CG Sketchbook , notes and tutorials

new still ‘groggy’ almost done

I’ve been working on this personal project (high poly environment still) since march.I started right after the previous ‘factory canal’ because that left some questions open:

I did this for learning , in my free time (..of which i definitely have too much lately, compared to actual paid work ..which is currently sloow..)

Working name is “groggy” .. it’s a scene of  some kind of shady bar with mysterious figures hanging around in the night ..originally supposed to be an historical/fantasy setting , with pirates 🙂 .. but in the end i opted for the kind of decayed retro future i like the best.


That project was about learning more about textures and shaders and find new tools .. but all the handpainted textures were simply overlayed over tiled photo textures.

That meant i.e. a concrete wall done with 1,2 or more high res tiled photos applied to diffuse and reflection with different intensities and blend modes.

On top of that there was the custom-handpainted part , a colored map , blurry and not very detailed to add dirt, leaks , discoloration that were specific to the object.

The handpainted part replaced the ao/dirt maps (or integrated with ..i still used some vray dirt maps)


When that project was over the next step was clear : instead of handpainted color maps used directly , i could do much more by painting B/W maps and use them as control maps to blend other maps . Example : a steel column : i started from 50% grey : that will be replaced by normal painted metal , then i handpaint in white the scratches and in black the rusty parts , those areas will be replaced too with photo textures or color (i.e. scratches will be dark grey for diffuse and white for reflections)
(There is more about this 3blend in previous posts , i’ve coded a small texture plugin myself to have this 3-steps-blend.. i’m happy with it and i will soon propose it to VB dev)

The picture above shows all painted maps for the new image : flat  white objects are the ones w/o any handpainting , colored objects are the ones where i painted the usual- full color textures (often overlayed with tiled detail maps).

Most important grayscale objects are the handpainted control maps , some have 3 steps (base grey , white and black for special areas) some only use 2 steps .

So .. this means a lot less time in Gimp , less painting itself .. and more time on the material panel .. tweaking numbers and parameters .. It is less intuitive and immediate but also more organized and logical..

Mind that this method somewhat comes from the limitations of blender texture paint engine .. which is great for working with simple brushes but lacks some details in image projection and masking .. Still it has its reasons : why over-complicating the painting tools when there are material and shading tools .. expecially since there are many channels (diffuse , spec ,bump) and these simple maps can be applied everywhere it’s needed (with the right blending mode , inverted or mixed..)

An example : detail of the lamp post on the left , it’s based on a 3 steps grayscale map ‘controlling’ some tileables to add material details  and  ,in this case, also a simple color map ( base colors with large soft patches of discoloration)

on the right panel you can see the UI of the 3blend texture that uses the B/W map and photos to create the final  color map.

On the technical/performance side  .. i think it works well : you get very high resolution on all channels, using relatively smaller textures , but if memory is a concern (or for realtime ) this can still be baked down to a simple shader..(single maps for diff , spec , norm  ..)


Specialist or generalist ?  i won’t get into the matter now .. but this is my 2nd scene with humans ever .. on a level i think you really can’t be good at both chars and envs , still you need to somehow deal with everything..

So i focused on clothes , which can teach me a lot about texturing envs too , and i didn’t go crazy on the skin shader , i also sculpted the faces but starting from MakeHuman topology (.. my opinion: for env artists who want to sculpt faces .. practice a bit of human topology for learning .. then get a good basemesh somewhere for serious work 🙂 )

A note : i’m proud that i finally used a mesh i started 2 years ago !  the guy in the foreground was repainted completely , new face and details ..but the base was done 2 years ago .. i knew it would come in handy someday ,  i’m glad that work didn’t get lost or forgotten .. Planning is important for personal/portfolio/promotional work … sometimes you want to do lots of quick stuff and be visible on forums often , sometimes you stockpile and try later to assemble a scene that is the ‘next step’ in your portfolio..

Finished picture coming soon , of course 🙂


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