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Maya / good looking displacement maps
« Last post by Rach on January 29, 2012, 11:24:26 PM »
hey mudbox/maya users.

After much trial and error, here's a few good tips for getting your displacement maps looking 100% accurate in Maya.  Directly imported they often look lacking in detail because some of Mayas default settings. This is a good list to follow for good looking results.

1- extracting maps from mudbox often ends up with unwanted spikes ALL over your maya rendered version. Lowering the search distance value in the map extraction in mudbox will get rid of them. The lower the value, the lower the spikes. Make sure there is no overlapping UVs

2 - Add the displacement map to your model, then select the model and make sure you ad a sub div approximation to it. window > rendering editors > mental ray > approximation editor. Under subdivisions, select derive from maya and click create. You will now have a mentalraySubdivApprox node, select it and change the Approx method from parametric to spacial (important for detail). This node sub divides your model, adding more detail at render time (not in the view port), so the higher you set the min and max sub divs, the better the displacement will look. At the cost of render time of course, frown. The max sub div should match the maximum level you reached in your mudbox sculpt. I usually leave the min about 2-3.

3 – Select your model. Go into its shape node ( objectnameShape1 ) go to the displacement map section and uncheck feature displacement . This is one of Mayas many annoying filters that smooth things out. We do not want this on, we want max detail! So uncheck it.

4 – Go into the file node of your displacement map. Under File attributes, set the filter type to Off. Filters smooth out detail so nothing to do here.

5 – Again in the file node for the map itself, go to colour balance. The alpha gain is what tells Maya how much displacement is being caused by your map. Bumping up the number will add more detail, and lowering it will make it less noticeable. Play around and bump up if your displacement is still not 100% detailed.

6 – go into your render settings. In the features tab under extra features, make sure displacement shaders and displacement pre sample is checked.

7 - Ad a bump map too for little details on the skin like pores or pimples. This should be different from your displacement map. I find a grayscale version of the colour map looks good if you have skin details on that. Play with the levels in photoshop to give different bump strengths.

8 – If you want the easy way out just export a normal map. There is a reason they are used for games, they are quicker to render, but they will never give you the same detail as displacement. Avoid normal maps unless you plan on making games you nerd.  ::)

some examples of them working properly on faces. The base models are very simple so its a great technique.

External / Re: Real Serious Games Seeking Junior 3D Artists
« Last post by rowan on January 22, 2012, 09:55:34 AM »
Thanks for the heads up, Alex!

<3 Rowan
Mac / Re: Total Finder
« Last post by rowan on January 22, 2012, 09:47:51 AM »
Also, be sure to enable the visor feature in preferences, it's very handy!

<3 Rowan
Mac / Re: Don't rush to lion
« Last post by rowan on January 22, 2012, 09:28:45 AM »
While I have no intention of being the definitive word on the topic I have tested the following programs on Lion;

Adobe Production Premium Suite
ZBrush 4

I didn't run into any problems at all, but I didn't get a chance to test Lion until 6 months after it was released so that's perhaps why.

These are tested on a 2010 iMac and a 2011 11" Mac Air.

<3 Rowan
Mac / Total Finder
« Last post by rowan on January 22, 2012, 09:22:59 AM »
If you've subscribed to the RSS Feed of Damian's Blog you'll already know what this post is about, but I'm sharing this one more widely because every mac owner is going to want this.

Basically it makes your finder behave more like an internet browser, with tabbed windows and several upgrades over the standard Finder window. Advanced features include you can now cut & paste  :-[ (yes I'm serious) and it builds in defaults that make it more akin to Windows Explorer, which is a good thing because Finder out of the box is fairly rubbish and requires tinkering to work well.

Total Finder costs $18 and has a 2 week trial, it is available here.

A worthwhile upgrade to your built in Finder is forcing it to display the file path at the top of the window, just like on Windows Explorer. This is easy to do, open terminal and execute this command;

defaults write _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool YES

Tested on Snow Leopard and Lion.

Happy tinkering.

<3 Rowan
External / Real Serious Games Seeking Junior 3D Artists
« Last post by Atcote on January 18, 2012, 09:28:45 AM »
Real Serious Games is seeking junior 3D artists, experienced 3D generalist and technical artists to join our expanding team in our Brisbane office in the Fortitude Valley area.

Junior 3D Artist

Full-time and part-time positions available

Professional Experience not necessary


Create high quality, accurate low polygon 3D models and textures based on source material provided i.e. reference photos, CAD files or technical drawings.

Required to create assets that fit within polygon and memory budgets based on current generation game technology.

Work efficiently within a team or independently and deliver tasks on time.

Take direction and work closely with Art team lead.



Advanced skills in 3D Studio Max or any other high end 3D modelling software.

Must be highly proficient using Adobe Photoshop for texture creation and some graphic design work.

General knowledge of Adobe Premiere or Adobe After Effects for basic post-production work.

Experience working with a variety of game engines and a thorough understanding of the exporting process.

Ability to work well under pressure and within tight deadlines.

Possess the ability to quickly learn and adapt to Art production pipelines

Excellent communication, interpersonal and organizational skills

Talented and self motivated with a willingness to learn.

Portfolio demonstrating your best and most recent work.

Art related degree and/or comparable professional experience a bonus

To be considered, please have an up to date folio with high resolution examples of your work.
Friday 3rd February, 2012
Maya / Re: Important information regarding render layers
« Last post by bernsul on December 02, 2011, 03:26:39 PM »
Thanks Rowan,

Good to get some details on this - curly stuff.
Maya / Important information regarding render layers
« Last post by rowan on December 01, 2011, 12:28:47 PM »
Render layers are wonderful things, but according to my experience and lengthy forum searches, since render layers were built into Maya, there has been some serious bugs with the system, and they are yet to be resolved.

The symptom you may one day experience is an error when attempting to assign shaders to geometry. The warning will read "error while parsing arguments". Once this starts happening, your scene is essentially ruined. You must delete all render layers, revert all objects to the intial shading group, and re-build them from the ground up. Autodesk built a script into Maya 2010 which was supposed to fix this, you can try it, execute "fixRenderLayerOutAdjustmentErrors;" and it will clean the connections. However in my experience this does not fix the problem.

You actually have to avoid it from happening in the first place, here's a few tips.

NEVER assign materials to components

There's nothing wrong with assigning a material to several faces of an object normally, but when working with render layers, simply do not do it, the second you do, is the second the layers will corrupt.

When creating, importing, combining, or seperating objects, do so on the master layer

Make sure if you're creating new nodes, that they belong to the master layer first, then add them where necessary.

Never put a camera on a render layer

There's no reason to in the first place, but you can do so by accident, and it causes problems.

Always save your files on the master layer

This is a hard habit to get into, but it is a very good idea, especially when command line rendering.

Render layers are at best, a patchy system, and require meticulous technical practice to work. Be careful and you'll be fine, if not you can find yourself spending many hours repairing or working around the problems. Remember you can also save out entirely separate scenes with different shaders and things applied as an alternative to render layers. Of course this is a problem if you want to tweak any animation etc.

Good luck,

<3 Rowan
Maya / Setting end frame in render globals
« Last post by rowan on November 01, 2011, 10:13:27 AM »
There seems to be this bug in 2012 (even in the service pack) that prevents you from setting the end frame in the render globals, when attempting to change it from its default 10 it just switches back to 10. An obvious work around is to specify an end frame in the batch script, but it's still annoying.

It seems that it's supposed to be a fail-safe thing, to make sure you set your frame padding correctly, but put simply it's broken. So to work around it what you can do is adjust your frame padding, move it up, then back down to say 1, then adjust your end frame to say 99, then move your frame padding back to where it needs to be in the first place (usually 3) and then you can set your end frame once more.

I know, it's dodgy, but it's an easy enough workaround, fingers crossed it's resolved in 2013!

<3 Rowan
Rendering / MentalRay Rendering Trouble
« Last post by LaurenB on October 04, 2011, 10:22:45 PM »
Hi guys, just thought i'de put this out there in case anyone else has trouble with mental ray and this  //Error: setParent: Object 'renderView' not found. is appearing, all you have to do is go into the script editor (window>general editors>script editor and then copy and paste this into the bottom box and then press the play button at the top)
and put this code in;

 for ($item in `getPanel -scriptType "renderWindowPanel"`) {
        if ( $item == "renderView" ) {
                print "renderView exists.\n";
 if ( $exists == 0 ) {
        for ($item in `getPanel -scriptType "renderWindowPanel"`) {
                //print ( $item + "\n");
                if ( $item == "renderWindowPanel1" ) {
                deleteUI renderWindowPanel1;
                $renderPanel = `scriptedPanel -type "renderWindowPanel" -unParent renderView`;
                scriptedPanel -e -label `interToUI $renderPanel` $renderPanel;

Thanks to Jelly and Nick for poviding the code.
:) xoxo
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