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Jens Kafitz releases Mari Extension Pack 5 R7

Originally posted on 25 October 2019. Scroll down for news of the R7 update.

Former Weta Digital artist Jens Kafitz has released Mari Extension Pack 5, the latest version of his suite of bonus tools for Foundry’s 3D painting software.

The update adds Substance Painter-style Smart Masks for creating procedural wear effects, a new Pattern Engine for generating procedural textures, and new Hotbox and marking menu systems.

A massive collection of add-on tools used by most leading Mari facilities
First released in 2014 as a collection of free tools, and now available as a commercial product, Mari Extension Pack has quickly become a staple of texture artists at many leading studios.

The list of users on Kafitz’s website is pretty much a who’s who of the world’s biggest visual effects, feature animation and games facilities, including Weta Digital, ILM, Pixar, DreamWorks, EA, Ubisoft and Blizzard.

The pack provides hundreds of add-on tools covering just about every aspect of Mari workflow.

New Substance-style Smart Mask system and pattern generator
As with previous Extension Pack updates, the release adds features that will be familiar from Adobe’s suite of Substance material-authoring tools.

That includes a new system of Smart Masks, for mimicking dirt and wear on materials, in the same way as those in Substance Painter.

Mari Extension Pack 5 includes 65 Smart Mask presets, plus a Mask Builder tool for creating custom masks.

The update also adds a new Pattern Engine for generating procedural textures, which looks to have similar versatility to Substance Designer’s pattern-generation nodes.

Again, the release ships with hundreds of presets, including both geometric patterns and procedural noise; or there are new Pattern and Shape nodes for generating completely custom patterns.


New Mask Shelf for creating and sharing presets, plus customisable Hotboxes and marking menus
Changes to Mari’s interface added in the new release include a Mask Shelf, making it possible to save any layer, layer group or node selection as a preset, and share it with other artists.

The software automatically embeds a preview image when creating presets, making it possible to browse them visually; and it is possible to filter and group content in the shelf.

The release also adds a system of Hotboxes and marking menus of the type found in DCC tools like Maya and Houdini, making it possible to select commonly used tools from a circular contextual UI overlay.

The Extension Pack ships with seven built-in layouts, which can be customised via a new Hotbox Manager.

There is also a long list of other features, including new adjustment layers, blend modes and utility tools, and new mathematical and OpenGL functions in Mari’s node graph.


Updated 30 April 2020: Mari Extension Pack 5 R3 is now available.

New features in the update include a new Substance Designer live link, enabling users to preview changes made to a texture in Substance Designer on a model inside Mari.

Other changes include a new system of material templates, including presets for the native materials of key render engines, including 3Delight, Arnold, RenderMan, Unreal Engine and V-Ray.

Workflow improvements include the option to automatically reload textures when the source file is updated, and to automatically recalculate normal map orientation when a material is rotated.

There are also new blur and manifold nodes, updates to the pattern engine nodes, and a new tool for soloing materials quickly from within the node graph. Find a full list of new features here.


Updated 10 August 2020: Mari Extension Pack 5 R4 is now available.

The update improves workflow for applying decals to a scene, adding new templates both for individual decals, and for scattering decals across an entire surface.

In addition, a new project templates system makes it possible to save settings from one project and reuse them in another, including node graphs, cameras, light rigs and scene preferences.

Other changes include new options when working with Mari’s Bake Point nodes.


Updated 07 January 2021: Mari Extension Pack 5 R5 is now available.

The release adds support for the new functionality added in Mari 4.7 last month, with several Extension Pack tools updated to make use of the new Shelf in the Mari user interface.

Also making use of changes in Mari 4.7, users can now align nodes within the node graph by selecting and right-clicking them, and the drag-and-drop workflow for images and colour swatches has been improved.

Features compatible with earlier versions of Mari include a new Smart Height Blend system for blending height maps between nodes or materials, and a number of workflow and performance improvements.


Updated 12 May 2021: Mari Extension Pack 5 R6 is now available.

The update only adds one major feature, but it’s a significant one: the Substance Baker Bridge, which makes it possible to use the high-speed texture baking toolset from Adobe’s Substance tools inside Mari.

It provides 15 different bakers for generating geometry-based maps, including ambient occlusion, curvature, position, thickness and mesh or world space normals, importing the results directly into Mari.

Of those, 10 are GPU-accelerated, although all will fall back to CPU baking if no suitable GPU is available.

As in Substance Designer and Substance Painter, several of the key bakers support GPU-accelerated ray tracing, via Nvidia’s OptiX API or via DXR (DirectX 12 Raytracing).

DXR is supported by Nvidia’s GeForce 10 Series cards and newer and by AMD’s Radeon RX 6000 Series, although the online documentation for the Extension Pack only lists Nvidia GPUs as compatible.

To use the Substance3D Baker Bridge, users need access to Adobe’s Substance Automation Toolkit, available through subscriptions to the Substance tools, including Indie subscriptions.


Updated 20 December 2021: Mari Extension Pack 5 R7 is now available.

The update adds Phasor noise: a versatile new 3D noise type used by Industrial Light & Magic during production on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and recently implemented in RenderMan 24.

It’s capable of creating a variety of geometric or organic-looking patterns, ranging from sand dunes and fabric folds to tree rings and reptile scales, the latter shown in the video above.

Users can guide the result by using texture maps or Mari’s Vector Paint sytem as inputs. The update also introduces a range of presets that can be modified to create custom Phasor noise effects.

Pricing and availability
Mari Extension Pack 5 is available for Mari 4.1v2 or higher, although you also get access to legacy versions compatible with older releases. It doesn’t work with Mari Non-Commercial.

Since version 4, the cost of a single seat has risen from €49 to either €59 (around $66) for an Indie licence or €99 (around $112) for a Freelance licence.

The former are intended for individuals with revenue under €90,000/year; the latter for individuals and companies with revenue up to €5 million/year €1 million/year.

As of version R5, site licences cost between €1,300 and €10,000.

Read a full list of new features in Mari Extension Pack 5

Watch videos of the new features on Jens Kafitz’s YouTube channel

Visit the Mari Extension Pack 5 product page

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