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Just kidding – happy Urdu Festivus, one and all. Here is your gift from me: a beefy update to the Facer polygon toolkit. I whittled it myself out of unloved dreidels.
Here’s a rundown of what’s new in 3.0:
Be safe and remember that a punch is not a good way to win a family argument. A kick is best.
In an older post and in my 101 Autodesk Maya Tips, I talked about how you can send UNIX standard output to Maya via its commandPort and I just made a tool that batch generates previews for files using an open session of Maya. I made something similar in the past but it was slow because it launched a new session of Maya for each file via command line rendering. This is very quick because it just tells an already-open app to make a new scene, import the file, kick out an antialiased viewport 2 render to JPEG, wash, rinse and repeat.
Here is the Automator workflow file to install. Don’t rename it because it contains a shell script (stmaya) that bounces commands to Maya. You need to enable commandPort on port 2222 before Maya will accept input from the action. Do it with this command (I put this line in userSetup.mel so it is executed on Maya’s launch):
commandPort -n ":2222";
The only thing to keep in mind is that the script sets the imported file folder to your working project directory, so just remember to change it to your desired project after you’re done batching or you’ll be rendering into the last-previewed /tmp folder. Also, save your existing open work before you start doing these because it uses the “file -f -new” command meaning it won’t prompt you to save if you have an open doc with unsaved changes.
If you’re on Linux, you can do a similar thing with the two shell scripts that the Automator action uses. This is the script that operates on your input 3D file and this is the stmaya script that passes standard output to Maya. It’s a bit of a hairy combo that would be much nicer as one Python script but I am just updating existing bash scripts.
Sorry, Windows users – there’s no way to pipe standard output to Maya from the command prompt in Windows, so this can’t be adapted for non-UNIX OSes.
When Maya crashes, it tries to save out a file to a temp folder that you can recover on relaunch. In my 101 Autodesk Maya Tips I mention how you can get this file to open in Maya without digging through temp folders on Mac/Win/Linux but it seems that, due to what I think is V-Ray’s redirection of standard output, I no longer get the path of the crash file in the system log. So, I’m updating the script to work more like the Linux version. It does the exact same thing but by parsing the TMPDIR environment variable:
Grab the updated shell script or Automator Service which doesn’t require a terminal. Just open it from the Services menu in OS X.. After Maya 2014 is out, I’ll be releasing an updated version of 101 Autodesk Maya Tips to incorporate this change and I’ll add some new tips as well. Existing owners should receive the updated copy for free.
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I’ve updated V-Ray Tuner with some more robust changes to the handling of materials and textures when using the Gamma Correct Me script. It now works with any type of texture and it no longer gamma corrects a node if it’s parented to a gamma correct already. It’s more foolproof overall and, as always you can do the degamma on textures or the parent V-Ray materials:
So, after some tweaks and playing around, I’ve come up with a good starting set of templates to convert MakeHuman output characters to V-Ray for Maya via Nuke. Download the setup files at the bottom of this page (includes Maya V-Ray scene and source images as well). Currently, the Nuke template that I use for the source skin is set up for the caucasian skin PNG files that come with MakeHuman. I tried using it for the Indian-looking skin and it is far too red, but I’m sure someone could quickly get it working with different skin types. That is the advantage to this procedural Nuke template: it requires little work to make variations, unlike a series of Photoshop edits, which would be tricky to do for things like cloning and brushing of the lips. I realize not every uses Nuke for image edits but it’s great for stuff like this and I’m just making my work available to you. So, this is how it works: you take your single input PNG file and plug it into the starting point file input of the Nuke template (click for high res):
The Nuke script then splits up the single RGB input and does the appropriate edits and output for all elements of a V-Ray FastSSS2 map. How good is it? Well, I’m not an expert on skin and SSS but it’s a good start, in my opinion. The source MakeHuman PNG:
The Nuke template has two options for types of image input. If you’ve edited the texture in Mudbox or Mari and used 32-bit mode for the textures, use the linear gamma file input.
Here’s a render in Maya of the caucasian female skin PNG conversion:
It’s using a V-Ray Fresnel Blend Mat setup, so if you want to use it as a template for other work, go ahead. It’s free for use in commercial work. It could still use some tweaks for the lips and the only real problem with this setup is that the bump map can’t be used because of the texture map seams, so it looks a little too uniform. That’s also a fault of the actual texture, which doesn’t have any vein touches or pores – this isn’t meant to be feature actor material, just background figure quality. I left the bump stuff in the template files since I thought you might find it useful to see how it’s done and if you want to make a seamless fix for yourself. The Nuke scene includes a 3D reference model so you can check for seams in a 3D viewport while working on the textures. I’ll work on it eventually and post the revised work here. This is very much a work in progress and this is the 1.0 release of this package.
Just a note that the model is nude, since I was checking for seams. You might not want to freak out your guests by opening an unclothed tween on your screen.
Updated V-Ray Tuner with some things I think many people will find helpful:
Download link. Enjoy.
I’ve been using Paint Effects a lot lately with my viewport 2 experiments and hate having to convert strokes to polygons to get them appear, so I made a script to convert them, render and then delete the polygon conversions, so all you’re left with is a good render and editable strokes:
The save button is there because I have found Maya can crash on large conversions, so it’s more of a reminder to save before you do it, but it’s not a necessity. I’m using the Hardware 2.0 renderer but this will work with any renderer that needs PFX strokes turned to polygons for rendering. Download link.
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I’ve been experimenting with viewport 2 as a minimal look renderer and it’s getting pretty clean results but the main issue is that I want these images to be really big, and viewport 2 currently has a 2048 x 2048 res limit for renders (at least on this 1GB VRAM laptop, it does). So I’ve made a little script to tile render with viewport 2 using a film back translation. Not everyone knows that you can use the Film Offset settings in the selected camera’s attributes to change translate the film back without changing the actual angle or perspective. This lets you keep your current shot while adding bleed or, here, use it for tiling renders and then matching them up using Photoshop’s Auto-Align Layers feature:
I just need to mask out the shadows from the screen-space ambient occlusion at edge of the window and it’s perfect.
There is a great little script called Zoomerator that lets you use this setting to navigate around your shot and zoom in with the overscan settings without altering any actual camera perspective. This lets you work closely on something like a matte background while checking the match-up with a mesh element that may be tiny in your scene.
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So, after finishing up some jobs and adding some features to these while working on those contracts, I have rolled in some new things to both V-Ray Tuner and Facer. There’s quite a bit that’s added in each and I’ve included some features of one script in the other just because it made sense for things like UVs, which affect both modelling and rendering.V-Ray Tuner 3.0 new features:
As you can see from the way I start a linear workflow scene from scratch, this lets you click the LWFMe button to initialize all the right parameters for a linear workflow but then you disable the LWF toggle to work with manually linearized swatches. The Gamma Correct me script for swatches currently only works on V-Ray Materials (not FastSSS2, Light Mats, etc). I’ll add support for those later.
Often when you work, you’re lazy about using instances to save memory so this lets you just do it all in one step for big memory savings at render time. When you render a bunch of those heads with copies, it takes over 6GB of memory (click for high res):
Use the script to replace those copies with instances and your render memory usage drops to 1.6GB (click for high res):
So, I hope you enjoy these updated scripts – the download links are in the new feature headers for both. If you get a lot of use out of them, maybe consider picking up a copy of the ePUB, Kindle, iPad iBook or PDF version of 101 Autodesk Maya Tips, which is still only $2.99. In the words of Yakov Smirnoff – IS BARGAIN!
After force quitting the wrong version of Maya because all versions since 2011 have had the same icon, I decided to badge each version with a number to identify them so I wouldn’t make that mistake again. I chose a font that would work even at tiny sizes:
and at typical sizes, they look great:
So, here they are for Mac, Linux and Windows:http://www.can-con.ca/tumblrpics/maya_icons.zip
Install instructions are included but unfortunately, the Windows .ico icons are hard-coded into the app so you can only change a shortcut icon, not the running application icon. If someone knows how to change a Windows app icon, let me know.