Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nifty Bit of Bloggery

Here's a cool Blogue from Graham Annable (that's his "Kodiak Mary" image above). He's a story artist, animator, and "comic fellow" who works for Laika up in Portland and recently worked on Coraline. Most importantly, he's a hockey teammate of SOU's own Jill Bruhn. Some very nice stuff; this guy's good. Check it out and get inspired.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quick Maya Material Reference

Here's a good reference for the Hypershade. It gives short, clear descriptions of shader types and attributes in 3 handy pages.

Here are some guidelines when working with materials:
1. If you're using texture files, start off with a Blinn.
2. Most materials will involve Color, Bump, and Diffuse maps.
3. Play around with the basic "shininess" of your material. With a Blinn, that means working the Eccentricity and Specular Roll Off sliders.
4. The exceptions to these rules come with funky surfaces like glass and shiny metals.
5. The skydome uses a Surface Shader. A Surface Shader allows you to have a material that functions independently of the lights you set up in Maya. A surface shader will always show the values and colors of your texture map regardless of how it is lit.
6. The Layered shader can be a groovy way to get more advanced material effects down the road. It lets you combine different materials into a new material.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Quick Maya Lighting Reference

Types of lights in Maya

1. Ambient Lights = Bad (or last ditch cheat)

2. Directional Lights = Infinite in size and casts light in one direction. Often used to simulate the sun. Can cast shadows.

3. Point Lights = Omni-directional light source emanating from a single point. Can be used for light bulbs, the sun in a planetary system, a fire. Can cast shadows and be attenuated.

4. Area Lights = Similar to Directional Light but with a limited size. Can cast shadows and be attenuated. Can be used for skylights and large light fixtures. Akin to a "soft box" in movie lighting. "Relatively expensive" in terms of render time.

5. Spotlights = Most common and versatile of the lights. Your work horse. To move the aim point separately from the light, hit "T" for the "manipulator" tool.

Maya Lighting Tutorials

HDR vs LDR as seen in Far Cry

Links to some interesting Maya lighting tutorials. Pick a few, work through 'em and apply your hard-won knowledge to your own work.

Ambient Occlusion Mapping

HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imaging)
Wikipedia entry on HDRI (with Far Cry example)

Natural Lighting

Global Illumination