Digital Arts Guild
3ds Max Maya
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Author Aaron F. Ross
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3ds Max: Advanced Materials

October 4, 2016

Physically-based rendering (PBR) simulates the way light works in the real world. It achieves greater realism with less effort than traditional 3D rendering. This course focuses on PBR shading techniques in 3ds Max, using the Physical Material to achieve photorealistic surfaces such as stone, glass, and metal. Author Aaron F. Ross also looks at building shading networks, and combining and adjusting maps in interesting ways. Procedural maps such as ambient occlusion and substance deserve special attention, and you'll also see how to bake them out to bitmap files for cross-application and renderer compatibility. By the end of the course, you'll have a firm foundation in advanced shading workflows in 3ds Max.

Topics include:

Streamlining material editor workflow
Managing Xrefs and materials
Laying out a scene for material testing
Using the Physical Material
Controlling highlights with Roughness
Directing reflections and refractions
Simulating translucency and scattering
Building a shading network
Combining and color correcting maps
Baking maps such as ambient occlusion
Procedural mapping with Substance
Using relief maps: bump, normal, and displacement

Maya Bifröst: Dynamic Simulations

August 17, 2016

Bifröst is a fluid dynamics engine for high-quality liquids in visual effects, combining the best of volumetric and particle solvers in one tool. This course offers an overview of the Bifröst implementation in Autodesk Maya. Using emitter, collider, accelerator, and liquid property nodes, Aaron F. Ross simulates a medium-scale liquid effect and stores it to disk as a cache. Rendering the surface at full quality requires generating an animated polygon mesh; for a convincing layered material, he shows how to extract Bifröst channel data such as Vorticity and apply it in a shading network. The course concludes with a look at the Aero Solver for atmospheric effects.

Topics include:

Understanding Bifröst
Analyzing the node structure
Emitting from a polygon mesh
Colliding with meshes
Pushing and damping fluid motion with Accelerators
Optimizing voxel and time accuracy
Caching simulations
Meshing liquid and exporting to Alembic
Shading with the Bifröst Liquid Material
Designing mental ray materials
Layering shaders with Bifröst channel data
Adding mist with an Aero simulation
Texturing an Aero Material

VUE: Animating a Landscape

June 9, 2016

Rendering a photorealistic animated digital landscape has never been easier with VUE software. VUE is the leading application for computer-generated natural environments for visual effects, animation, architectural visualization, and illustration. In this course, Aaron F. Ross demonstrates the VUE workflow for digital nature, including interoperability with other 3D programs, terrain sculpting, populating the scene with plants, daylighting and atmospheres, complex material functions, keyframe animation, and production rendering.

Realistic skies and lighting are achieved with VUE’s photometric spectral atmosphere model. We add animation to plants, water, and clouds with procedural wind effects. To create a camera move, we employ the Timeline’s intuitive tools for animation and curve editing. Rendering many animation frames poses challenges not experienced with still image rendering, and so the course concludes with key strategies for optimizing the balance between image quality and rendering time.

Topics include:

Laying out the scene
Importing and sculpting models
Adding water, plants and clouds
Directing sunlight and atmosphere
Customizing exposure and tonemapping
Building procedural materials
Working in the Function Graph
Automatic and manual keyframing
Editing splines in the Animation Graph
Adding wind
Keyframing the atmosphere
Optimizing render settings for animation

3ds Max 2017 New Features

April 19, 2016

What's new in 3ds Max 2017? The new user interface is key: flatter and faster than before. 3ds Max 2017 also introduces the Autodesk Raytracer (ART), a physically based renderer for photorealistic stills. Aaron F. Ross covers these features plus many others, explaining what to expect and how to use the new asset management, modeling, animation, materials, and rendering tools.

Topics include:

New viewport display menus
Using the standalone Asset Library
Visualizing Computational Fluid Dynamics
Exporting to Print Studio for 3D printing
Saving models and animation with the Game Exporter
Building complex objects with new Booleans
Modeling and mapping with new TextPlus primitive
Editing keyframes with new Curve Editor tools
Applying Skin weights with Voxel and Heatmap solvers
Mapping spline textures with ShapeMap
Simulating surfaces with Physical Material
Rendering with ART
Rendering in the cloud with A360

3ds Max 2017 Essential Training

April 19, 2016

3ds Max is best known for its modeling and rendering tools. These strengths come into play in architecture, manufacturing, game development, and motion graphics. There are dozens of features and techniques to master, from sculpting and texturing to lighting and rendering. 3ds Max 2017 Essential Training covers "Max" from the ground up, providing an overview of the entire package as well as essential skills that 3D artists need to create professional models and animations.

Learn how to get around the 3ds Max interface and customize it to suit your production pipeline. Discover how to model different objects using splines, NURBS, polygons, subdivision surfaces, and tools such as Paint Deform. Then find out how to construct hierarchies, add cameras and lights to a scene, and animate with keyframes. Author Aaron F. Ross also provides an overview of materials and texture mapping as well as the rendering options in 3ds Max 2017, including the new Autodesk Raytracer (ART) renderer.

Topics include:

Customizing and configuring the interface
Selecting, duplicating, and editing objects
Working with Sub-objects in the Modifier stack
Polygonal and subdivision surface modeling
Freeform sculpting
Modeling with splines and NURBS
Linking objects in hierarchies
Framing shots with cameras
Creating and editing keyframes
Controlling lights and shadows
Building materials
Mapping textures
Rendering sequences

Up and Running with PlantFactory

December 20, 2015

PlantFactory is a revolutionary 3D vegetation modeling, animation, and rendering software package. Plants and trees created in PlantFactory can be exported to almost any 3D application (including 3ds Max, Maya, and CINEMA 4D) and are fully rigged and textured. Wind-animated plants can be exported as fully rigged meshes. That way, you can fine-tune the plant animation directly inside your preferred application.

In these tutorials, Aaron F. Ross shows how to get started with PlantFactory. He'll cover modeling plants and trees, sculpting plants from components, editing plant parameters, adding materials and animation effects, and rendering the results. Plus, learn how to use PlantFactory's powerful node graph to control individual properties and generate plants procedurally.

Topics include:

Installing and customizing PlantFactory
Creating plant segments with the Add tool Editing and blending segments
Working with nodes in the graph
Adding leaves
Loading and editing materials
Rendering plant images
Sculpting with the Draw tool
Pruning branches
Modeling with the node graph
Applying wind effects
Exporting and importing plant models

Adobe After Effects Cheat Sheet  

October 16, 2015

Here's a handy list of the most useful shortcuts for After Effects, including many important ones that may be new to you such as adding expressions, purging memory and scratch disk, and replacing selected footage in a layer.

Up and Running In VUE

September 2, 2015

Creating convincing natural environments is no longer a challenge with VUE, the program used to model and render the photorealistic backdrops seen in blockbuster movies like Avatar. It's a standalone program that integrates seamlessly with many major 3D applications via optional plugins. In this course, you'll see how easy it is to create photorealistic environments in VUE.

Author Aaron F. Ross covers sculpting and procedurally generating terrains, adding realistic lighting and atmospherics, and creating thousands or even millions of natural objects such as rocks and plants in an instant with EcoSystems. With VUE's powerful tools and Aaron's instruction, you'll have everything you need to start building landscapes, oceans, atmospheres, ecosystems, and other realistic digital worlds.

Topics include:

Installing VUE
Navigating the interface
Manipulating objects
Adjusting sunlight and clouds
Sculpting terrains
Generating procedural terrains
Editing materials
Adding water, rocks, and plants
Rendering your VUE environments

Up and Running with RealFlow

April 6, 2015

RealFlow is the motion picture industry standard tool for liquid simulations. It’s a standalone application that offers robust interoperability with many popular 3D programs. In this introductory course, we explore the powerful features of the RealFlow core application, and see how RealFlow is integrated into Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max.

Topics include:

Understanding the RealFlow Pipeline
Navigating the interface
Importing scenes from 3D programs
Emitting standard particles
Using daemons to control simulations
Caching data
Simulating a Hybrido fluid
Creating a Caronte rigid body
Adding secondary particles
Converting particles and fluids to mesh
Exporting scenes to 3D programs
Using the Maya and 3ds Max plugins

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