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The Best Way to Render Wireframe in Maya

Posted: January 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 3D | Tags: , | 61 Comments »

A quick google for render wireframe in Maya will get you some sound results. Unfortunately, I tried them and they didn’t consistently produce the results I needed. So here is the most consistent, and thus in my opinion best way to do wireframe in Maya.

Method 1: “The Best Way” – Mental Ray Contours

Why is it the best?

It does not tessellate your objects. It can be applied to multiple objects without having to do new UV Snapshots. It can render in smooth shaded. It is quick and easy. And it uses the power of mental ray, and can look sweet if you do it right.


  1. Assuming you have something to render, create a new material (can be anything that has a shader group – lambert, blinn, phong, etc.). In this example, I will be creating a lambert.
  2. Call the new material WireFrameMTRL and the shading group WireFrameSG. Who doesn’t like being a little organized ;) ?
    Note: If you clicked somewhere else and can’t get to the shading group easily, you can just go to the Hypershade and find the tab Shading Groups to find it.
  3. Go to the newly created lambert’s shading group WireFrameSG.
  4. Open the mental ray -> Contours tab.
    Note: If it isn’t there, you need to enable mental ray in your plug-ins Manager. Mental ray is called “Mayatomr.dll” so find it and load it.
  5. Click Enable Contour Rendering.
  6. Set the color to something you’d like. I like white.
  7. Set the width to something like 0.2 – 1.0. This setting is the absolute width of the wire frame lines. You can comeback and play with this later.
  8. Apply the material to the object.
  9. Open Render Settings
  10. Select render using Mental Ray (if it’s not there, go see the note for #4).
  11. Find the Contours Tab (it is under the features tab in 2009)
  12. Select Enable Contour Rendering
  13. Open the Draw By Property Difference Tab
  14. Select Around All Poly Faces
  15. Render!

And that is the easiest and most consistent way to get wireframe without the flaws of the other methods.

Here’s a shot of the result from one of my recent projects (with render settings fine tuned):

Rendering Wireframe with Mental Ray

The Worse Ways

For full disclosure, here are some other not so good ways to render wireframe.

Method 2: UV Snapshot

I don’t feel like doing the process for this one. It is somewhat of a pain to explain without pictures and frankly I don’t want to take them since it isn’t a method I’d advise. So here is a pretty decent video that does: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUFAtkVJdpg&NR=1

Method 3: Maya Vector

Rendering in Maya Vector is fairly painless to test. Unfortunately, Maya needs to tessellate all quads whose vertices do not fall on the same plane.  There is a way to find these planes if you have a few but in my case, almost all my quads are non-planar so there was no point trying to fix them.  So here we go on the process:


  1. Assuming you have objects to render, open up your render settings dialog.
  2. Render using Maya Vector.
  3. Go to the Maya Vector settings.
  4. You can select Fill objects if you’d like. It will fill the object with a color you can select through the settings or leave it fill-less. For the example below, I unchecked fill objects.
  5. Un-check show back faces.
  6. Select Include Edges in the Edge Options Tab
  7. Choose an edge weight. I chose 0.5 for the example below.
  8. Choose Entire Mesh for Edge Style.
    Note: Outlines gives you a pretty cool effect. So try that too :)
  9. Render!

Wireframe render using Maya Vector. Oh boy look at the tessellation.

Method 4: Hardware Buffer

Hardware buffer is another painless way to render out in wire frame. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look nearly as cool as the previous two images. Anyways, here’s the process:


  1. Open up the Hardware Rendering Buffer from Window > Rendering Editors.
  2. In the Hardware Rendering Buffer, open Render > Attributes.
  3. In the Attribute Editor, change the Rendering Mode > Draw Style to Wireframe.
  4. Render!

This one looked terrible so I didn’t capture an image of it. I couldn’t figure out how to do back-face culling so this quickly became the worst of the techniques.

Method 5: Toon Shader

The second best method to render wireframes in maya is to use the toon shader. I personally like the mental ray method better for the control and power of mental ray but this one seems just as good for simplicity’s sake.


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Japanese Visemes and Phonemes

Posted: January 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 3D | No Comments »

I’m currently working on an interesting project that involves Japanese speech lip-syncing of a 3D character. Since it was difficult to find resources on this from an English speaker, I decided to write on it.

Firstly, visemes are the unique facial positions required to produce phonemes, which are basic sounds from a particular language. Each language has multiple phonemes and visemes and each viseme can have multiple phonemes. In the English language, there are about 10 basic phonemes (a-i, e, o, u, c-d-g-k-n-r-s-y-z, f-v,th,l,m-b-p,w-oo-q) with one viseme each totaling 10 visemes.

When I first began looking into Japanese visemes and had luck finding resources, I decided to try to develop my own solution with my understanding of the language. In my view, the Japanese language is composed of some very basic sounds that are construed to make more sounds. Although the phonemes begin to add up, the actual visemes are almost exact. Combinations like じゃ(jya) can be formed accurately by combining their similar visemes  い (i) and あ (a). The following diagram depicts the 5 visemes:

Yours truly making visemes for animation

Again, I believe that with these 5 basic visemes, it will allow you to construct every mouth pose required for Japanese speech. Unfortunately, the character I am using lip-syncing for will most likely never have a tongue. This is important because, in Japanese speech,  the tongue is used more often than other languages (I’m thinking of English, but similar Latin-based languages fall in that category) and requires less movement of the lips to make the language’s basic phonemes.

Finally, near the end of my researching for this particular topic, I found this webpage that explains everything I just did and more: http://www.ordix.com/pfolio/research/

I don’t particular like the visemes for the first two sounds as the character’s teeth stick out far too much for my liking. It is entirely possible that the character is making the correct sound, but when I try the phoneme in her pose, it feels quite strange.

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Japan: New Years Celebrations

Posted: January 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Japan, Travels | Tags: | 2 Comments »

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on Japan. This has been because of mostly the fact I’ve been here before for an extended period of time and simply ran out of things to write about. There are some things that have crossed my mind that could be interesting topics, but I’ll save those for later. This post however is on a new topic that I never got to experience the first time I was here. This time I truly got to experience Japanese life in regards to Christmas and New Years.


Christmas isn’t much different in Japan than the North American version. You still get presents for your friends and family and they still get presents for you (or else would it really be Christmas?). Unfortunately for us, and I still don’t know if this is common, we didn’t have a Christmas tree. Instead, we used some makeshift plant as a tree and put presents around it. Hooray. The stores were their usual self playing Christmas music with Christmas decorations galore. It was interesting to see the local KFC with their statue of Colonel Sanders dressed up in a Santa outfit and to see at the local mall not Santa but guess who? Ultraman. Who needs jolly old saint Nick anyway? Why not a super hero sent from space to defend Earth from aliens? Way cooler.

Ultraman @ AEON mall

New Years

The most interesting Japanese holiday traditions involve New Years. I was kind of surprised at how important it is here in Japan after experiencing how similar Christmas was. Firstly, Japanese people support the Chinese astrology and subsequently the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. The new year brings the tiger to replace the cow so likewise, you see images of tigers and stuffed fluffy tigers everywhere. Secondly, New Years brings the most fun and interesting concept to shops: fukubukoro! Fukubukoro is a Japanese New Years tradition at shops where shops include random goods into a sealed container and sell it for one flat price. They tempt you with what could be in the boxes like for example some electronic stores package $500 worth of stuff into a $250 fukubukoro and hide it randomly among other lower valued fukubukoro. I did end up buying one as I’ve looked forward to this all year long. I got a Police fukubukoro for $50 that contained a necklace, bracelet, and a hat. If you know Police, you know that’s a steal. Thank god more people don’t know Police here or that price would go through the roof.

Among other things, Japanese people tend to have a very specific diet on New Years. They generally start eating a prepared meal of raw fish and traditional Japanese foods in the morning. From there, I think it’s up to the family. Specifically, we had sushi for lunch and sukiyaki for dinner, which are both still very traditional Japanese meals. Also during this time, older people are expected to give money to younger people in the amount of generally more than $100. No it’s not an early birthday gift or late Christmas gift; it’s extra.

Another interesting tradition for New Years is one I took part in early New Year’s morning. Not all Japanese do this but many have done it at least once in their lifetime. The tradition is to climb the local highest mountain, visit the mountain’s temple before sunrise, and then view the sunrise with everyone on the summit. As it can be very cold during January and at 5 – 7 am, it’s understandable people don’t do this every year. However, it is a thrilling experience when you climb a mountain in the dark and see the sun break from the clouds in the freezing cold.

Peaceful sunrise on New Years Day

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