Yes I know, working with normal maps in Softimage is a bit weird sometimes, specially if you worked before with 3D Max normal+bump preset.

I’ve been using the same method over the years and suited fine for me, maybe would be useful also for you.

- I prefer to generate the normal maps inside Softimage rather than Mudbox or Zbrush, usually works much better according to my tests with different assets.
So, you should import in the same scene both geometrys, high and low. Don’t be afraid of high poly meshes, Softimage allows you to import meshes with millions of polygons directly from Mudbox or Zbrush.

- With both meshes in your scene be sure that they are perfectly aligned.

- Check the UV mapping of the low resolution mesh.

- Select the low resolution mesh and open the ultimapper tool.

- The most important options are:

  • Source: You have to click on your high resolution mesh.
  • Path: Where your normal map texture will be placed.
  • Prefix: A prefix for your texture.
  • Type: You can choose between different image formats.
  • Normal in tangent space: The most common normal map type.
  • Resolution: Speaks for itself.
  • Quality: Medium it’s fine. If you choose high the baking time will increase a lot.
  • Distance to surface: Click on Compute button to generate this parameter.

- Click on generate and Softimage will take some time to generate the normal map.

- The normal map is ready.

- Hide your high resolution mesh.

- Grab one of the MR shaders and drag it to your mesh.

- Use a normal map node connected to the bump map input of the shader.

  • Choose the normal map generated before.
  • Select the correct UVs.
  • Select tangents mode.
  • Uncheck unbiased tangents.

- Hit a render and you’ll see you normal map in action.

- Cool. But now one of the most common procedures is combining a normal map with a bump map.

- I’m using the image above.

- If you use a bump map generator connected into the bump map input you will have a nice bump map effect.

- Find below the final render tree combining both maps, normal and bump.

- The first bump map generator has two inputs, color matte which is a plain white color and the normal map with the options which I already commented before.
Be sure to select relative to input normal in the base normal option of the bump map generator.

- The second bump map generator is your bump texture where you can control the intensity increasing or decreasing the factor value.

- The vector math vector node allows you to combine both bump map generators.
Connect the first bump map generator  to the first input and the second one to the second imput.
In the operation option select vector input1 + vector input2.

- Final render :)

TV spots for Happy Feet 2.

September 22, 2011

Warner Bros has just released two new tv spots for Happy Feet 2, the last animation project which I worked on.


One of the most useful workflows when you are texturing is bake your textures from one UV set to another one.
You will need to do this for different reasons, one of them for example could be using different resolution models with different UV mapping or using a different UV mapping for grooming, etc.

The first time I tried to do this in Maya I realize that MentalRay Batch Bake tool doesn’t work fine, I don’t know why but I couldn’t use it.

I solved the problem using Transfer Maps tool for Maya and decided to write down for future chances.

- Check the different UV sets in Maya.

- Apply your textures and shaders.
– I’m using six different shaders with six different texture maps.

- If you use the Mental Ray Batch Bake tool (common used for baking purposes) and configure all the parameters, you’ll realize that the baked maps are completely black. Something is wrong realated with UV sets. Bug? I don’t know.

- You need to use the Maya Transfer Maps tool.
Lighting/Shading -> Transfer Maps.

- Duplicate the mesh and rename to source and target.
– Select target and his UV set.
– Select source.
– Select desired map to bake. (probably diffuse)
– Select the path.
– Select resolution.
– Bake.

- Your baked texture is ready.



September 2, 2011

About Mudbox and UV shells.

September 1, 2011

When you’re going to texture an asset which already have a displacement map, probably you’ll want to apply that displacement to your mesh before start the painting process.

In my pipeline, I usually apply the displacement map in Mudbox and then I export the high resolution mesh to Mari.

The problem here is that Mudbox doesn’t allow you to work with displacement maps and multiple UV shells.

I tried below to find a solution for this problem.

- Check your UV mapping in Maya.

- I’m using these simple displacement maps here.
One map for each UV shell.

- Export as .Obj

- Open in Mudbox and subdivide.

- Go to maps -> sculpt model using displacement map.

- Select your mesh and your displacement map.

- As you’ll realize, Mudbox doesn’t allow you to choose different maps for each UV shell which means that Mudbox will be able only to sculpt using the displacement map for U0-1 V1-0 coordinates. Big problem.

The way which I’ve found to solve this problem is:

- Go back to Maya.

- Select your mesh and open de UV Texture Editor.

- Select one of the UV shells which is outside of the default U0-1 V1-0 range.

- Open the script editor and type -> polyEditUV -u -1 -v 0 ;

- You’ll notice that the second UV shell is placed in the default UV shell but was moved 1 exact position. Then your displacement texture  will match perfectly.

- Export again as .obj

- Now you’ll can use your displacement map in Mudbox without problem.

- Repeat the process for each UV shell.

- Commands to move UV shells 1 exact position.

Move left -> polyEditUV -u -1 -v 0 ;

Move right -> polyEditUV -u 1 -v 0 ;

Move up -> polyEditUV -u 0 -v 1 ;

Move down -> polyEditUV -u 0 -v -1 ;



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