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GDC 2013 Presentations Available

Last week, I was able to attend GDC 2013 and it was awesome! I worked for Allegorithmic running demos on Substance Designer 3.5. I recorded two walkthrough videos that talk about the content I covered at GDC.

I had a great time at GDC and special thanks to the guys at Allegorithmic for having me at the show.

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Maya HumanIK Mocap retarget with iPi Mocap Studio

This video shows a simple test using iPi Mocap studio for mocap. I recorded the motion and then retargeted the animation using HumanIK in Maya.

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New Modo Retoplogy Training Video

I just finished up a new video tutorial for called “modo retoplogy Tactics.”

Chapter Breakdown:
Re-Topology Tool Overview
In this video, we discuss the topology toolset and workflow in modo 601. This video sets the foundation towards getting to know the tools that we will use throughout the course.

Topology Concepts
Before we get into working on the model we need to cover some basic topology concepts. In this video we take a look at loop structure and polygon flow. By establishing a solid understanding of topology, we’ll be equipped to properly resurface the model.

Mesh Editing Techniques
In this video we will discuss techniques for editing the mesh at the component level. The techniques covered will build upon our skills for working with topology and will be used in the actual Retopology session.

Topology Guides
In this video, we discuss a method for painting lines on the reference mesh that we can then use as guides when creating the core loop structures for the topology.

Topology: Core Loops
This video begins the process of creating new topology. We will start with creating the core loops that we outlined in the topology guides video. These core loops will become the foundation for the rest of the model was we fill in polygons in later videos.

Topology Session: Section 1
This is the first section of the Re-Topology process. In this video, we focus on the mouth and chin.

Topology Session: Section 2
This is the second section of the Re-Topology process. In this video, we focus on completing the nose and jaw.

Topology Session: Section 3
This is the third section of the Re-Topology process. In this video, we focus on the eye and completing the forehead and cheek areas.

Topology Session: Section 4
This is the forth and final section of the Re-Topology process. In this video, we focus on the ear, back of the head, neck and torso.

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Allegorithmic Updates Substance Designer to version 3.2

Allegorithmic has released an update to Substance Designer. Version 3.2 introduces a new Library system for managing your assets. It’s a very welcomed edition to the Substance Designer feature set. In the following video, I walkthrough the new library preview window and how to add your own assets.

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Maya has “Old Man Strength”

Well, here we are at the end of 2012. We are still here having escaped the end of the world. Although, I think they should do a show on the crazy apocalypse people the day after. Now that they’ve sold everything and fled to their bunkers; what do they do now that everything is fine as we sane people knew it would be? I’d watch that show. Something like “Post Doomsday Preppers.”

I would definitely say that I had a great year. I got to attend GDC and Siggraph, which is something I wanted to do for the last 12 years. I also got to work on some great projects and I learned a lot. The most important thing I can say as an artist is that I definitely grew this year and expanded my knowledge base.

This year, I began to change up my pipeline. I’m always trying to evolve my skill set and I try to work with the tools that help me get where I want to be and help me to work more efficiently. With that said, I’ve been using Maya a lot more. I’ve adopted the NEX tool set for modeling and I’ve been working with mental ray for rendering. It seems users either tolerate maya, love it or completely hate it. I’ve read a lot about it’s antiquated workflow and for the longest time, I completely agreed. However, this year, I really dug into Maya and forced myself past the learning curve. Being a Lightwave and modo user, the Maya workflow was really alien to me. So after this year long experiment I have found that Maya is extremely powerful. Yes, maya is old, but it has old man strength. You man have heard this term before. The Urban dictionary defines old man strength as the uncanny ability of older men to lift copious amounts of lumber, heavy furniture, and beat their sons in arm wrestling. This year, I have found that maya can definitely lift heavy amounts of lumber and beat many of the newer 3D apps at arm wrestling.

Once I began to get past the learning curve and started to understand the workflow, I found that Maya is extremely extensible. I love the scripting capabilities and it’s actually fairly easy to write and execute code in maya. I also found mental ray to be a good solution. Yes, it’s hard to use and has it’s issues, but it’s also extremely powerful once you understand it. I’m still scratching the surface, but I really like the mia_material and the ability to use light shaders. After learning how to unlock unified-sampling, my render times went down and quality up.

This year, I spent a lot of time looking at various aspects of maya which have really impressed me.
Human IK
Paint Effects

In 2013, I am starting work on a short film. As a 3D artist, I have always wanted to make a short and this new year, I’m diving in and making it happen. I’ve spent that last few months evaluating tools and finding techniques to bring my vision to render. More to come in 2013. I will be covering the entire process as I work on the project’s website.

So to close out this post, I’d like to list the following tools that I used a lot in 2012. In a year of working to expand my workflow, I’ve found these tools to be invaluable.

Substance Designer
NEX for Maya

Finally, here is a personal project I completed this year. The goal was to learn new things. This image was created with ZBrush, Maya and rendered in Mental Ray. The big things I learned was using ZBrush fibermesh as nHair guides in Maya as well as using the mia_material and mia_fast_skin shader. Also, using light shaders with mental ray area lights.

Happy New Year: See you in 2013

Mr. Grumples

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Using NEX for Maya

Working on some modeling today and thought I’d post a few quick videos on my usage of NEX in Maya.

The first video shows a practical example of a logo I’m working on. I converted the curves to polys and then used NEX Quad Draw to create clean topology.
NEX tools used:
1. Quad Draw
2. Transform Constraint
3. Multi-Cut

The second video is a quick demonstration of the custom pivot functionality in NEX for Maya. There is no audio. The video shows that you can change the pivot or action center for the translation tools by holding D key and then clicking on any component to snap the manipulator’s pivot to that component. You can then press D and CNTRL key to choose a component to align the manipulator axis to. This is very handy for quickly setting up the manipulator’s pivot for precise translation.
In this video, I also was using NEX surface contraint and the slide capabilities of the NEX move tool to align edges on a model.

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Pixar’s OpenSubdiv Presentation at Autodesk ADN Conference

At Siggraph 2012, Pixar released its subdivision surface algorithm as an open-source library named “OpenSubdiv.” I would say that we will start seeing the algorithm in 3D packages next year. Luxology’s modo 501 and higher already contains the Pixar Catmull-Clark SubD algorithm through a technology license. However, now that’s it open-source, we’ll be seeing additional applications adopt the algorithm. This means that we could be looking at a streamlined standard for subdivision surfaces throughout 3D applications. This is a big win for everyone.

This video shows a presentation from Pixar given at the Autodesk ADN Conference. The Maya Viewport 2.0 plugin looks fantastic and shows the amazing possibilities of OpenSubdiv. Check it out!

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Allegorithmic Atomic Nodes Tutorials

Allegorithmic recently released a series of tutorials called the “Atomic Node Tutorials.” These tutorials focus on individual nodes found in Substance Designer such as the gradient, levels, HSL and channel shuffle. These videos are great for building a strong foundation towards learning Substance Designer. If you’re interested in the Substance texturing workflow, be sure to checkout these videos.

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Allegorithmic Releases Bitmap2Material 2.0

Bitmap2Material is a Substance tool that is used to create full material from a single image. B2M 2.0 brings some significant updates to the tool. One very cool update is the inclusion of 15 grunge maps substances which can be used to break-up your textures and add a sense of depth and realism to your textures. I originally purchased the Grunge Maps separately and use them often, so this is a nice bonus for B2M users.

- Huge improvement of several key algorithms such as Ambient Occlusion and Normal Map extractions, as well as light cancelling techniques, making B2M 2.0 by far the most advanced material extraction tool out there.
- New controls over the diffuse map such as hue, contrast and saturation, directly within the substance, avoiding the need to exit B2M to go into an image processing tool.
- Last but not least, now our versatile 15 Grunge Maps are included by default in the tool, to be combined in a parametric way with your Diffuse, Specular and Normal to instantly add rich details and realism to your material.

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Aligning objects in Maya using the Channel Box

Hey, I’m back from a blog hiatus! I’ve been working a lot and ended up not having time to keep up with blog. I really don’t like going so long without a post and I will try to not have any more long periods without new posts. Thanks for continuing to visit the blog!

I’ve been doing a lot of rigging lately and plan on showing a lot of the new things I’ve learned. In this post, I wanted to share a simple little trick for aligning objects using the channel box.

Since I’ve been doing more animation these days, I’ve found myself using Maya a lot. I’m surprised at the depth of the program. There is so much that it can do. I used to complain about Maya, stating that it was antiquated and difficult to use. However, the more I learn about it, the more I realize that I just didn’t understand it. There are so many hidden tricks and useful workflows. This video shows a cool feature of the Channel Box. Also, here is the code mentioned in the video.


import maya.cmds as cmds

selObjs =

transXToCopy = cmds.getAttr(selObjs[1]+'.translateX')
transYToCopy = cmds.getAttr(selObjs[1]+'.translateY')
transZToCopy = cmds.getAttr(selObjs[1]+'.translateZ')

cmds.setAttr(selObjs[0]+'.translateX', transXToCopy*-1)
cmds.setAttr(selObjs[0]+'.translateY', transYToCopy*-1)
cmds.setAttr(selObjs[0]+'.translateZ', transZToCopy*-1)

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