Software Draws on Technology from Modo and Nuke As Company Commits to Design Market

If you've been wondering what would come of The Foundry's acquisition of Luxology, here's your answer: Colorway, a new software tool for designers.

Unveiled yesterday, Colorway draws on technology inside Modo and Nuke to create a clever, streamlined pipeline for design iteration — specifically, the ability to make quick color changes based on client feedback without going back to re-render an image. The workflow won't necessarily be impressive to VFX pros, whose compositing workflows often already accommodate iterative render passes. But it does show that The Foundry has designs on a new market. 

"What you're going to see today is really just the beginning," promised Brad Peebler during a Foundry event introducing the new software. "It represents the first true cross-pollination from Modo to Nuke internally at The Foundry, leveraging the knowledge and the technology across 3D and 2D to create comething brand new specifically for designers. This shows our true commitment as a company to the design market."

Tutorial: From 3D to Colorway

Colorway actually has several components. First, there is the Colorway Kit, a plug-in for 3D modeling applications that allows designers to specify which parts of an image, either materials or lights, are subject to change after the initial render has completed. This is done using a special button that appears in the UI and allows designers to bring up a pop-up menu of Colorway options and commands. The image must then be rendered out in the Colorway format by choosing the "Render Scene for Colorway" option. "That does take a little bit more time up front, but by the time you make three or four variations you've more than made up for it, believe me," said Matt Brealey, The Foundry's Colorway product manager. (The Colorway Kit currently supports Modo 801, but a Cinema 4D version is on the way, Brealey said.)

Next, the scene is edited in Colorway, an application with a very simple UI — basically a large image displayed in the middle of the screen with a few icons at the bottom. (The interface is reminiscent of a simple iPhone photo-editing app.) Sidebars are available that show which parts of the model are adjustable, as well as which lights can be adjusted, along with "M" and "S" buttons that allow designers to "mute" or "solo" individual lights to see how they interact in the finished image, with all changes displayed instantly. When a part is selected in the actual image, a color wheel pops up allowing the designer to build a palette of colors for that item.

↑ Tutorial: Colorway Presenter

This allows the designer to specify the options avilable to the client in a viewing application called Colorway Presenter, which is available for Windows and OS X, with an iOS version on the way. For example, the designer can limit the client's available color selections to reflect only the materials that will be available to make the physical object. The client makes the color decisions based on the options available, then returns a small file via email that allows the designer to review the looks in Colorway, and then import them into the original 3D program for the final, high-resolution renders.

Those are the basics, but if you want to see the program in action, The Foundry's official product announcement is available for streaming online in a video presentation that includes a demo beginning at the 20-minute mark. The Foundry's product page includes more information.

Colorway is available now, but only in a free trial version. Officials at The Foundry say they haven't yet decided how much it will cost, but it's available for anyone to play with at no charge until the commercial release, which is scheduled to take place sometime later this year.