Planar stabilization in action

Hey Flamerz,

Can planar data be inverted in order to stabilize a texture so it can be painted on, and retracked back.

If I could copy keyframe anims from gmask splines to an extbicubic it would work, I tried the persp grid also, but I had no luck copying the data from one to another. The closet I got was a 4-point track on the UV map in ext bicubic. Kinda worked, but kinda old school. :confused:


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Totally. Perspective grid.



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I know right? @La_Flame has a video for everything these days.


If you don’t want to do this with Perspective Grid, you can do like I do on the regular and just copy axes from the Gmask Tracer into Action and invert them.


I remember when it wasnt so…


I use that bastard to do exactly this nearly every day. It’s basically my one trick. planar track something, invert the axis to stabilize the image, comp, then un-invert it.


Similar to what I do. Mocha track to uv points on perspective surfaces, paint and then same Mocha track on verts of perspective surface.

Solves 90 percent of problems…


@andy_dill and @cnoellert those sound interesting. can you post a how-to?

I wrote a whole article about it at the Mill. It was called “Stabilize It” and I made a meme of Peter Tosh for the main picture. I’m a little sad you never read it.

but the gist is: gmask/planar track your image in action (you can use a gmask tracer too, but it’s an extra step in this case), copy the track axis and parent it above the image node. Hit the “Invert” button and your image is stabilized.

Then copy the action, plug in your stabilized image (that you totally fixed and painted and made great) into the same image layer, then un-check “invert” and you’re done.


Andy. Dude. I read all your stuff. It was legendary. And now, your technique shall live on in our new home.

Thank you.

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I especially liked the follow up… what was it called? Stabilize it again?

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I used to find that second de-stabilizing Action had a relatively high risk of not working later on, like upon re-opening the Batch the next day. This was around Flame 2019. I got used to just rendering out that step so I wouldn’t have to rely on those finicky Actions so I don’t know if it’s still a problem. Does this happen to other people?

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I made that second one specifically to train up my team of many flame ops who had to use the technique on what is DEFINITELY the worst job I’ve ever had.

It was how to use bicubics to stabilize things.

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Worst job you ever had… at the Mill… AFLAC?

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I made a video on how to use Mocha in action for stabilization and regular tracking for Logik Fest 2020! This is hopefully the same as what @cnoellert is referring to!

Sorry it’s a whopping 12 minutes long but I wanted to be sure it was easy to follow! The stabilize part is the first half.


@Jeff, you are the Bob Ross of Flame Artists. I must have missed your LogikFest vid, but thank you for sharing that again. It’s always brutal watching other people work, but, you definitely have a great way of presenting. Also, I haven’t had a chance to say this until now…you are an excellent writer. Your posts are detailed and thoughtful and I totally dig your style. We are better with your presence. Thank you.


Very kind words! Thanks Randy!!

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@Jeff, that’s exactly it. I started doing this maybe 10 years back—at first using bilinears [pre perspective surface] and hiding the perspective math mismatch with some reeeeeaaaalllly soft mattes. At the time I was looking for a substitute for UV unwrapping in Flame—back when I used to project my way out of most problems—and found myself often popping into Nuke to fix the texture there. The second I realized what I had stumbled upon and it’s relative speed compared to the usual projection workflows in Flame I never looked back. Well… I looked back often but only when it made sense.

I use this all over the damn place. At some point I started painting my car-beauty-sheet metal-shaping with planar unwraps and photoshop style dodging and burning on grey frames which I pin back in overlay. Once something is still there’s no end of tricks you can pull.

For all it’s procedural underpinnings the irony is this technique’s strength lies not just in its simplicity and speed but the versatility of paint compared to its procedural cousins. Brute force perhaps, but it still feels like an elegant solve—painting ones way out of all manner of bullshit and then just tacking it back on.


I started using this method few years ago and it’s been a big advantage for lots of painting jobs. One of my big friends all the time.