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Old 13-05-09, 07:55   #1
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Default XNALara Tutorial (thorough) - Composition of an Authentic Pose Render on Maya 2009


Download this tutorial to keep for reference from your hard disk. PDF edited by silviu_raider. You will need Adobe Reader to view.
(N.B. this is only the first version of the main tutorial, it does not include the additional mini tutorials at the bottom of this post.)

Disclaimer: the provided pdf is only derived from an early version of this post by silviu_raider; any ill reproductions or misinformation not correctly corresponding with this post (the original, untouched and complete tutorial) is not my responsibility. Front cover by silviu_raider.
© 2009 H4RR7H @ Tomb Raider Forums & Tomb Raider Underworld @ Wikispaces.
Contact Me.

LAST REVISED: 26 November 2010


First off, I mean no disrespect to -Trangel- and their wonderful tutorials (here & here), but I thought I'd do a whole run-through that tackles all the problems you could encounter when attempting a professional-grade render of our favorite heroine; Lara Croft.

The great thing about Maya is that, once you gain the knowledge, you're only restricted by your imagination. In February 2009 I began a long and strenuous quest for this knowledge, how to use Maya, in anticipation of creating Tomb Raider renders. Four months later, I decided to accumulate what I had found here so that others who share the same desire can get a head start. So far it has been extremely rewarding for me, and I hope as so for others.

  • Dusan's XNALara (and knowledge of it)
  • Autodesk's Maya 2009 - trial, learning or full version (the trial should give you 30 days to complete your work, you can purchase the learning edition on a student discount or fork out your $$ for the big deal...)

This is not a tutorial for XNALara itself. I continue after finishing posing the desired model(s) to render.
Here are all my resource files that I'm using for this particular example (excluding Maya & XNALara). I've enforced as much as possible every step with examples, diagrams and/or images.
Please post questions, your work, topical discussions or requests for a render by me here. You can reach me with a pm but please try here first
N.B. The tutorial undergoes consistent revision. This post will be updated frequently.

Here's an example of what you can achieve - an absolutely sensational composite render by Scia (though this was achieved on 3DS Max, a sibling to Maya)
My complete works is now available here - Scia followed suit and has done the same here



The Main Tutorial

1. Importing & Setting Up

a) Export your posed model(s) from XNALara as a wavefront (*.obj) file, and designate it appropriately into a folder you’ll use for this whole project, e.g. 'C:/[User]/My Documents/Current Maya Job'.

N.B. If you want the Handguns or Thor-Gear exported with the model(s) make sure you enable them first before exporting them in XNALara.

N.B. If your model is a modified mesh made pose-able in XNALara by someone other than Dusan, please refer to o0Crofty0o's note regarding the export of modified meshes here. A few workarounds are required to import a workable model within Maya.

b) Also into this folder place all the constituent image files (diffuse, bump & light ‘textures’) you’ll need for your model(s) from the XNALara ‘data’ folders.

c) Open Maya; make sure you are set up ready with a brand new scene. It should by default look like this. Select File>Import… and in the Import Window browse to your posed wavefront file before selecting it and pressing Import. Hit F on your keyboard to focus your view on the imported object. The model(s) should appear as wireframe by default, but may be sideways like this (I'm using a swan-dive posed 'Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]' mesh).

d) If this is the case, it'll be so much easier if you put the model(s) upright (if it's ok proceed to (e)):

i) Open Window>Outliner and in the Outliner Window select everything except the cameras persp, top, front & side (obviously) but also not defaultLightSet and defaultObjectSet. With all the model parts selected, the Channel Box should display here.

ii) Keeping everything selected, change the Rotate X value to 270. Then hit F on your keyboard to focus. Your model should now be upright.

e) Crystal Dynamics uses a particular mesh type for Tomb Raider Underworld and these ‘Lamina Triangles’ can cause various visual errors in a Maya render including black 'chasms' all over the model. Fortunately, Maya can deal with this easily. Example of Lamina Faces left on a TRU mesh - Thanks to grotesque

i) Reselect every part of every model again with the Outliner Window. In the Status Panel change the menu focus to Polygons.

ii) Select Mesh in the Toolbar and select Cleanup...:

iii) Tick the Lamina Faces checkbox and select Cleanup.

f) For the purpose of the exercise, now would be a good time to select Smooth Shade All and to turn on Textured view for the rest of the project. Leave the Outliner Window open for later. See here.

g) May I remind you to save this project so far as a Maya Binary (*.mb) in your designated job folder. Keep organised and focused, the next few steps are arduous, but immeasurably rewarding in the end.

2. Diffuse Mapping (Texturing)

Quick Note 1: The Accompanying *.MTL file(s) to your *.OBJ(s).

Texture mapping information is kept in a text file with the extension *.mtl that exports alongside your posed model in wavefront format. This can be opened for reference if needed in any normal text editor (such as WordPad or NotePad on a Windows-based PC).

For most of the models (I believe at least all the characters), Dusan fortunately has named the parts, and this section will be pretty straightforward. But for other models, especially later in the development of XNALara (e.g. the Yacht and other static objects), the parts remain unnamed. Several diffuse maps occur more than once on the model's mesh, and here-in lays the problem of the correct allocation of textures. In the case of texturing something with no coherently named model parts, such as the Yacht, the use of the *.mtl file for guidance is recommended.

For example, here's the *.mtl file that accompanies the 'Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]' mesh I'm using, common with most of Lara's other meshes:

newmtl Model001_Material001
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\eyeshading_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material002
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\eyelashes_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material003
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\face_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material004
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\eyewhites_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material005
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\eyeirises_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material006
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\eyeballs_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material007
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\gear1_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material008
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\light_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material009
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\backring_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material010
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\hands_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material011
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\arms_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material012
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\gear2_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material013
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\gear3_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material014
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\gear4_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material015
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\gear5_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material016
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\body_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material017
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\face_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material018
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\mouth_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material019
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\legs_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material020
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\backpack_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material021
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\suit_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material022
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\collar_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material023
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\zipper1_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material024
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\zipper2_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material025
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\eyebrows_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material026
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\gear6_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material027
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\hair_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material028
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\hair_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material029
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\belts_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material030
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\metal_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material031
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\feet_diffuse.png

newmtl Model001_Material032
map_Kd data\Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]\ribbon_diffuse.png
The hair_diffuse.png file is an example of a multiple-mapping - both for Material027 and Material028. All models follow a similar strategy; these entire base names for any MaterialXXX where X denotes the material number, can be seen in the outliner:

N.B. The order of the *.mtl's texture reference lines is in the default hierarchical arrangement of the models. Maya displays this order by default in the Outliner window. This order allows the easy allocation of textures when referring to the *.mtl.

N.B. The 'eyeballs' model on most exported poses is some sort of bone reference for all eye model parts - on the *.mtl it has a reference to 'eyeballs_diffuse.png'. Clearly this does not exist. The solution = delete the eyeball model part all together, leaving the individual parts to texture later.

N.B. You could try this to skip section 2, but it hasn't worked yet for me

Quick Note 2: Removing Unwanted Parts. (See Mini-Tutorial #1 at the bottom of this post for specific component removal.)

XNALara exports Lara's modified models, such as 'Lara - Bathing Suit [No Gear]' as I am using, with all the original details, here all the gear. These can be removed manually:

N.B. I have no 'Handguns' or 'Thor-Gear' meshes. If you want the 'Handguns' or 'Thor-Gear' exported with the model(s) make sure you enable them first before exporting them from XNALara (back in section 1).

Since my mesh was desired to go without gear (maps kindly fixed by tarcairion for XNALara ), I'm going to delete all the unwanted models via the Outliner Window. This will also simplify the example with fewer meshes to map textures to.

i) Select the unwanted models in the Outliner Window.

ii) Hit Delete on your keyboard. Before/After.

I'm also going to delete the eyes alltogether as my pose has them closed for the swan dive, they won't be seen so won't need to be attended to. This will also save texturing work for the example.

Now we're ready to apply the texture diffuse maps!

a) Via the Outliner Window systematically approach each and every Material node. For the example I'll start with Model001_eyelashes.

i) Select the model in the Outliner Window, then hit Ctrl + A on your keyboard. This will change the Channel Box on the right to the Attribute Editor.

ii) In the Attribute Editor Window select the ModelXXX_MaterialXXX tab.

iii) Click the node link on the right of the Colour Slider located here. This will open the Create Render Node Window.

iv) Under the Textures tab under 2D Textures in the Create Render Node Window, select File. Shown here.

v) This should change the Attribute Editor Window on the right, focusing on the newly created tab 'file1'. In the File Attributes drop-down, under Image Name, select the browse icon and browse to the appropriate diffuse texture in your project folder, supplied by the XNALara 'data' files (explained in section 1). For my example this is eyelashes_diffuse.png. Select Open. See this (ignore the tab being called file2 and the fact that I've applied the hands diffuse map to the eyelashes... ).

b) Repeat (a) until all applicable diffuse texture maps have been applied to the model's parts. Use the Outliner Window to proceed to the next mesh systematically until you have applied all the diffuse maps.

c) Save!!!

Here's my example scene so far.

3. Bump Mapping

With a quick test render on the default light set you might notice that your model(s) doesn't quite yet look authentic (You may also notice that it's particularly shiny - don't worry - this will be attended to in sections 4+5):

This is because there's no extra detail enveloped over the textures upon the smoothness of the model's mesh. This can be attended to with the application of 'bump maps' - these add a level of 3D detail over the diffuse maps. Dusan has included all the game models' bump maps in XNALara, so we'll use them from the 'data' folder(s).

N.B. If it helps you, you can align the Outliner Window contents in alphabetical order. Select Display > Sort Order > Alphabetical Within Type. But I recommend keeping the models in hierarchical arrangement if using the *.mtl for reference. I'll do this for the example, and start with Model001_arms.

a) In the Outliner Window again systematically approach each and every model part. In the Attribute Editor under the Material Tab select the Bump Mapping bar. Look here.

b) This will open the Create Render Node Window, again like in section 2 select File. A new node view will open up in the Attribute Editor.

c) Set the Bump Depth (* more about this below) to my personally recommended value of 0.200-0.250.

d) Then click the button on the right to browse to the bump file so we can set it as the Bump Value.

e) Click the browse icon next Image Name and browse to the applicable data file, for me in the example it's arms_bump.png.

f) Repeat (a) to (e) again for the next model part in the Outliner Window list, until all have been applied their bump maps to a depth value of 0.200-0.250.

g) Save!

N.B. Some model parts don't have accompanying bump maps so just ignore them. Others have more than one; make sure the one you choose reflects a similar thumbnail to the diffuse map for the base bump map (See Mini-Tutorial #2 at the bottom of this post for adding extra detail with the bump1/2 files in the Hypershade - if you plan to add the extra detail, follow Mini-Tutorial #2, ignore the rest of this note below, and then return to section 4: Lightmapping). You can see here that arms_bump.png is the same resolution as arms_diffuse.png...

...compared with bumps1 & 2:

So assign it as the base bump map. Here's a test render of my example after step 3 (with only base bump maps applied):

Focus on the detail, you can see that bump maps make an effective outlining difference. The additional maps will increase the surface detail.

* Note: The Bump Depth Value


You can see that 1.000 is too much, and it's safe to keep it at 0.250 or even lower for freedom with any light set. I don't know what value is used in-game.

4. Light Mapping

Lightmaps tell light where to reflect/refract upon/off the mesh surface, i.e. they will fine-tune the dispersal of specular shading. Again, Dusan has supplied all of the lightmaps in your 'data' folder. Again, systematically apply them via the Outliner Window.

a) Go to the Attribute Editor and look under the Material Node.

b) Under the Specular Shading drop-down open a file reference to Cosine Power.

(again for the example I'm on the 'arms' model part's material node)

c) The Create Render Node window will open, select File (you should be getting pretty adept at this now ).

d) Again browse to a file in the Image Name bar; this time: the applicable 'lightmap' *.png.

e) Repeat (a) to (d) again for the next model part in the Outliner Window list, until all have been applied their lightmaps.

f) Save!

N.B. Some model parts don't have accompanying light maps so just ignore them. You will need to tweak their specularity attributes later (see section 5).

Here's a test render in mental ray with a point light after all the diffuse, bump & lightmaps have been applied:

Notice the dispersal of the specular shading is now different. The intensity of this can be tweaked in the Attribute Editor...

5. Tweaking Materials

Via the Outliner Window using our friendly systematic technique, we have to go through every model part again, one last time, and think of how we want it to look. The best way we can decide this is to understand every attribute and how it effects how the material renders. Good news is that this can all be done in only the Material Node in the Attribute Editor. I'm not going to write any particular steps, you can toggle anything you like to anything you like, but here's a general overview:
  • Type: (Different material types render differently) Phong is the best material type to use for any TRU model materials because this is in fact what they commonly use in video games, and indeed in TRU. However, some models, like the handguns, are better suited to something more realistic such as a Blinn material type, which gives a more calculated specularity and better reflections. You can explore these types by yourself.
  • Common Material Attributes - Color: (The color or 'texture' of the material) We've already defined this via diffuse maps in section 2. Can be set to any of the preset textures or a single colour.
  • Common Material Attributes - Transparency: (The 'see-through' value of the material) Transparency does get defined automatically by diffuse maps, but you can set it manually. Fully right the object is competely invisible, left fully opaque.
  • Common Material Attributes - Ambient Color: (The effervescence (ambient light) given off by the Color restricted by the Transparency) You can set this to a plain color, combine with Special Effects - Glow for the such like of the Thor Gear's wireframe blue glow. Takes transparency into account.
  • Common Material Attributes - Incandescence: (The effervescence (ambient light) given off by the Color restricted only by the model's mesh) You can set this to a plain color, combine with Special Effects - Glow for the such like of Mjlonir's wholesome blue glow.
  • Common Material Attributes - Bump Mapping: (The extra mesh detail) We've already defined this via bump maps in section 3. We can stack additional bump maps in the hypershade (see additional mini-tutorial #2).
  • Common Material Attributes - Diffuse/Translucence/Translucence Depth/Translucence Focus: (The way the material is rendered with lighting other than the default data set) Best to leave all these values on the default values unless you know what you're doing. If you need a material to not cast/receive shadows at all, such as eyeshading, eyebrows, glass or the Thor wireframes, go to the ModelXXX_[modelname]Shape tab in the Attribute Editor: under the Render Stats drop-down you can tick/untick these and other settings including visibility.
  • Specular Shading - Cosine Power: (The dispersal of light across a surface) We've already defined this via light maps in section 4. Can be increased or decreased manually.
  • Specular Shading - Specular Color: (The shininess of a material) Set this high for a white cosine line, low for little or no effect. It can be assigned a plain color.
  • Specular Shading - Reflectivity: (The ability of a material to act as a mirror, where 1.000 is a flawless mirror and 0.000 any other non-reflective surface) Obviously Lara isn't a mirror, so most of her should have no reflectivity, especially in a scene with multiple models/dynamics as she would give off reflections. You might want to set this for some things though, e.g. the handguns (being metal) to 0.100, or 0.462 for glass reflections etc...
  • Specular Shading - Reflected Color: (The ambient reflection diffuse) Also leave this alone for TRU Models, unless need be. Things like 360 degree environmental reflection diffuse maps can be applied, but this is better done with IBL (see additional mini-tutorial #5).
  • Special Effects - Glow: (A post-render effect. Intensity alters the effect, Hide Source hides the actual material. Common Material Attributes - Color/Ambient Color/Incandescence define it's look.) Useful and a neat post-effect when rendering Thor Gear etc...

For the purpose of the example here are my material attributes for the face. The eyelashes and eyebrows are also tweaked:

You can see the difference quite clearly, the face is looking much more normal now. Note there's no actual lighting, which will play an important part when rendering authentically later...

Once you're completely happy and finished with tweaking the materials; it's a good idea to select all the model parts in the Outliner Window and click this button (Combine) under the Polygons menu set. If you ever need to tweak the materials further for any reason later, you can access them by the newly formed expandable components still there in the Outliner Window. Not only will this maneuver allow the translation and easy selection of the geometrics of the model (now there should be a useful PolySurfaceX reference to the entire model (X=#) in the Outliner Window), but it will now appear naturally in the 3D world; in reflections and/or refractions caused by lighting.

May I also remind you to hit F on your keyboard to focus and to save your project so far

6. Lighting & Shadows

a) Lights:

Lighting in conjunction with materials produces the aesthetics of your render. To create a light follow the menu Create > Lights.
  • Ambient - Simply gives infinite angular light to the scene.
  • Directional - Gives infinite light in a direction; useful for defining shadows.
  • Point - Gives infinite outwards light, originating from a point.
  • Spot - Gives directional light from a spot, restricted by a variable cone shape and ending on a definable fade-off.
  • Area - Lights only a selected area beyond a restricted 2D face with a directional light.
  • Volume - Gives inwards or outwards light restricted to a selected volume.

Once you've placed a light you can select it, either on screen or now from the Outliner Window, and move it by using the Move Tool from the Tool Box on the left. Remember holding Alt + any of the three mouse buttons allows different camera movements (Zoom, Pan & Rotate). Remember to hit F to restore focus to the model(s) on scene at any time.

N.B. If you're using the likes of a Directional Light and want to aim it; select it and then in the Scene View Window select Panels > Look Through Selected. Moving the camera will move the light; it is the light.

I've decided to set up both an Ambient Light & a Directional Light: each with an intensity of 0.500 adding up to 1.000 (This can be altered in the Attribute Editor under the [light]ShapeX tab - different lights have different qualities that can be toned - fiddle around with them to get a desired lightset):

b) Shadows:

N.B. Any types of shadows (Depth Map/Ray Trace) are applicable to all but Ambient Lights. If you select a light, you can enable shadows. The option can be set in the Attribute Editor under the [light]ShapeX tab.

N.B. Enabling shadows increases the render time dramatically.

N.B. Depth Map Shadows are only available in Maya Software rendering, but these are fast to render and what they actually use in-game.

N.B. Ray Trace Shadows are only available in Mental Ray rendering, but these take incredibly long times to render as they are so crisp and sharp.

I've set up my directional light to use Depth Map Shadows. They're enabled to the largest Resolution of the render image size (1280 here) and with a Filter Size of 3. These values are completely tweakable to your liking and also synonymous with the Ray Trace Shadow options, if you decide to use them. Many of the options are self-explanatory. Here are the results after a quick test render in Maya Software at production quality:

Shadows make a great deal of difference to the depth of the picture. All material details are expressed uniquely by each individual lightset you create.

N.B. If you find you need something not to cast shadows or not to receive them or both (e.g. the eyebrows or shading): you can toggle this in the [model]ShapeX tab under the Render Stats drop-down.

This image from before is an example of Ray Trace Shadows in use. Further; see the final image at the bottom. Beware: the test with Depth Map Shadows above took around 2 minutes to render, whereas this (with Ray Trace Shadows) took around 20 minutes.

Once you've finished setting up your lighting don't forget to save your progress! Rendering comes next.

For advanced and realistic lighting, including Image Based Lighting, Physical Sun & Sky, Global Illumination and Final Gather, see the additional mini-tutorial #5 below.

7. Rendering & Depth Of Field Effects (With Multiple Models/Static Scenery)

N.B. If you wish to complete the scene with any other models (e.g. environments or more characters etc...) follow sections 1-6 again for each new model before returning here.

a) Setting up a Camera:

i) Firstly In the status line, change your menu focus to Rendering for this section.

ii) Create > Cameras... > Camera will place a default camera 'camera1' onto the scene (persp is always the current view). You can rename it in the first tab of the Attribute Editor in the transform: box.

iii) The easiest way to set up the view is to be the camera itself. In your visor window, select Panels > Perspective > [your camera].

N.B. While in this view, any changes to the perspective also moves the camera; so if you've set the camera and don't want to move it accidentally return to persp.

iv) The action of holding Alt on your keyboard + any of the three mouse buttons translates, rotates or pans your camera. Set it to your liking.

v) Save!

Here's my example scene, complete with model, lights and camera:

b) Depth Of Field:

N.B. D.O.F. provides realism but affects render time dramatically - skip to 7. (c) if you think it unnecessary.

i) Return to your camera view, if you're not already in it. In your visor window select View > Select Camera.

ii) Then in the Maya Window menu select Display (five along from File) > Heads Up Display > Object Details.

iii) Select the object you want the camera to focus its lens upon, much like in real life. In the top right corner of your visor there should be a value recorded: Distance From Camera. Note this number somewhere. Also note this value for your background object(s).

iv) Select View > Select Camera again. Under the [cameraname]Shape tab in the Attribute Editor you'll find a tab down below labeled Depth Of Field.

v) Enable Depth Of Field. Set the Focus Distance to your recorded Distance From Camera from step (iii).

vi) Set the F Stop value to where you want the focus to stop - i.e. from where and beyond you want objects to begin becoming out of focus.

vii) Set the Focus Region Scale to an appropriate value. The lower it is the worse the focus is (i.e. the better the 'out-of-focus-ness' is ), the higher the better.

N.B. The higher the resolution of your render image the worse the far off depth of field will look at a low Focus Region Scale. E.g. For a rendered image of 1920x1080 pixels, setting the Focus Region Scale to the likes of 60.000 or higher is not a bad idea. Here's an example of Lara in front of four different coloured balls. Lara's Distance From Camera value is set up as the camera's Focus Distance. The F Stop value is set to halfway between the blue and green balls' Distance From Camera values. Focus Region Scale is at 20.000. You can fiddle around with these values to make objects in or out of focus. Remember: anything at and from the Focus Distance is in focus. Anything before Focus Distance or after F Stop is out of focus.

c) Setting up a Render:

i) Click this button:

And something should appear synonymous with this:

N.B. There are lots of options within the Render Settings window. I will go through the basic ones to get your render going.

ii) Set Render Using to mental Ray or Maya Software depending on whether you're using depth map or ray trace shadows in your light sources from section 6.

N.B. If Mental Ray isn't available load the plug-in via Window > Settings/Preferences > Plug-in Manager. Tick Load next to Mayatomr.mll. I'm explaining the MR set-up, but the MS is very similar:

iii) Under the Common tab you can set your desired Image Size.

iv) Under the Quality tab there are various options, but it's best to use the presets to determine the quality of your Render. Draft is useless, Preview is worst quality but a quick render, Production is best but can take very long to render and Production: Fine Trace is just Production render quality with anti-aliasing applied, which can double render time.

v) Save before the render!

vi) Click this:

vii) Select Render > [cameraname].

viii) Wait...

ix) Once the render is finished in the Render View right click and save the render as a desired format. Transparency is automatic in *.gif and *.png formats. I would recommend *.bmp for lossless quality and to maintain a background. Do NOT save as *.jpg - quality will be lost severely.

More rendering options are elaborated upon in additional mini-tutorial #5 below, including Image Based Lighting, Physical Sun & Sky, Global Illumination and Final Gather.


Here's my finished render at Production: Fine Trace. The full size took 9.5 hours to render with Depth Of Field enabled on my camera:

1920x1080 version available here. I added in the TRL Croft Manor Pool via steps 1-6, before rendering, to not only test the tutorial but to provide a final complex example. Looking back at this I forgot to set the eyebrows not to cast shadows (see sections 5+6). A Photoshop job afterwards is always recommended too, especially for colour correction that your lightset may not have perfected

And I'm done. Please post your render(s) in the thread below. I'm also available for help in the thread


Additional Mini-Tutorial #1: Specific Mesh Removal (Component Selection)

For the example, probably one that's actually sought after, I'm going to show you how to remove Lara's Wetsuit Snorkel-Mask from the top of her backpack. This is just a simple modelling method that can be applied to anything.

Drag-selecting the Snorkel-Mask, upon the wetsuit model, you can see it's actually made up of five separate model parts. Many of the parts involved have constituent references around the rest of the model, those of which we don't actually want to remove (the metal bits around the bag and belts). Thankfully, it's not too much of a mission to leave them be while removing the parts of the Mask we want removed.

1) Remove any unwanted full model-parts (generally the majority) that don't have other desired pieces around the model; here I can do so with Model001_gear2-6, leaving only Model001_gear1 to deal with. Check before removing by rotating the view (Alt + Middle Mouse Button by default), and/or hitting F on your keyboard to focus the view (thus revealing, hopefully, no other areas to worry about). It's probably also a good idea to view the model in Wireframe rather than Smooth-shade just in case you miss anything important. See here

2) Here comes the tricky part - removing individual parts of the mesh, without distorting the texture UV-mapping:

a) With the required model-part to remove selected, hold down right click over it. This menu (shot taken from an actual Maya tutorial, PrtSc wouldn't grab it...) should appear over the display:

You could try with all sorts of options here (Object Mode is the normal), but I'm going to remove the unwanted bits with Face.

b) In your choice of mode of component selection, you can now safely select bits you want gone. Holding down Shift while clicking adds/removes a face or edge to the selection. I've now selected the faces I want remove - Before.

c) Hit delete to remove them - After.

The UV Map will remain undistorted, so textures should appear normally when corresponding diffuse maps are applied.


Additional Mini-Tutorial #2: Making Use of the Extra Bump Maps (In Maya's Hypershade)
N.B. Essentially this mini-tutorial is currently incorrect. You may still follow it for additional detail to your model, however the use of masks is not included. For a brief explanation on masks in conjunction with secondary bump maps, take a look at this thread.
silviu_raider has provided a workaround wihthin Maya here, and an entire alternative method here

This tutorial will make use of the additional '_bump1' and '_bump2' files from XNALara as extra surface detail for some materials. Check your data folder for the files and by looking at the names discern which model parts will need this extra detail.

I will exhibit the tshirt model part on the 'Lara - Grey Jungle Shorts' model. The files I will need to complete the material are tshirt_diffuse.png, tshirt_bump.png, tshirt_bump1.png, tshirt_bump2.png & tshirt_lightmap.png.

1) Select the model part that will make use of the additional bump maps available, either in your view or from the Outliner window. Note the material number in the tab on the right in the Attribute Editor.

2) Open Maya's Hypershade via Window > Rendering Editors > Hypershade, shown here.

3) Select this view (Show top and bottom tabs) within the Hypershade. Select your material noted in (1) from the upper subwindow and middle-click drag it into the lower subwindow. Lastly change your view to Show bottom tabs only, before highlighting the dragged material and selecting this (Input and Output Connections).

All material nodes should now be expressed in the Hypershade view. If you have previously added materials, such as diffuse and primary bumps, they should be visible with an arrow linking them to the central material node in some way. The Hypershade is a method to edit Nodes, the powerhouse of Maya that generates what an object is visible as: nodes govern material attributes.

4) From the Create Maya Nodes list on the left of the Hypershade Window, add (middle-click drag near the central material node);
  • 2D Textures > File x 2
  • General Utilities > Bump 2d x 2

5) Drag each File node and 'stack' them on to each Bump 2d node by middle-click dragging and selecting Default. This creates connections between the nodes.

6) However, to stack the Bump 2d nodes a small alteration is required (this is what we will have to do to add secondary bump maps):

a) Middle-click drag the first secondary Bump 2d node onto the primary bump node (which should already be allocated from completing the rest of the tutorial), and select Other.

b) The Connection Editor should open, arrange like so:

c) Select Close. If you can't find outNormal or normalCamera select Left/Right Display > Show Hidden.

d) Repeat (6)(a)-(c) to stack the second secondary Bump 2d node onto the first secondary Bump 2d node.

7) Now that the nodes are set up you must attribute the File references, using the Attribute Editor (work within the two windows). Load the corresponding '_bump1' & '_bump2' files from your current Maya job folder.

8) Similarly by selecting the Bump 2d nodes in the Hypershade you can adjust the Bump Depth or other essential values in the Attribute Editor in Maya's main window. The only additional piece of information you will need is how to adjust the frequency of the surface detail provided by the two secondary bump maps:

a) In the Attribute Editor for a File node stacked on a Bump 2d node, go to the place2dTextureXX tab.

b) Change the two Repeat UV values to a suitable value (this will repeat the small secondary pattern across the main bump). For my exhibit, the tshirt, I'm going to use a Repeat UV value of 25.000 for both secondary bump maps.

Here's my final tshirt material expressed in the Hypershade (you can always select Rearrange graph to tidy things up), and here's a before and after shot under PS&S:

You can see many more examples of secondary bump maps in use in my render collection thread.


Additional Mini-Tutorial #3: Ambient Occlusion, Toon Shaders & Other After-effects (as Separate Render Passes)

Coming Soon

In the meantime you could try this easy ambient occlusion tutorial by Jonathan R. Nelson


Additional Mini-Tutorial #4: Physical Hair Separation (Simulated as nCloth)

This tutorial will teach you how I produce Lara's hair as separated and under physics in nCloth format.
Note that the construction can be entirely alternative to your liking with the same principles applied.

N.B. It's best to have your hair pre-posed in the general position you're looking for.

1) I find that making the front part of the hair (normally the 'hair2' model part) nCloth never looks that great - the front has such a low polygonal count, looking jagged when under physics. If you'd like all the hair to become nCloth, skip to step (2).
Instead I'm going to separate the front and the ponytail of 'hair2'. You can do this in the same way as in minitut #1; by selecting the faces of only the front hair and then the Separate button. Either or both resulting parts may need to be re-combined after. Now you should have a seperate ponytail (if using Lara).

2) a) Change the menu focus to Dynamics, and select the nCloth tab.

b) With the nCloth model selected, usually found as 'nCloth1' in the Outliner, press the button on the far left (in red); 'Given a selected triangular mesh, create an nCloth'

c) Now as well as the newly created nCloth also select every other proximal model part, such as the hair pt. 1 and head etc. (those that might come into phyiscal contact with hair). Press (in blue): 'Given an object and an nCloth, make object a collider with nCloth'.

N.B. You will have to reapply any materials to the newly created nCloths and colliders if you have already made them. Right click and assign existing materials

d) Personally, I like to create a constraint between only the nCloth ponytail and the ribbon as a collider. To do this, have both of these model parts selected, and choose (in green): 'Select cloth points and a collision object to constraint to'. This way the ponytail will stay attached to the head (ribbon model part). If you've got all the hair as nCloth, try constraining to hair1.

3) Adding a force: Select the nCloth ponytail again, change to the Dynamics tab and select either Gravity if you desire, or a directional force ('Uniform Field) which can give the hair movement a specified X/Y/Z direction:

N.B. nCloth attributes such as friction (stickiness) and stretch values can also be altered in the nClothShape1 tab in the attribute editor. There are a range of presets available, too.

4) Save the scene, I would advise to do so as a new variant of your original maya binary in case you don't like the nCloth's results and decide to leave it entirely. Add more frames to the preset 24 below, if desired, and press play.
As Maya computes the hair's movement, you'll be able to see what kind of effects you are getting. Fiddle with the nCloth and field settings some more, and when you're happy with the result all you have to do is stop at a desired frame to complete the static render:


Additional Mini-Tutorial #5: Advanced Easy Lighting (IBL, PS&S, FG/GI)

Coming Soon

In the meantime please see this tutorial for Final Gather/Global Illumination by TOI-pedia staff


Last edited by H4RR7H; 18-03-11 at 04:08.
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Old 13-05-09, 09:25   #2
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I am so thankful that someone is showing us all these amazing things!
I can't wait to see all the tutorials online!
For now, THANK YOU!
You have my respect and I'm looking forward to your next tutorials.
Thank you!
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Old 13-05-09, 09:33   #3
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Originally Posted by silviu_raider View Post
I am so thankful that someone is showing us all these amazing things!
I can't wait to see all the tutorials online!
For now, THANK YOU!
You have my respect and I'm looking forward to your next tutorials.
Thank you!
What a wonderful response! Thank you

If you're trying it yourself don't hesitate to ask me for any hints or tips, I really want to help everyone get some renders online.

Have you seen Scia's work? With his/her help I'm able to make those effects now also, which I will explain in section 8

Lovely to have you tagging along silviu_raider; at least I'm writing this for somebody
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Old 13-05-09, 09:54   #4
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Great tutorial! Thanks for taking the time to explain this process and I'm also looking forward to section 8!
Lara Croft: one-woman extinction event.
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Old 13-05-09, 13:11   #5
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"ii) Keeping everything selected, change the Rotate X value to 270. Then hit F on your keyboard to focus. Your model should now be upright:"
I made it, but I cant rotate all, only ribbon.
Sorry for the bad english, I'm italian!
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Old 13-05-09, 15:40   #6
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I am interested in 3D for quite some time but because I'm not a native english speaker (even though I'm at "William Shakespeare" High School, but we, none of use, can compare with a native speaker; I'm romanian) I do not fully understand what I need to do.
Yes, I have seen Scia's work! It's breathtaking!
Thank you again for writting this tutorials!
If I had such friends here that can teach me.
I'm quite a fast learner and if I don't accomplish what I intended to do, I try it over and over untill I get it right.
In the future (now I'm just 16, turning 17 in July), I would like to work in the 3D industry because I love it and I don't miss imagination.
I'm repeating myself, but I don't care because not everybody does what you do and I know it involves a lot of hard work and I really appreciate what you do, so... thank you!
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Old 13-05-09, 15:58   #7
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Originally Posted by H4RR7H View Post
when attempting a professional-grade render of our favorite heroine here; Lara Croft.
Nice thread, I can't wait to see more of this fan based tutorial.

"Professional-grade renders" all renders using XNA LARA are fan work.

Just stating the obvious there, but it needed to be said.

Last edited by Larapink; 13-05-09 at 16:03.
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Old 13-05-09, 16:18   #8
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Wouldn't people that have bought Maya already know how to do this?
Or at least could we keep all the Maya tutorials in the same thread

Nice tutorial either way
We, the people, are idiots. Please, for pity's sake, ignore us more often.
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Old 13-05-09, 16:29   #9
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@toxicraider: Maybe some people recieved the program as a B'Day present or from a friend or whatever and they don't know how to use it.
At least, I am looking at it and trying to translate or trying to understand what some buttons do or what to do in order to get to a desired result.

Last edited by silviu_raider; 13-05-09 at 16:30.
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Old 13-05-09, 16:38   #10
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Originally Posted by silviu_raider View Post
@toxicraider: Maybe some people recieved the program as a B'Day present or from a friend or whatever and they don't know how to use it.
A program such a Maya is worth over £2,000, it's very unlikey to recieve it as a Birthday Present. I just hope people are using a Legal version one where you have bought the offical licence. The reason why it costs so much it is because it's used in the Film, Animation and Games industries.

Mostly if you have Maya you're on a training course to learn how to use it or you're in the Professional Industry, I am on a degree course at University to learn Maya, 3ds Max and Z-brush.

Last edited by Larapink; 13-05-09 at 16:41.
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