Tuesday, April 16th, 2024 Posted by Jim Thacker

Jens Kafitz releases Mari Extension Pack 6 R2

Originally posted on 8 August 2023. Scroll down for news of the R2 update.

VFX artist and tools developer Jens Kafitz has released Mari Extension Pack 6, the next major version of his suite of bonus tools for Mari, Foundry’s 3D painting software.

New features include new pattern generators and noise types, a set of over 40 Blend Mode nodes, workflow improvements in the Mari node graph, and a new 3D scan projection wizard.

The update also introduces support for the VFX Reference Platform CY2022 and CY2023 specifications, making it compatible with Mari 6.x and the upcoming Mari 7.x releases.

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 Wētā FX, ILM, Pixar, EA, PlayStation Studios and Blizzard.

The pack provides hundreds of add-on tools covering just about every aspect of Mari workflow.

Due to receive free updates for several years
Mari Extension Pack 6 is the first paid-for update to the software in nearly four years, Kafitz having released Mari Extension Pack 5 in 2019, and released regular free updates ever since.

Prices have risen slightly, with Indie licences now costing €69, up €10 on the previous release, and Freelance licences costing €109, also up €10.

However, Kafitz says that like its predecessor, Mari Extension Pack 6 will continue to receive free updates for the next “3-4 years”.

The beginning of a new long-term support series spanning the Mari 6.x and 7.x releases
Mari Extension Pack 6 is start of a new long-term support series for the software, and is intended to be compatible with both Foundry’s Mari 6.x and Mari 7.x release cycles.

As a result, under the hood, the Extension Pack has been updated to support the CY2022 and CY2023 specifications for the VFX Reference Platform.

Over 40 new Blend Mode nodes, plus new pattern and noise generators
As usual, there are far more new features in the update than we can cover in full: the release notes list 172 new tools and over 200 new nodes.

Highlights include a new set of Blend Mode nodes – over 40 blend types are supported – removing the need to use a Merge Node just to control blending properties.

Users also get a new Circular Pattern generator, and a new Fractal Alligator noise type replicating Houdini’s Alligator noise inside Mari.

3D Scan Projection wizard streamlines work with scan-based assets
The release also adds a new 3D Scan Projection wizard, intended to speed up the process of creating texture projections on models derived from 3D scans.

Users will still need to do clean-up work and set up masks and blending manually, but the wizard streamlines the initial set-up process.

It automatically sets up projection cameras with the correct images and dimensions, and creates a non-destructive projection blend set-up as a group that can be added to the node graph or layer stack.

New customisation options and workflow improvements for the node graph
There are also a lot of quality-of-life improvements when working with Mari’s node graph.

Key changes support for custom node styles, making it possible to set the colours and shapes of nodes.

The update also adds “Houdini-style” features like a Quickmark bookmarking system for node graph locations, and support for node thumbnails and image annotations.

Updated 16 April 2024: Jens Kafitz has released Mari Extension Pack 6 R2, the first free update for Extension Pack 6 users.

Key features include the new Node Editor, for editing the exposed Attributes of Materials, Group Nodes and custom Procedurals.

It provides a more powerful alternative to Mari’s native Knob editor, adding the power to create groups and tabs, and to edit the default values of Attributes.

In addition, a new Ramp Editor “finally introduces true Gradient editing to Mari”.

The editor, which takes inspiration from the way that ramp editing is implemented in tools like Houdini and Substance 3D Designer, adds the option to sample color sequences from images; scaling and intelligent key reduction for ramp keys; and a full preset system.

There are also updates to workflow with Selection Groups, and a number of new nodes.

Price and system requirements
Mari Extension Pack 6 is compatible with the commercial edition of Mari 6.x and 7.x. Older versions of Mari are supported via Mari Extension Pack 5, included in new purchases.

Indie licenses, for individuals with revenue under €90,000/year, cost €69 (around $73); Freelance licenses, for companies with revenue up to €1 million/year, cost €110 ($118).

Site licences cost from €1,600 to €19,900.

Read a full list of new features in Mari Extension Pack 6

Watch video tutorials on the new features on Jens Kafitz’s YouTube channel

Buy Mari Extension Pack 6 from Jens Kafitz’s Gumroad store

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