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.

Colorway for Look-Development in VFX by Xuan Prada

A few days ago (or weeks) The Foundry released their latest cool product called "Colorway", and they did it for free.

Colorway is a product created to help designers with their work flow specially when dealing with color changes, texture updates, lighting, etc. Looks in general.
This software allow us to change those small thing once the render is done. We can do it in real time without waiting long hours for rendering again. We can change different things related with shading and lighting.

This is obviously quite an advantage when we are dealing with clients and they ask us for small changes related with color, saturation, brightness, etc. We don't need to render again anymore, just use Colorway to make those changes live in no time.
Even the clients can change some stuff and send us back a file with their changes.

Great idea, great product.

I'm not a designer, I'm a vfx artist doing mainly textures and look-development, and even if Colorway wasn't designed for vfx, it can be potentially be used in the vfx industry, at least for some tasks.

There are a few things that I'd like to have inside Colorway in order to be a more productive texturing&look-dev tool, but so far it can be used in some ways to create different versions of the same asset.

To test Colorway I used my model of War Machine.

  • Colorway allow us to render an asset using a base shader. Later we can apply different versions of the same textures, or just flat colors.
  • It all begins inside Modo (Cinema4D is on it's way).
  • It's very important how you organize your asset and shaders inside Modo. If you want to have a lot of control in Colorway you will have to split your scene in different parts.
  • In this example, I separated the head in different parts, so I can select them individually later on in Colorway.
  • Even if I'm using the same shader for the whole head, I made different copies so I can tweak them one by one if I want to have even more control in Colorway.
  • In Modo work on the look as you usually do. Once you are happy with the results export to Colorway.
  • In this case I'm using textures to create the look. Maybe you can do it without textures and apply them later in Colorway. You will be able also to remove all the textures in Colorway and start from scratch there. This is a personal taste.
  • Once happy just click on the Colorway button.
  • You can export all the materials and lights used in the scene or only those selected.
  • Click on the render button and that's it.
  • Once the render is done, just open the file exported from Modo and Colorway should pop up.
  • The workspace is super simple and well organized. There are selection groups and looks on the right and shaders, lighting and effects on the left.
  • Just select one of the parts on your left, one of the shaders on your right, or simply select in the viewport.
  • Automatically the controls for the material will pop up.
  • In the material options you can change the textures used by the shaders, or remove them if you want to start with a flat color.
  • I'm changing here the textures for just one of the materials, and later for all of them, creating a new version of my asset.
  • As I said before we can remove all the textures and use only the base shaders plus flat colors in order to create a new version of the asset.
  • Finally the versions that I created for this post :)

A few things that I'd like to see in Colorway in future versions in order to have more control and power for look-dev tasks.

  • Right now we can only change RGB textures. It would be nice to have control over secondary maps. Blending textures with masks would be also great.
  • We can't control the shaders parameters. Having that control for look-dev would be amazing.
  • Support UDIMs has to be a must.
  • Not sure how Colorway manages IBL. If you are using different lights seems to be ok, but if using only IBL it doesn't seem to work totally fine.
  • Transparency, glow and other shading options don't work in the current version.