VDM General Advice

General Advice About Alpha 3D and VDM

This section contains assorted information about Alpha 3D and the associated VDM feature. These items are important to consider when you are creating or using such brushes.


  • When creating an Alpha 3D, select the Standard Brush or the Chisel3D/Layer brush based on the results that you wish to achieve. The Layer/Chisel Brush will produce results closer to the original model stored in the brush. The Stan­dard Brush will produce a result closer to that of a standard 2D alpha.
  • When creating your VDM on a grid, it is advised to work with subdivision levels. Just as with regular sculpting, going up and down in levels during the creation process will bring you more flexibility than trying to work with a fixed resolution.
  • The border of the grid defines elevation level 0 for the brush. You can push and pull the mesh during VDM creation to create parts which will cut into or extend out from the surface when using the Alpha 3D.
  • Because VDMs store mesh data, avoid using unnecessary subdivision levels. High resolution VDMs may make brush strokes slow. High resolution VDMs also result in brushes with a large file size.
  • During the creation process, try to use as much of the grid area as possible. This will give better polygon distribution and avoid the need for too many sub­division levels.
  • When sculpting, it can be very easy to accidentally deform the border of the grid. Masking the sculpted parts of the grid model and then using Deformation >> Morph to Grid will adjust the edges to be perfectly square again. However, it can also create steps along the boundary between the sculpted areas and the edges. You may need to smooth and redo the operation multiple times to get a nice transition.
  • Instead of fixing the edges after sculpting, you can avoid affecting the edges in the first place by masking the borders of the grid before you begin sculpting. Be sure to clear the mask before subdividing the model and then reapply the mask after – otherwise you will get triangles along the edges of the masked area.
  • If you need to delete subdivision levels in order to use functions like the Gizmo 3D Deformers to bend or twist, you will need to reconstruct those levels before you can use Deformations >> Morph to Grid. You can reconstruct the subdivi­sion levels with Tool >> Geometry >> Recontruct Subdiv.


  • When using an Alpha 3D brush, don’t forget that you can use different Stroke settings. For example, if you create a Dragon scale VDM you can combine it with the Stroke >> Dots stroke and a Stroke >> Lazy Mouse >> Lazy Step value close to 1. This would create strips of scales.
  • Keep in mind that the VDM will deform the existing topology based on the shape stored in the brush. Depending on your brush radius and the actual stroke that you make, this can widely stretch other details close to your stroke.
  • The standard alpha settings found in Alpha >> Modify have no effect on a VDM.