Katana 3.6 View Release Notes



Katana 3.6 introduces artist focused snapping into the Hydra powered viewer based on Foundry tech derived from USD 19.11. Snapping in Katana is just one of many tools and workflows that have been developed with the specific needs of lighting and look development challenges in mind. From light placement to layout fixes, artists now have the best tools for their job.

Multiple powerful options

10 different modes of operation allow snapping focused on geometric vertices, edges, faces, surfaces, objects, lights and cameras. Options include placement with orientation informed by normals where appropriate. Using the axis handles of the transform tools allows snapping aligned based on a single axis.


multiple powerful options


Visual clues

Artists know exactly what they’re snapping to thanks to intuitive visual clues including automatic wireframes displayed over shaded models, outlines around objects, and face and edge highlighting. Coupled with the cursor hit area display, artists know precisely what objects are being considered.


visual clues


Geometric preprocessing and caching

With geometric preprocessing and caching based on the target area, even complex models should perform smoothly as objects or lights are moved across their surface.


Geometric preprocessing

Network Material Edit

Network Material Edit

Katana 3.6’s new Network Material Edit tool allows artists to edit network materials that already exist—whether that be tweaking a material in your library for the look development of an asset, or fixing the look of an asset at the shot lighting stage. This innovative UX means less constraint and more creative freedom, boosting procedural power across entire look development and lighting teams—so they can fulfil their creative vision faster, for happy results, and happier clients.

Node parameter edits

Nodes that were already part of a network material can have their parameters adjusted. These nodes are given a yellow footer to highlight this edited state. Compared to unadjusted nodes with their dimmed display, edited nodes are clearly visible.


Node Parameter Edits

Shading network structure changes

With the Network Material Edit, artists can add new, remove or replace existing individual nodes. The workflow extends to modifications to whole parts of a shading network. Added nodes are given a green footer which makes them stand out from edited or unadjusted nodes.


Shading network structure changes



Dockable Widgets

Customise your UI to the way you work with Katana 3.6’s Dockable Widgets. This feature really comes into its own when paired with look development and lighting workflows using the Monitor Layer, added in Katana 3.5, as a full screen tab. It also forms the basis of further improvements artists will see in future Katana updates.

Dockable areas

Katana 3.6 features a key update to its UI with a new modular system, providing the ability to use Dockable areas on the top, bottom, left and right of the UI. Any normal tab can be persistently locked to the edge of the UI. Tabs positioned in these dockable areas are saved as part user defined layouts for repeat usage.


Dockable areas

Power full screen workflows

Oftentimes the best workflow for a task will be to take part of Katana’s UI full screen. Yet you may need access to other key tabs at the same time to facilitate your work. Users can now create very powerful workflows whereby important UI tabs—like the Parameters Tab—are available when the Viewer Tab or Node Graph Tab are full screen, keeping the ‘must haves’ from the rest of the application within easy reach. Using the dockable areas, these optimized workflows are now just a “spacebar” click away.


power full screen workflows


3Delight NSI 2.0

Katana 3.6 enjoys the advancements included in 3Delight NSI 2.0, featuring a powerful toon shading toolset, overhauled live rendering, and powerful new texturing tools on top of general improvements to performance and quality, providing a great out of the box experience to explore Katana.

Improved live rendering experience

3Delight NSI was built around the principle that live rendering should respond to changes of any part of the scene. Now the renderer that was the first to bring that level of interactivity to Katana sees a major update to the live render experience. Powered by new algorithms tuned for faster and smoother refinement, look development and lighting artists will surely appreciate the improvements to their workflow.


Improved Live rendering Experience

Fast and flexible toon shading

3D animations rendered with a 2D aesthetic are more popular than ever with the increased demand for animation content. 3Delight NSI 2.0 introduces a new toon shading workflow built on top of the production-proven technology of the previous generation of 3Delight. The toon shading tools leverage all the benefits of Katana’s procedural look development and sequence based lighting workflows. Flexible options for control over lines and shading, a refined set of AOVs for the massaging of 2D aesthetics in Nuke, and facilities for blending PBR shading with toon shading for more complex looks allow for plenty of aesthetic options.


Fast and Flexible Toon Shading

Basic 3Delight NSI Toon Shading

Good look development things come in threes

3Delight NSI 2.0 introduces three very powerful tools for texture-driven look development: , dlTriplanar, dlTexture, and dlUV. With incredibly powerful procedural tile removal and height based blending, file textures have never looked so good using a triplanar projection. The dlTexture node has the tile removal functionality and includes powerful features like the normalisation of texture values to aid in the usage of texture map libraries in standardised material networks. The dlUV node combines common 2D placement operations with control over UVsets and other powerful functions supporting the dlTriplanar and dlTexture nodes.


triplanar node

Height blending effect of dlTriplanar node


Tile removal effect of dlTexture and dlTriplanar nodes

Improved AOV support

To further support robust compositing workflows and new tools like the toon shading, 3Delight NSI 2.0 now includes options for user defined AOVs, specialized toon shading AOVs, and a new Motion Vector AOV that is directly compatible with Nuke’s Vector Blur nodes.


Improved AOV

3Delight AOV Selector with new options


Pipeline Improvements

Katana is a program that excels as part of a pipeline. Katana 3.6 ships with a slew of improvements to amplify the efforts of technical directors and pipeline engineers, whose work in turn supports teams of artists. Some of the improvements are used by Foundry’s own engineers on a daily basis, born of their own needs. Others are derived from client feedback. All of them focus on helping you make a better pipeline.

Supertools support in Network Material Workflows

Network Material Create and Network Material Edit tools now enjoy Supertools node support in Katana 3.6. Clients and vendors can edit the available whitelist of tools, with the added ability for custom shading Supertools to be drawn using the same technology as Foundry’s shading nodes. This enables the creation of specialised and complex custom tools for shading, making Network Material Workflows an even more formidable facet of Katana’s toolset. The toon shading workflow of 3Delight NSI 2.0 which ships with Katana 3.6 is an example of the power of this workflow.


Supertool Support

3Delight AOV Group Supertool in a Network Material Create node

Improved Reference Expressions

Artists working in Katana 3.6 no longer have to choose between power and speed for the majority of expression-based usage in the Katana node graph. A newly-introduced ‘string concatenation’ ability has been added to Katana’s Reference Expressions which is powered by C++. This allows users to join multiple blocks of information into one “string”, improving the functionality of this expression language, and meaning that users no longer need to rely on the Python-based expression language when seeking flexibility in complex setups.


Improved Reference Expression

New string concatenation syntax for Reference Expressions

Develop C++ tools from inside Katana

Katana 3.6’s newly introduced OpWrite Node allows programmers, pipeline developers and C++ savvy TDs to quickly build custom “op” tools from within Katana—a previously time-consuming process that normally occurs outside of the DCC, involving multiple cycles of coding, compiling, loading and testing. Developed internally at Foundry to support Katana development, this great tool is now being shared with everyone.


Develop C++

Katana’s OpWrite node

Katana 3.5 View Release Notes

core performance

Core performance 2-30x faster

In 3.5, we’ve rewritten Katana’s engine in collaboration with Intel to improve core performance and speed, making an already formidable tool 2-30x* faster for many operations, but especially when handing over information to a rendering plugin. The result: drastically reduced time to first pixel so artists can achieve high-quality results faster. This engine overhaul also brings improvements in incumbent hardware, allowing for farm utilization to scale up with the most recent advancements of server CPUs, whilst future-proofing any other advancements in the CPU space.

*As tested during development on a Dual-socket Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2667 v4, 3.20GHz with a total of 16 logical cores (32 threads); memory: 64 GB RAM; OS: Linux CentOS 7.66.1810.

Improved rendered image refresh rate

Improved rendered image refresh rate

Improvements to the performance of Katana’s display of rendered pixels means that Katana 3.5 now shows rendered images in its Monitor or Monitor Layer just as fast as a renderer plugin can make them. Artists no longer have to choose between functionality and viewing speed, since they’re neatly tied together in this latest release.

New Monitor Layer

New Monitor Layer

Katana’s new Monitor Layer brings artists closer to their work by allowing them to interact with ray traced renders directly in the viewer. With the image and the tools needed to manipulate it now in the same place, artists have a more streamlined, holistic experience. Katana’s Monitor Layer is 100% compatible with all existing renderer plugins and does not require a USD pipeline. This workflow also comes with a performance boost, with drastic improvements to refresh rates of large images with or without large numbers of AOVs.

shading group

Network Material Create Improvements

Improvements to Katana’s Shading Group mechanism allow artists to make customized shading groups with user defined input and output connections that form the parameter interface. Shading Groups can be whole materials or regularly utilised blocks of shading nodes. Simple workflows allow selected nodes to turn into Shading Groups via a hotkey, both in large numbers, and with better interactivity.

USD nodes

USD Import nodes based on USD 19.11

Katana 3.5 includes integration with a Foundry-supported, renderer agnostic set of USD tools, allowing studios to set up, experiment and build powerful USD production pipelines with less development effort. Our aim is to open source the USD plugin source code and manage pull requests as part of our larger open source plans, so studios and artists can integrate a customized USD into their pipeline.

USD Update

Core USD updated to USD 19.11

As part of our ongoing commitment to USD, Katana 3.5 features the most recent USD source code so artists and studios can use the latest version of Maya plugins, Houdini 18 and Katana together in one pipeline for seamless cross-software collaboration.