Free men’s shoes (and a Maya diary)

August 15, 2007

(They’re also for women but I wanted to FINALLY announce something for men. It’s been far too long!) 

I just released these sculpted prim shoes for free. They’re 4 prims each but I did indulge in a 512×512 texture for the splattered canvas to retain more detail. There are 4 sizes for men and one for women. Permissions: no modify/copy/no transfer. Thanks to Forseti Svarog for modeling, and for the inspiration! A long time ago he asked me to make paint-splattered shoes and I finally wanted to give it a shot.

If you’re interested in Maya for sculpties, keep reading.

These shoes took me 1 1/2 weeks to finish and were a great education. Most of that time was spent figuring out why my mental ray batch texture bakes didn’t match my scene renders. What I learned could be useful to others who are also flailing around in Maya so I’ll start with my solution:

I had two ‘inside-out’ surfaces! That was it, that was the only problem. This was a pretty ambitious project for me. I’d set up some fancy shaders and am still a total mental ray noob, and it’s tough to solve a problem when you don’t know anything. So I was following all the wrong paths for way too long. After days investigating my shaders, lights and rendering settings, all the while googling and reading heavily but coming up dry, I finally thought, ‘maybe my geometry is messing something up.’ I turned on NURBS surface normals view (menu Display>NURBs>Normals) and it looked weird:

Why were the normals on the slightly convex trim pointing in towards each other as if from a concave surface? Yes, because they were sticking out from the inside of the surface. After I did a ‘reverse surface direction’ my normals looked normal:

There are two other ways I could have identified the problem: turned off ‘Two Sided Lighting’ or turned on backface culling. These are the unreversed surfaces again:

It appears that scene render is tied to the viewport settings, whereas batch bake isn’t, so my viewport settings were hiding problems from me. From now on, since I’m working almost exclusively with closed surfaces, I’ll keep two sided lighting turned off. 

My two inside-out surfaces were created by lofting. (The lofted sole isn’t shown in these pictures.) My outside-out surfaces were just modified toruses. I’m not sure why my lofts produced such results; now that I’m more aware, I’ll experiment a bit. A friend also reported the same problem with a revolved surface.

The fun shader things I learned were layered textures, projection mapping, and switch nodes. Here’s the single shader network I used to texture the main form, the top trim and the rubber edging. I’m presenting it without comment but I may write up a walkthrough later. This stuff is so fun that I want to share!

I made myself stop working on these shoes but there are still a few tweaks I’d like to make. For instance, I’d like the paint splatter to have some shine. An early attempt didn’t work right so I abandoned it for now. Photoshop compositing may be the easiest thing to do. OK, now I’m just babbling. The main lesson of this diary is: MAKE SURE YOUR SURFACES ARE OUTSIDE-OUT.


5 Responses to “Free men’s shoes (and a Maya diary)”

  1. Very cool, Fall. I wish I had time to do this stuff! In the meantime thanks for blazing the trail and making it easier for others in future.

  2. i just picked those up and they are FAB!! and FREE?! :O thanks! i’m zooming in on my feet and they look lovely. 🙂

  3. callie cline Says:

    you rock woman… i’m very proud of you, your determination, persistence and success!


    from your fave brat.


  4. Ana Lutetia Says:

    woot! these are great

  5. I had RL painted gym shoes until I wore through the soles. It is tres exciting to have SL ones to fill the echoing void. Much thank. 🙂

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