Maya Wine Cart – Modeling Progress

I’ve started a new piece to ring in the new year and with it comes some fun stuff to learn. I was searching for a nice scene to model when I came across a shot (bottom of post) on Pinterest courtesy of (https://ruffledblog Below are shots of the first modeling pass. When putting a scene together I like to follow the order of: model, light, texture, render. I’ve roughed in several of the models so far and have one of the two types of flowers complete. Everything in the scene is pretty straight forward with the flowers and vines taking up the bulk of the time. The filigred steel around the cart was done by drawing out CV curves and then extruding a nurbs circle along their path. After the extrusion is complete I convert the nurbs tube to a polygon and then model a cap on each end.

The icecream was an interesting surface to try and capture. I ended up stumbling on a technique by Andre Caputo (https://www on Youtube for Modo. There is nothing special about the tools used to achieve the final goal so I was able to copy the technique in ZBrush. I’m not entirely happy with my results on the first pass so I will do another when time permits.

The scene I chose has grass covering the ground and I’ve honestly never scattered objects in Maya. To achieve the scattering of the grass across the shot I used Maya’s system MASH (https://knowledge NULL.autodesk NULL.html). I was really impressed by how fast and easy it was to get things up and running. I modeled a single patch of grass and then wrote some simple expressions in MASH to vary the size and positioning. I know as soon as a lot of you read “expression” you freak out and think “this is beyond me”. It’s not! A friend of mine pointed me to a simple primer and within 30 minutes I had things up and running. If you want the full rundown of MASH (of course you do) check out this tutorial (https://www It’s long, but thorough. For my purposes the grass I created should be a little lower poly, but as a first pass it will do.

I always like modeling objects from nature as I find the process both creative and freeing. When modeling mechanical objects you can really get hung up on your reference. I find this isn’t the case with a lot of organic assets. The flowers in the scene are Freesia (https://en NULL.wikipedia There is also a yellow flower which I have yet to identify. I’ve modeled four different variations of the Freesia and that should be more than enough. My next step is to place them in the scene. As far as the stems go I’m going to wait until I have the placement of the flowers finalized then I will create the stems. This way I can have a single stem run up to several flowers. If I was to do this in reverse I would have to remodel the stems every time I changed the placement of the flower heads.

The end goal of this project is just to be a still shot, I’m not planning any animation. If I was to add any it would be a simple camera push. I’ve got a VRay sun node lighting the scene which is a nice change due to its simplicity. My last scene was indoors and had many many lights of varying temperatures and types. Below are two of the shots I found on (https://ruffledblog that I’m basing the scene on. I’m about two thirds of the way done the modeling and when I finish I will make a follow up post. As always if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask as I love to help others when I can :)

3D Studio Max Interior

The couch was the focus in this scene for me. It’s the only object I modeled in this scene. The rest of the meshes were purchased off of Turbo Squid. I then created the materials for all objects in the scene. The last steps were to light, render and finally composite the scene in Nuke. I rendered the scene using Vray. Almost all of my previous modeling was done by creating a scale stub in Maya and then working it out in ZBrush. 3DSMax is a different beast altogether when it comes to modeling. Thankfully VRay seems to work in a similar fashion from within 3DSMax as it does in Maya. I still don’t quite understand the new ‘Slate Material Editor’. It seems that materials I create from within the Slate editor don’t show up in the Compact editor and vice versa. Most of my shaders don’t require crazy node networks so I’m happy using the simplified editor.


A lot of the time developing this scene was spent on the couch’s material. I wanted to make sure the linen came through really strong and crisp. Rendering the couch without losing the detail in the bump was my main concern. I ran with a 4K diffuse map and a 4K bump map to create most of the detail in the material. A spec map was also used to control how the highlight spread over the couch’s surface. The raw render is 4000×2666. Below is detailed snipped of the full resolution render.

Texture Detail of Couch

Most of the folds and creases in the couch were created in ZBrush. I didn’t want to add too much wear and tear to the couch as it was designed for use in a product shot. Usually I would render out a default material pass to show the shapes in the scene, but this Global Illumination pass does a fine job.Sofa Interior Global Illumination

I haven’t had a chance to use the UVW pass on this shot, but I would like to play around with it in the future. The idea of being able to assign a new texture to the couch in post sounds really cool. I think it could have some really useful implications for product rendering. I’ve been thinking more and more about exteriors lately and I think I might try to model an outside scene in the near future. For now I’ll leave you with render passes created in 3DSMax for Nuke below.

Passes for compositing interior scene in Vray

Brasserie Interior – Maya: Vray

GISettingsI took some time over the last few months to rework a scene I had modeled last year. I’ve redone all the lighting and materials in Vray as opposed to Mental Ray. A big part of this project was crushing render times down while retaining quality in the right places.  I’m in the process of rendering an animation of the environment. There is a lot of glass so if the settings aren’t balanced right between the aliasing and reflection/refraction quality the animation will “shimmer” where the glass in moving. The animation is 5 seconds at 30FPS or 150 frames. This means that even at the current render times of ~90 minutes a frame the animation would take 225 hours. I knew this would be a challenge, but what better way to practice using the diagnostic tools? The longer render times are actually acceptable given these are the minimum settings to avoid shimmering in the glass. If this needed to be done sooner I would ship this off to an online farm or ask some of my friends to render a portion of the frames for me.

primarySettingsI’ve baked out all of the GI so that I can start and stop the render when my PC has some spare time. If I didn’t bake out the GI I would get changes in the grain when starting and stopping the render sessions. I’ve chosen to go with Light cache as my primary bounce solver while Irradiance mapping will be solving all of the secondary bounces. In this post I’ve included 2 shots of my render settings. One for GI and the other for primary rays/Secondary (DMC rays). I tried to include all pertinent information in the shots. If you can’t see the setting it was left at default.

witteveen centerSome of the materials were made in Substance Designer, while other’s were built right in Maya. One thing in the future I would like to experiment with is instancing. There is a lot of duplicate geometry between the logs and the wine bottles, the cutlery could be considered another culprit. The books and nic nacs on the back shelf are all HDRI shots of a bookshelf inside my living room. Next I created masks for each group of books. To keep things simple I created several 4K texture atlases for the bookshelf items and the pictures. I then merged all the picture geometry together. If I wanted to put a different picture in the frame I would simply move the UV cords of the corresponding faces over a new area of the atlas.
witteveenVrayGrayThe render settings in the attached images worked for me. I give them as a guide, but each project is specific and your settings will probably have to change to suit the exact needs of your scene. The primary rays are kept as low as can be. These are the heavy lifters we want talking care of edge cleanup (anti-aliasing). Pushing this too high will cleanup up your edges, but it will also force needlessly high samples on areas of your scene that don’t need it. Keep this as low as possible. The DMC (advanced) settings are way way higher. This is where you’re going to see a lot of difference in the clarity of the surfaces. Remember the primary rays are really only there to alias all your edges, not to cleanup your image. We want the secondary bounces to clarify the fine details in the materials. A great explanation of this technique can be found over at Akin Bilgic’s blog (http://www NULL.cggallery

Before I begin the render I have to create all my material ID masks. I’ll take these into Nuke on my Mac mini with some stills and start the colour corrections in post. When the render is done I’ll apply the same node chain to the animation and then bake that all out as a MP4. I’ll post the animation and colour corrected stills when I finish them and link them to this post.

Good luck and if you have any questions don’t be afraid to reach out or comment in the post below. I’ll admit the comment section is a little ugly, but I haven’t had time to adjust the CSS styles on it since changing formats. One day… one day I’ll have time for everything :) Right? :(

Blackberry Panacotta – Maya: Vray

Food is something I’ve wanted to render for a while. It seemed like a good rendering challenge given how familiar people are with the look of food. When I think of what really sells an object in a scene as “real” it’s the surface detail. I could have used displacement textures to refine the surface detail, but in this case I modeled the surface detail. I find modeling almost always gives a faster rendering result. Displacement takes a long time to calculate and on top of that you’re going to need a large resolution displacement material to get good results again adding to the render times.
Blackberry Panacotta Render in VRay

Even with a model that’s a quarter of a million polygons its still faster to render the result. The base shape of the panacotta was made in Maya to scale in cm then brought into ZBrush. In ZBrush I added some generic noise as a base using ‘surface noise’. I then went in with the ‘Dam standard’ brush and added some extra pitting to the surface. Finally I went over some of the edges with the ‘Trim dynamic’ brush to give the appearance of scraping or tearing where the dessert would have contacted the mold as it was popped out.


To create the blackberries I started in Maya. I made a bunch of polygon spheres and placed them in the basic shape with an interior shape that filled the gaps in between the spheres. This was then brought into Zbrush as an OBJ. Quickly after turning the mesh into a Dynamesh I used the ‘Nanomesh’ feature to drag hairs out of the berries faces.

Originally I had planned to create a fluid simulation for the sauce, but time did not permit. I instead drew a mask over the surface of the panacotta in ZBrush. I then used the ‘Extract‘ option to create a copy of the masked area. This was then sculpted into the sauce that lays over the dessert. The sauces on the plate were simple polygons modeled in Maya.


An unexpected challenge to this piece was the colour correction. From one device to the next the colour would vary quite a bit. With furniture and objects this isn’t as much of a problem as with food. The colour being too saturated can leave the food looking unappealing, too bright and it looks fake. In the end I tried to achieve a good balance between the two given the devices the final image was to be viewed on.

Below is a shot of my VRay passes from Maya. Nothing too crazy going on here. I should mention that this is the first time I’ve used ‘Raw’ passes in VRay. Specifically ‘Raw Global Illumination’ and ‘Raw Lighting’. I’m happy with the result. The compositing of those nodes varies slightly from traditional passes. They are merged with the ‘Diffuse pass’ using a ‘Merge’ node set to ‘Multiply’ rather than simply merging all the passes atop each other with Merge nodes set to ‘Plus’.
Panacotta Render Passes