Since I don't get the time to update this blog much anymore, I thought I'd just drop in quickly to recommend a google groups mailing list that I have been contributing to for a while now. If you feel like some question/answer type discussions focused specifically on problem solving in maya this might be the place for you. There are a great bunch of knowledgeable people posting there already from time to time, but more will always be welcome. Just enter "maya he3d" in the google groups search.
Update 2012-07-28: The script has been updated with new features, which include a user interface replacing the command-line stuff. The leaf layout details explained here are still relevant and correct, except for the command to run the script. The new command can be found at the end of the new post.
There is a long, long thread on cgTalk called "Forests in maya mental ray". The discussion is all about techniques for creating and rendering the vast numbers of polygons needed to make convincing grass and trees in large numbers.
Maya's paintFX can be used to make trees which can be converted to polygons with leaves that consist of just a few polys per leaf. Texture maps (color, opacity, bump etc) are then applied. The default output from the paintFX conversion has each leaf mapped to fill the standard uv quadrant, so each leaf gets a copy of the texture. This can look pretty good, but the repetition is usually very obvious. You could break the leaf mesh into a few parts and assign variations of the leaf textures to each part. But a more efficient way is to layout the uv's so that groups of leaves are mapped to different parts of the uv quadrant in a 4x4 tiled patternfor example. Then you can make a texture map with leaf variations arranged in the same 4x4 tile pattern. Now you can have 16 different looking leaves on the tree, almost as easily as you can have one.
Default paintFX conversion gives you this
But what you really want is something like this 4x4 tile pattern (or maybe 2x2 or 3x3)
The problem is that you might have 50,000 leaves on your tree. It would be very difficult to select and edit the uv's for different leaves by hand. This is something that needs to be automated (more...)
Ever since I can remember, maya has had an annoying bug that causes materials to display incorrectly in the viewport in both "Smooth shade all" and "Textured" modes.
If you've ever encountered something similar to this error
// Error: file: D:/Program Files/Autodesk/Maya2011/scripts/AETemplates/AEhardwareTextureTemplate.mel line 721: Found no attribute match for "mia_material_x1.diffuse" //
or this one
// Error: file: D:/Program Files/Autodesk/Maya2011/scripts/AETemplates/AEhardwareTextureTemplate.mel line 827: Object 'VRayMtl_qualityMenu' not found. //
then you may be interested in a workaround. Its not perfect, but its better than nothing.
This time last year I started a new job at a new studio. For me, this was a big change since I had been at the previous studio (one that I helped build from almost nothing) more than 20 years.
My new job has given me the opportunity to learn several new applications and as a result I have found little time to update my blog and it has been very much neglected.
So to begin a new year of enthusiastic blogging, I've decided to write a (long, possibly boring) post about what I've been doing the last 12 months. It is just a quick rundown of changes affecting my general workflow. If you are still interested, keep reading (btw... the photo is my new puppy, Hollywood) (more...)
The image above shows the Render Elements tab in the vray render settings window. If you've used it before you may notice some cosmetic differences, and that's because I've modified one of the vray mel scripts to add some functionality that makes render elements easier to use with render layers.
This mel script creates a renderLayer that can be used to quickly render mattes for selected objects or groups of objects with the VRay for Maya renderer.
As you can see from the screen shot, djVRayCreateMatteLayer.mel looks very similar to the mentalray mattePassMaker.mel script which I wrote about in my previous post. In fact djVRayCreateMatteLayer.mel is an attempt to emulate the mentalray matte pass functionality using "VRay Render Elements".
At this point in time I am fairly new to vray and vray is relatively new to maya so djVRayCreateMatteLayer.mel should be viewed as a work-in-progress, but one you may find useful if you ever need to create mattes using vray. (more...)