Hexagon 2.5 is a great piece of software, though not without niggles that can make it frustrating for some users. Its biggest selling point will be the compatibility (via a bridge) with DAZ Studio. If you want to make clothing or props for DS and Poser figures, it’s well worth a look.
Let’s start with the basics…
What can I do with Hexagon 2.5?
Hexagon will allow you to make 3D models. It’s most often used to make models for use in DAZ Studio and Poser, but as you can export your objects in the Wavefront .obj format you can use them in any software that accepts .obj.
What can I make?
Just about anything you can imagine! Skilled Hexagon users create everything from human figures to large scale environments and architecture (the linked to artist uses Hexagon 2.5 to create the impressive models you see in his store).
How much does Hexagon cost and is it worth it?
For the past year, Hexagon 2.5 has been priced at $19.95 in US Dollars — but is frequently on sale. Join the Platinum Club to get an instant 30% discount. During sales, you can get an even bigger discount.
At that price, it’s well worth giving Hexagon a go to see whether it suits your needs.
What functionality does it have?
OK, well most importantly, you can create models using polygons. The output of Hexagon will be quads (rather than triangular faces: you can see the shape of the faces when looking at a model in wireframe), which play nice with DAZ Studio and Poser.
There are various ways to model. Things you might find yourself doing in Hexagon include working with base primitives, using vertex modeling functions such as extruding and sweeping surfaces, using lines and curves to create paths for surface modeling, and smoothing with sub-division.
What you can’t do is the kind of sculpting you’ll find in software such as ZBrush and 3D Coat (where the demo will allow you to give voxel sculpting a go). These programs let you sculpt in a way that mimics real life clay sculpting, something that suits some traditional artists better.
However, you’ll have fine control of your mesh topology in Hexagon. This can be a satisfying way to work, especially if you like order and precision.
What else can I do in Hexagon?
You can UV unwrap in Hexagon. Personally, it has taken me a while to get to grips with this and it’s not Hexagon 2.5’s best feature. Most artists use a separate UV unwrapping software application that does just this one thing and so does it very well, e.g. UV Layout or UVMapper Professional.
You can also create shading domains and material zones. There are brush tools that let you apply displacement, pinch and soften areas of your mesh. Hexagon 2.5 will allow you to import and apply textures you’ve created in 2D utilities such as GIMP or Photoshop. More experienced artists will often do this texturing in a different application, though.
Oh and yes, you can create morphs for your characters using Hexagon too.
So, all in all, a good piece of software?
Yes, definitely. There’s a whole lot an experienced user can accomplish with Hexagon’s tools and utilities. However, it also has a friendly, easy to navigate interface for the beginner (speaking from my experience a year ago). Plus the bridge direct to DAZ Studio makes it ideal for anyone creating for Genesis-based figures or equally for generation 4 (Victoria 4, Michael 4).
Why don’t some people rate it highly?
Good question. As you’ve seen, there are a few professional artists making a living creating props and environments in Hexagon 2.5. At the other end of the scale, you’ll find people who won’t go near it. Then there are a whole lot of people in the middle, who use and enjoy it but might also sometimes find it frustrating, or for whom it’s one tool among many.
In most cases, it comes down to stability. Those who find it stable on their systems often come to know and love the interface. There are some nice tools in Hexagon, especially considering it’s budget price.
OK, I’m ready to start. Where do I find tutorials to create 3d models in Hexagon 2.5?
Fantastic, it’s time to learn to create your own props and clothing for your DAZ Studio and Poser characters!
I have some great news for you. You can find excellent beginners tutorials — and up to intermediate level — for free online. The place to go is GeekAtPlay, where Vladimir will not only get you up and running, but take you pretty much through everything you need to know in Hexagon 2.5.
Once you get used to his accent, you will find his tutorials a fantastic resource.
If you want to use Hexagon to create clothes for your Genesis ladies and gents (i.e. the base Genesis figures, plus Victoria 5 or 6, Michael 5 or 6, and their friends) then you are also in luck. John, better known to many of us as Fugazi, has a couple of very comprehensive clothes creation video tutorials. These are available to buy and are well worth the cost.
In the first one you will make a long-sleeved top for the base Genesis figure, which can then be worn by any Genesis 1 figure (I believe you can then auto-fit it to Genesis 2 characters).
In the second, you make a bikini for a female character, so will then be well set to make your own swimwear and underwear / lingerie for Vicky and the other girls.
The other benefit of these tutorials is that they will teach you many of the functions and tools of Hexagon, all in a clear, step-by-step approach.
What have you made?
Ballet shoes, dresses, tights / leggings, a hat and a leotard were all early projects. The first thing I made that was worth keeping was an apple. I’ve also made a flower and a lamppost, plus accessories for my Millennium Cats, alongside of course all the various tutorial projects from Fugazi and GeekAtPlay.
How does Hexagon 2.5 compare to Silo, Wings3D, Blender and other 3d software?
Each has its own pros and cons, and different 3D artists have their own preferences. Wings3D is free, so the best way to see which you prefer is to give that one a go too. Silo appears to be quite similar to Hexagon, and has its own fans. Its price is higher but Steam users can sometimes grab it at a discount in one of the sales.
The problem with both Hexagon 2.5 and Silo is that they are abandonware. Neither has seen an update in several years, and bugs will remain unfixed. Wings3D, being free, is likely also to suffer from a similar lack of development.
Blender is a whole different ball game. This fully-featured, open-source software can do everything Hexagon and Silo can, and a whole lot more, all the way up to producing your own high-quality animations. On the flip side of this, it has an infamously steep learning curve. If you are new to 3D, I’d strongly recommend you start with friendlier software such as Hexagon 2.5.
3D Coat has some impressive features that you won’t find in Hex, but is relatively expensive to use in its fully-featured version, as is Blacksmith 3D (aka 3D Paint) which is geared toward painting and morphing. ZBrush is a serious investment at the best part of 4 figures. You’ll be spending far more again for industry standards such as Maya and 3DS Max, which are out of reach for most of us mere mortals.
With a low price and a choice of excellent free training videos from GeekAtPlay or high-quality clothing tutorials from Fugazi, it’s hard to go wrong with Hexagon 2.5. Despite being abandonware, it’s a full-featured piece of software. Some have stability issues, but you have 30 days in which to request a refund if it happens to be unreliable on your system. Bear in mind though that experience is a great teacher and as you learn to use it correctly it will become more stable for hours of use. Make ‘save often’ your mantra and give it a go!