Monthly Archives: June 2014

Maya XGen Colored Cubes and Spheres Rendered with Arnold

Some more tests with XGen archives and spheres. This time with a bit more color. I basically use a texture map to ‘drive’ the length and color of an XGen primitive. These primitives can range from spheres, splines or as in most of the examples below, cube geometry that has been exported as an archive. I then use expressions with XGen in Maya to modify the length, size and orientation of the archives. Finally, I use the Arnold software renderer to create the final image. Arnold is able to realistically render millions of these pieces of geometry very quickly at high resolutions without any problem. A tutorial that goes through the process can be found here.  All of the images are rendered with Arnold for Maya. Click here to view my initial tests without color. Click here to view more XGen tutorials. Many thanks to Pedro F. Gómez for his assistance with XGen. Featured on: Daily Planet Show, COLOSSAL, GIZMODO, THE VERGEtheCreatorsproject, CREATIVE BLOQ, 3dtotalBEHANCE, SPLOID, LESTERBANKSCG RECORD, ronenbekermanCGFeedback, DIGITAL PRODUCTION.xgen-thumbs

Its nice to see that my work has inspired other artists to also have a go. Please share your results with me!

Google – Cubes

pFlow World Map

High Poly #highpoly #storm #cinema4d @maxonc4d #octane #octanerender #fottergraph #freelancelife

A photo posted by fottergraph (@fottergraph) on

Skin Deformer

Here is an animation I did a while back. I decided to re-render it as a gif using the latest Arnold Skin shader for Maya.

  • The mesh is called Diatom and was exported from Xenodream as an .obj.

  • I then applied a bend deformer to the mesh and keyframed the rotation.

 The interesting thing that occurs when deforming geometry in Maya is that the normals get flipped. This creates quite an interesting effect when combined with the Arnold Skin shader which requires normals to be facing outwards. I used the default Skin settings except I increased the radius multiplier to get a softer ‘jelly’ look to the SSS and increased the Shallow Scatter to 1.

Lego bricks

Inspired by the recent Lego movie (although I still haven’t watched it yet), I thought I would have a go at rendering some Lego models with Arnold for Maya.

There are a whole bunch of Lego models available here. However, they come in .ldr and .mpd file formats. To view and export them in a format that can be opened in Maya, you will need LDView.

LDView only exports in .3ds, .stl and .pov file formats. If you import the .stl using Maya’s Direct Connect plugin from the plug-in manager it will come in as one solid object with no separate materials.

Unfortunately the .3ds importer is not available with the Maya Bonus Tools anymore, so I had to open the .3ds files in Maya 2012 and save them out as a Maya file so that I could open it in Maya 2014.

I tried opening the .3ds file in 3ds Max but unfortunately 3ds Max crashed when doing so.

Ive since found out that the .3ds importer for Maya 2014 has been made available here.

The only problem is the polygons came in triangulated in Maya and the normals got screwed up in the process. The only way I managed to smooth the normals was by ‘averaging’ them. However, it was quite a slow and tedious process going through each piece of rounded geometry (although as you can see in the renders below I missed a few pieces, which will forever haunt me).

before-average-normalsBefore ‘Average’ normals

after-average-normalsAfter ‘Average’ normals

After converting the Maya materials to Standard shaders and adding some lighting I rendered them out with Arnold:Lego-spaceship-tanine-IV lego-kangaroo lego-monkey lego-star-wars-characters Lego-house-3k

Rolling shutter experiments

I was having some fun playing with the rolling shutter camera effect. Its typically used to replicate the rolling shutter effect used in footage shot with digital cameras that use CMOS-based sensors such as airplane propellors and electric fans. I keyframed the head rotation in multiple directions (whilst animating the camera along the x axis) and got something that wouldn’t look out of place in the disturbing film Society (which would make an interesting cgi remake btw).rolling-shutter-1k roling-shutter-heads2-3k head-rolling-shutter-3k rolling-shutter-2k

Render curve maniac

After a lifetime of not being able to render curves, I have to say its a true joy being able to render curves straight in Arnold. Below is a paint effects brush called ‘gloppy’ that I converted to curves (Modify>Convert Paint Effects to Curves), with a ramp that defines the curve width (lit with an Ai Sky). More examples here.

The animation below was achieved by keyframing the ‘gap size’ attribute of the paint fx stroke from 1 to 0:


curve-width-400 gloppy0-3k gloppy-398