Creating Fur in Maya
Illustration by John Hersey

Writing an expression to animate phase


From:

Creating Fur in Maya

with Aaron F. Ross

Video: Writing an expression to animate phase

The final piece of the puzzle to get our animation working is to animate the phase. Go ahead and select the turbulence field, from the attribute editor we can right click on face x and choose create new expression. And this opens up the expression editor, and the selected object and attribute are displayed here. I'll select that, and then middle-mouse drag it down into the Expression area here. To make that text larger, we can hold down the Control Key, or Command on the Mac, and turn the mouse wheel.

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Watch the Online Video Course Creating Fur in Maya
1h 12m Intermediate Aug 09, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Hair and fur are vital details for realistic 3D models, and their texture can vary wildly—whether soft, prickly, tousled, matted, frizzy, spiky, or straight. This course, with animator Aaron F. Ross, shows you how to create, render, and customize all different types of fur in Maya. Fur starts in Maya with the Fur node, where you attach a fur description and define essential properties. Then you'll learn to map fur to your models with texture and style it with the Paint Fur Attributes tool. Plus, discover how to control shading and shadowing, render out your model in Maya or mental ray, and animate dynamic hair with the nHair system. In the end, you'll have textures you can use to create luxuriant heads of hair, fur of many stripes, and even other materials like grass.

Topics include:
  • Loading the Fur plugin
  • Understanding the Fur node structure
  • Optimizing viewport performance
  • Rendering in Maya and mental ray
  • Adding shadow and shading
  • Setting fur density and scale
  • Adding curl, scraggle, and clumping
  • Styling with the Paint Fur Attributes tool
Subject:
3D + Animation
Software:
Maya
Author:
Aaron F. Ross

Writing an expression to animate phase

The final piece of the puzzle to get our animation working is to animate the phase. Go ahead and select the turbulence field, from the attribute editor we can right click on face x and choose create new expression. And this opens up the expression editor, and the selected object and attribute are displayed here. I'll select that, and then middle-mouse drag it down into the Expression area here. To make that text larger, we can hold down the Control Key, or Command on the Mac, and turn the mouse wheel.

And that'll just increase the size of that text. We want to set Turbulence Field one dot Phase X equal to something. And we're just going to drive it with time. Time is a function in Maya, and as we play in animation, time moves forward. So we can just set this equal to time. But if we did that it would move very, very slowly. We need to speed it up. So we'll set this equal to time, multiplied by 100. And then use a semicolon to end the line, that's the expression for phase X but we have also got phase Y and phase Z and if we don't animate all of those then we won't really get a good look to our wind so we need to animate all three X, Y and Z, well we can just actually select this text and copy it with control c or command c. And press enter to put a new line.

And paste that in with control v or command v. And we don't actually want to use the exact same value here. There's only one time node in maya currently. And with only one time node, then if the phase x, y and z are all equal. Then it will not look chaotic, it will have a kind of weird pattern to it, where it looks like it's moving diagonally. So we want to set phase Y, capital Y, equal to time multiplied by 100 plus some arbitrary value.

This is just going to offset the value. So I'll put some parentheses around that and then a plus sign and then some arbitrary value. It doesn't matter what it is, just so it's not equal to this one. And I'll select that text as well and copy it and then paste it on a line below and set phase z equal to some other arbitrary value here. Okay. And then when we've got this ready, we'll click Create. I want to warn you about the expression editor. If you click off the expression editor you will lose the expression completely so, make sure you don't lose focus on that expression editor and click create.

Go ahead and close it and now you will see phase x, y and z have values in them and they're highlighted in purple indicating there's an incoming expression noted. Very good, so I rewind and press play and there you go. Now we got grass blowing in the wind. You can see the fruits of all of our labors. Notice that it's only playing back at about seven or eight frames per second. So if we want to actually preview this and make sure that we know what's doing we have to do a rendering or perhaps a play blast.

I always have the frame rate displayed in the Viewport when I'm animating in Maya. And if you don't have that visible, then you might want to do so. You can go into the Display menu, and choose Heads Up Display > Frame Rate. Also, be aware that this frame rate readout is only accurate in a full-screen Viewport panel. If you have a multiple view panel like the standard four view port layout then you can't trust the output of the frame rate its not necessarily accurate.

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