excellent decimation plugin to bring it back to a much more civilised 300,000 without any visible loss of detail.

Lastly, although MD outputs decent UVs out-of-the-box, these are not necessarily scaled properly, meaning that some parts of the same cloth object could have completely different-scaled UVs. These cannot be easily rescaled either since the islands are overlapping and not properly separated by seams.

Arguably these could all have to do with my incompetence as I have not explored all the myriad settings the software offer.

All in all, MD certainly has the potential to revolutionise soft-furniture-making in CG by allowing things that just not were possible before without an enormous amount of tweaks and trickery.

Here are a few more images of the sofa. The design was inspired by Carlo Colombo’s chat sofa, with some liberties taken. The interior above was inspired by David Kohn’s Stable Acre (more views of this one to come soon). I used GrowFX for the twigs and ForestPro for the deep-pile carpet.

Chat Sofa / Carlo Colombo

Chat Sofa / Carlo Colombo

Chat Sofa / Carlo Colombo

31 Responses

  1. Juan says:

    hi there!
    very excellent work! i just discovered MD recently and I would say that this software is really powerful and amazing, right now I’m still on my way of exploring the thing and I found this work of yours really inspiring. I would like to know how did you achieve those perfect random folds or wrinkles in front of your cushions. I’ve been trying to get the same effect, but it wont give me the same results.
    Anyway thanks so much for this post, it really inspires me a lot!
    Looking forward to see more works of Yours!

  2. Pal Dahk says:

    Very beautifolu work!!!
    I, will ask you one thing if is possible. I know that you use marvelosu design for cloth, and teh resoult is amazing. I have taste this program and is very easy and fast. But the problem is the geometry…is not very clean if I exported.
    Have you make a retopology? Thank you. Pal Dahl

  3. arczi says:

    Tricky, thanks! :) works great!

    i was trying to do it again only in MD but it wasn’t satisfying for me.
    firstly i imported the obj file, drap the cloth around it, position the mesh on the couch and change the simulation and cloth parameters (Time step to 0.013 , air dumping more than 500, and lower the density in the cloth).
    After simulation the pillow has its volume but it’s hard to control the final result (flated or inflated).

    Maybe this method has some potential but i need to play more with dumping and density values:)


  4. BBB3VIZ says:

    Good question. The pillows are created with a first cloth simulation in Max using the “pressure” paramter to inflate them. I then export two versions of the scene (before and after the end of the simulation) and import them in MD as morph targets. This allows me to position the pillowcase around the undeformed pillow and then let it fall just right as the pillow goes through its simulated fall. Once you are done, you can keep the pillowcase and get rid of the pillow mesh.

  5. arczi says:


    First of all, great work!
    I’ve got a question. Do you simulate pillows which fall on the couch in the MD? i can drap a pillow on a imported obj but later on i don’t know how to simulate pillow within it’s volume..

    Thanks in advance!!

  6. kopengo says:

    hi, fantastic work with MD!!
    do i have to look for the units? i always work in meters in Max.
    When trying to fall down a blanket over my imported bad in MD, it doesnt work very well.
    i dont know which settings are important to get the blanket get enough crinkles.
    Can you help me with that?

  7. Dave says:

    Wow, really great job there! The idea of making this app into a pillow maker or blanket maker didn’t even occur to me… :) But I think I’ll try out the demo too! And I might add as well, I’d really like to see a great tutorial from you! Hats off.

  8. Juraj says:

    I would be very thankful if you wrote some short tutorial.
    What I am struggling with is wrapping the object with cloth. I put a volume body, than some points on it, but I can’t figure out what to do in order for garment to wrap aroung it, it merely falls down all the time, like blanket.

  9. Jakub Cech says:

    Really very user friendly program and damn fast. How have you achieved 1,8 M polys? Maximal particles distance in MD is 3 isn´t it? Have you used big scale?
    Thanks. Jakub

  10. MP says:

    I wanna know where do you download you texures for the sofa (are the ones in good enought) and how to you map them (box mapping or unwrap and the what about the tilling)
    P.S. If you know any good sites ever books were i could learn 3ds max cloth-ing would be a great help

    Thanks alot=)

  11. MP says:

    Thanks gret job as always. You really are one of the best in CG world=).
    I do have a question about the sofa material and the texture you have used. It would be a great help to me.

    P.S. Thanks also for the max article

  12. BBB3VIZ says:

    Hi Jophus. If you are talking about the model’s scale, no. That worked flawlessly. The basemesh was modelled in cm in Max and the clothed mesh came back from MD at exactly the same scale. So no beef at all there. The UVs are a different story, but I may be at fault here since I haven’t explored any of the material and UV settings in MD. Basically the UVs were kind of usable, but with some stretching, a great deal of overlapping and different scales for different islands. Plus the islands were not completely separated by seams, so impossible to select as such. Plus working in Max’s UV editor on an object that is a million poly+ is not fun. But again, all this is probably down to human error and I need to investigate these bits of MD some more.

  13. Jophus says:

    Were there any scaling issues with the model once exported back into Max? I’m assuming you cannot unwrap and create the texture after exporting back into Max do to the UV issues in MD, correct? Thanks.

  14. jpintor says:

    Thanks, this answer my question about UVs on Flickr. Very interesting.

    Thanks also for the max blowjobs article.

  15. jpintor says:

    Thanks, this answer my question about UVs on Flickr. Very interesting.

    Thanks also the max blowjobs article.

  16. arnaud says:

    Thanks for the answer, Ill give a go considering your tricks. I do go on the hint opened somewhere a while ago where you did mention living in teutonia. Weeks later you presented a berliner building, are you in berlin ?

  17. Arkin says:

    amazing stuff bertrand! your always looking for news ways to push the boundries of viz, this is some great stuff, will take a furthur look at this..

  18. BBB3VIZ says:

    thanks a lot Luk. unfortunately this one won’t hit TS anytime soon. the license for the trial version of MD doesn’t allow meshes to be resold. I now have a commercial licence of MD so expect to see MD models hitting TS soon, starting with the sofa.

  19. Luk says:

    it went out nicely, I be interested this programme some time this, they with success would can create the versions of programme for creating of every pieces of furniture, not only clothes. Very nice programme.
    The sofa will hit to your amazing on TS also – anyway one of the best collection, what is on TS.
    I greet.

  20. BBB3VIZ says:

    Hi Arnaud,
    Yes, it’s 2D displacement. 3D is just not really feasible with so much displaced surface. Getting the displacement to hug the corners is very tricky. First, flawlessly unwrapped UVs are an absolute must. Then you must play with the displacement and offset values, knowing that you will never completely eliminate all artefacts. It also helps if you have bevelled wall edges, though that complicates the unwrapping.

  21. arnaud says:


    Those furnitures look really great and natural ! I may give it a go soon, but I have a question about the first picture though. Its about your wall, how did you achieve the displacement ? 2D mapping with a tilable planar mapping ? Unwrap mapping ? Cause Im always running into artifacts when try to use displacement for surfaces like this ( especially corners or around windows frames ).

    Again, good pictures ;)

  22. BBB3VIZ says:

    Thanks a lot guys. Really enjoyed doing this.

    Thanks for the pointer Mike. There are so many features I still need to explore. I’ll check it out asap.

  23. Mike Venitius says:

    Nice review and excellent pictures of your work with this amazing software “Marvelous Designer”.

    You wrote this “… but it won’t help you for things like cushions and pillows …” . Please visit this topic in MD’s forum :
    Forum Topic: solidify pattern Video Tutorial by EZ


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