CG Sketchbook , notes and tutorials


‘Groggy’ is done ,finally. Took quite a while, but that was the idea , to make a portfolio image with lots of details , even if that meant putting it on hold a few times .

Main focus was texture paint and shading , check previous posts for the details on that.

Below some snapshots of the progress :

From top left :1 : initial structure model and painting / shading the metal column and beams .. they look better here than in final version ..ouch.. But i had to fight a lot with balancing specular vs real glossy reflections , and moving lights to get reflections in the right places .. it all felt quite unpredictable/unreliable : particularly speculars being way too strong (one of the few flaws in Vray .. that you can’t dim speculars indipendently from real raytrace reflections ..argh! )

2 (top right) : 1st character inserted , more modelling , about the tables ..i got nice reflections there but i wasn’t satisfied until i painted a custom texture : even if it’s a flat surface .. i imagined the table top could be an assembly of a central dish and another plate around , or had a support frame below causing a ring of scratched, worn metal ..even in such simple objects  thinking of how they are built and used and so how they  weather and age helped realism a lot..

3 2nd character , last image with no post compositing .. i tried not to start too early with nodes .. to avoid using the nodes to hide render/shading error .

4 at this point image was potentially finished … but that big empty space in the middle ..and the unbalanced composition , it could use more work.

5-6 So  i expanded the view twice , and included a bit of facade and some of the buildings around … This is not the best practice for the composition .. sketching and planning ahead the proportions and relations will give much better results: on the factory canal image i did much more block-out work : and indeed the composition there was much more dynamic.  but this was an experimental / learning project .. so well , other things were more important.

For example the column on the left : the model is very lowpoly , all the detailing wasn’t done in sculpting but painting with realtime bumpmap display ,  much lighter and more suited than subdivided mesh sculpting for this case , and for many others in env. modelling . Glsl bump is truly a great recent addition to Blender tools.

7-8  introduced the smoke , voxel smoke rendered in Blender Internal (much faster than Vray volumetrics ..) was rendered separately and composited , great fun to ‘sculpt’/simulate the puffs of smoke and place them in the right areas, trying to control it’s movement and the symulation evolution.

Also i’m glad i did some more  final re-render and tweaks : compositing was getting too strong , burning the picture and loosing details … Sure you want to sharpen and give the picture ‘impact’  but at some point i had to step back and pay attention to the smoothness and clearness of details and reduce the amount of tricks like unsharpmask and similar .

For that reason i ended up not using hdr tonemapping with detail enhance. Once again: when the lighting, shading and comp were refined enough the heavy t.m. filters became excessive and un-manageable.

Note how the saturation increases over the last 5 progress shots .. progressively getting from greenish to the classic orange/blue tint  : Ok it’s clichè .. but in lighting setup ‘natural’ ‘spontaneous’ ‘realistic’ are a difficult thing .. it’s really hard to beat the estabilished tricks  … I took inspiration from the Witcher 2 : gorgeous images and very original and personal look , still strong light colors and classic light setup tricks anywhere … Oh well , if they do it .. 🙂

Edit :

An big part of this project was the 3blend plugin :

A python plugin i’ve written myself.. it adds a new texture type to VB25.

Initially the plugin was just a a way to learn python and explore Vray workflow vs. blender internal shading.

But it worked well , there’s some good in the philosophy of painting maps with the simplest tools and brushes and trying to keep all the complex stuff in the shader and rendering  (, not over-complicating the painting tools or using complex painting programs… this method doesn’t suit every kind of object , but it does for most environment models)

Above are some infos , more in older posts on this blog.

I think it’s decently stable now , enough to be shared … let’s see how can it be done without creating problems for  the VB25 project ..since i’m not a coder and my python is ridiculously un-professional and cobbled togheter by trial and error and copy/paste.

So, this small plugin .. it’s very cool that an artist managed to make some tools for himself, but.. to be included in VB25 distrubution would probably have to be rewrtitten from scratch by the developer (Andrey M. Izrantsev) with proper code and standards , or else it would work also to have it downloadable separately ‘at your own risk’ … but making sure people don’t report bugs caused by this plugin as bugs of VB25 ..

Edit : i passed the plugin to Andrey (developer of VrayBlender ) who’s going to check it , correct it and include it in VB25 ,great news !

By the way i wonder if the 3blend plugin could be made for Blender Internal too ,  altough i don’t know how .. with Vray (or any external renderer)  there’s the intermediate passage of the export files describing the scene , which makes a lot easier to write ‘composite’ textures (which look like a new texture in ui , but are just a sequence of basic textures and operations ) i suppose for BI the texture would need to be a patch (written in C?) and that’s out of my skills.

But another interesting bit : i’m working on a  batch-bake script which should work with VB and BI . I’m having some troubles handling uv layers , but i should have a 1st version to share soon.


2 responses

  1. Grande! Bella anche la descrizione! Mi piace il risultato finale ance se (ovviamente parlo da principiante 🙂 ) mi sembra che tu sia caduto nella trappola dello “spazio vuoto”, cosa che io faccio praticamente sempre! Indubbiamente è un lavoro di notevole complessità tecnica però, forse proprio l’abbondanza di dettagli rischia di sviare l’attenzione… Come dire… Manca un punto focale.
    Complimenti! E buona fortuna col lavoro!

    Great! Nice description! I like the final result also if (obviously I’m speaking as a noob) it seems you fell in the “blank space” trap, something that happens always to me. It is without doubts a very professional work but peraphs this incredible amount of detail risk to distract the viewer… It needs a focal center.
    Good luck with your work!

    July 11, 2011 at 10:57 pm

  2. Thanks!

    And…yes, it does lack a focal point ,
    i think details are never too many 🙂 But yes, could have been distributed better , empty areas could have helped the composition, interesting.

    Anyway , the composition and the result suffer from a lack of planning.
    I ‘ve noticed in previous works that sketching and previz is critical.
    Reshaping the block-out many times , planning the proportions and everything else ahead , before the real work starts.
    But here i wanted 1st of all to practice painting and shading objects. So i started with only a basic idea of the sort of interior i wanted (and that sort of lack of planning is really unforgiving in 3d ..)

    ..Si , una mancanza di punto focale e composizione ,
    Anche se per me i dettagli non sono mai abbastanza 🙂 In effetti sì, si potevano distribuire meglio .. e spazi vuoti potevano aiutare la lettura. lo terrò presente.

    In ogni caso, si vede la mancanza di un chiaro progetto iniziale .
    Sono partito solo con una vaga idea del tipo di interno che volevo , non ho lavorato molto sui bozzetti , cambiato inquadratura durante il lavoro ..
    L’idea era di fare soprattutto pratica di pittura e materiali , Ma la mancanza di piani/bozzetti nel 3d non perdona proprio.. E alla fine, la prospettiva e l’inquadratura sono piuttosto statiche e rigide.

    Grazie , buona fortuna anche a te !
    bello il personaggio sul tuo blog !

    July 11, 2011 at 11:51 pm