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MARI contest winner reveals all

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With the MARI contest coming to an end, The Foundry are pleased to announced its winner. Read on to discover how the winning texture artist used MARI to paint his way to glory! And the winner is…

MARI contest winner reveals all

Chris Welch (aka Aquafat11 on CGTalk), who wins an NVIDIA Quadro (Fermi) 5000 graphics card, a MARI licence complete with one year of maintenance and an article in the much-loved Community section of 3D Artist magazine.

MARI makes life for texture artists a happy one. For Chris, being able to paint in 3D and use references on his model are just a few of the key aspect. “The paint through tool made it easy for me to quickly stamp down pre-prepared reference images,” Chris says. “Then being able to use the Spline Warper and Slerp Tool to manipulate and fit your image that you just painted down to fit your model is super nice. For instance, I had lots of reference that showed wear and tear along edges. When I wanted to use that to add wear and tear to a curved surface, say one of Dezkin’s robot arm plates, it was easy for me to use paint the reference into my paint buffer along the general area where I wanted to add the wear and tear, then use the slerp tool to push it into the exact place I wanted it to be. It’s like Liquify in Photoshop be quicker.” Chris talks to 3D Artist about his MARI workflow…

Base colours

“When I begin a project in MARI I always start with the base colours,” Chris begins. “Looking at my concept, I try to find the overall colour of an area and food-fill that area in MARI. This normally doesn’t take me longer than 20-30 minutes. I then set my projection to paint through instead of the just the front faces, and I start to add large gradients to my objects, In the case of Dezkin, I added darker more and more saturated gradients from the feet up, slightly darker and desaturated gradients from the hands up, and then I added red and blue gradients to areas of the face.”

Secondary colours

“I then go in and paint in some of my secondary colours and slowly work my way up to a more detailed base colour. I’m always mindful of the form of the object and I try to paint with the geometry. I’m always looking at the direction the geometry is flowing and painting my texture with that. If the skin is curling up around the eye, I make sure that my detail curls up with that geometry. If the hand is jutting straight out, like in the case of Dezkin, I try to paint scratches and dirt that flow in that same direction.”

MARI contest winner reveals all


“After I’ve painted down a nice base with gradients and secondary colours I zoom out and make sure that my colours are unified. I drag my concept out and place it side by side with my painting in MARI and make sure the colours match. I’ll then go in and bring in all my reference, set my Painting Mode to Overlay, select my Paint Through tool and I’ll start adding in all the fine detail. Once I’ve done that, I go in with a nice hard brush that has a lot of variance and I’ll break up my texture further.”

“One thing to keep in mind with texturing is that you usually need to push the texture further than what you would actually see in the real world,” Chris says. “I add more break-up, more dirt, deeper pores etc because by the time you add in lighting, shadowing, subsurface and so on, a lot of that detail gets lost”


“After I have a good colour texture built up I’ll go in and paint my displacement and bump in new channels. I’ll duplicate my colour channel a few times, then desaturate those and build my bump and displacement off of that. Sometimes I have to export those channels and bring them into Photoshop to run them through the High Pass filter to get them at and around 50% grey. Back in MARI, I’ll continue to stamp down some displacement skin textures and other displacement textures I prepared in Photoshop. At the same time I’m trying to be mindful of the form and I’m going in with a brush that has a tight curve at the centre and a slow falloff, and I paint in wrinkles and large folds. MARI has some great default brushes for this (Organic Brushes > CrowsFeet, BroadWrinkle etc). For specular break-up I usually duplicate my colour channel, desaturate that and crank the values to get a lot of bold blacks and whites. I’ll then bring in some specular reference I prepared in Photoshop – this is usually just like a metal photo reference with lots of scratches and the contrast values cranked to get a lot of black and whites. I’ll bring that in, set the painting mode to either Multiply or Overlay and start stamping that over my new Spec Channel that I’ve created. MARI also has some great brushes for achieving specular break-up that I use, also in the Organic Brushes painting tab.”

MARI contest winner reveals all

“In the end, I had quite a few channels created for the Dezkin model: colour, fine displacement, medium displacement, specular roughness, gloss mask, reflective mask, dirt masks, blood masks, reflective colour…all of which I created in MARI. The reason I used these maps really just came down to what I needed while I was shading Dezkin. When I first started shading him all I had was colour, fine and medium displacement, and specular roughness. The others were added slowly to add extra detail where it was needed.”

The Foundry anticipated only one prizewinner, but with so many impressive entries a second prize has also been awarded to Nathan Boyd (aka Essex on CGTalk). “Essex’s entry showed a fantastic imagination and he took the design in directions no one else dared!” judge Leigh Van Der Byl says. “The images showed great attention to detail, flair and a rock solid mastery of the craft of texture painting. Truely great work.” Nathan wins an NVidia Quadro 2000 graphics card, a MARI licence complete with one year of maintenance and will soon be featured in a follow-up article right here on 3DArtistOnline.
To download and trial MARI for free for your own texture-painting adventures, visit www.thefoundry.co.uk.