UPDATE 6/10/14: And...no sooner do I publish this post but Microsoft decides to release a firmware update. Today's Patch Tuesday releases include a new display driver, but in my case, the updates offered were all security fixes. Windows Update promptly reverted my display driver with the March 11 Hardware Update and despite my repeated checks still hasn't offered the new firmware for download. So if you're using the latest Intel HD graphics driver, make sure to verify what Windows Update is installing. I'll update this post again once I confirm that the firmware does include the display driver Mudbox likes.
It's been a long time coming, but Autodesk Mudbox users can finally use the 3d sculpting and texturing application on the Surface Pro 1 and 2 thanks to a recently released display driver update from Intel.
Mudbox 2015, released in March, is the first multi-touch capable sculpting program to run on the Surface Pro. Unfortunately, Microsoft's official display drivers didn't work properly with the program's paintbrush tool, crippling its texture painting capabilities.
Although Mudbox runs a distant second to ZBrush and may even be outsold by upstart 3D-Coat, I've always thought it was a good choice for the Surface Pro and other small sized tablets because of its clean, orderly interface. Although Autodesk has sometimes seemed to neglect the software, it recently dramatically lowered its price to $495 or $10 per month subscription. http://www.autodesk.com/products/mudbox/buy This competitive pricing puts the software within reach of any artist.
The updated Intel HD driver can be found at the following link: https://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&DwnldID=23885&lang=eng It's likely that Microsoft will offer this or another compatible driver during an upcoming firmware update, but if you don't want to wait, you can follow the installation instructions below.
WARNING: This process is moderately advanced. If you're not accustomed to mucking around with your system, don't attempt this. You have been warned!
If you attempt to install the executable directly, you may not be able to do so. The installer will likely warn you that the driver is not certified for the Surface Pro.
To work around this, download the .zip version. Unzip the archive. In Device Manager, find the Display adapters >> Intel HD Graphics Family Properties. In the Driver tab, select Update Driver. Tap on "Browse my computer for driver software" and then point it to the Graphics folder you just unzipped.
This should work for most of you but it's possible that Windows will notify you that the best drivers are already installed. That was the case for me, so I went back to the Properties >> Driver tab and Uninstalled the current driver. On the confirmation, select Delete the driver software for this device.
I'm not sure about this next step, but it worked for me. Windows will want to reboot the system immediately after the device driver is deleted. Don't let it reboot because it may reinstall the old drivers upon restart (just because you told it to delete the old driver doesn't mean Windows won't call out and download the official driver upon reboot).
Instead of rebooting, run the new driver's installation program. When it's done installing, then you can reboot.
Performance is still not flawless on my Surface Pro 2. The pen doesn't register 100% of the time, especially when trying to target standard UI elements like the close button. Changing brushes with the pen is hit and miss. It's sometimes easier to use a finger to choose between sculpt and paint tools, though this is also sometimes hit and miss.
I had to rollback my Wacom driver to the official 7.2.0-4 release version. The unofficial update I published recently doesn't seem to be compatible.
But combined with the latest version of ArtDock (which I'll publish tomorrow), it's still a lot of fun to interactively sculpt and paint in Mudbox without the need for a keyboard. Even if you don't own it, I recommend having a go with the trial version. You may be hooked.
Thanks to Alex Cheparev for the tip regarding the new driver's availability.