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The Mark Twain House WIP


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Here is my second demo reel asset I've been working on. It's The Mark Twain House located in Hartford CT, built in the late 1800's. (I know i have to wip threads now Im doing the modeling for both first before I texture them just because of the way it works for my classes). I've been struggling with foliage inside of maya, getting the paint effects to look good and render. As well as the grass I'm doing to render without crashing maya,its been a hassle getting the approximation editor to work correctly for me. Here is a quick grey scale render of what I have so far. CC always welcome! Due to the size of the image on here some of the detail is unclear unfortunately :-(. I still have some small things left to model to add variance and small detail to the house. Will be updating more as the week goes by.




Based off of this Camera shot



Edited by BenM08
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Hey BenMOB, this is looking really good!


I would be interested to see your modelling method did you have floorplans or have you modelled from an image?


If its the image what was your process??


As regards to getting the scene rendered maya can be a right pain with high density polys however there are many methods for fixing this. What version are you using?


If you need any advice id be happy to help


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Thanks for checking out my thread everyone.


tcupp: Ya I've been somewhat dreading those chimneys they are actually really intricate, but should be a fun challenge. They will be done within these next few days for sure. Thanks for the comment.


Dragonearl: Unfortunately I couldn't get any sort of blue print or floor plans for the house, I even went to the Mark Twain house museum to see what I could find. Ive based all my modeling on just random photos of the house. I did use the posted picture however as my main establishing shot. Based on that shot I did most of my basic block out of the house to get the sizing right. For some reason I struggled in the beginning stages of this project and worked backwards from my normal work flow. I ended up choosing 1 section (a single steeple, balcony, etc) and took it from block out to full detail, and moved from section to section around the house. I can post up a sort of time lapse of the project when I get a spare chance. As far as render problems.... I am having trouble getting clear definition on my brick bump maps, I currently am just using physical sun and sky some what tweaked for my light source. Rendering using mental ray, ive tried both rasterizer, and scan-line, no global Illum but even with my Final gather cranked to point density 4.00, accuracy 300, and Filter on Mitchell I am not getting crisp lines and the maps to show. The problem with my grass Im having a teacher look at because its hard to explain easier to see, but Ill keep things posted.

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Hi BenM08


Maya is like a child sometimes and just decides that it is going to misbehave for no reason at all.


To start with i am going to assume (looking at your image) You are using the Maya Physical Sun Sky System and that you have made the ground a grey-ish colour and the horizon is set at 0.


You have some nice diffuse light going on although you do seem to have a lot of blue in the light, are you using linear workflow with this and if so how have you got this set up?? i.e frame buffer gamma or gamma correct nodes connected to your textures?


Bump maps and Maya tend to need a lot of tweaking and have to be decent to get any kind of good looking result. To start with it would be good if you could post the map you are using and that to see if the problem is Maya or the map itself.


As for Grass EVERYONE!! struggles with this and there are a lot of resources around the net with various ways of doing this. The Ultimate way to get good grass in Maya is to use fur however until the latest release 2011 this is not in complete however if you have it there is a simple grass preset you can use. Remember however that Maya tends to like having lots of divisions in the mesh to make it work correctly.


The second method would be a displacement map and then use either the approximation editor or a simple Ramp to control the quality and height of the Grass.


The Final and best Method would be Similar to the method that is used by Peter Guthrie and make a small patch of grass that can be duplicated. If you are just making a still or a small camera move on this then this is what i would suggest. Set up a small piece of grass on a base plane and then you can proxy this and scatter around to make it look realistic. The Good thing about this method is that you can tweak the height and density easily and the render times because of the proxy system would be minimal. If you are going to do this then i would definitely have a look into the Mip_Binary_Proxy as this is would really help.


If you Want to post or PM me your scene i would be more than happy to take a look for you and have a look at the settings you are using also as the settings you have mentioned are extremely high and are probably not necessary.


I hope this helps



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Thanks for the tips Dragonearl, ill be sending you a pm shortly. Im currently using a displacement map and use of the approx editor on the ground to get my current grass look. Just setup with a lambert, random grass texture, and granite driven displacement map. My settings were turned down for these renders to 1 point density and 150 accuracy, gauss as my filter. Here are some small updates Im still trying to figure out why I cant render the grass in the same scene or even export it from the working scene into an entirely new scene. Heres the house as of now.




here's somewhat of the look of the grass Id like WITHOUT physical sun and sky on



Here is how it looks when rendered in the scene with physical sun and sky on. The problem is I need the light source thats emitting the shadows onto the ground to be the same for the grass and building even if rendered separately, but it causes the grass to look like garbage.



Edited by BenM08
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Now thats really nice looking!

But if I were you I'd give the peter guthrie grass method a try. No need to destroy this nice scene with displacement grass, that atm looks more like rubble than grass.

I'd love to give help and advice, too, but other than that I've seen maya in a video once I know nothing about that program, and your modeling skills outran mine, so I'll just let you do your job ;)

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Thanks Merlyn, Im definitely going to give that grass technique a try since its been recommended by a few of people now. Im excited to texture this piece to bring it to the next level now.

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