Colorway in VFX - chapter 2 / by Xuan Prada

A few days ago I did my first tests in Colorway. My idea is to use Colorway as texturing and look-development tool for VFX projects.

I think it can be a really powerful and artist friendly software to work on different type of assets.
It is also a great tool to present individual assets, because you can do quick and simple post-processing tasks like color correction, lens effects, etc. And of course Colorway allows you to create different variations of the same asset in no time.

With this second test I wanted to create an entire asset for VFX, make different variations and put everything together in a dailies template or similar to showcase the work.

At the end of the day I'm quite happy with the result and workflow combining Modo, Mari and Colorway. I found some limitations but I truly believe that Colorway will fit soon my needs as Texture Painter and Look-Dev Artist.

Transferring textures

One of the limitations that I found as Texture Painter is that Colorway doesn't manage UDIMs yet. I textured this character time ago at home using Mari following VFX standards and of course, I'm using UDIMs, actually something around 50 4k UDIMs.

I had to create a new UV Mapping using the 1001 UDIM only. In order to keep enough texture resolution I divided the asset in different parts. Head, both arms, both legs, pelvis and torso.
Then using the great "transfer" tool in Mari, I baked the high resolution textures based on UDIMs on to the low resolution UVs based on one single UV space. I created one 8k resolution texture for each part of the asset. I'm using only 3 texture channels, Color, Specular and Bump.

Layer Transfer tool in Mari.

All the new textures already baked in to the default UV space 1001

My lighting setup in Modo couldn't be more simple. I'm just using an Equirectangular HDRI map of Beverly Hills. This image is actually shipped with Modo.
Image Based Lighting works great in Modo and is also very easy to mix different IBLs in the same scene. Just works great.

Shading wise is also quite simple. Just one shading layer with Color, Specular and Bump maps connected. I'm using one shader for each part of the asset.

The render takes only around 3 minutes on my tiny MacBook Air.
Rendering for Colorway takes more than that but obviously you will save a lot of time later.
Once in Colorway I can easily play with colours and textures. I created a color texture variation in Mari and now in Colorway I can plug it and see the shading changes in no time.

All the different parts exported from Modo are on the left side toolbar.

On the right side all the lights will be available to play with. In this case I only have the IBL.

All the materials are listed on the right side. It is possible to change color, intensity and diffuse textures. This gives you a huge amount of freedom to create different variations of the same asset.

I really like the possibility of using post-precessing effects like Lens distortion or dispersion. You can have a quick visual feedback of very common lens effects used on VFX projects.

Finally I created a couple of color variations for this asset.


A couple of things that I noticed while working on this asset:

  • I had one part of the asset with the normals flipped. I didn't realize of this and when rendering for Colorway, Modo crashes. Once inverted the normals of that part, it never crashed again.
  • It would be nice to store looks, or having the option to export looks from one project to another one. Let's say that I'm working only on the upper part of the character, render for Colorway and create some nice looks (including effects like lens distortions, color corrections,etc). It would be great to keep that for the next time that I export the whole character to Colorway.