Maya Software - Part 3 - Dynamics and Rendering

Dynamics and Simulation

Maya features a particle system for handling masses like steam and water drops. Dynamic fields allow adding gravity, wind and vortexes, allowing for effects such as blowing leaves or even tornados. Special tools give artists the ability to brush and style particles like hair and fur. This module is a direct evolution of Wavefront Dynamation.

An artist may create rigid body geometric objects which collide automatically without explicit animation, as well as soft body objects which can ripple and bend, like flags and cloth.

Maya effects are built-in programs that make it easy for users to create complex animation effects such as smoke, fire and realistic water effects, with many options and attributes for tuning the results.

Rendering and Render setup

Maya has an open render API, and allows for third party render integration. There is a number of renders supported, here is a list of a few:

  • Chaos Group, Vray
  • Cebas, FinalRender
  • DNA Research, 3Delight
  • Illuminate Labs, Turtle
  • Indigo Renderer
  • NextLimit, Maxwell Render
  • Nvidia, Gelato
  • Mental Images, Mental ray
  • Physically Based Rendering, PBRT for Maya (openSource )
  • Pixar, RendermanForMaya
  • Pixar, Renderman Studio ( which replaces RAT ) and works with PhotoRealistic Renderman
  • Sitex Graphics, Air ( With RIB translation software like Liquid or MayaMan )
  • Sunflow ( openSource )

In version 8.5 a powerful cloth simulator called "nCloth" was added, allowing users to simulate cloth with control over aspects such as self-collision and interpenetration. The cloth objects can be modified to behave as rigid or soft bodies.


Created by Travis Hoffmann. No copyright; is an original work by me and it is free to the public.


Like most 3D programs, Maya includes a number of parameterized shading models to define an object's visual properties, including Lambert, Blinn, Phong, and anisotropic shaders. Depending on which shading model is used, the parameters affect attributes such as the surface's color, reflective properties, and transparency, with the goal of simulating the appearance of real-life materials such as metal, stone, wood, and skin. Shaders can also incorporate bump maps, which create the illusion of surface textures.

Toon Shading

Toon shading creates the look of 2D cel or cartoon animation using 3D modeling and animation software. Elements of the "toon" look include profile lines (outlines), border lines, crease lines, intersection lines, and solid color shading. Combined, these elements recreate the look of traditional animation's "ink and paint" technique, where ink refers to lines and paint refers to shading.


In the real world, when light shines on a surface, the parts of the surface facing toward the light source appear illuminated, and the parts of the surface facing away from the light source appear dark. If one object is located between a second object and the light source, the first object casts a shadow onto the second object.


A component of Maya used to paint brush strokes and particle effects on a 2D canvas or on or between 3D geometry. Paint Effects can be used as a traditional paint program to paint images on a canvas, to paint repeatable textures applied to 3D geometry in scenes, or to paint in 3D space ’’Paint Effects’’integrates 2D painting tools into a 3D rendering environment. Libraries include numerous trees, grasses, and plants which can be painted to 'grow' off the surface of an object.

Mental ray

Native Mental Ray renderer.
Mental ray is a production-quality rendering application developed by mental images (Berlin, Germany). Mental Images was bought in December 2007 by Nvidia. As the name implies, it supports ray tracing to generate images. Its feature set is comparable to that of PhotoRealistic RenderMan, the RenderMan compliant renderer by Pixar, over which it holds certain advantages and disadvantages.

RenderMan for Maya
In 2005, Pixar released RenderMan for Maya renderer which incorporates the full RenderMan Pro Server features into a native Maya plugin. The workflow involves the use of Maya materials converted into RenderMan