That’s right, friends: modo 601 is here, and to say we are ‘excited’ would be an understatement. In fact, we burnt ourselves on some celebratory, half-baked brownies we cooked up for the occasion while feasting our fingers on new modeling and rendering tools, a slew of new shaders and – oh yes – character animation y’all. It’s the biggest, baddest release to date, and we’ve gotten our grubby little hands all over it. Adam’s favorite product-design features and more after the jump.

Luxology’s modo 601

“modo 601 is our most significant release ever,” said Brad Peebler, president and co-founder of Luxology. “With new feature and workflow enhancements, modo now offers an end-to-end production solution that is both powerful and highly usable by artists and designers.”

Mr. Brad Peebler isn’t kidding, (by the way, check out the interview with Brad Peebler on Engineer vs Designer and hear what Brad has to say about modo 601!) modo 601 has the most substantial new feature for the entire product design pipeline and if you’re a user of other 3D CAD software, there are even a few new features you’ll appreciate as well.

modo 601 top 10 Features

So, it seems I’ve been using modo since before the earth cooled (which was apparently circa 2007, 201 baby!!), and 601 is by far the best new release to date, especially for product designers. There are literally hundreds of new features, not to mention overall performance and stability improvements across the board. Narrowing the list to the top ten best features in modo 601 is a difficult proposition, but we’ll do our best.

Adam’s favorite new features, in order of favorite-ness:

  1. CAD Loader: modo 601 now offers a CAD loader (sold separately) that implements the parasolid kernel for import/export of X_T, STP, and IGS files. CAD objects are imported as a new item type called a ‘CAD Item’, and quad/n-gon polygonal tessellation is dynamically calculated based on item-level settings. This means modo plays nice with any CAD system that can save a STP file. SO EPIC.
  2. So many shaders – really, so many new shaders, there are almost too many to name. Skin shader, Hair shader, halftone shader, cell shader (yes!) rounded edge shader (yes! yes!). These bring a whole new level of visualization for both realistic (hair and edge shader) and non-realistic (cel and halftone) renders.
  3. Dynamics: the Recoil physics package (rigid and soft body dynamics based on the Bullet Physics engine v2.79) is now included standard with 601. This is more than a toy: want to know how many gumballs will fit in your gumball machine? Drop ’em in and find out. Want to see what your necklace looks like when hanging from a display in the real-world? Hang it and see.
  4. Retopology: An important aspect of rapid product development is rapid form iteration. Whip out a sloppy model, refine it, rebuild it, repeat. ‘Retopology’ is just a fancy word for ‘rebuild it’, and modo 601 offers incredible new tools for rebuilding that sloppy sketch mesh into a beautiful CAD-compatible SubD mesh. Not only is retopo great for rebuilding your sloppy meshes, it’s also ideal for reverse-engineering scan data. Import your scanner’s point-cloud, and modo 601’s retopo tools make turning that tri-mesh into a clean, CAD-ready SubD mesh a cinch.
  5. Rigging: When you see the new rigging tools, don’t be fooled into thinking that they’re just for character animators. The new rigging tools (and there are TONS of them) make it possible to put together complex assembly relationships, complete with realistic deformations of soft bodies. Want to render a leather briefcase where the leather deforms as it opens? Easy.
  6. Rigging (again): Sure, rigging is awesome for posing and animation of complex assemblies, but when combined with the new dynamics engine, you can now create ‘working’ assemblies. Want to see what happens when you drop your floppy-armed robot down the stairs and roll a bowling ball over it? Give it a try, and watch it’s little arms pop off realistically.
  7. PSub improvements: Pixar Subdivision surfaces now allow you to crease individual vertices (RAWK), and control the density of the display mesh separately from the render mesh.
  8. Render Booleans and edge control: Add, subtract, or intersect nested mesh items and visually round sharp edges at render-time. This is HUGE: don’t bother applying those .5mm fillets in CAD for cosmetic purposes; round them off at render-time and save yourself the trouble (and the extra polys!).
  9. Render Workflow: modo has always been a fantastic rendering tool, but 601 is a game-changer. Sure it’s faster and more realistic, but that wasn’t enough. No, they had to go and re-write the entire rendering workflow, complete with thumbnails of previous renders, true multi-pass rendering, and enough meta-statistics to make your head spin.
  10. Space Navigator Support: Rest your aching fingers, modo has finally implemented Space Navigator support in 601. Ergonomic watchdogs, rejoice!
Image: Richard Yot
modo 601
Image: Robin Konieczny
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Image: Gregoru Duquesne
modo 601
Image: Yazan Malkkosh
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Image: Andy Probst
modo 601
Image: Yazan Malkosh
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Image: Boris Cargo
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Image: Seth Richardson

CAD Loader Lowdown

If you’re a user of other 3D modeling software, like SolidWorks, Inventor, CATIA or NX, modo 601 brings in a new feature that allows for wonderfully clean transfer of data from your software into modo. On import into modo, you have a set of options that make it quick and simple to bring an optimized model into the modo interface for further edits, rendering or animation. The press release gives the best overview of the capabilities.


Feb 29, 2012

Luxology Ships Parasolid-based CAD Loaders for modo 601

Adds Industry Standard Support for XT, IGES and STEP Files

CAD Loaders for modo are based on Parasolid® technology, an industry-leading geometry kernel whose data files, according to Siemens, account for over 40% of all 3D model data stored worldwide. As models are loaded into modo, the CAD surfaces can be dynamically tessellated for optimum use in modo’s modeling and rendering operations. Real-time rendering previews and dynamic editing tools in modo can then be used to turn base designs into immersive, photorealistic graphics.

“Exchange of CAD data is absolutely business-critical to our customers,” says Brad Peebler, president and co-founder, Luxology. “CAD Loaders for modo offer users a flexible set of controls for optimizing incoming CAD data that goes beyond simple file importing. This opens up a world of CAD data for designers and other 3D artists who want to tap the power of modo for concept design and advanced visualization.”

Key benefits of CAD Loaders

Industry Standard Parasolid
Support for Parasolid XT, IGES and STEP files allows CAD designers and other modo users to access design and engineering files produced in leading CAD systems worldwide.

Expanded Flexibility for Surfaces: Incoming surfaces are maintained as parametric surfaces in modo which allows for alternate tessellation parameters to be applied dynamically under user control. Resulting meshes can be saved as convex polygons or a combination of quads and n-gons.

Efficiency: Many CAD files are characterized by large amounts of repeated data elements. With the Instance Handling feature of the CAD Loaders, modo users get the choice of loading instance-laden files as copies, instances,or modo replicators, which can greatly reduce memory use and boost interactivity.

“The CAD Loaders are an awesome addition to my workflow,” says Paul McCrorey, a modo user and president of McCrorey Digital. “By eliminating triangles from my imported geometry, I get quad-based results and moldable assets that are easier to use and require a lot less memory. This allows me to take my work to the next level no matter what program I start in. I love that.”

Pricing and Availability

CAD Loaders for modo are available immediately from authorized Luxology resellers and on Luxology’s website. The Advanced CAD Loader for modo 601 includes XT, IGES, and STEP file loaders priced at $695.00, while the Basic CAD Loader is a Parasolid XT standalone file loader priced at $495.00. CAD Loaders for modo are compatible with Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.


Adam O'Hern is an industrial designer, designing products ranging from laptops to power tools, classroom toys to bathroom fixtures, and pro audio gear to guitar tuners. In 2008 he founded, and in 2010 co-founded EvD Media with Josh Mings of, and the two collaborate on the podcast.