How to draw in Photoshop

              Photoshop is an excellent tool for painting. Its brush and gradient tools are superb in Industry. This picture is created from scratch, sketched with pencil and painted with Photoshop.Adding the blending and layer styles the paintings can be enhanced in to more creative ways.

               Before going to the topic, I am not a professional artist. I usually draw for my own satisfaction. Most of the time I follow my own techniques to complete the art work. So don’t expect any professional advice or tips from me. But you can get some idea about my procedures.
              During my Motion graphics jobs in previous studio I actually polished my drawing skills. Before that I just ignored my drawing skills and was searching in internet “How to draw in computer” or “how to draw in Illustrator”. Any way I realised some solid things which polished my creativity (I believe so…).
  • how to draw in computerFirst of all believe in your creativity. Believe your traditional drawing skills than believe in any software. It is you who creates the art, not the software.
  • Invest more time and effort in polishing your traditional skills, not on software skills. You will learn the software when you really love to draw with that software.
  • Don’t push yourself in to something you can’t. Select what you like.
  • Find your own style of art. (it will take much more time to find the right one. I believe that the style of your art is the common art that you draw regularly without noticing it. You may scribble during a boring lecture, stressed work or any other time your mind want to escape from the bore some. Just look at that scribbles, study that and try to polish it. It is the real style you own, no one can teach you to draw like that, and no one can exactly copy that style).
  • Develop your own way to see and visualise things. Try to figure out the uniqueness in things. It is a skill that you can polish.
  • Try to finish the art traditionally. You have to develop your own work flow when using digital software with traditional art work.

Now about the art work” Carnival”.

I already said this picture is created from scratch. But actually it is not true. There is an inspiration drawing behind this picture. Yes I copied it. Just look at the following photograph.
getting the theme
This is a photo of cracked wall. I saw a good picture in it. So I took the photo and draw the base figure in the paper. I tried to follow the actual curve as possible as I could. I didn’t trace it. Then I applied more details in it and made a suitable theme. The lines were scribbled random strokes with pencils. I usually do that way.
Finding a theme is very is easy. Just look at your surroundings and use your imagination. You can see different patterns and figures forming from the surroundings.

Cleaning the drawing.

In order to digitalize the drawing I have to clean up it. I used a black ball point pen ( better use a gel pen) and traced the clear out line of the picture. Erased all the unwanted lines and strokes. This will give a clean outline of the drawing. I created thicker lines than usual because I want the “glass painting look”. Using the original outline in digital drawing will give more natural look compared to the over smooth computer outlines and curves.

Digitalise the drawing

I used Digital camera to digitalise the drawing. Took a photo without flash and cropped in Photoshop.
how to draw in photoshop
Using the camera RAW functionality in Photoshop I enhanced the drawing. Desaturated and added level boost.
how to draw in photoshop
Then I deleted the white space and unwanted area by using selection tools. This gave me a good outline.
how to draw in photoshop
Because of the quality of and thickness of the outlines and photo there is no need to vectorise it. I usually do vector tracing (auto tracing) with Illustrator if the quality is poor or I need a vector output.
Set the desired size of the document (at 300 dpi).
I selected the outline and filled with black colour. This gives more clear outlines.
Then using the selection tool (magic wand and quick wand most of the time) created several selections and save it. According to the selections I created several layers.
how to draw in photoshop
Using colour gradients I filled each layers with appropriate colour and feel.
how to draw in photoshop
Getting a “glass paint look” I copied the outline to the top layer and used layer effects.
how to draw in photoshop
This is the process behind this picture. I think you got some idea about the techniques I used.


Adding dynamics to Mograph cubes in Maya

Using procedural animation method we can mimic the Mograph module of Cinema 4D in Maya easily. I already covered that part in tutorial ‘abstract dancing cubes’. If you don’t have clear idea about procedural animations please watch the above mentioned tutorial first and continue this. Anyway I am covering the procedural part in this tutorial also. But I skip some steps.

Difficulty Intermediate

Tools Maya 2012 and above you can use Maya 2010 and 2011; all the steps will work fine except some advanced shading parts.

Topics covered

· Preparing the scene using clear hierarchy for procedural animation
· Animating the cubes using procedural animation
· Applying the animated shaders
· Applying the dynamics
Watch the Demo video,
dynamic cubes
You can see two modules in this video.
1 with dynamics
2 without dynamics
I created the entire animation using procedural animation tools and the end result is shown in video without dynamics. In the second module of the video you can see there is no collision, randomness etc. they are simple animation key frames. After some frame the animation stops. But in the first module with dynamics the cubes are behaving dynamically i.e.. They have collision, randomness etc. they perfectly collides with ground and never pass through the base and have sufficient self-collision also. In both video you can see the colours of the cubes are changing gradually according to the time.
Here are the steps,

Preparing the scene

1. Create a new project in Maya and set the default folders.
2. Create a new scene and set the play back speed to 24 FPS. Set the frame range to 400.
3. Go to top view and create a new polycube with width, height and depth set to 1.make sure that all the subdivision parameters are set to 1. (yes you can increase if you really want to slow down your system! It is completely personal choice because some people like to stress their system to maximum level. )
4. Set the transformation of the polycube to
5. Translate X= 1.5 Translate Y=0.5 Translate Z = 0 Rotation values should be 0 and scale values should be 1.
6. Delete the history by selecting the polycube1 and go to edit> delete by type> history. We are going to make copies of this cube, so keeping the history will slow down.
7. Select polycube1 and go to edit> duplicate special> option (select the small rectangle). Select edit>reset setting.
Now change the following value,
8. Translate X= 1.5 Number of copies=14 and click Duplicate special.
Duplicate special
Now we have something like this,
Duplicate special
9. We need to create a hierarchy for these cubes. Now they are not connected to each other. Select all the cubes and go to window>hypergraph: hierarchy. Press ‘f’ to focus the all the cubes.
10. Now deselect all the cubes by clicking the empty area in hierarchy window. Using middle mouse drag polycube15 to polycube14. Polucube14 to polycube13 and so on. The final output should like this
You can achieve the same by doing the same procedure in Outline or LMB dragging in viewport.
Now we created the hierarchy node. Select each cube and see how they are connected.
11. Select the polycube1 and create a group by edit>Group or by pressing CTRL+g. the group1 have the pivot resting on the centre of the grid.
12. Go to edit>duplicate special>options. Reset the values. Change the values,
13. Rotate Y= 30 Number of copies= 11 and press duplicate special.
Duplicate special
Now the resulting cubes are overlapping at the base level.
14. Go to outliner and select groups 1 to 12 and translate in X axis so that they are not overlapping each other.( make sure that you are using local translation by holding the key ‘w’+ LMB and select ‘object’.
local transform
local transform
15. Check the outliner and expand it and study how they are arranged.

Animating the cubes

16. Go to frame 25 and select all the groups. Go to edit select hierarchy and press‘s’ for setting a key. It will take a while depending on your computer speed.
heirarchy in maya
17. Turn on the auto key frame toggle by clicking the key icon found at the bottom right side in playback area. Deselect the cubes by clicking an empty area in viewport.
18. Go to frame 1 and select all the cubes by dragging in view port and type in translate in X =0 so the cubes rest under their parent cube and forming a ring. See the figure.
19. Select all the groups in Outliner and go to modify>centre pivot and change the values of Translate to 0. Leave the Rotate attribute intact.
Now play the animation. You will get a nice array of cubes forming animation.
20. Go to frame 60 and select all the cubes (not the group) by drag selecting in view port and rotate them Rotate X = 0, Rotate Y = 12 Rotate Z = 12. (Make sure that you are rotating on local axis by holding ‘r’ + LMB and selecting local). You will get a nice figure like this.
mograph in maya
21. You can manually add rotation. Experiment with rotation, translation and add periodic key frames up to 200.
Watch the tutorial named abstract dancing cubes’.
22. Go to frame 230 and make the appearance of the cubes like in figure. You can have your own figure but it must be above the grid and should be well apart from each other.
mograph in maya
23. Play the animation. You can add key frames for each groups and cubes to get different animations.
24. Save the scene as different version.

Applying the Shaders

1. Select all the groups in outliner and go to polygon mode and select Mesh> combine. It will take a while depending on your computer speed. If your computer is really old go for a break and have some Coffee.
2. Now we have a single mesh named polysurface1. Rename it to ‘Cubes’. Don’t delete the history.
3. Save the scene. Play the animation. You can see the animation is there. if you open the Outliner and check there is all the hierarchy, but a transform node is assigned under each polycube. If you want to experiment select the ‘Cubes’ and delete the history. You will lose the animation and all the hierarchy groups will disappear. Undo the scene.
4. Select the ‘Cubes’ and go to frame 25 and apply a new Phong material.
5. Select the Phong1 and apply a ramp to the colour slot. The final effect will look like this.
ramp in maya
6. All the cubes have same texture. We need to randomize it gradually. This unity is because of the same UV. Select the ‘Cubes’ and go to window> UV texture editor. You will get something like this.
UV in Maya
7. We have to match the UV according to the current mesh position. Go to viewport and select the ‘Cubes’ and press ‘SHIFT’+RMB and select mapping> planar map Y. See the picture.
planar mapping
Now the cubes have a gradually changing ramp texture.
ramp texture
8. Select the Ramp 1 (use Hypershade for selecting) and change the type to UV ramp.
ramp texture
9. We need to randomize the colour. Change the U wave and V wave as U wave= 0.166 V wave= 0.73
ramp texture
10. Select the HSV Colour Noise and change the values. (If you are using Maya 2011 and older this option won’t be available.)
11. Hue noise= 0.695 Saturation noise =0.133 Value noise = 0.378
noise in ramp
12. Select the Placed 2d texture 1 and add an expression in Rotate Frame by selecting and typing “=frame/2” without “ ” and press Enter.
You can play with different values and expressions.
Play the animation. See how the colour changes according to time. Save the scene to a different version.

Applying the Dynamics

1. Select nDynamics mode. Go to Frame 1
2. Select the ‘Cubes’ and go to nmesh>create nCloth. This will create a nucleus1 and nCloth1 node in Outliner.
3. Select the nucleus1 and go to attribute editor and find the node named Time Attributes, expand it and change the start frame to 25. This will help in stimulation because at frame 25 the cubes are well separated.
4. Right click on play back control and select playback speed>Play every Frame-max real time
playback control
Play the stimulation. You can see the cubes are gradually falling down and not following the key frames. This is right.
5. Select the nucleus1ndfind attribute called Ground Plane and turn on the Use Plane.
6. Play the stimulation again. Now the cubes remain in the grid. If you want to check the real dynamics change the Start time in nucleus1 to 60 and play the stimulation. After frame 60 the cubes begin to fall down with respect to gravity and collide with the grid, bounces and collide with each other. Happy now. Change the start frame back to 25 and save the scene. If you feel the stimulation is slow change the scene scale to 0.05. These settings will nearly real stimulation. But I used the default value 1 because I need the slower stimulation. Better you also use value 1 for this tutorial.
7. Ok we need to link the animation to the dynamics. Select ncloth1 go to attribute editor, expand Dynamic attributes and find the attribute called Input mesh attract and change these value
Input mesh attract value = 0.20
Input attract damp = 0.002
Input motion drag = 0.001
Save the scene.
Experiment with different value and find the difference.
8. Now the cubes have animation and dynamics. But after the animation completes the stimulation is not good. So go to frame 225 and select nCloth1 and set a key frame in Input mesh attract value.
9. Go to frame 230 and change the input mesh attract value to 0 and set a key frame.
10. Save the scene and play the stimulation. If you are having slow fall down of the cubes after the animation increase the mass to 10.
Cache the simulation. Set lighting and render in Mental Ray.


Architecture and Design Presets for Maya

         Maya is a wonderful application. But it lacks some features such as Architectural pre-sets, Mograph modules etc. as compared to other popular 3d application. After the long wait Maya have the Architecture and design material pre-sets with in it. It is known as Mia material and mia material X. These materials include nice pre-set for Chrome, Rubber, physical glass, copper etc. I think you already explored it.
(If not, enable Mental Ray in Maya and create a new mia material and click on the pre-set tab found in attribute editor.) But I am not going to describe about those pre-sets. But some other pre-sets, which I have found very useful in my Motion Graphics career.
With these pre-sets You can now use Maya as architecture design software also.

Fast mental ray for Maya
        Fast Mental Ray is an excellent plugin created by Explore-3d .It is a collection of pre-sets for materials, lights, and camera and render settings. The material pre-sets include Gold, Plexi, plastic, Inox, Glass etc. which are very useful in Motion Graphics and product rendering. 



  •        Download the installation/ zip file. The latest version found in the website is for Maya 2011. If you need it to be available in Maya 2012 and later download the zip file. And follow the instructions. I have modified the set up instructions for Maya 2012.
  • Open the ‘Fast_Mental_Ray_V3.0.2%20for%20Maya_2011%20Windows.zip’
  • Open ‘Fast_Mental_Ray_V3.0.2 for Maya_2011 Windows’ folder
  • Copy "Fast Mental Ray V3.0" folder to your Maya 2012 installation. (C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Maya2012\)
  • Copy "Fast_MR.png" in the "icons" folder from your Maya 2012 installation. (C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Maya2012\icons)
  • Copy the prefs folder and paste it in Documents\Maya\2012 and merge the content. Do not replace.
  • Or
  • Copy content “icon" folder on /my documents/Maya/2012/prefs/icons/
  • Copy content "shelves" folder on /my documents/Maya/2012/prefs/shelves/
  • Start Maya and you will get a new shelf named Fast Mental Ray. Open the shelf and click on the icon.
  • Explore the different pre-sets in Fast Mental Ray.


It includes sun Direction and Metro. Sun direction is pretty similar to sun light in 3ds Max which have the entire attributes to set the geographical and time value. You can set the city, latitude, month, ate, time etc. and the sun light will behave accordingly.
Below is the some renders with environment settings
Used Default Lambert shader and camera. Sun is set to Delhi, with time 14:30 and month Dec
environment and weather preset
In pre-sets tab there are quick pre-set for SD, HD, Full HD, Panavision and different print pre-sets.
And quick selection for GI and FG.


It includes basic settings for camera. Pretty handy for quick renders.


It is a tab for creating interior and exterior lightings with area light.
area light


Simple pre-set lights with geometry for creating quick interior lighting.
fast mental ray icons
image courtesy Explore-3d


Very handy set of material pre-set and shaders. Also include gamma correction node.
Shaders include miscellaneous, wood, wall, metal, plastic, glass, frosted glass etc. with some pre-sets in it. The metal and plastic pre-sets are very useful when doing product render and motion graphics. Shaders are created by clicking the icons. But you have to manually assign it to the objects.
These are the material present in the shaders slot.
  • Asphalte
  • Beton
  • Grass
  • Wall glossy (1,2,3,4,5,6)
  • Wall matte (1,2,3)
  • Coating (1,2,3)
  • Wood sliding (1,2)
  • Wood Floor
  • Glossy plastic (1,2,3)
  • Matte plastic (1,2,3)
  • Blur plastic (1,2,3)
  • Glossy plexy
  • Blur Plexy
  • Buoy
  • Copper
  • Gold
  • Chrome
  • Aluminium
  • Inox
  • Brushed Inox
  • Glass
  • Tinted glass
  • Thin Glass
  • Frosted Glass
  • Frosted tinted glass
  • Frosted thin glass
image courtesy Explore-3d
See the renders below with each material applied.
I have used my own lighting technique. There is no UV mapping applied.Some of them applied with HDR map for reflection.

Mia Cocktail  Presets for mia material 1.3.0

      Valen Wagner created this collection pre-sets for mia material x and mia material x passes. He used original 3ds Max mia material pre-set (architectural and design) and implemented in Maya. Due to copyright issue he supplies the alternative textures against 3ds Max original textures. But you can use any high quality maps instead.
Note that there is not that much presets are available. It include
  • Bricks
  • Concrete Rough
  • Concrete smooth
  • Copper Shaded
  • Leather cracked
  • Metal Brushed
  • Ocean
  • Tile glazed
  • Wood Bamboo glossy
  • Wood bamboo matte
  • Wood box pattern glossy
  • Wood box pattern matte
maya materials
Take a look at Valen Wagner’s website http://www.vraphix.com/ watch the video tutorial and download the plugin there. Or use this link


MIA Presets for Maya by Brian Escribano

This is another set of mia material pre-set originally compiled from 3d Studio Max’s Architecture and Design pre-set. Due to automatic conversion the compiled Maya Shaders lost its connection to the original textures and utilities. those slots are represented by black colours. So this pre-set cannot be considered as production ready. You have to find the empty slots and manually assign the correct textures and utilities unless you wont get similar result compared to 3ds Max.
If you have enough time and 3ds Max available, apply the correct textures in the correct slots.

  These are the pre-sets available
  • Aggregatemedium
  • Concrete-Brushed
  • Concrete-Cast-in-place
  • Concrete-cast-in-placereveal2
  • Concrete-cast-in-placereveals
  • Concrete-cast-in-placereveal-smooth
  • Concrete-cast-in-placereveal-speckled
  • Concrete-formwork-staggerd
  • Concrete-formwork-wood
  • Concrete-vertical-ribbed
  • fence
  • Finishes-Gypsumwhite-fakespecular
  • finishes-plaster-coarse-stucco-white
  • plaster-fine-stucco-mauve
  • finishes-plaster-fine-stucco-white
  • finishes-plaster-fine-stucco-white2
  • finishes-plaster-Med-stucco-white
  • finishes-plaster-stucco-wet-dash
  • finishes-plaster-trowled-grey
  • finishes-plaster-trowled-yellow
  • Flooring-flagstone
  • flooring-marble-green-white
  • Flooring-tile-marble
  • Flooring-tile-red-diamond
  • Flooring-tile-square-blue
  • Flooring-tile-square-blue2
  • Flooring-tile-square-brown
  • Flooring-tile-square-grey
  • Flooring-tile-square-tan
  • Flooring-tile-terracotta(fakespecular)
  • Flooring-VCT-diamonds-bump
  • Flooring-VCT-diamonds-displacement
  • Flooring-VCT-grid
  • glass-architecturalcoated
  • glass-architecturalcoated-tinted
  • masonry-brick-english-cross
  • masonry-brick-flemish-cross
  • masonry-brick-flemish-diagonal
  • masonry-brick-modular-common
  • masonry-brick-running-brown
  • masonry-brick-running-grey
  • masonry-CMU-sound-abs-running
  • masonry-CMU-splitface-running
  • Masonry-limestone-bump
  • Masonry-limestone-displacement
  • masonry-stone-slate-grey
  • Metal-brass
  • Metal-brushed
  • Metal-chrome
  • Metal-copper
  • Metal-goldpolished
  • Paving-surfacing-asphalt-dark
  • Paving-surfacing-asphalt-light
  • Paving-surfacing-pavers1
  • Paving-surfacing-pavers3
  • Roof-shingles-asphalt  


Shader Library for Maya

I think you probably heard about this plug in. If not, it is a collection of shaders with tile able texture originally supplied with Maya’s installation disc till version 8.5. The shader pack is originally produced and distributed by Alias Wavefront, the real makers of Maya. After Autodesk bought Maya this plug in also disappeared. But you can get it by searching in Google. Shader library is not a mental ray material pre-set. Instead it is Maya,s default shader (Blinn, Lambert,Phong etc.). 
  Get more pre-sets and shaders from following sites


Animated Iris Diaphragm in Camera Tutorial

In this tutorial we are going to model and animate an Iris diaphragm which is seen in camera and microscope. Though this tutorial is meant for Maya any 3d design software can produce the similar result by following this tutorial, but some steps may vary accordingly. Before jumping in to your 3d programs just go through the tutorial and do it later.
  • Create a new file in Maya
  • In top view create a Nurbs circle with radius 8
  • Create a poly cube with Width 8.5 Height 0.25 depth 2 and subdivision width 8
iris diaphragmIris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
  • Translate it to -8 in Y axis and adjust the vertices to match it with the circle. You can use lattice, bend etc. Add some distortion to geometry in y axis like in figure.
  • Delete the history and freeze transform the pCube1.
Iris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
  • Select the pivot of pCube1 and transform it to left side of the geometry as in figure. (Press w first and Insert key for selecting the pivot.)
Iris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
  • Do some geometric modification as in figure.
Iris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
  • Press CTRL+g for creating a group. Note that the pivot of the new group should be at the base grid.
Iris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
  • Now go to edit>Duplicate special>options
Iris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
  • Change the rotate Y to 10 and No of copies to 35. Make sure that you have used the default settings. See the picture below.
Iris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
  • Now you will get something like this
Iris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
  • Drag select all the cubes and group it. Rename the group to iris.
Iris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
  • Go to outliner and delete the empty groups from 1 to 36.
Iris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
  • Select the iris group and press 3 for smoothing. (Need to be rendered in MR)
  • Select the polysurface1 to 36 and go to channel editor and set a key frame on Rotate Y at frame 0.
Iris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
  • Now go to desired frame and rotate it in Y axis till the hole disappears and add a key. Do not type the value!
Iris Diaphragm tutorial FermiCG
Play the animation. You will get a nice iris effect.
Add a poly pipe with Radius 9.6, Height 2, and Subdivision axis 50. Add other ornaments and make it to look like a Digital Camera, Video Camera, sci-fi space ship or mechanical door anything you like. Add shaders, texture, lights and render it.