Lets say that importing masks in to Mari 2 created in other software, is something very common and all the texture artist out there do every single day.

I’m talking about painted masks in Photoshop or Nuke, or baked masks in Maya, Softimage or just cavities, occlusions and other important maps generated in Zbrush or Mudbox.

Using all these programs and more is something pretty normal in any VFX boutique nowdays.

When I started working with the first alpha version of Mari 2 I found a bit tricky the way to import maps generated in others software packages in to Mari as layer masks.

The way to paint layer masks in Mari seems to be pretty straightforward but as I said if you want to import a texture as layer mask you need to follow some steps.

I’m pretty sure that if you are a new Mari 2 user you can’t find how to do this before spend some time struggling your mind to figure out how to do this simple thing.

I spent probably more than 30 minutes to find this out and just realize that a lot of texture artist are having the same problems to find a way to do it.

So, follow these steps to import layer masks in to Mari and save your precious time :)

And of course, if you have another fastest way to do it, I’ll be glad to hear it.

- Import you mask as new layer.

- Add a reveal layer mask to the layer that you want to mask with your imported map.

- Make a mask group.

- Double click on the mask group icon to open the masks window.

- Drag your imported mask layer to the list.

- Remove the previous mask created by default.

- Yo can invert the mask if needed.
- Done, your imported mask is working perfectly.

Inverted occlusion in Max.

January 22, 2011

People asked me for a step by step installation and usage of Binary Alchemy Color Ray Length shader in 3D Max.
Here we go.


* Download BA Shaders for 3D Max.
* Copy .dll files here -> “3ds Max 2010\mentalray\shaders_3rdparty\shaders”
* Copy .mi files here -> “3ds Max 2010\mentalray\shaders_3rdparty\include”
* Edit “3rdparty.mi” located here -> 3ds Max 2010\mentalray\shaders_3rdparty
* Your “3rdparty.mi” must be something like this.


* Create a matte/shadow shader and uncheck “receive shadows” and “use ambient occlusion”.

    * In the “camera mapped background” input, connect a “BA_color_raylength” shader.

    * Play with the “spread” to control the behaviour of the occlusion.
* Once rendered you’ll have something similar to this.

    * Mix the “BA_color_raylength” with procedural maps or bitmaps to improve the result.

Edit: The most important parameters to play with are “spread” and “far output”.

Inverse dirtmaps.

January 6, 2011

Sometimes is very useful generate inverse occlusion bakes to reach an interesting point to start to paint our dirt maps.
Vray dirt material is perfect for this goal, but if you don’t works with Vray, is very easy to do the same with Mental Ray and Binary Alchemy Shaders.

Read below.

- You need to install the Binary Alchemy Shaders. Some packages are free and you will have to pay for another ones.
- Apply a “surface shader” to the object and connect a “BA_color_raylenght” to it.
- Put this shader in “Inverted Normal” mode and play with his parameters.

- We reach an inverted “ambient occlusion”.

- Use a “blend colors” , “layered shader” o similar to combine this inverted occlusion with a nice bitmap.

Sample scene for Maya.
Binary Alchemy Shaders for Maya.

Edit: The most important parameters to play with are “spread” and “far output”.

Worn edges.

January 6, 2011

This technique is based on “worn edges techniques” by Neil Blevins.


- 3D Max Scanline Render.
- SoulBourn Scripts.
- Warp Texture Script.
- All the objects must be with a correct UV mapping.


- We must complete perfectly the UV mapping of the objects, without overlappings and similar common issues.

- To reach better results, we need more geometry information, especially in the corners.
- For that purpose, duplicate the objects, rename them and apply them some bevels in the corners and one or two turbosmooths if necessary. (but try first only adding bevels).

- Note: All the object mesh must be “Editable Poly”.
- Select the object and execute “Corner edge to vertex map” script.

- We will have to play with the low and high angle parameters, especially decreasing the intensity of the low angle when more complex geometry has the object.
- The next step is to distort this mask created by vertex color, to give it more caotic shape and indeed, more real aspect.
- We need to download the “warp texture” plugin.

- In a standard material connect the warpt texture to diffuse channel.
- In the target input connect a vertex color. 3D Max put by default the vertex information which we have generated previously with the corner edge to vertex script.

- In the warp input connect a procedural noise, whose parameters will vary depending of scene scale and object size.

- If we hit a render we reach a pretty decent results, but we need to define better our mask.

- If we put an output in the vertex color channel, we can play with the curve for empathize the results.

- In the noise we can also play with his output.

- Finally we can play with the “warp amount” to make variations of the mask.

- To finish, we can bake this mask to paint it in a more appropriate software.

Neil Blevins sample scene.
My sample scene.
My sample scene for rendering.

Simple dust material.

November 11, 2010

* Este shader es completamente procedural, muy fácil de configurar y rápido de renderizar.
* Es muy básico, pero puede dotar a los props y escenarios de una mayor riqueza, para que no parezcan tan aburridos, metiéndoles una ligera capa de polvo en su superficie.
* Muy útil para localizaciones donde hay muebles viejos, cosas almacenadas, etc.

Propongo dos métodos diferentes de conseguir el mismo efecto.

1. La versión Dust_material_vray_v001 es más completa y más real, pero el tiempo de render es mayor.
2. La versión Dust_material_vray_v002 tiene un tiempo de render menor, pero es menos real y menos atractiva visualmente.

De todas formas conviene conocer la construcción de las dos variantes, ya que en muchas ocasiones necesitamos hacer versiones de alta calidad y baja calidad de los shaders, en función de la distancia a cámara de los objetos que los utilicen, o por cualquier otro motivo de producción.


El material se compone de un blend que mezcla dos shaders a través de una máscara.

El primer shader es el del objeto que estemos texturizando. En este caso lo he llamado Teapot y es un simple shader con reflexión similar al plástico. Podría ser tan complejo como el objeto requiriese.

El segundo shader corresponde al polvo y lo he llamado Dust. Es un shader básico sin ningún tipo de reflexión ni brillo specular, ya que las zonas que están cubiertas de polvo deberian de tapar la superficie del objeto y ser prácticamente mates.

También podemos añadir un ligero noise como bump para simular la rugosidad creada por el polvo.

La máscara es un falloff del tipo towards/away y en dirección vertical (en el caso de 3D Max, en el eje Z).
Jugando con la Mix-curve controlamos la apariencia de la mezcla.

En el color blanco del falloff añadimos un noise para simular la variación granulada del polvo.

La mejor forma de ajustar el material, es ir probando cada shader y cada parámetro por separado.

Descargar escena de ejemplo.


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