by Zach Harvest

Although the title image is a little misleading, that's just the cooler looking project. This week I tackled more Blender, and my blunders were real. So my initial thought, much like many of my other Everyweeks related thoughts, was to try materials again. I try every week (heh) in hopes that I one day “figure it out”. However, when the tutorialist that does this for a living gets frustrated with the tool, you can’t help but to get frustrated yourself. This is all probably regurgitated in some way or another from my previous posts but that shows something. The theme of this program is that it’s out to get me...EXCEPT THIS WEEK...HA!

So I know these are long when I get all theatrical but bear with me on this...magical journey of bliss frustrated journey of fuckery. I’m going into as much detail as I can because this feels as good writing out my success as it did when I “got it”. HEY GUYS I MADE A TEXTURE AND IT LOOKS GOOD AND STUFF!!!!! I’ve obviously been trying to make good materials for months now. And it’s still hard as shit. But this week I finally nailed it! I watched tutorials all week but never opening Blender. I watched and watched and I learned and learned. I was hoping if I heard it enough, I would be a little less intimidated by the process because believe me, it’s intimidating. I started by downloading a program called CrazyBump and it works by taking your color image and creating a Normal, Specular, Displacement, and Diffuse map. AND IT WORKS AMAZINGLY. You can put in any texture and it will spit out consistently good maps. It crashes every so often as it is old. (also, another program that crashes? Is this really my life? I just break programs I guess) And it’s a 30 day trial but I bet it’s easy to get around that. Next I needed a texture so I went and looked at some examples. I noticed that most of the textures were just pictures of a texture on a wall or floor except they are tiled. I didn’t NEED it be tiled for this practice so I put on my 50mm lens on my camera, went outside and took a picture of the deck. So once I had those I loaded up into crazy bump and tweaked the settings a bunch until it looked fucking awesome in the realtime preview window. I opened blender and made a plane, uv unwrapped it and put the texture image on it. Next I set up the normal map with another texture node and a normal interpreter node and then hooked it up to the displacement input on the final output node. I actually found if I put the normal output to the normal input on the diffuse and gloss shaders that I got better results, meh. I’ll use both methods for different applications. Next was displacement. You have to subdivide and subdivide again and apply the displacement map to a modifier. This is nice because it only displaces the mesh and doesn’t actually screw with the mesh itself. This is I guess both good and bad, one one hand it IS faster and easier to work with but it’s not a mesh you can put fluids or rigid/soft bodies on. I think there is a way to solidify that but I didn’t deal with it this pass. After ALL of that, you just have to make it look good. The default settings are never even close to what they should be for ANY texture really. So frustrating because why not make these values close to what they need to be if they are designed for a purpose? Whatever, I totally nailed it and it was awesome anyway. I made an animation to show it off. I also spent hours doing this and ended up with a floaty emission sphere. Boring as shit but it looks good so….profit?

Onto my warm up for the week. I took one of RawAndRendereds Instagram posts and tried to recreate it. https://shop.rawandrendered.com/collections/year-three/products/asylum So basically I started with creating the scene. The subject is obviously the various spheres so I figured I work on that last. The scene is crazy simple with only 2 scaled cubes in arrays for easy adjustment of the side fences. 3 planes for the top, back, and floor. Next was to get spacing correct as I have to reverse engineer his perspective, focal length, DOF, and lighting. I guessed a 100mm focal length and a slight pan upwards for angle. Back out the camera and add DOF to effect and boom. Nailed it. For lighting I think he used an HDRI with some area lights so I tried that out and I got it close enough to move on to creating the subject. I looked and looked and finally decided on a method to create this sphere array. I would have loved to use an actual array but there are few options unless you feel like pulling your hair out trying to figure it out. The Blender community even hates the Array tool. Anyway, I went to work. I created one very high polly sphere because the reflections need to be sharp. I duplicated it over and over again changing the size each time to make sure no two were the same exactly. I tried to make it look close but after about 50 or so spheres, I gave up. It wasn’t looking as good as his and it was taking fucking ages. So I switched to a particle system. Now, I’m fairly adept at the blender particle engine so I figured it would be easier even though I knew how much effort would be required to make this work. Unlike how I tackle normal blender problems, I find it easier to work out the problem before hitting the particle engine with ideas because it can quickly get really convoluted and slow.

  1. I need to create spheres to be in a sphere like shape.
  2. I need them to not clip.
  3. I need them to be very close to each other.
  4. I need them to vary in size.
  5. I need to be able to make them real objects after the particle engine gets me close to the look I need.
  6. I need it not to crash.

So I went in and did my few hours of adjustment. This was not an easier way to do this. It might have looked a little better than doing it by hand so I’m sure that’s worth something. I had to use something called boids which I have not used before. Boids attack each other based on some variables: Max and min airspeed, max and min acceleration, health and attack power (to diminish the amount of particles), aggression, and some others. The reason I used these is because even though they are supposed to have actions, you can turn that off and you’re left with a particle system that is affected by force fields and repel from each other when they clip based on a percentage of air space in relation to size of the object. This was a hard system to fine tune but it got me MUCH closer in appearance than doing it by hand would have. The issue is it’s slow with this many high polly spheres. But a little patience and I made it work. After all of that I made the objects real by making the particles mirror another object in the scene (the high polly sphere) and generating meshes with location data. This part worked better than expected actually. All I had to do after was some fine tuning with the locations, som dis, some dat. Annnnd I broke it. It looks terrible now. Just awful. I made it look worse by trying to fix it…...FUCKING GOOD. Welp, I’ve spent hours on this already and I’m pretty fucking tired of it so I might as well put some materials on it, finish lighting and call it a day. Spent another few hours on materials, one glossy diffuse, one diffuse glossy and one glass. This may or may not be the reason I chose this project. It looked like the materials were simple. So sorry there is no climax, but at this point it was crashing and sputtering and I was done. That’s how most projects go. There’s rarely a climax/reward because of how grueling the process can be. So because it was crashing on render, I just set the preview window to 4000 or so samples and just let it go and snipped it when it was done. I still have some more post to do on it. But it’s done. It’s really close to the original

But that's more or less my struggle this week. Heres some media that will get updated soon. But the project is in there. https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B5gRarvHyXZSbmNyaFlpQWszalk&usp=sharing

Last Edited on Mon May 02 2016 17:11:03 GMT-0400 (EDT)

ferris commented

Dude you KILLED it this week. The struggle was so worth it - yours is super close to the original; literally just a curve or two away in post and it matches haha. The texture stuff is rad too - suddenly you can make textures! Awesome :D

on Mon May 02 2016 15:39:30 GMT-0400 (EDT)