A wireframe is a method of rendering a 3D object. It is a visual presentation of a three-dimensional or physical object used in 3D computer graphics. It is created by specifying each edge of the physical object where two mathematically continuous smooth surfaces meet, or by connecting an object’s constituent vertices using straight lines or curves.
Using a wireframe model allows visualisation of the underlying design structure of a 3D model. so now I am going to show you how to render a wireframe in Maya 2009. Mostly there are several techniques for wireframe rendering in Maya but I will tell you 4 methods that I like.
1. Method: Playblast Rendering
Playblast is a method of capturing unrendered frames on a viewport to form an animation. When we create a playblast, Maya goes through and takes a screenshot of each frame and combines them all together to form an animation. So moving on to my cool technique which I used for wireframe renderings.
Note – Playblast captures frames according to viewports resolution. So if your screen’s maximum resolution is 1024 by 768 then forget about getting HD renders. The rule of thumb here is that the more the screen resolution the bigger the render you get. So to make HD renders (720p or larger) push your graphic card screen resolution to the maximum.
First, select your model and assign a Lambert shader to it. Then go to the attribute editor (ctrl+a) make the colour white and set the white colour value to 1.5 to give it a higher saturation.
Now go to the panel menu and under Shading check wireframe on Shaded.
Now select the object go to Display>Wireframe Colour and set the colour to
You can also set your desired colour if you like, but I choose dark grey because I will composite it with the Ambient Occlusion pass of the model.
Now go to windows>playblast options and set the Time Range to Start/End or, Timeslider, whichever you want according to your need. Now under Viewer options select Image Viewer.
Go to Display Size select Custom and type in the resolution you want, in my case 1280 by 720. Also, set the Scale to 1 and Frame Padding to 3. Now select the Save to File option select your desired location and hit Playblast.
Here is one thing to note before making any playblast hit ctrl+spacebar to maximise the viewport area so that it gets enough resolution to render HD ( 1280 by 720). In my case screen resolution is 1440 by 900px.
NOTE- Image format (i.e.- Tga, Tiff, Png etc.) depends on the settings of the Render Settings Window.
Now it’s time to render ambient occlusion pass so to do that select your object put it in a new render layer and name the layer Occulusion_RL.
Now go to Windows>rendering editors>Hypershade and from the create panel under create Maya nodes click on the surface shader.
Now right-click on the Create Maya nodes panel and select mental ray nodes. Under mental ray, nodes go to the textures slot and expand it. Now click on mib_amb_occlusion.
Now under the hyper shade work area middle mouse drags and drops the mib_amb_occlusion shader on the surface shader which we created earlier and connects it to default.
Now right-click on the surface shader and select assign material override for Occlusion_RL. This will assign ambient occlusion to the occlusion render layer which we created earlier.
Now hit batch render to render out the animation.
The advantage of Material Override – The advantage of material override is that we can delete the render layer without losing the model’s original shading network.
The good thing to notice here is that the shading network is always connected to the model. This material override is only valid for that particular render layer which is Occlusion_RL.
Now we need to composite those playblast and ambient occlusion passes we made earlier. so we will go to After Effects now…
First import ambient occlusion passes in the comp and drag this into the timeline.
Do the same with Playblast render drag it above the ambient occlusion layer and change the blending mode to ADD. This makes only the wireframe appear on the A.O. pass. Now hit render to render in wireframe and you are done.
You can also download the PDF from here…
2. Method: Contour Rendering
Assign a shader to your polygon object. It doesn’t matter Lambert, Blinn, or Phong it’s all up to you.
Now press ctrl+A or, go to the Attribute Editor of the shader. Now go to the shading group(SG) of the particular shader. From there expand the Mental Ray section of the shader. Now come to the contour section and enable it.
Now in the Contour section select the colour you want, in my case, I choose white colour. Here let the Alpha and Contour Width ( Absolute Width) value to its default. But set the Width Amount to 0.4 (Which adjusts the thickness of the mesh).
Now go to Render Settings Window and enable Mental Ray (if the mental ray doesn’t show up in the Render Settings Window then go to Windows>setting/preferences>plug-in manager and enable mayatomr.mll and set it to Loaded and Autoload so that whenever you start Maya it auto loads Mental Ray plug-in).
Now go to the Features Tab and expand the Contour section. From there set the Enable Contour Rendering,( you can also enable the Hide Source to check box this will make your object hidden, rendering only the wireframe which you can then composite in any compositing software) and set the Over sample value to 5, Filter Type to Gaussian Filter and Filter Support to value 2.
Now come to the Draw By Property Difference section below the Contour section and enable the Around All Poly Faces checkbox, which will enable contour to be drawn to every single face.
3. Method: Toonshader Rendering
First of all, select your object and assign a Toon Shader Outline to it.
Now press ctrl+A or, go to the Attribute Editor of the shader. Now In the pfx toon shape expand the Profilelines and Borderlines tab and turn all of their values to 0.
Now for wireframe rendering turn the Crease Line option on.
In the crease line tab, turn the Hard Crease only off and the Crease angle Min/Max Value to 0.
In the crease, the line tab adjusts the Crease Line Width depending on how thick you want your wires to be.
Now render the scene using Maya Software Renderer. Here note that Toon Shader Outline doesn’t support Mental Ray or, Maya Hardware Renderer.
4. Method: Hardware Render Buffer
First, go to the window > rendering editors > hardware render buffer, this will open a window.
From this window go to render>attributes. A new tab will open named default Hardware Render Globals. Now go to image output files and from this choose the resolution you want. If you also want alpha to be there then select Hardware Alpha under Alpha Source.
Now go to render modes>draw style and choose wireframe.
Now under render modes check line smoothing which smoothes out the wireframe edges. Also, check the full image resolution check box.
Now go to background colour under the display options tab and choose the background colour you want.
Go to the top menu bar choose display>polygons and select backface culling, which will force backface wires not to render.
Now select the model go to display>wireframe colour and choose the colour you want. And you are done.
NOTE- The difference between vector rendering and hardware render buffer rendering is that hardware renders buffer gives smooth wireframes meaning if we were to apply a smooth(modifier) to models it updates itself but vector rendering gives hard edge results.
Here note that vector rendering is supported only by Maya 32bit versions. Vector Renderer plugin hasn’t shipped with 64-bit versions of Maya(2009) till now.