Thursday, December 6th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Jens Kafitz releases Mari Extension Pack 4 R2

Originally posted on 11 May 2017. Scroll down for news of the R2 update.

Former Weta Digital artist Jens Kafitz has released Mari Extension Pack 4, the latest version of his suite of bonus tools for Foundry’s 3D painting software, adding over 50 new features.

New functionality includes Substance Designer-like height blending and colour adjustment nodes, new Array nodes for handling Quixel Megascans data, and a range of features for simplifying Mari node graphs.

A massive collection of add-on tools used by most leading Mari facilities
First released in 2014 as a collection of free tools, and now available as a commercial product, Mari Extension Pack has quickly become a staple of texture artists at many leading studios.

The list of users on Kafitz’s website is pretty much a who’s who of the world’s biggest visual effects, feature animation and games facilities, including Weta Digital, ILM, Pixar, DreamWorks, EA, Ubisoft and Blizzard.

The pack provides over 200 add-on tools covering just about every aspect of Mari workflow: notably, the procedural edge wear system and improvements to Mari’s node graph added in version 3.

New Substance Designer-like tools, and tools for handling Megascans scan data
To that, Mari Extension Pack adds over 50 new features, and improves hundreds of others.

Things that particularly caught our eye include the new Height Blend Node for blending displacement maps (shown at 06:20 in the video above), which works along the lines of the one in Substance Designer.

The feature is one of a set of additions mimicking nodes in Allegorithmic’s material-creation software, including colour adjustments Histogram Range and Histogram Shift.

The update also adds a new set of Array nodes: variants of existing Extension pack nodes with support for up to six image inputs, designed for use with Quixel’s Megascans library of scanned real-world materials.

New features for simplifying Mari node graphs
New workflow features include the Pack Data and Unpack Data nodes, which pack multiple parameter values into a single connection on Mari’s node graph, then separate them back into individual connections.

It’s also possible to dispense with connections – visible ones, at least – entirely, using the new Radio Node, which enables users to toggle the visibility of inbound links on or off, helping declutter the graph.

Plus hundreds of other new features
Other features range from the option to pack individual texture maps into RGBA colour channels to minimise memory usage to a complete reworking of Mari’s layer mask system.

There are far too many changes to cover in detail here, so for full details, check out the excellent online documentation. You can find the list of new features here.

Updated 5 December 2018: Mari Extension Pack 4 R2 is out. The update focuses on making the Extension Pack fully compatible with Foundry’s Mari 4.x releases.

As part of that work, the Extension Pack now uses the Qt5 and PySide 2 UI libraries, which Foundry adopted in Mari 4.0. Mari 4’s new OpenSubdiv 3.0 architecture is also now supported.

While there aren’t a lot of new tools in 4 R2 itself, Kafitz has put out 15 incremental updates to the pack since its initial release, all of which are also included.

Pricing and availability
Mari Extension Pack 4 R2 is available for Mari 4.1v2 or higher, although you also get access to legacy versions compatible with older releases. It doesn’t work with Mari Indie or Mari Non-Commercial.

Pricing has risen since Extension Pack 4 was originally released, to €49 (around $55) for a single floating licence or €500 (around $570) for a site licence.

Read a full list of new features in Mari Extension Pack 4 R2

Watch videos of the new features on Jens Kafitz’s Vimeo channel