Dynamic Maps with Maya’s Fluid Texture 2D node

On October 10, 2014 by jw

The Fluid Texture 2D node in Maya can be used to dynamically paint any map attribute with an animated brush or particle system. Here is a FT2D node plugged into a texture deformer in Maya 2015.


In a promotion for Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD,  one of the main characters, “Chopper” creates tracks in the ground dirt. To achieve this effect, I attached fluid emitters to Chopper’s feet to emit density into a FT2D node. It’s basically a dynamic mask that can be projected onto any surface. It can drive color, spec, or in this case a displacement mask. My first pass was to try and create Chopper’s tracks procedurally with a few noise and ramp shaders. The final look needed a bit more detail so Chopper’s path was painted in Photoshop and then dynamically un-masked with the FT2D node. Here are the steps:

After final animation, fluid emitters are parented to Chopper’s feet. They emit density into a FT2D node. Looking through the Top camera, this creates a nice template for painting in Photoshop.



Using the template above, here is the final path design from Photoshop:


This design is plugged into the ground displacement. It’s “drawn on” with the same FT2D node used to make the template. The FT2D is plugged into the alpha of a layeredTexture node:


It can also work without a layeredTexture node. Here it is plugged into the Transparency of the Projection node.



Here is the shot with this example path:



Here are a few more shots that used this shading network




Here is the final Spot:


The first time I saw an example of the Fluid Texture 2D node in a shading network was in a post by  Duncan Brinsmead.  He used it to displace and color a ground plane after a particle “bomb” exploded.

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