Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A change of heart about Photoshop plugins

Still learning what keys to press

I'm still learning shortcuts, critical ones too -- Cntl+Up Arrow for going full screen on your current view. I can't believe I battled on without learning that one for so long. I've been reminded of this little tool on Facebook's Blender group:
http://waldobronchart.github.io/ShortcutMapper/#Blender  This too: http://download.blender.org/documentation/BlenderHotkeyReference.pdf

Digital Heavens cosmic pack 3 

I'm not very keen on quick plugin solutions because they can dull my artistic senses - if you use Photoshop then you'll have had that experience of seeing someone's work and immediately recognising the work of a filter, probably because it was applied with little or no tweaking -- it just kills the work for you. I held off buying Cosmic Pack 3 product from Digital Heavens because of this fear - that if I use cosmic pack 3 outputs in my work anyone familiar with the product will very likely recognise that I used it to shortcut the creative journey.

..and that's when I bought it anyway

Well, the lack of time that I have to spend being creative has forced me into a change of mind - I wanted to create some more planet maps but realised that I could spend a week just making a few maps without getting any actual work done. Not to mention that you can use these off-the-shelf tools as a starting point and make sure that you don't finish until the output is refined enough that it doesn't look like other example Cosmic Pack work.

Blender output using Cosmic Pack 3 starfield and planet maps.

I only had time to blindly run through a quick planet creation, there were some quirks that I need to research as I expected prompts for modifying masks and layer qualities, such as scale, however, I am instantly impressed. I'm seeing Cosmic Pack 3 more as an extended palette for space scenery and less like an stamp-on solution for generic space backgrounds.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Still blending...

Just to be clear, the lack of posts isn't because I stopped working with Blender -- if anything I've become more focused since the last update, spending a  lot of time going back and improving work, tackling stuff that I've previously hated -- specifically UV mapping and texture mapping. 

Suffering for Suffren

I completed my build of the 2300AD star ship IFV Bassompiere - a Suffren-class cruiser and was happy enough with the results that I decided that it was going to get the full texture mapping treatment. That took ages! I restarted the process about three times, but the underlying workflow is steady and pretty easy - thanks to the regular forms that make up the model.

Boxing out the basic form - getting the proportions right. This was about the fourth attempt.

The Suffren has a really simple form. Getting a lot of detail onto those flat surfaces helps break up the form and give the viewer a better sense of scale.

Time to paint it up. Each section had its UV exported then applied as a mesh which gives an interesting 'look' in its own right. I did this stage three times, each time trying to optimize how the meshes unwrapped.

Texture mapping underway. With a good UV setup texture mapping gets a lot easier. I've spent years getting nowhere with mapping because of building out of lots of unconnected meshes. Finally getting somewhere!

Model -almost finished, here. Some glowing lights need to be added. The three Landers attached at the back.

For a brief animation I put together this wrap-around-a-globe background image, based on the Earth scene I downloaded from Blender Swap. This is a sample of a 10,000 by 8,000 render - the biggest I've ever done by a long long shot. Suddenly I realise why all my environmental backgrounds have failed in the past -- my background images were about one tenth of the size required to avoid horrible artefacts from appearing.

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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.