Tag Archives: maya

Lighting & Viewport 2.0

My most asked question from this blog is how I light and render my shots. My basic answer is I don’t render anymore, and I start with a simple 3 point lighting set up.

1. Rendering:
Instead of rendering I use Viewport 2.0, this gives a higher quality image in my Maya viewport:

To “render” I simply do a playblast. The quality isn’t as good as a render, but it allows me to easily touch up shots and continually update my reel. As an animator I think that’s more important than render quality.

2. Lighting:
I’ll use a more simple example to give a quick run down of how I light my shots. I should note there should be a ground plane so the character casts a shadow, see my edit below for turning on shadows.

Firstly Switch to Viewport 2.0. I generally turn the anti-aliasing values up to their highest. I don’t recommend actually animating in Viewport 2.0, it’s more intensive and can be quite buggy at times.


This is a view of my lighting set up. Here I’ve used Directional Lights as it’s a such a simple set up, when lighting a more complex scene Spot Lights might often be a better choice.

If I just reduce the scene to one light, it should get an idea of what each light is doing.

Key Light = the main light source.

Fill light
brings some detail into the shadows, you can see here I like to add a fair bit of colour to it.viewport05

The rim light just helps separate the character from the background. It’s just a subtle touch.


The combination of all 3 lights should give a good starting point to your lighting set up.

To turn on shadows you need to do it both in your viewport and on the light you want to be casting shadows.

Green ticks

This is an incredibly simple thing, but something I use almost everyday. The code will set a key and make the tick in your timeline green instead of red.

setKeyframe; keyframe -time `currentTime -q` -tds 1;

I find it great for two things:
– Making my keys (or golden poses) green, so I can easily differentiate between keys and breakdowns.

– It’s also great when you’re past the blocking stage and want to either clean up or re-do parts of your animation. I’ve posted an example below.

To change back to red you can just individually key the frames again and they will automatically switch. Otherwise using this script should change all the ticks on the selected item back to red.

keyframe -tds 0;


Class 02 – Week 03

Task: Spline & polish the walk cycle. Pose Stella in a way that shows movement.

Damn you knee pops! *shakes angry fist*
In the end I do wish I had gone for a personality walk, just so I’m stepping away from rote exercises. Fairly happy with how it turned out though.
The poses I’m not so pleased with, was a busy week at work so was a little short on time.

pose01 pose02

Class 02 – Week 01

Class 02 is underway and my new mentor is Martin Hopkins from Dreamworks. He has a long list of credentials and a nice character to boot. I’m sure he’s going to be instrumental in getting my skills up to the next level.

Task: Sketch some poses showing movement and pose Stella based off 2 of the sketches.

Not such a hard way to start the class, but I had a tonne of technical problems with the AM menu in the hours leading up to the deadline. Was able to figure out a temporary solution to the problem, later realised I just needed to reset the modem and router. *slaps forehead*

Things learnt:
Pay attention to how one body part flows into another. Rigs can get slightly clunky.
Push it. Then push it some more.

class02_w01_01 class02_w01_02

Class 01 – Week 11

Class 01 is done!

I’ve learnt a hell of a lot over the past 12 weeks, it’s really filled in a lot of tiny gaps in my understanding of animation and am looking forward to the jump in difficulty of Class 02.

Tim’s tips for anyone in/looking to do Class 01:
Simple is best. I think class 01 is all about fundamentals, learn to nail them before trying to wow the world.
– Use your peers. Get a peer buddy, join Facebook groups, use your Public Review space and comment on other’s work. The community has really helped me in many ways.
– Use reference material for the pose sketches. The point is to learn how the body acts in the specific states/emotions. Just doing a few sketches off the top of your isn’t really push you to learn new knowledge.

11_balance 11_play

Class 01 – Week 07

Task: Animate the ball+tail character using at least 3 bounces.

Decided to go a bit beyond a basic animation as I know the next couple weeks will be very technical animation. I found this week really pushed me because of this decision, the tail especially when the character stops was quite difficult to get right. In the end I’m fairly happy with it.

Things learnt: Update this blog sooner so I can remember what I learnt.

07_tailor 07_tailor