Mari is a 3D texturing software developed by Weta Digital for the productions of King Kong and Avatar. Several years later, the software was acquired by The Foundry (Nuke, Hiero, Katana, Modo) and was rapidly popular in some of the largest post-production studios (Digital Domain, MPC, Framestore, Dneg, ILM…). The principal strength of Mari is to be able to paint directly on the 3D model. So, you no longer have to deal with matching or deformation of texture problems. This year at ArtFx, I had the chance to work with this very modern software.


Mari 1.6

At first it is a little baffling, the software doesn’t have layers like Photoshop, it only has channels that are connected to the shaders. So, you must look at the channels like layers and the shaders like groups. Once the new workflow is assimilated, the software unveils all of its powers and becomes really enjoyable to work with.


Mari is equipped with a very simple and totally customizable interface in just a few clics.
The HUD (helper) shows shortcuts for the selected tool, which helps you control the software in the beginning.


Logiciel Mari - The Foundry - ArtFx

HUD and the Image Manager in Mari.


The nice part about this is that each action/palette corresponds to a shortcut, which allows you to quickly work from just the viewpoint of the screen. Meanwhile, the Pie Menu allows quick access to a selection of brushes and colors.


Logiciel Mari - The Foundry - ArtFx

Pie Menu.


Mari has several possible viewpoints:

  • Orthographique and Perspective: These views allow you to paint or project the textures directly onto the 3D model.
  • UV: This view attaches the UVs to the unfolded 3D object. Therefore, one can paint directly on the UV like in Photoshop, I find this indispensible and it is the main element that is missing from other 3D texturing software.

    Logiciel Mari - The Foundry - ArtFx

    Orthographic and UV view.


    Very useful functions:

  • Paint Through Tool which allows you to project textures.
  • Warp: deformation grid from 4 to 64 points of influences.
  • Edge Masking keeps you from painting on selected zones (in red on the image below). This protects the texture from undergoing excessive deformation when it is applied to the 3D model.

    Logiciel Mari - The Foundry - ArtFx

    Edge Masking in Mari.


  • Flat Mode: an attachment mode without light influence on the 3D model. This makes it easier for you to judge the quality of the maps.

    Logiciel Mari - The Foundry - ArtFx

    Preview breakdown of textures and modes.


  • A shading system allows you to previsualize how the different maps are react (Diffuse, Specular, Roughness, Bump, etc.), all in real time!

    And a number of other functions, notably the ability to paint in symmetry, a gateway with Photoshop and Nuke…


    Mari is also capable of working on 3D models with millions of polygones having tens of 8K patches and all without any problem, which made it very useful to me this year!


    Mari 2.0

    In March of 2013, the highly anticipated Mari 2.0 was released.
    Numerous new functions had been added, among them:

  • A system of 100% non-destructive layers, with a number of options like masks, adjustment layers, fusion modes, which makes the transition from Photoshop to Mari easier. So, the layers are layers, the groups are groups and the shaders are real shades and not groups like in the previous versions.
  • Watch it: demoreel Mari 1.5 and Mari 2.0.


    Logiciel Mari - The Foundry - ArtFx

    Mari 1.5 and Mari 2.0.


  • One unique function allows you to share (and not copy) the same layer in different groups and channels. This way, the layer automatically updates itself within all the groups and channels where it is shared!
  • A number of procedures (fractal, cloud, wood, Ambiant Occlusion…) that I found very useful to use in masking the adjustment layers, for example.
  • Updated shaders.
  • And of course others…
    Other new functions in this video.


    I found this new version less indulgent in terms of the configuration, and globally more fluid in Linux that Windows.


    To conclude, Mari was a very powerful ally for me this year. It especially allowed me to save time and gain considerable precision. Not to mention that I really enjoyed working with this software, for both organic and mechanical textures.


    Here are tests created in Corei7 -2600 / 16G RAM / GTX 560 Ti 2G.


    For more information

    Mari on The Foundry website



    [small_button]English version by Danielle Harrell, English teacher for ArtFx[/small_button]