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Creating a galaxy in Maya using Paint Effects
Creating a galaxy in Maya using Paint Effects
Karianne Collinge, updated 2013-04-14 21:32:55 UTC 23,035 views  Rating:
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This is a tutorial on how to make a space or galaxy effect in Maya. It could be used either to make a scene that a camera could zoom through or to make a background for an After Effects project or something like that. It is meant for people who have a basic understanding of Maya 2012 or 2013, including how to render, change render settings, and how to use hypershade and apply textures. This is based on what you think looks good so don't, by any means, think you have to follow the tutorial exactly. 

1. Open Maya and make sure that you’re in the Rendering menu and go to Paint Effects and select Get Brush.


2. Find the ‘Galactic’ menu and select the ‘galaxy.mel’ brush.



3. Click and drag the brush around the grid. It works best in a squiggle shape, but however you want is fine.


4. A quick render shows that it’s not very visible unless we are zoomed in very close. Leave the render window open in the corner in low quality so that you can quickly render each time an asset is changed. When it's time to render, change them back to production quality.


5. Open the attribute editor and find the ‘galaxy 1’ tab


6. You’ll want to increase the Global Scale, almost to the end of the slide bar, around 10,000. When we zoom back out, you’ll see that there are a lot more stars now.


7. Zoom back in and it’s starting to look like a star system. We also want to increase the Brush Width a little so that the stars are more spread out.


8. Scroll down to the Shading dropdown menu and change the color, the incandescence, and the transparency. It works best when the incandescence is a darker color, because it tends to overpower the other two. If you want all of the stars the same bright color, make the incandescence that color.




9. This step is solely based on what you think looks good. Play around with different colors in Shading and also in Tube Shading until you find a combination that is appealing to you.



10.  We’re going to add a glow effect into the equation now. Twirl down the Glow menu and chose a color for the glow. Increase the Glow and the Shader Glow, but be warned that Shader low is very sensitive. Keep it very low or else it will look like this. Unless that’s what you are going for. I like to keep it between 0.050 and 0.2.



11.  This is the color combination I came up with, along with a bright turquoise glow to create the purple star system.



12.  After you find the right color combination for what you are looking for, to add some depth, go back into the Paint Effects menu and choose the ‘space.mel’ brush.


13.  Go back to Step 6 and repeat those directions for the space brush. Again play around with the different colors and glows until you find what you like.



14.  You can also add some space dust as well, which is also located in the Paint Effects menu. It doesn’t matter what color you choose because you can change the color to any color you want.

15.  Play around with the same menus as before. The only difference is that to change the color of the dust, you only have to change the color of the Incandescence. Keep it dark or else it will be extremely bright and solid. Also keep the Shader Glow way down, don’t go above 0.030 or it will be bright as well.






16. If you want, you can move each asset around in the scene to give it more depth. It will also be easier to find a good angle to either fly through or to render shots.


17.  When you are ready to save your render, if you save it as is, it will end up looking like this because it is transparent and Maya renders transparency as black by default. 



18.  To give it a black background, make a humongous sphere and make it black using hypershade. Now once you save your render, it will look like a galaxy. Don’t forget to change your render settings to high production quality and whatever dimensions you need. You’re always safe with HD 1080 and it shouldn’t take that long to render. If you know another way to give it a black background, by all means, do what you are comfortable with. I like using a sphere because it plays with the light nicely.








19. The possibilities are endless and the results are quite stunning. 



Thanks for reading my tutorial. Now go make something cool!