Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Took a quick break from deck plans. I just needed something simple that I could nail in an hour. You got bucket! I did some work on the textures but they didn't work.

Building small objects that you can complete quickly is a great exercise for learning modelling. Even the largest models are an exercise in breaking down objects into sub-parts, then breaking down parts into elements and details. The beauty of a small object is that there's less to go wrong and you're either successful or not in a single sit-in.

Friday, 21 February 2014


 It just struck me that I have not posted updates for a while. Stopped using Blender? Not at all. I have some other creative work that I need to concentrate on for a little while.

I'm no longer in a tiz about Cycles. I'll accept that my gaming powerhouse GPU doesn't translate into the best CUDA performer. I'll also accept that big scenes will swamp the GPU and render much more slowly than the CPU. Here was a quick test I did to get my head around the differences in quality / samples and render time.

10 samples - instant

100 samples - 7 seconds
1000 samples - 67 seconds

Messing around with materials

I have not had much time to model new stuff -- I knocked this cargo container out in a very short time -- which is why it's not scoring much for accuracy. Does the job though!

Low-ish poly shipping container

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Name to my pain

So I did some digging, and some more horrifically slow GPU-powered CUDA rendering. It seems that SLI isn't very good for Blender. However, it's not straight forward as this benchmark scene does great work with multiple GPUs.

PC: Ark GTX690 2GPU

PC:Ark GTX690 1GPU

PC: Ark GTX690 CPU


GPU Rendertime:15m41s03

CPU Rendertime: 48s

The difference here is stupendous. The top flight graphics card (or at least it was 12 months ago) lags so far behind the standard CPU render that it becomes a rather sad joke... Scene complexity maybe? The top benchmark scene is very light on polygons.

I learned a lot from which covers the issue of Cycles rendering with CUDA in a lot of detail.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Quick practice box-modelling

Another sketching session - 30 mins or there abouts. This, the Hurricane IV Close Support Aircraft is the result. It's a riff on an earlier 15 minute sketch.

This was another long render. It's weird because suddenly rendering seems slower, or are my scenes getting more complex or featuring assets or using settings that cause cycles to slow? Questions to ponder...

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Earth Cycles

Delighted by the quality of the output but this 800 by 800px still took an hour and forty eight minutes to created. Awesome as it is, that's not a render time I'm used to these days. It's not like I'm running a slow system.

And then...
I made some tucks and tweaks then set a full size rendering going while we took Noah out for some exercise. Another great result but this beast took five hours to render.

Scene available from Blend Swap, created by Adriano

Earth Original

The downloaded blend file from the tutorial generates a kick-ass Earth. However, the default render took an hour and a half to complete -- and at the end I was left with a blank screen because the composite setup must be missing some file paths. Isn't there a warning about missing files in the pipeline. Tut!

I'll have a closer look later.

Friday, 7 February 2014


There's something rotten in the state of Denmark. There's actually someone a bit off everywhere... I'm a bit disappointed by my first bash at a planet Earth model, using Blender's Cycles. For starters, this is the first scene that fails to render using the GPU compute option -- too much texture data! They are pretty big maps, but there are only three of them.

The results are from following this excellent YouTube-based tutorial :
How To Create a Beautiful Earth with Blender and Cycles - Bill Knechtel

I only completed the modelling/texturing section -- with that weird atmospheric fringing it didn't seem worth laboring through the compositing steps to enable the edge blur. Bill's results are great. While my results are not terrible, they fall quite short in terms of the overall effect. Now it just struck me that I wasn't using exactly the same maps -- maybe there are other settings that I missed or that were not mentioned in the tutorial.

The good news is that I just noticed that not long are the textures provided with the tutorial, Bill has made the entire scene available through Blend Swap.

I'll give it a spin tonight to compare it with my own version.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Material world

So it came time to apply textures. Hmm nodes. Super. It's going to take months to get my head around all the available node types, what each of them does, when to use it, how to use it. Last night I did the following playing around. 

First Node-based materials.

Not yet ultra-realistic, but I can see how you build up the levels/nodes.

Tonight I joined Blend Swap and downloaded a couple of the material libraries. Some of the node based materials use tens of nodes. Bonkers level of complexity. I can see the attraction though. The level of fine tuning and the nuance it allows you to add is very impressive. Creating textures is quite addictive too.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Kennedy complete-ish

The Kennedy-class 2300AD Star Ship is now in the 'finished' category. That doesn't mean I won't be tweaking it some more - it just means that it's time to move on. I put together the above presentation then closed the file down. I think I'll give it a few days to stew before going back with fresh eyes.

Next, it's back to a long brewing idea about a vast vertical shaft of concrete, filed with gantries, bridges and pipes. A perfect setting for a simple animation. I realised that I might overcome the UV pains experienced in the last stab by creating the tunnel using the following approach:

1. Create a circle, immediately drop the faces to 8, creating an octagon.
2. Extrude the octagon along 'Z' to create a tube.
3. Bevel the edges so soften those corners.
4. Delete all the faces except for one big face and one of the connected bevel faces.
5. Subdivide the remaining big face and add some structural details.
6. Once your happy with the details, create a copy of the face and then rotate it (around the original centre point) by 45 degrees. Repeat this step on each new set of faces until you have an octagon tunnel again.

The result is a highly detailed tunnel that took about 15 minutes to model. Getting the texture mapping is where I came unstuck. I have no idea what I'm doing in either the UV tools or the node editor. Much reading required, followed by much-much practice.

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Sheffield born 40-something. Some days vaguely creative, other days, creatively vague. Remembers the Internet when it was all still Times New Roman.