The Gnomon Workshop has released Creating Plants in Maya/Mental Ray: a mammoth four-DVD tutorial set from company founder Alex Alvarez on… well, creating realistic plants in Maya and mental ray.
In the tutorial, which runs for over nine hours of training, Alvarez begins by evaluating Maya’s built-in Paint Effects library, and exploring how to convert the strokes into renderable geometry with mia materials.
Using mental ray’s Physical Sun and Sky, he then reveals how to create more photorealistic renders by creating custom materials, using a tonemapped workflow circumventing the default shaders created by Paint Effects.
The tutorial explores all the relevant parameters for more believable shaders via diffuse, bump, reflection and translucency, including how to organize UVs into tiles for variety in leaf textures.
Everything necessary to create double-sided shaders with realistic glossy reflections and translucency is demonstrated in detail.
Building complex vegetated environments
The video then moves on to look at creating ivy with Paint Effects and the free Ivy Generator tool, using the techniques discussed to create a cliff scene.
Finally, bringing all of this material together, Alvarez explains how to create a custom plant library, creating ferns, spider plants and other vegetation from scratch, and incorporates them into a more complex environment.
[Personal opinion] The resulting animation, of a photorealistic forest trail, looks just gorgeous.
Creating Plants in Maya/Mental Ray is available now via The Gnomon Workshop’s online store, on DVD or digital download, price $89.
Full disclosure: CG Channel is owned by the Gnomon School of Visual Effects.