3D World

Use Katana for lookdev and lighting

Get started with Foundry’s Katana and discover how you can utilise this powerful lighting tool in your own projects


Learning a new tool can often be challengin­g, and it’s easy to get overwhelme­d trying to determine which features are the most important for your workflow. If you’ve worked in a studio environmen­t before, you’ll be more accustomed to different software, tools and features, but even so, you may find yourself in a similar position as I was – struggling to build my own projects from scratch.

It all boils down to the basics. No matter how experience­d you are, these are easy to overlook, especially when you’re eager to get started quickly. While this may sound trivial to some, pulling yourself back to the start and building a better understand­ing of the basic features of a tool can pave the way for stronger workflow foundation­s later on – you never know when you’re going to need those skills.

Foundry’s lookdev and lighting tool Katana provides everything you need to get started on your learning journey. Its efficient toolset enables artists to maximise their creative freedom, so they’re not wasting time on menial tasks or technical glitches but building on their basic skills and putting them into practice.

So what do you need to get started in Katana? And how can you build your own projects from scratch? From organising your node graphs to optimising your workflow, this guide will go through some of the core concepts that can help you get started on your own learning journey with the flexible lighting toolset, Katana.


Katana fits at the end of the 3D pipeline process – as a result, it is not only a look developmen­t and lighting tool, but also a scene management tool where we are assembling elements that came before (i.e. in modelling, layout, animation, FX, groom, and so on). Being flexible at this stage is key because your projects are prone to many changes, including asset updates, optimisati­ons; the list goes on. Katana is ideal for working with adapting projects as long as you build them with the assumption that certain elements will be subject to change.

Think about what main sections you want to keep constant and what will need to be flexible as you work through your iterations. Once you’ve identified these parts, you can build your Katana projects in such a way that gives you fast and easy access to make the necessary iterations throughout the production process.


Katana’s node-based interface provides a baseline for a very flexible and non-destructiv­e workflow, whether you’re working on your own projects or in a team. Being able to trace back your steps and understand exactly what is happening at all stages is extremely beneficial, and will help while working on your projects.


Keep your node graphs organised and clean – it’s important! This will help you navigate your projects, or help others do the same if you are working in a team. Using backdrops and naming your nodes will help you orient yourself in the node graph easily. Versioning different parts of your node graph separately from the rest of your Katana project can also help team members work in parallel.

In some cases you may need to share work between projects, so you’ll want to identify which parts are common across them. Using Livegroups can help you reference your work across projects to then be updated from one place.

Keep refining Make use of the content available and think about how to best organise your projects to fit your workflow. As you keep working with Katana, you’ll continue to further refine and adapt your process.

Focused lighting toolset

Therefore, when the Livegroup file changes, the modificati­ons can be picked up in all projects that contain it.

Katana’s powerful lighting tools enable incredible levels of precision and control, and are designed to save you and your team time by allowing the least amount of artists to manage the highest volume of high-quality shot production.


Creating your own tools is extremely useful to avoid repeating tasks and helps to save time. If there are certain operations you repeat often (maybe on a daily basis), then it’s worth seeing how you can automate the workflow. Don’t worry if you’re not tech savvy. Macros can be a good starting point for creating your first set of tools in Katana. At bit.ly/3bnymj2 you can find a set of videos to get started with Macros.

There are many other tools that can help automate your work, including Opscripts, using the Python tab to automate the Node Graph, and Supertools. Setting up a template will also help boost your workflow and will ensure you never have to go through the process of setting up your scenes from scratch.


Optimisati­on is often the last thing you want to be concerned with. An easy way to get faster feedback in your interactiv­e sessions is through the use of Interactiv­erenderfil­ters. This is a node that can be repurposed easily since it’s not connected to the rest of the node graph, and can be used to overwrite or build on top of your existing projects.


When learning a new tool, it can often be difficult to know where to start. Knowing where you can find resources and guidelines is half the battle. The Foundry website contains a host of informatio­n ranging from articles, community forums, case studies and learning content. The tutorials page has a range of videos, some of which contains assets that can be downloaded so you can follow along or see an example of a final project. Find these here: learn.foundry.com/katana •

 ??  ?? Discover the core concepts of working with Katana and its powerful toolset
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