The Maya Toolbelt

Did you open Maya for the first time, took one look at the sea of icons and thought "O.K, which colorful icons are the modeling tools and what sequence of these buttons do I click to make my robot unicorn?". Well guess what? Michael McKinley made and is continuing to make a collection of videos on Youtube called The Maya Toolbelt to help relieve the fear and confusion.  Each video is dedicated to explaining an individual tool!

Michael goes through not only the tool's purpose but also the options associated with it. Check out this one of the "Insert Edge Loop Tool". I'll admit, I was making my life harder by manually doing what a couple of those options did /cry. I think its a great idea to have a reference library for Maya's many, many tools, so kudos on this!  He's aiming to release one every week and he's also open to suggestions so if you have any tool you'd like to see covered, drop him a line, subscribe and stay tuned!

Backburner Job Window – Tile Rendering Added!

Alright so I've finally gotten this thing to work! I've updated Maya's send job to Backburner window. Along with a few UI changes, I've added the option to split the image into tiles and send a different job for each one. Of course this is handy when rendering for print where images can get too large for system resources to handle.

Minecraft Textures in Maya

Recently, someone on Simply Maya was having problems working with their Minecraft textures in Maya. The textures required unfiltered realtime display or else they would look blurry and terrible. The problem is that Maya would reset this every time the scene loads. You can imagine this would get pretty frustrating having to do this every time for every single shader!

Essentially, when you choose "Nearest(Unfiltered)" from the drop down menu under the shader hardware texturing options, you're not directly manipulating the shader's attributes. What's really happening is that it launches a series of scripts that go searching for another node attached to the shader, the materialInfo node and changes an attribute there to a value that corresponds to the menu selection. This node controls some of the shader's realtime appearance, in this case, surface texture.

Default filter and Unfiltered

Even if the user finds this node and directly changes this attribute, the reset problem still persists(even locking it makes no difference)! Not only that, but the texture doesn't update automatically when the attribute is changed, the 3D space needed to be redrawn. Boo!

My script behaves similarly to the ones the drop down menu activates, except that it acts on the entire scene , it even does auto refresh. The script node it creates enables this script to run every time the scene is opened. No more awful looking Minecraft textures in Maya!

To Download Page >>

Maya to Backburner Additions: Render Regions

My old frenemy the Backburner window has asked me out to lunch again and I've accepted. What am I talking about?  I'm adding options to add render region flags to the job which is handy when rendering insanely large images for print. Thanks David for highlighting this handy feature (that is oh so surprisingly missing from this comprehensive option window >.>).

While I'm not married to this method, this is the direction I'm heading at the moment. The user will be allowed toggle the option and to also enter two values and the image will be subdivided based on these values.

For example this 4 by 2 tile setup. Of course the image can be split only horizontally or vertically as well. I'm trying to make this as simple and as fluid as possible.

4x2 Split
Then a job will be sent for each tile.

There are a couple features that I'd like to add as well:

  • the option to use the tile size as the image size, so instead of each tile being a portion of a large and mostly blank image and using up more resources

  • an option to overlap the tiles a bit, the user enters a value and the tiles will have these additional pixels in the +x and +y direction. Just in case of inconsistencies caused by anti aliasing and whatever.

 But these are not a priority.  Hopefully, I can progress a bit this weekend. And I really mean hope. I've also been having some serious mental blocks and problems focusing (more so than usual lol) and I suspect I'm overthinking it. Either way, going to try to power through this sucker :).


Done and done! Tile Rendering Added>>

New Theme

Sorting out some technical issues with the new theme >.>

This template is trying to kill me.

Lost my link list and menu yay :T

Got most of the info back, things are looking up for this new theme ^^, well apart from some image size problems.

Mudbox Texturing Tips

Have I ever said how much I adore Mudbox? Well I'm saying it now. Mudbox is such a treat! If it had a smudge paint tool, it would be pretty much perfect. Yes, if you get creative with the blur tool and a nice somewhat randomized brush tip you can sorta, kinda get a makeshift smudge but it's not quite a replacement for the Photoshop smudge tool.

Anyway, all textures with the exception of the wooden surface were handcrafted in Mudbox with love :3

Here is my list of Do's and Don'ts so far.


  • Set the brush strength to 100% and start each texture channel with a dedicated base coat.
  • When in doubt, make a new layer and make-sure-you-name-them.
  • Make an empty layer under which to group all other layers that contribute to an effect, it's the closest I got to simulating Photoshop layer groups.

  •  Depend on "undo" after switching back from soloing a layer (hopefully it's something I'm doing wrong).
  •  Don't merge layers without a backup copy.

Random Render: Fruit Bowls

Rendered in Mental Ray for Maya. Mudbox and Photoshop for texturing. All mia_materials, though I was really considering using an SSS shader or two. The scene is pretty simple, it's a poly cube extruded a few times to make the room slightly more interesting. There are a couple of windows with two large Mental Ray area lights sitting just outside. The lights are colored with blackbody shaders, one cool, one warm. The depth of field is true 3D, my PMM camera rig makes it sooo easy.