Peter Aversten

Lead Texture Artists
Meshmen Studios

Mari ISO Workflows

ISO maps…what is that you might ask? While texturing an asset for a VFX workflow we as Texture Artists are often asked from the lookdev department, “Can I have control over this or that in look development?” “Sure” you say and export an ISO texture.

ISO is short for Isolation and is basically a mask you either use in your texture workflow or extract from the texture itself. Pipelines might have different requirements for naming and the amount of channels you can export. Taking a step back from the texture side I want to share a few workflows I have adapted for my texturing needs.

When I start a project I take some initial time to think about what materials an asset is made of. Also, what special masks might be needed later on? If I don’t have the immediate option to select materials on a patch or selection basis I create special masks or ISOs I later use in my texturing.


“Spending extra time in the beginning might save days in the end.”

Peter Aversten

Mari ISO and Backdrops

In Mari I use the node graph to texture and I tend to collect my mask nodes inside backdrops. I then use the extension pack radio transmitter node to declare the ISO maps for easy access wherever I build my network later on.

The beauty of being able to declare masks using the extension pack is you don’t have to hunt around and connect nodes.

In the following example I have made a few basic material ISOs. In a real production asset I can have very complex ISO masks that might have to be baked down using the bake point node to optimize the performance. I tend to collect the complex ISO masks in their own backdrops. I only cluster multiple nodes if its one or two nodes in the chain.



Some facilities use a strict one channel ISO mask limitation. If you use the node graph you can easily add ISO masks into a RGB mask and export if you get the request to combine a few ISOs into one.

Let’s examine how…..

Node Graph Series

This article is the first in a series of tutorials building upon the Mari live stream series where I completed an asset from start to finish.  I will be using the node graph throughout the series meaning it will be in a shorter and condensed format. I will extract the most essential workflows for texture artists interested in learning the Mari node graph.

Happy Painting
Meshmen Studio

“Want me to cover something specific? Leave your comments below”

Peter Aversten