Unlock Your Potential: The Four Ps of Texturing with Charli Holt

Unlock Your Potential: The Four Ps of Texturing with Charli Holt

Just starting out as a 3D Artist? Don't worry, mastery takes time. Charli Holt, Mari Product Manager at Foundry, share the Four Ps of Texturing, crucial for artists, TDs, and tech enthusiasts alike, to unleash their potential in this vibrant field.

It's often said that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. Unfortunately, if you've just started your career as a 3D Artist, you really haven't mastered your craft yet, have you? However, when it comes to texturing, you can come super close if you focus on the four Ps of Texturing. Charli Holt, Mari Product Manager at Foundry, shares these principles as they apply to the artists and TDs using the tools, as well as the engineers who are making the tools. Whether you're an aspiring artist, a tech enthusiast, or a bit of both, understanding the Four Ps of Texturing is key to unlocking your potential in this dynamic field. Let's jump in!

Charli: The nature of working in software means that we have a huge backlog of tasks to do, bugs to fix, and features we want to create. The role of the Product Manager in software is to figure out how to prioritise one thing over another while advocating for the needs of your user base. For Mari, as we have a range of users across multiple different industries (VFX, Games, Advertising, TV, Architecture, etc.) and cater to both individual users and studios, it’s not an easy task to say one piece of development work is more important to all. To help when discussing this with our user base (and for our sanity), the Mari product team narrowed the backlogs down to four general areas that we realised all Mari users would run into while in the application. We use this to guide our development team and ensure that we're moving Mari forward by trying to spend equal time in each area to benefit all.

So how do you gather this information?

We conduct surveys with studios and individual users to pinpoint their needs. We also heavily track the conversations on our Mari communities, such as Discord, and of course, any chats we have with clients directly. Most importantly, every single bug and feature request that goes through our Support team is carefully discussed and triaged each time it's raised to ensure we're keeping up to date with artist pains and needs. The Four Ps are used to keep ourselves on track while we work towards these goals. For Mari, currently, these goals are: Put the Artist First (with texture education being a key focus!), Provide Stability for our Studio users, and Make Mari the Complete Palette: the only texturing tool you need.

Below is a rough breakdown of each of the Four Ps, including some example features from the most recent Mari releases (since we introduced the Four P process in Mari 5.0v1).


The things that make it fun to be an artist.

A lot of texture artists come from a background in 2D art, photography, or similar. There is a real need to feel like an artist when working with tech like this to truly output creative results. In the Four Ps, Painting is our bucket for capturing the artist’s toolset - the things that make being a texture artist fun and give me more to play with. These are tools, brushes, and content that really allow artists to be as creative as they want to be and those that directly affect the aesthetics or stylistic result of what you're creating.

Examples in recent Mari releases:

  • Roller Brush: Paint continuous, repeating textures including seams, stitches, and more.
  • Color Jittering System: Randomly pick color, hues, and saturations from values in a given range to create dynamic brush strokes for a more realistic look and feel.
  • RGBA Image Brushes: Providing additional flexibility and options for your brush properties, so that you can paint with an image.

For an artist, learning when and where to hand-paint a mask or when to experiment with jitters or blend modes can be the key to learning new techniques.


The things that streamline your techniques.

To work procedurally is to follow a series of repeated steps over and over in the same way. For an artist, this can mean spending a long time on one thing, such as creating a dirty metal, to achieve the same or similar result that you’ve achieved in previous projects. In the Four Ps, this is our space to create more procedural noises, mode nodes, and more tools that create reusable results with minimal effort on the artist’s part. Proceduralism work is our opportunity to reduce the tedious repetitive tasks for artists and give you the ability to create tools that are reusable again and again, meaning you can get 60% of the way there before you even start painting.

Examples in recent Mari releases:

  • The Bakery: A hyper fast dedicated tool for baking mesh maps straight out of Mari.
  • Teleport Nodes: Help you to declutter your Node Graph by transmitting data across hidden connections.
  • Bake Point Filters: Increasing proceduralism within Mari, so that you can insert Bake Points into your Node Graph network, and apply a stack of filters to your baked result, making the process repeatable and non-destructive.

Dive into the procedural areas of Mari, learn what nodes do, and make use of weird and wonderful noises. Create your own material library to reuse your work and start reducing the time it takes you to get an asset looking great.


The things that help you collaborate with your team.

Working within the structure of a pipeline is a must for artists working full time in a studio environment or for those who are contracted freelance and have to work in collaboration with a studio. In the Four Ps, Pipeline refers to any of the collaborative aspects of working as a texture artist. The important thing for us is to help streamline any interactions you need to have while sharing data in and out of Mari, and also to ensure that Pipeline TDs have a fully fleshed out strong API that allows them to build custom plugins on top of our existing toolset.

Examples in recent Mari releases:

  • USD Import/Export: Smoothly import and export USD files into and out of Mari with dedicated import/export tools.
  • Automatic Project Backups: Track updates continuously across your project and restore from backup points.
  • VFX Reference Platform Updates: Ensuring Mari works with the latest version of VFX Reference Platform.

Know your pipeline, know where the model is coming from, befriend the modelling artist, and you'll have an easier time asking for changes to UVs. Know what the LookDev team expects so that everyone's day is easier.


The things that reduce your caffeine intake.

Improvements to performance across Mari can have a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of artists. Continuously improving the performance of key functionality in Mari means that artists can create more with fewer resources and less time. We strive to make Mari lighter, cleaner, and more efficient across the board.

Examples in recent Mari releases:

  • Backups over a network: Easily backup your projects to shared drives/folders as needed.
  • Project startup speed increases: Saves time when opening a project.
  • Baking/Flattening speed increases: Achieve faster project work when converting and flattening your 3D geometries into a 2D texture map.

Optimise your projects and your work to reduce time spent on mundane tasks and increase the time you spend painting! Learn how to curate your projects to remove redundant layers and keep them lightweight to use, meaning you can deliver your textures with less pain, in less time.

With continuous feedback and development guided by the Four Ps, Mari empowers artists to create with greater efficiency and creativity, ushering in a new era of possibilities in texturing.

Get to know Mari

From texturing photorealistic skin to Mari’s core concepts, check out all the latest tutorials for the digital painting and texturing toolset. While you’re there, don’t forget to look at our Mari 7.0 tutorials so you can fully explore the latest features and updates.

Charli Holt, a seasoned professional in VFX with extensive experience in Product, Quality, and Customer Engagement, currently leads Mari's creative strategy at Foundry. In her role as Product Manager, she collaborates with studio clients and development teams to prioritise user needs, ensuring Mari remains artist-friendly. Charli's dedication extends beyond product development; she advocates for a healthy work-life balance, mental health awareness, and inclusivity within the texturing community. With a passion for mentoring new learners and fostering an engaging network of artists, Charli embodies a commitment to the future of Mari and the VFX industry.