How to nCloth

A few months ago, I took a closer look at maya’s nucleus.  I learned a lot and I thought it would be a good idea to write everything down. This is not intended to be a step by step tutorial and I’m not going to discuss every single parameter. I just wanted to throw together all the “wow, now I got it!” moments and I hope that this is maybe a good starting point, if you are new to maya’s nucleus (or ncloth in particular).


I found that there are some very important things that needs to be done – no matter what you are trying to achieve – before hitting play. These are:

1. set space scale

2. increase substeps

3. make sure your mesh is dense enough and your vertices are evenly distributed


1. If you have modeled everything in maya standard units (1 unit = 1 cm) than it’s important to set your space scale to 0.01! This makes sure that your gravity behaves as expected. You also have to set your lift to 0.0001 in your ncloth attributes.

2. You have to increase your substeps by a fair bit. 10 at least and max collision iterations to 15 or higher. It’s a bad idea to test your cloth behavior with low settings and increase it afterwards. Higher substeps are not only improving your solver quality, they are also changing the behavoir of your cloth! This is very important to keep in mind. You can, however, set your links to object space. This makes your cloth less prone if you change the substeps.

3. There needs to be enough vertices ncloth can push around. Don’t be too stingy here, a high density mesh is the only way to get all those nice little wrinkles. Enabling the display smooth (pressing 3 on your keyboard) is a great trick to enhance details by a fair bit without affecting simulation time. But of course the smoothing afterwards can’t invent details if they aren’t there. Your collision mesh should be dense enough, too. Otherwise the topology becomes visible through your highres cloth mesh.

Last but not least, make sure your vertices are evenly distributed. If your self collision is set to vertex mode, there are small collision spheres around each vertex, and it’s difficult to set the right size for those, if some already intersect and some still are pretty far away from each other. This will have an unpredictable effect on your collisions and your wrinkles.


I found that these are the most important things to consider, before starting to design a new cloth. There are a lot of other things I discovered while working with nCloth. I hope I’ll find some time to write another blog post soon. smile

This is something I’m currently working on… Stay tuned!

Happy simulating!






5 responses to “How to nCloth”

  1. José Avatar

    Wow, thank you, thank you.
    I am working on a project on my own in which my old macbook pro cant really handle to much. I am using nCloth to simulate hair. Since I am using a vector renderer, I don’t need to much detail on the mesh. Actually, I want the hair to behave much like a character hair like those in the video games (I know that sometimes they use bones, but I wonder if the nCloth will be more helpful).

    I will give a try.

    Thanks again!


  2. José Avatar

    Stefan. I have one head-breaking question, and wonder if you can help me.

    Which size should my character be, if I am working in cm units, to make the best of the nCloth simulation?

    If I will change the Solver attribute to 0.01 like you said, then this means that all the units will be treated as meters, not centimeters. Confusing.

    Hope you can help me.


  3. stefan Avatar

    Hey José!

    Creating hair with nCloth sounds challenging. But maybe it’s doable.

    Concerning the units: the thing is, Maya’s default units are cm, but nucleus works in meters for some reason. This is why you need to divide the space scale by 100 (set it to 0.01) so that nucleus works in cm and not in meters. Because most of the time, it’s a good idea to have everything in cm, because all renderers work in cm as well. So your character should be, something like 160-190 units (i.e. 160-190 cm) if it’s an average sized human character.

    1. José Avatar

      Stefan. Just saw your message after… quite a while.
      Thanks for the answer. I will write down that since I started to use Maya again.

  4. stephanes Avatar

    Did you change so your gravity to 980 ? every cloth seem to be very heavy, isn’t it ?

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