How to Rig with Surface Shading

The first step in Surface Shading is to identify the surfaces that will need lighting, shading or cast-shadows. Volume Objects can be used to join multiple drawings into a single surface, or separated into different Volume Object IDs and blended with the Height Matte. The Volume Objects for a rig can be created at either the rigging or compositing stage—but it is important that these Volume Objects accurately represent a surface in relation to the rest of surfaces in the rig.

The Surface Map node combines all the Volume Objects in your rig and allows you to a add a height to each volume definition. This allows you to define each surface’s range in relation to the others in the rig. These surfaces can be animated within the surface mapping, joints can be masked and height maps can be used to further define and animate the surface. All surface depths are in the same units as the field used by pegs in the scene—this provides a consistent relationship between the surface heights and the pegs and drawings in the scene.

The Surface Shading nodes render in relation to the overall surface defined by the Surface Map. Volume Object nodes are used to define individual surface layers and the Surface Map node accumulates these into a single elevation-map facing towards the camera. When a light is placed in the scene, surfaces that are in front of others will receive more light and will occlude the surfaces that are further away.

Here's what a basic surface shading effect node structure looks like:

NOTE A Surface Shading node system is very similar to a legacy Light Shading node system, except that it provides more surface definition and effect options.