Creating Plants in Maya/Mental Ray

Forest Techniques, part One with Alex Alvarez

Chapter List

Description

In this title, Alex thoroughly covers how to create realistic plants using Maya, Paint Effects and Mental Ray. We begin by evaluating the default paint effects library and how to convert the strokes into renderable geometry with mia Materials. Using Physical Sun/Sky, we create more photorealistic renders through the creation of our own materials in a tonemapped workflow circumventing the default shaders created by Paint Effects. Everything necessary to create double sided shaders with realistic glossy reflections and translucency is demonstrated in detail. We look at mapping all relevant paramaters for more believable shaders via diffuse, bump, reflection and translucency, including how to organize UVs into tiles for variety in our leaf textures. We take an in-depth look at creating ivy with Paint Effects and the Ivy Generator tool and incorporate the discussed techniques for plants and ivy into a cliff scene. All relevant Paint Effects settings are then discussed so that we can create our own custom plant library, all of which culminates in a photorealistic forest trail. We create a variety of plants from scratch including ferns, ground cover clover, spider plants and more, demonstrating how to incorporate them into a complex environment.


Duration: 565 minutes

Format: HD 1280x720

Chapter List

  • 00. Preview
  • 01. Paint Effects Introduction
  • 02. Creating a PFX plant library
  • 03. Converting to Polygons
  • 04. miaMaterial & exposure, part 1
  • 05. miaMaterial & exposure, part 2
  • 06. Double-Sided materials
  • 07. Randomizing Leaf Textures
  • 08. Paint Effects Ivy
  • 09. Ivy Generator StandAlone
  • 10. Cliff: Integrating Plants into a Scene
  • 11. Custom Plants: Bush, part 1
  • 12. Custom Plants: Bush, part 2
  • 13. Forest Path Overview
  • 14. Spider Plants
  • 15. Leafy Fronds
  • 16. Ground Cover: Clover
  • 17. Fern, method A
  • 18. Fern, method B
  • 19. Conclusion

Alex Alvarez

Founder / Director The Gnomon Workshop and Gnomon School of Visual Effects

Alex is founder and director of The Gnomon Workshop and of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood. Having dedicated the last decade to educating students and professional artists around the world, Alex has helped change the face of computer graphics and design education. He has been published in industry magazines, websites and books – plus he has taught courses at several major trade conferences. Alex is president of the Los Angeles Maya Users Group and sits on the Advisory Boards for Highend3D.com and CGsociety. He continues to work on personal and professional projects, recently as a creature development artist on the James Cameron film Avatar. Prior to Gnomon, Alex worked for Alias|Wavefront as a consultant and trainer for studios in the Los Angeles area. Alex is an alumnus of the Art Center College of Design and the University of Pennsylvania.

  • " Whenever I need to breathe life into my characters, Alex Alvarez is where I go. Whether it be to collaborate on concepts with him directly or to watch his tutorials, I am always confident in accessibility to great information. Not only has his technical prowess pulled me out of many holes, but his character sense has given rise to some wonderful moments on some major motion pictures (Avatar and Star Trek). These new tutorials encapsulate what I gush about. Crazy and creative character design coupled with empowering technical know how. "

    - Neville Page
    Character / Concept Designer