Ultimate Scatter for Maya


Hey guys,

Just wanted to share with you a new scatter tool that I’ve been working on in my spare time. You can check out a quick features demo of it here:


The reason for creating this tool was often in production I’ve been tasked with populating massive complex landscapes/cities/etc. Those landscapes are often comprised of several Meshes, poly counts of those meshes are often very high, and additionally more often than not, those meshes won’t have UVs on them yet (so scatter tools that try to scatter by utilizing UV methods don’t work). So I needed a scatter tool that could work within these limitations, and within a reasonable amount of time. I’ve tested a lot of scattering tools and most of them could not live up to those demands. And additionally I needed more control over my objects. That’s where this tool steps in.

This tool is definitely not the fastest one on the market for all situations (especially when it comes to very simple scenes). However, it is consistent in it’s results. The tool gives the user a lot of ways to control their objects and gives the user several controls to guide where those objects will be placed. And the results are very accurate to those guides that are set. Another benefit is that it’s entirely written in python, and it uses legacy Maya particles, making the script very portable if you’re moving from workstation to workstation.

At this point I’m just looking to see what peoples’ thoughts are on the tool. Is it something that seems useful or something you would use? Did you see any features missing from my tool that would make it better? Note: I plan on adding something similar to sppaint to my script very soon. My current focus is trying to optimize to get faster scatter times.

Thank for reading!


is this just for fun or are you trying to make commercial tool out of it…`?
cause the latest MASH nodes are doing a really good job in that direction…


At the moment, this is mainly a tool just for me to use in a production environment. However, I am open to make it commercial if there’s enough interest in the tool. My biggest issue with Mash, at the moment, is that it’s new scattering features are only in maya 2017. In the VFX industry, software gets updated much slower. Most studios seem to still be in maya 2014/2015. And I need something for now.

I will be fair, I haven’t even tested Mash at this point, or even maya 2017 for that matter. Mainly for the reason above. However, I’ve heard Mash doesn’t handle “terrains” with very high poly counts very well. Nor have I seen any support for scattering onto multiple “terrains” at the same time. Can anyone confirm either of those points? As those are very import for me. I do love the features I’m seeing from Mash though! It’s looking very powerful.


The elevation Mask and Slope mask are awesome workflow related.


I think it’s some good work you’re doing, and it’s nice to see someone NOT catering to the 2016/2017 crowd. I still use 2015 for its stability and mental ray of course. But I use the Environment System plugin along with spPaint3D for hero stuffs mostly. Yours has some cool masking techniques that you can’t do with EnvSys, but I’m not sure I’d switch if you offered it as a paid tool. That’s just me, though. I mostly do landscapes along with my arch/viz work. I’ve done some pretty complex work with just EnvSys and spPaint3d. It can be a headache to manage dozens of different plants, rocks, and ground items, but Maya is pretty flexible if you organize your stuff well.

This is the tool I’m talking about, but you probably already have seen or used it:

Right after your video, this one played:

His tool is much less complex and powerful than yours, and he’s charging for it, although along with a bunch of other tools too. Not to say his tool isn’t worth the money, but yours is more powerful.

Maybe zazz up your GUI a bit though? Not that it should matter, but it could help you sell it better.


Thanks! Terragen and Vue both have features similar to this and I find them incredibly valuable. So I thought it’d be great to have something similar in Maya.

Thanks for your thoughts. That’s some really great work you’ve done. And I agree with you that staying organized in Maya plays a big part. That’s why I put a large emphasis in my tool that’ll help easily manage everything.

I have used and looked at EnvSys. The problem I had with EnvSys is that I was getting very slow results when scattering a lot of objects on high poly terrains, while trying to use the “Align to Normal” feature. The author of the script, is using a very slow plugin from maya called: “nearestPointOnMesh” to calculate normals. As do many scatter tools out there (including spPaint3D). There are some really cool features it does have though. But for me, it wasn’t working so great on the demanding scenes I was working with.

spPaint3D is an amazing script. And normally I don’t notice the bog down from the “nearestPointOnMesh” plugin I mentioned. The one problem I had with it though, is it’s too slow if you want to scatter a moderate amount of objects. Several years back I went into sebastien’s (the author) code and added a “splatter” paint feature. I found that helped when needing to less precisely scatter more objects. You can check that out below.

And I had never heard of JTools haha. I’ll look into it more though.

I agree the GUI could use some spice, I just haven’t gotten around to that part yet. Need to make sure it runs properly under the hood before making it pretty :).

Thanks again for your feedback.


Hey it’s cool seeing my script still getting mentioned from time to time =P
(Im the envsys guy).

Btw, infernalDarkness, that’s some awesome work, I’m so happy that you were able to create such a nice looking result with my tool.

And yes, RyanNolanVFX, I definitelty think my own script is heavily out-dated now, I actually use Vrayscatter myself now. I simply wrote my script at a time before Mash or Vrayscatter was available and there was no other good alternative. But it’s good that your making your own system, not only is it a great learning exercise, but you might come up with a workflow that is easier than the competitors, or that offers better features.


we should not forget about the SOuP instancer…


hey oglu

  dose that work in 2014?


nope wont work with 2014…
there are old SOuP version with 2015 support… the instancer does need some code from 2015…



ahh ok no worries

Hey Ryan any way to test your tool out with Vray. if not no worries.


I have tried using Vray Scatter for Maya, but I can’t actually get it to do anything. It’s probably user error, because I literally can’t get it to scatter a single thing. I’ve messed with all the settings I could find, read and went through to documentation, but nothing happens. I’m using Maya 2015 obviously still but it is supposed to be compatible. Just, nothing happens. Ever. I got frustrated quickly and haven’t touched it since.

And with no GUI, it’s really not my cup of tea. EnvSys does pretty much all I need, though it can be a bit cumbersome after a few billion instances.


@ InfernalDarkness

I just got vrayscatter i got it work just fine only thing is its not picking up the materials from the proxy obj
this shot has 90k trees and 150k bushes. Im on vray 2.40 but not sure what the deal is ill keep yall posted on my progress



I tried running the envsys to launch it but i get (# Error: IOError: file <maya console> line 1: 2 # )

im on 2014 could that be the issue?

never mind i got it :slight_smile:



for the env sys how do i get the texture map to work i cant seem to get it to work at all


This thread isnt about getting vrayscatter to work so please keep on topic.

Personally for scatter tools, I want stability, the ability to easily swap instanced geo, randomisation tools and the also for the scattered objects to have collision so you dont end up with geo ontop of geo.

Also I don’t mind paying but please make it affordable. :slight_smile:


i bought vrayscatter but having issues with 2014 vray 2.40 it works but wont pass textures so far


Please make a separate post. Hijacking threads makes life a lot harder for people looking for answers.


Getting back on track,

I think we would all love to use your tool, Ryan Nolan. At least to try it out. Anything that would make the workflow easier, more streamlined, or more tweakable could only help us as artists. Maya can be so tedious in so many ways, as to hamper creative freedom and especially with large scenes.

I’d love to give your tool a spin sometime, especially if you can implement a “paint” type feature as well. :slight_smile:


Hey Guys,
Really apologize for disappearing for the past few days. Had some family stuff come up that I had to take care of and required most of my attention. As well as needing to take care of taxes at the same time…yay.

Anyways, I am happy to see some people are liking the tool :).
(There’s an overall update at the end of the post, if you’d like to skip to that stuff)

I’m happy you found this thread :). I was curious to see if you were still using your scatter tool or another commercial tool. Your tool is definitely a great one and I’ve used it on a few projects of my own :). Just needed something more optimized for production.

I have used Vrayscatter in the past and it’s a cool tool. I really like a lot of the features in it. And to be fair, it was a long time ago when I used it. I believe it also had the issue of slowing down on high poly terrains. Also, the biggie for me, I hate being tied down to a specific renderer. At least that’s how it was when I used it. Idk if it supports objects for use in other renderers or not now. Still a great tool though. I just needed something that I could take with me from job to job. Couldn’t do that with vrayscatter.

Thank you for you posts, I appreciate it. I do believe, Ultimate Scatter currently has features that you’re looking for. Except maybe the stability part, but I’ll get to that in a sec :).

I couldn’t agree with you more.

Overall update:
So like I said before, I haven’t been able to work on the tool a lot, very recently. However, since my last post I am happy to say that I was able to optimize the scatter algorithm a lot. Especially for smaller/simpler scenes. On simple scenes my tool was taking about 1min per 20k objects. 20k objects now take about 14s to scatter. I also re ran the demo from the Features Video I posted. Scatter times went from 3m 30s to 2m 50s. So definitely some improvements there :slight_smile:

Pricing matter:
First off I’d like to say, I want this tool to be affordable to most people when released. At max, I’m thinking of charging $25USD, free updates forever. And, I will probably release a “lite” version of the tool for free on creative crash. The lite version would offer much less control over object randomness, and also the Masking tab would be removed. Other than that, everything else would remain the same. Those are my thoughts at the moment but are subject to change.

What needs to be completed before the first version is released:
There are still a few features in the tool itself, buttons etc… that have yet to be implemented. So I need to get all that working
The tool has so far been very stable with all of my tests, but I still need to fully go through the tool and push everything to it’s limits and make sure things are working as intended.
My goal is to have the first version (free and paid) released by the end of the month :slight_smile:

Upcoming Features aimed for later releases of the tool:
–Paint Scatter Tool (this actually has a high possibility of making into the initial release but we’ll see)
–LOD Support
–Options for converting the particle objects to geo
–Options for deleting objects
–Undo support

Apologies for such a long post! Just wanted to respond to everyone and give an update. If you have any thoughts on anything I’ve posted here please let me know. Thank you!