Env-art videos: dome library overview

by - 2012/07/16 14 Comments Artwork

This is the 2nd in a series of videos about my environment art work on project Mango (wait! – actually: Tears of Steel ! )

It’s an overview of: dome models library, tileable and specific textures and the greeble kits.

For the actual modelling and texturing there’s lot more to say, specific videos will follow, on individual areas and topics.

This mainly is about the assets organization: naming, grouping and linking: how i split things into scenes, named objects and materials to sort them, grouped objects so that they could be used as detailing greeble or as set pieces to link the sets into the final shots.

Of course: the whole assets management  pipeline is much bigger than what you see here Plus, things are still evolving and being optimized during production and creation of actual shots, other team members like Francesco Siddi and Sebastian Koenig have a better technical/organization overview and know the pipeline way better than me.

Still  this will be useful for modellers and texture artist looking for infos on how to sort and manage their assets.

Hope you enjoy the video!  More next week!

  1. stephen says:

    Very useful indeed, thank you Nicolò, especially the Dupligroups, funnily enough only today I was searching for a way of swapping out instances of objects quickly.

    • Nicolò says:

      the quick swap of instances is indeed one really handy aspect of using dupligroups, for example : building some wood boxes/scaffolding made of the same planks all-over : you can quickly place the objects , then swap some with variations (different chipping on edges , different textures.. etc)
      With dupligroups you do that with the copy attributes script (ctrl+C , included by default in blender, has to be enabled in prefs.)
      You can also swap/change linked object data with ctrl+l , and won’t require groups ..simpler but less organized and less ‘clean’.

      • stephen says:

        Hmmmm, linked object data, hmmmmmm, if I combine dupligroups with linked object data, that could save even more time with swapping around materials, thanks Nicolò, you’ve done it again.

        Looking forward to part 2 of this, who knows what pearls I’ll pick up.

  2. Sago says:

    Bravo Nicolò, the amount of work and details is amazing.

    I’m guessing the library linking in Blender didn’t need any updates for environment (unlike characters). Or were there some changes made to the library linking? From what I’ve seen it looks pretty much unchanged.

    • Nicolò says:

      Hi, no significant changes.
      Only thing that had a couple bugs fixed is the direct/indirect linking for nodegroups : nodegroups are sort of new in cycles , and they add one more level of complexity (texture – nodegroup – material ) and when the same ‘object’ comes from a library directly (in a local material) but also indirectly (in a linked model , with its own linked material) we had some issues (part solved by bugfixing , part by being careful and keeping lots of stuff in the dome file )

  3. guest says:

    interesting video but why does the dome look so fundamentally different from what we have seen of the movie. so far ? its looks very dark and not realistic at all. it not fit in the movie judging from textures and dark materials. thanks

    • Nicolò says:

      It’s the power of good lighting ! and some great matte painting !

      It’s especially dark in this video -as it’s explained quickly- because it’s the trickiest/best environment to test materials in : a very contrasted – ‘harsh’ glossy setting , where you can see reflections clearly at different angles.

      Also it’s just env lighting no lamps and no compositing : it was tough to keep mself from doing nice light setup , carefully place lamps and try to get the most out of my models by good rendering.

      Everyone knows how good light makes all the difference in the final product , but when you’re inside a pipeline with more people (and someone as good as Andy is going light your stuff ! )
      ..Imho It’s just wrong to waste time in light design just to sell your work better .

      So i tried to get the most work done , test lights quickly , and just ‘technically’ ..even if that exposed me to some additional bashing , i think it was the efficient and correct way.

      Same goes for the matte painting aspect , i think it was wise not to try and model an insanely detailed ground debris and get the dome insanely hipoly , then i was surprised myself to see how Andy’s matte painting improved the ground , and efficiently (he used more photo projection and less polies than i would have , and it’s a great choice)

      Last but not least , the dome is by nature the most ‘syntetic’ and ‘full-cg’ set : little of existing can be used, or photo-textured . Instead there’s lots to design and build from scratch !

      So tough work ! myself i’m completely paranoid about the result -as any self respecting artist is :D

      But i’m also reasonably confident in the choices i did , the usefulness of my work for the team and the project ..And generally confident that it will look great adding that part of light,painting and comp , that doesn’t mean my part isn’t working or being replaced -improved and tweaked for sure- but mostly completed.

      Gosh, i’m so paranoid about the judgement of my work on Mango :D But seriously , judging an env. photorealism without the rest of the pipeline is really tricky !

  4. The Twins says:

    You could do with a Wikipedia entry.

    • Nicolò says:

      Not sure i understand: That’s positive, right ? :P

      Or also a veiled reference to me being ‘verbose’? .. yes i tend to over-discuss things :)

  5. Stuart says:

    Don’t stress Nicolò, it looks great! May I ask how long you were working on the environments? The organisation of it alone looks like a big task!

    • Nicolò says:

      Thanks ;)

      I’ve stayed at the institute 3 months as planned + 1 month extension from home to do a final cleanup and have a bit of overlap with the next phases (my stuff was beginning to be put into shots then)

      The organization (as libraries/linking) wasn’t the biggest ‘overhead’ (=time not spent actually modelling) but gathering measurements, surveying ,taking references then blocking out spaces and locations always takes more than expected.
      Also time consuming was trying to find a reasonable approach to texturing that many objects (blended box mapping, dirtmaps ,etc..).

  6. PhysicsGuy says:

    Thanks Nicolo, that was extremely interesting.

  7. Olaf says:

    Is that a new Blender UI theme I’m seeing? The buttons look having real 3D shadows.

    • Nicolò says:

      Sorry for the really late reply !
      Nothing special about the theme (just a color scheme) :

      It’s available on pasteall , for the moment :


      Save as XML into Blender’s themes folder :

      Credit goes to the author of Blender zbrush-like theme in trunk , this is just a slightly modified version. (please post if you know the name , i still need to ask/check)