RetopoFlow - Retopology Tools for Blender

by CG Cookie in Scripts and Addons

AAA Games and Films Need AAA Topology

A clean mesh with good topology is an essential part high-quality models. Not only is clean topology easier to work with, a good mesh is easier to rig, animation deformation is improved, the texturing process is made simpler - and most of all, it provides an optimized mesh that increases performance across the board.

When using sculpting to create highly detailed models the retopology process is also an unavoidable one. 

But it’s no secret that most artists don’t enjoy retopology. Let’s face it: retopology can be tedious and a frustrating process.

“Stop stressing about retopology, it’s easy now”

While great modeling tools, Blender’s native toolset isn't designed for retopology; it was created with free-form polygonal modeling in mind. This leads to a slow retopology workflow with lots of pitfalls, primarily due to a lack of universal surface-snapping. Blenders shrinkwrap and face snapping tools only get you so far.

Stop dreading your wireframe renders

If you’re no fan of retopology but want to create clean and professional models, meet RetopoFlow. 

This retopology suite for Blender helps you create clean topology in minutes versus hours, and no more painful and slow process. Instead, focus where it counts: your mesh flow and final topology.

RetopoFlow will help you create smooth, efficient, and effective models for AAA quality versions of your detailed sculpts.

RetopoFlow does for retopology what sculpting did for modeling. This retopology suite turns a difficult and technical process into a smooth, artistic flow so you can create professional models in less time than ever. 

No more manual creating retopology. RetopoFlow lets you to draw geometry onto the surface of your high-res model.

I can say with confidence that on a character model, RetopoFlow will save you hours and hours of work. 

- Jonathan Williamson, Blender artist and RetopoFlow co-creator


A unified suite retopology tools

RetopoFlow 2 provides a powerful set of unified tools that all work side-by-side within a new retopology mode, creating a seamless workflow.

Contours: stroke-based retopo for cylindrical forms

The Contours tool gives you a quick and easy way to retopologize cylindrical forms. For example, it’s ideal for organic forms, such as arms, legs, tentacles, tails, horns, etc.

The tool works by drawing strokes perpendicular to the form to define the contour of the shape. Immediately upon drawing the first stroke, a preview mesh is generated, showing you exactly what you’ll get. You can draw as many strokes as you like, in any order, from any direction.

  • New in 2.0: symmetry support for Contours for torsos and similar forms


PolyPen: vertex-by-vertex creation for absolute control

The PolyPen provides everything you need for fast retopology in those scenarios where you need absolute control of every vertex position (e.g. low poly game models). This tool lets you insert vertices, extrude edges, fill faces, and transform the subsequent geometry all within one tool and in just a few clicks.  

  • New in 2.0: pre-visualization for precision and absolute mesh control


PolyStrips: quad strips for complex topology flow

The Polystrips tool provides quick and easy ways to create the key face loops needed to retopologize a complex model. For example, if you need to retopologize a human face, creatures, or any other complex organic; hard-surface object.

Polystrips works by hand drawing strokes on to the high-resolution object. The strokes are instantly converted into spline-based strips of polygons, which can be used to quickly map out the key topology flow. Clean mesh previews are generated on the fly, showing you the exact mesh that’ll be created.

  • New in 2.0: manipulate any strip of quads as a PolyStrip, including curve adjustments and segment count changes


Strokes: fill surfaces with a single stroke

Extrude selections with fast strokes and quickly fill areas with quads from a single stroke.

  • New in 2.0: brand new tool!

Patches: fill large areas with even quads

Use Patches to grid-fill large areas with selection-based filling, complete with pre-visualization, making tweaks fast and easy.

  • New in 2.0: Patches is now a dedicated tool with more control, yet simpler workflows.


Loops

Use the Loops tool to slide edges and insert new edge loops into existing face loops. All new loops are automatically snapped to the surface.

  • New in 2.0: insert and slide loops within a single tool


Tweak and Relax

The Tweak and Relax tools provide a brush-based system for quickly repositioning geometry and smoothing meshes with a fast, sculpting-like workflow.

  • New in 2.0: Tweak and Relax are now dedicated tools with better algorithms and features


Universal surface snapping

RetopoFlow provides universal surface snapping, meaning that everything you do automatically snaps the new or selected geometry to the surface of your high-resolution source object(s).

Add a new strip of polygons with Polystrips? Snapped to the surface. Create circular rings of edges around an arm with Contours? The mesh is instantly conformed to the surface.

No Shrinkwrap or Face snapping needed!


How is v2 different from v1?

Version 2 is a complete re-write from the ground up. A lot has changed but here's a summary of top 5 high-impact changes:

  1. Seamlessly switch between RetopoFlow tools through the new unified Retopology Mode

  2. Introduces the Strokes tool for fast grid fills and stroke-based extrusions

  3. Never lose your work, thanks to native mesh generation and background auto-save

  4. Work with any existing target mesh or start from scratch

  5. Retopologize your complete model within RetopoFlow


More features in RetopoFlow 2

Version 2 is a complete rewrite of RetopoFlow, bringing with it a whole slew of other features and improvements:

  • Beautiful Viewport-based UI, keeping your tools right at hand while enabling full-screen workspaces.

  • Full XYZ symmetry support with mesh visualization.

  • View Options and Mesh Visibility settings for adjusting mesh display for good visibility, no matter the project.

  • Built-in General and Tool Help, just a keypress away with F1 and F2.

  • Rewritten from the ground up for dramatic performance improvements, unification, and cleaner code (making future updates and new tools much easier to implement)



What professional artists have to say

Retopoflow 2.0 is a great update to the Retopoflow addon. It is in fact so packed with features that it can be compared with some standalone retopology applications. The friendly interface and quick help makes it easy and fun to create manual retopology. Fantastic job by the amazing developers over at CG Cookie! 

- Daniel Bystedt of Goodbye Kansas Studios


You guys are creating one of the most valuable tools this entire CG industry, not Blender only, needs. Can't wait to see what RF 3.0 is gonna bring on the table. :) 

- Reynante Martinez, creator of Cycles Material Vault


Changelog

Version 2.0.3

  • Hiding RF buttons in 3D View panel to improve overall performance when Region Overlap is disabled
  • Visualizing target geometry counts in bottom right corner
  • Improved target rendering by constraining normal offset
  • Only showing "small clip start" alert once per Blender run rather than once per RetopoFlow run
  • By default, the options for unselected tools are hidden (can disable Options > General > Tool Options > Auto Hide Options).
  • Overall stability improvements


Version 2.0.2

  • Various bug fixes
  • SHIFT+F1 now opens General Help
  • Minor UI improvements


Version 2.0.1

  • Internationalization no longer breaks navigation! RetopoFlow now has full support for languages other than English.
  • Improve Help docs for all tools and new ability to View All Help Documents without requiring tool switching
  • Improve type rendering via monospaced font that now matches Blender's type font
  • Exposed the Select Distance option under General
  • Added Merge Distance option for Polypen
  • Improved tool tips for all tools
  • Many other small fixes and improvements


Version 2.0

  • Complete rewrite from the ground up with unified tools and many new features!


Version 1.3.2

  • Minor update to the Add-on Updater code, preparing for v2.0 release


Version 1.3.1

  • Source and Target object transforms no longer break tool workflow, enabling you to retopologized rotated and scaled objects finally.
  • Polystrips and Polypen mesh drawing has been improved, such that the geometry always draws on top of the surface correctly
  • Help text no longer overlaps the background when using Blender's Region Overlap
  • Polystrip patches now fill correctly on cross junctions where it'd previously fail: before, after
  • Fixed issue where some patches would go haywire when the strip connected back to its self
  • Contours will no longer crash when sliding a loop over a hole in the source mesh
  • Dramatically improved surface snapping on meshes with dense geometry containing concave faces (such as dynamic topology models): before, after
  • Fixed an issue where canceling a Contours loop transform would result in a twisted loop
  • Fixed a nasty bug that caused a fatal crash during Polypen if you zoomed the camera inside the source object.


Version 1.3.0

  • Introduce the Add-on Updater! New versions beyond 1.3.0 will now be installable right from within Blender.


Version 1.2.5

  • Fixed issue where Bezier objects in the scene caused a crash
  • Tweaked color saturation for Polypen meshes, improving disability. 


Version 1.2.4

  • Fixed display issue where Polystrips would draw under the source surface in orthographic view
  • Fixed issue with Polypen creating twisted faces when created at sharp angles


Version 1.2.3

  • Fixed bug that broke Polypen on second vertex insertion


Version 1.2.2

  • Added ability to dissolve 2-valance vertices (vertices with only two edges connected) in Polypen
  • Fixed bad crash on loading a new file while RetopoFlow enabled
  • Fixed forcing view into wireframe when starting tools
  • Fixed Polypen vertex-insert only inserting into the middle of the clicked edge; now inserts at the point of click
  • Improved undo in Polystrips, now better tracks selection and restores to the proper state
  • Greatly improved Polystrips rendering; now based on dynamic distance from object to view
  • Fixed Polypen failing and causing mayhem in Local View
  • Fixed some issues with Polystrips going askew when working on scaled objects
  • Fixed undo in Tweak not taking effect immediately
  • Fixed hidden geometry being selectable in Polypen
  • Fixed vertices and edges not being properly occluded when hidden in Polypen
  • Fixed a few other misc issues


Version 1.2.1

  • Fixed a bad crash when creating a new file after the add-on was disabled


Version 1.2.0

  • PolyPen Tool: a new tool that enables easy creation of triangles, quads, and ngons in any formation
  • Polystrips is now able to create patches alongside existing geometry
  • Polystrip patches now support T-junctions on patch boundaries
  • New "Open Error Log" function to enable easier troubleshooting
  • Greatly improved error-handling, RetopoFlow tools will no longer crash upon errors
  • Improved the drawing style of Polystrips and Tweak geometry
  • Added support for Retina/4k displays
  • Greatly improved Polystrip behavior on thin geometry
  • Added Blender 2.77 support for all tools, addressing API changes
  • Fix conflict when some other add-ons were enabled


Version 1.1.3

  • Fixed error in unregister function; used when the add-on is disabled.

Version 1.1.2

  • Fixed Tweak mode in Polystrips being broken
  • Improved handling of Source / Target objects to auto-clear setting when objects are deleted


Version 1.1.1

  • Tweak Tool Relax Mode: hold SHIFT while tweaking to relax vertices. Attempts to make faces square.
  • Improve Error Messages: many error messages were edited to be more artist-friendly and be more helpful
  • Polystrips now adds a Mirror Modifier at creation if X Symmetry is enabled
  • Added Recover Tip text to help panel(s) to help users recover work upon crashes
  • Removed Right Mouse Button as an operation cancel option, removing conflict with RMB navigation keymaps
  • Fix Polystrips and Contours not using Show X-Ray at Mesh Creation option
  • Fix for Junctions disappearing and becoming unselectable
  • Fix for source/target objects being deleted and causing Blender to crash on next operator start.


Version 1.1.0 - Requires Blender 2.76

  • 10-100x speed boost in most cases! The speed change is night and day difference.
  • Tweak Tool: easily tweak your new retopologized mesh with a brush tool, no selection needed, greatly improving workflow speed.
  • Loop Cut Tool: quickly add any number of surface-snapped loop cuts to your new mesh
  • Loop Slide Tool: slide edge loops along the surface of your source object, greatly improving workflow for snapping geometry from any angle. No Shrink-wrap needed.
  • Added Source and Target object functionality: retopology is no longer dependent on selection, making workflow more flexible and easier.
  • Polystrips Symmetry Visualization: symmetry can now be visualized and toggled with Shift + X in Polystrips.
  • New custom icons for all tools!
  • Refactored all tools into a much better structure, enabling simpler development and dramatically improving codebase organization
  • Brush size in Polystrips and Tweak now keeps its size across sessions
  • Fixed keymap conflicts with custom navigation controls
  • Fixed many, many misc bugs as part of the refactor.


Version 1.0.1

  • Custom icons for Polystrips and Contours (requires Blender 2.75+)
  • Improve Polystrips to use key_map.py file for easier customizability
  • Improved color theming for Contour Guides and Tweak tool
  • Disabled debug display of various elements of Contour Guides
  • Various misc fixes and typos


Version 1.0.0 - initial release