Learn the basics of using the Medium sculpt layers.

When you are working on a sculpt, you may want to work on one feature (such as your creature’s teeth) without affecting another feature (such as the creature’s jaw). In Medium, you can define “Layers” to contain discrete areas of your sculpt and work on them independently of one another.

Note:

  • In general, you can add any number of layers to the sculpt, within the memory limitations of your computer.
  • In general, the current tool affects only the active layer. Some tools, however, are intended to affect more than one layer (such as Move). In such cases, you can use the Settings menu for the tool to specify whether all layers or just the active layer are affected.

View Layers for the Current Sculpt

You can open the Scene Graph to see the layers in the current sculpt:

viewing-layers
View layers in the Scene Graph.

 

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward to open the Scene Graph. Layers have a layer icon on their node, and the active layer is highlighted in green.
  2. You can see the layer limit at the lower left of the Scene Graph panel, and how many layers are already in the scene.

Add Layers

To understand how layers work, start by adding some clay to your current scene with the Clay tool, or loading a sculpt from your library.

Next, add a new layer:

add-layer
Add a sculpt layer.

 

  1. Pull the Support hand  thumbstick backward.
  2. Select the Layer icon from the Add menu.
  3. The new layer appears in the Scene Graph, and is automatically designated the active layer (highlighted in green). New layers are added as Layer 2, Layer 3, and so on.
  4. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward again to hide the Scene Graph.

 

Set the Active Layer

As you add layers, you will invariably want to switch between one layer and another and two ways are:

  • Select the Active Layer from the Scene Graph.
  • Select the Active Layer Interactively (handy if you’ve created several layers but haven’t given them descriptive names yet).

To select the active layer:

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward and open the Scene Graph.

  2. Aim the Tool hand at the layer in the Scene Graph (Image 1) and squeeze the Tool hand triggerOR aim the tool had at the layer in the Scene (Image 2) and squeeze the Tool hand trigger.

    layer-select-1
    Image 1: Selecting a layer in the Scene Graph.
    layer-select-2
    Image 2: Selecting a layer directly in the scene.

    Selecting a layer makes it the active layer. Changes you make (such as adding or removing clay) are now made in that layer.

Hide and show Layers

Once you have more than one layer in your scene, you may want to hide some layers while you’re working on others. To hide one or more layers:

layer-visibility
Toggle layer visibility.

 

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward and open the Scene Graph.

  2. Aim the Tool hand at the “eye” icon next to the layer and squeeze the Tool hand trigger.

When the eye icon is crossed out, the layer is hidden; toggle the icon on or off to hide or show the selected layer.

You can also multi-select several layers and choose the visibility icon on the Action menu to hide/show all of the selected layers with one action.

Isolate layers and other scene nodes

layer-isolate
Isolate Layers

 

Isolating a layer or a scene node will hide all other scene objects and only show the isolated node. Your previous scene node visibility will be saved and you can restore this state by toggling isolate to off. The workflow is useful while editing a layer or a scene node that is occluded by other scene nodes.

Lock layers

layer-lock
Locking layers

 

If you have several layers you’ve built on top of each other or a mirror plane put in spot you don’t want to edit for a while, you can lock elements by clicking the “Lock” icon on the left of the element name. All elements, including layers, can be locked to stop them from being edited or manipulated as an individual object.

Duplicate Layers

You can make an exact duplicate of an existing layer; the duplicate will have the same name as the original but will have a higher numeric extension (for example, the duplicate of Layer 1 will be Layer 2 or Layer 3). You might want to make a duplicate to try out some specific techniques and compare the two versions, or to make a copy of an element you want to flip across the mirror axis when sculpting a symmetrical model.

To make an exact duplicate of a layer:

layer-duplicate
Duplicate layer

 

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward.
  2. Open the Scene Graph.
  3. Select the layer you want to duplicate.
  4. Select the Duplicate icon on the Actions menu.

 

Delete layers

If you want to completely remove a layer:

layer-delete
Delete a layer.

 

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward.
  2. Open the Scene Graph.
  3. Select the layer you want to delete.
  4. Select the Trash icon on the Actions menu.

 

Rename layers

As you add layers, you may want to clarify what each layer in the scene represents. To give a layer a new name:

layer-rename
Rename a layer.

 

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward.
  2. Open the Scene Graph.
  3. Select the layer you want to rename.
  4. Select the Rename button in the lower right corner of the Scene Graph.
  5. Enter a new name on the keyboard.

Merge layers

If you’ve worked in more than one layer and want to combine them:

layer-merge
Merge Layers

 

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward.
  2. Open the Scene Graph.
  3. Select the layers you want to combine.
  4. Select Merge from the Actions menu.

 

Note:

  • If the merged layers have different resolutions, they are combined at the highest resolution (to avoid any loss of detail).
  • If the layers have different materials, the merged layer uses the material of the highest layer on the layers list. For example, if Layer 1 is ‘red’ and Layer 2 is ‘blue’, the merged layer would be ‘red’).

Subtract layers

If you’ve worked in more than one layer, and there’s some overlap between the two, you may want to throw away the geometry that overlaps. To subtract one or more layers from another layer:

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward and open the Scene Graph.

  2. Select the layer you want to keep and select the layer or layers you want to subtract.

    layer-subtract-2
    Select the layer you would like to subtract.
  3. Select Subtract from the Actions menu.

    layer-subtract-1
    Subtract a layer.
    layer-subtract-3
    Subtracted layer results.

Intersect layers

Sometimes, you may want to create a shape from the intersection of two existing layers. To create a shape that contains only the overlap between the selected layers:

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward and open the Scene Graph.

  2. Select the overlapping layer or layers and select Intersect from the Actions menu.

    layer-intersect
    Intersecting layers
    layer-intersect-result
    After intersect, find the overlap between the two layers.

Flip a Layer Across the Mirror Plane

You may find that you want to “mirror” the content of a layer you’ve created across the mirror plane. Flipping a layer moves the clay across the mirror plane as if it were a reflection of the original. (You can Duplicate a layer and then Flip the copy across the mirror plane if you want to reproduce the same shape on both sides of your sculpt.)

To flip a layer:

layer-flip
Flip a layer across the Mirror Plane.

 

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward.
  2. Open the Scene Graph.
  3. Select the layer or layers you want to flip.
  4. Select Flip from the Actions menu.

 

layer-flip-2
Original arm
layer-flip-3
Arm duplicated and flipped across the Mirror Plane.

Center the content of a layer in its bounds

layer-center-bounds
Centering the layer within the bounding box.

 

Centers the contents of the layer within the bounding box. This feature is useful if you are butting up against one side of the bounding box and need a little more elbow room.

Layer Resolution

Increase layer resolution

While sculpting, you may find that certain fine details start to “break up.” To enable sculpting with a higher level of detail in a selected layer, you can increase its resolution.

To Increase the resolution of a Layer:

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward and open the Scene Graph.

  2. Select the layer whose resolution you want to increase or decrease.

  3. Select Increase Res (Image 1) from the Actions menu to increase the resolution of the layer, OR Select Decrease Res (Image 2) from the Actions menu to decrease the resolution of the layer.

    If you hover over the Increase Res command on the Actions menu, you’ll see a preview of the resolution change, represented by a regular arrangement of 3D boxes around the volume of your sculpt:

layer-resolution-increase
Image 1: Increase the resolution of a layer.
layer-resolution-decrease
Image 2: Decrease the resolution of a layer.
layer-resolution-visual
Layer resolution preview.

 

In general, you do not see much of a visual effect immediately after using Increase Resolution on a layer. However, after using the command you should be able to sculpt with a finer level of detail. For more information, see When to Increase Your Sculpt’s Resolution.

As you increase or decrease the resolution, the size of the boxes changes, to give you an idea on the level of detail.

Note:

  • Resolution can be different for each layer.
  • Increasing resolution uses more RAM in your machine. If increasing the resolution for a detailed sculpt would exceed the available RAM, Medium gives you a warning.
  • Increase resolution only for the layers where you need the additional detail; increasing the resolution for a relatively smooth layer can use up your computer’s RAM unnecessarily.

Decrease layer resolution

Decreasing resolution intelligently discards unnecessary information for the selected layers (for example, along regular surfaces) while trying to maintain the sculpt’s form. While you may have to initially increase the resolution of a layer to sculpt the fine detail you want, you may also find that you can later decrease the layer’s resolution after you’ve done so to reduce the memory footprint of your sculpt.

To decrease the resolution for a layer:

layer-decrease-res
Decrease resolution.

 

  1. Pull the Support hand thumbstick backward and open the Scene Graph.
  2. Select the layer whose resolution you want to decrease and select Decrease Res from the Actions menu.

Review your sculpt after decreasing its resolution. After using the command, you may see that certain areas have lost too much detail. You can Undo the action. For more information, see When to Decrease Your Layer Resolution.

Note:

Resolution can be different for each layer:

  • If decreasing resolution removes too much detail, use Undo to restore the higher resolution version.
  • If you’re working within a production pipeline, you might also choose to keep your original at a higher resolution, and then change the number of triangles when exporting your sculpt.

Understand sculpt layer resolution

When you sculpt, each layer has a given resolution. The layer’s resolution determines the level of detail you can add to that layer; the higher the resolution, the more detail supported. If one part of your sculpt does not require fine detail, you can sculpt at a lower resolution, and increase resolution only for those layers where you need more detail.

If you’ve worked in a 2D image-editing program, it may help to think in terms of increasing resolution for an image. Images with higher resolution have more pixels per unit of measurement than images with lower resolution. Increasing the resolution of a layer enables you to sculpt with greater level of detail.

Note:

Increasing the resolution of a layer requires more RAM on your system. Medium notifies you if increasing the resolution of a layer would require more memory than your system has.

When to Increase Your Layer Resolution

You may find that your sculpt starts to break apart when you’re trying to add detail, particularly when you use tools such as Move or Swirl, which can increase the resolution for the layer. Consider what might happen if you rotate the end of a tendril on a dragon’s face:

when-to-increase-res-1
Stretching clay at low resolution.
when-to-increase-res-2
Clay breaking due to low resolution.

If you zoom in, you see debris from where the surface broke (Image 1). To prevent the issue, increase the resolution of the layer you are working on. After increasing the layers resolution, when you begin sculpting again, the same gesture can now be supported and results in a continuous surface (Image 2).

default-resolution
Image 1: Sculpting fine detail at default resolution.
increased-resolution
Image 2: Sculpting detail after increasing the layer’s resolution

When to Decrease Your Sculpt’s Resolution

While increasing a layer’s resolution happens for artistic reasons, decreasing its resolution is typically done only when your computer is running low on memory. As mentioned above, each time you increase the resolution for your sculpt, it uses more of your machine’s available RAM.

If Medium warns you that it is running out of memory, decrease the resolution for a layer, evaluate whether the loss in resolution affects its surface fidelity. Often, reducing the resolution one time may be acceptable:

decrease-resolution-1
Dragon head, high resolution.
decrease-resolution-2
Dragon head, low resolution.

In the sample images above, note the loss of some fine detail and surface texture. Depending on the surface characteristics of your model, decreasing a layer’s resolution may be an acceptable option when you run into memory limits.

Note:

The decrease resolution operation can be undone if the reduction removes too much detail.

The Layer Bounding Box

The bounding box helps you visualize your layer resolution. Keep the size of the bounding box in mind when you start your sculpt, to make sure you don’t start at too large a scale.

bounding-box-1
Layer bounding box.
  • As you move your sculpt around, you may notice the thin outlines of a “bounding box” around it.
bounding-box-2
Sculpt outside of bounding box.
  • The bounding box defines the area in which you can sculpt; think of it as your 3D canvas. If your stroke runs into one of the sides of the bounding box, it will stop and you’ll see something like this.

What's Next?

Now that you have learned about Using Sculpt Layers in Medium, check out how to use Stamps next.

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