Third Year: XGen and Paint Effects.

In my last post I touched briefly on my rendering issues, which one to go for and what to prioritize.  In this post I will go into Xgen and Paintable Textures, something I have been using for my scenes in my 3D part of my Thesis film.

XGen is a geometry instancer that lets you populate the surface of polygon meshes with an arbitrary number of primitives either randomly or uniformly placed. XGen lets you procedurally create and style hair, fur and feathers for characters. For set dressing, XGen lets you quickly populate large-scale environments, including grass savannas, forests, rocky landscapes, and debris trails. -Autodesk.

Xgen is basically a tool you can use in Maya to create things such as hair, fur, grass and such.  It’s a great tool if you want to quickly make some hair on your character or put a patch of grass in your scene.
Eventhough there are several ways to create grass in Maya, like painting it yourself and applying the painted texture onto a mesh to then duplicate that mesh as many times as needed, I wanted to get a bit more knowledge about Xgen.
Firstly, the scenes are setup in a way that I can use Xgen without is stressing out my scene too much.  It’s a heavy tool, and if used in abundance your scene will lag like crazy or just simply crash.
So I had to be really careful about how to create my scene, place my cameras in order to not have everything lag up, but at the same time I didn’t want empty patches on my mesh.  So I decided to combine both Xgen and Paint Effects tool.

Paint Effects Tool
Paint Effects is a component of Maya used to quickly and easily paint brush strokes and particle effects on a 2D canvas or on or between 3D geometry.
You can use Paint Effects as a traditional paint program to paint images on a canvas, or to paint repeatable textures that you can apply to geometry in your scenes.


The Paint Effects Tool is sometimes used in combination with Xgen.  You can decide how many poly’s you’ll use for whatever you create, be it flowers or trees.  You have a wide variaty of ‘seeds’ which all have different poses for the flowers or trees, you can customize your creation however you want, add branches, leaf count, etc.

Rendering out xgen and Paint Effects.

Xgen will pretty much render out perfectly due to it being connected with Arnold, however, to have a succesful render with Paint Effects you will need to do something in order to have it show in your renderview.

Whenever you want to create a Paint Effect on a mesh, make sure you select your mesh and go into the Generate tab in Modeling.   There you will find Paint Effects and simply click on “Make Paintable” .


Once you have made your mesh paintable, you can open the content browser which has all the paint effects, animated and static.  (This was previously known as “Visor” )
PainteffectsNow when you have created your scene, painted your heart out, it still won’t show in your renderview.  This is because your creation isn’t a ‘mesh’ yet, it doesn’t consist out of actual polys.  So as a last step you will have to convert your creation into a mesh.

Through Modify you’ll find the Convert option.  There, when you scroll down you will find “Paint Effects to Polygons”.  Once you have done this, it will show up in your renderview and you can adjust it however you want. All options to change colour, seed, polycount are still available through Attribute Editor.


I really enjoyed both Xgen and Paint Effects.  The latter perhaps a bit more because it creates an environment within seconds once you get the hang of it, but one big warning from me when using this is “SAVE WHEN YOU CAN”.  Both options can be rather heavy for your system and crashes can always happen, so whenever you can, save.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s