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Customising the Maya Studio Look Dev and Lighting Environment 1003

In this doc, we'll look at going about customising the Maya Studio Look Dev and Lighting Environment 1003 using photographic reference.


For this walkthrough, we’ll be using the following 2 setups:

In a world where all things seem to be heading towards proceduralism or automation, you can be caught off-guard into thinking these “new” workflows are more efficient or give you better photorealistic results. However, there is nothing like grabbing a camera, taking a few snaps, slapping it on to some geometry (with UVs of course) and hitting render.

Here is a short run-through of the output and the workflow:

For this example, the aim was to update the ‘background’ assets for the Maya Studio Look Dev and Lighting Environment 1003, the results of which you’ll find below:

If you are planning to work on ‘hero’ assets, then the process for capturing and processing the data would be more controlled. The same goes for creating the geometry, UVs, textures and shaders.

If you want to go about creating your own setups, check out the following course:

01. Shooting Real-World Reference

In this video, I give an overview of the steps for capturing the photographic reference, and at the bottom of this section, you’ll find a speedy walk-through of the process.

For this example, I’m using a Canon 5DS with a 50mm prime lens and a Ninja Nodal. If you do not have access to a full-frame camera, you can shoot with a decent mobile phone. You can find a detailed breakdown of how I am shooting the reference here:

…but you could also shoot in a more grid-like fashion (but make sure to still capture plenty of overlap) or take a single snap of each element. A lot of the choices will come down to the hardware you have available.

Here is an example of some images I captured for the Introduction to Maya 1001 course using my mobile phone and the output.

…and here is the output from the above images mapped onto geometry:

What I would say, is:

Don’t overthink it.

Grab whatever device you can, and start taking pictures. The flatter the images the better. The more even the lighting the better too. But if you cannot get this, then do remember that the reference is for background assets, so we don’t need to be super-precious.

For this shoot, and as you’ll see in the timelapse below, I shot the wooden boards with the drawings, a couple of whiteboards, a blackboard, and some wall and floor reference.

02. Keeping Texturing Simple

With out data captured, the next step is to process the data and then slap it onto the geo. Although this is for 360 HDRIs for lighting, this doc covers the core steps if you are working with panoramic data:

In this video, I give an overview of the background asser creation process, and at the bottom of this section, you’ll find a speedy walk-through of the process.

For this setup, the workflow was as follows, but please note in practice, I run many of these steps simultaneously.

  1. Create panoramas in PTGUi and output as 16bit exr into an sRGB colourspace. Please note, we’ll be rendering in an ACEScg colourspace but for simplicity, we at CAVE keep our colourmaps to sRGB.
  2. White balance and clean-up the processed panoramas/photos in Photoshop (or any other image processing application).
  3. Model (to scale) and UV geometry in Maya.
  4. Output UVs from Maya into 2D space for Photoshop.
  5. Slap cleaned up photos onto the UVs (you could do this in an application such as Mari or Substance Painter too).
  6. Create shaders in Maya and apply texture maps.
  7. Render and Test.

And that’s it really. If you are working with more complex shapes, then yes, you’ll need to factor this in, but the general philosophy still applies: capture real-world reference, process the data, slap it on, clean it up where it needs it, test render, repeat previous steps if need be.

Here is a breakdown of the steps at 3x speed.


For more information on all things onset related and look development, you can check out our courses here:

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