Foundry Mari 4.7 is released with updates improving efficiency and interoperability for artists working in texturing and look development. The release continues from the new Materials System introduced in Mari 4.5, and Geo-Channels added in 4.6.
New procedural Mask Workflows have been developed to rapidly apply mesh-driven procedural mask presets. These workflows allow an artist to author, share and use procedural presets to fill the look of a channel and mask layers, accelerating the work of whole teams.
For example, to block out where each layer affects the look of an asset, a new workflow uses Geo-Channels to procedurally adapt masks to the form of your asset. The Custom Procedural node allows you to create textures within the node, which can be exported as a procedural texture and added to the Shelf Palette for use in other projects, the node graph or layer stack.
When creating custom procedurals in the Node Graph, Custom Procedural nodes are a container for your own custom node network. You can create any desired texture inside the node, since all Node Graph functions and nodes are available to you. The value of this node compared to other Group nodes is that it exports all the images used inside the node. Thus, when the procedural is shared with other artists, they have access to the images used in the textures without searching for them.
Updated Shelf Palette
Also improved, the Shelf Palette is a straightforward way to visualise and use large libraries of presets – brushes, colours, materials, procedurals and images – featuring a purpose-made UI that outputs large graphical previews, with relevant data and access to all content with detailed filtering. It allows you to quickly access favourite presets, and store external presets from other artists to use in your own work. The new UI adds a navigation pane to make the Shelf Palette less cumbersome. Shelf items now also have adjustable thumbnail sizes and graphical tooltips.
Interacting with individual materials in a complex, layered material set-up is now simpler with a new shader mode to view materials in isolation, but without changing any layer visibility settings. This means artists are able to fine-tune the separate materials within the same lighting scenario as the more complex, layered material.
Materials in isolation
In any project, Mari has five default shaders that artists start with before adding any custom shaders, relating to channels, layers and materials. One of these, the Current Material shader displays the currently selected material, node or group on the model in the viewport, allowing you to isolate the material from the rest of the channel data and make edits with a more lightweight shader.
Look development artists can now iterate faster between Mari and Katana to fine-tune their work, owing to the interoperability upgrade. The Post Process feature was added to Bake Point Export Streaming to ensure that look development artists can stream Mari texture data directly into Katana render engine’s native formats, with each export. Command-line processes can be included to convert Bake Point exported image files to render engine-native texture formats in the background of every update.
Bake Point Nodes
The Bake Point node optimises your scene and keeps it running, even when node graphs and the project get too complex or heavy. From there you can bake anything you input into the node, to cache the input and help the scene run more smoothly. The Bake Point can also speed up your workflow if you know you don't need to change any nodes that come before it.
The new Material Bake Point node comes with a spreadsheet-style UI to batch edit and bake multiple properties of a material’s streams at once. When used together with the Material Isolation mode (see above), Mari 4.7 raises the number of materials an artist can use in a project.
Multi-Channel Bake Point nodes work in the same way as Bake Point nodes except they allow you to bake multiple channels using a single node. They can be used to optimise your scene by baking materials once you have finalised them, preventing your project from slowing down as you continue to work.
Multi-Channel Bake Point nodes create individual Bake Points for all channels belonging to the chosen shader model. These separate Bake Points are nested within the multi-channel node so that only one node is required to bake an entire material, but each nested Bake Point can be added individually as an Export Item in the Export Manager.
Mari’s Node Graph now includes new keyboard modified gestures for selection, navigation and moving nodes, as well as smarter chained node creation when working with multi-channel Material nodes. As node trees grow in complexity, users need to be able to pan to or frame a particular cluster of nodes quickly. The Node Graph now has a number of panning and zooming methods for these tasks.
The updated Python Console adds ease-of-use features for developers and gives pipeline TDs more flexibility when managing multiple script snippets. New shortcuts are available for more extensive script editing.
Pipeline TDs can now create infinite drag and drop workflows for studio pipelines with new API hooks. Mari will also treat specified data types as native data while hovering over the palettes, allowing for more seamless integrations with your pipeline. www.foundry.com