env art videos roundup

by - 2012/08/17 15 Comments Artwork

Hi, I’ve been putting together more env-art videos during last weeks , here’s a round-up (2 already posted, 3 new : design, dirtmaps, mapping and stencils)

It’s again a mix of tutorial and diary : in part it’s explaining and telling how scripts and techniques work , in part just recording the process and how i organized my part.

Of course it’s not a full overview off the whole process/project: I stop at the stuff I actually dealt with,  other parts/assets share some techniques but are very different in others (like robot -with different use of dirtmaps , painting and box mapping – and church – for the different use of photo textures ),  and -about rendering- there’s the whole step of projection / matte painting between the materials I mention and the finished frames, then the aspect of integration with live footage and much more… there’s quite a few tutorials I’d have to see myself! after the rest of the team is done with the project :)


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!

environment art videos : materials shaders presets

by - 2012/07/07 14 Comments Artwork

Here’s a first tutorial/log about environment modelling and texturing.

It’s about materials in cycles, shaders-preset nodegroups in particular , next videos will be more strictly about modelling and texturing, but i’m starting with this because .. it’s just such a cool topic: while setting up textures for the dome it was necessary to organize them in a way that lighting and shading artists could make sense of it, tweak it or rearrange the material for the final shot .

So i started using nodegroups for organization… But it’s more than just keeping the node-tree tidy and readable, it speeds up material creation, keeps things consistent and allows to refactor and do quick ‘global’ changes on materials.

It’s also a good starting point to just discuss best-practices for texturing and shading in Cycles, so i’m looking forward to comments, and the presets you see in this video could be expanded with more types and variants (there’s quite a few threads on BlenderArtists i need to dig through :)

More to come, I’m still tuning the audio recording quality (I removed noise and normalized in Audacity, but my new soundcard is still misbehaving. It’s also tricky to find the right balance between doing many takes and editing more, to make the speech more fluid)

My end of project post : got everything but the t-shirt

by - 2012/06/29 12 Comments Random

A t-shirt -of course- that says :  “I survived project Mango” …

But then forget the usual part about only getting the t-shirt: On the contrary ! you really get lots out of participating to an open movie at the Blender Institute!

And also ,  the project is not over , it’s actually running at a crazy pace. (So, don’t worry guys , there’s time for the t-shirts .. but make it  a Pablo Londono’s design ! )

For me, the top 2 things I got out of it,  are the opportunity to work on just what I like the most : the gloomy charm of a post-apocalyptic urban environment ? -and Amsterdam none the less- ? plus some rusty decayed sci-fi machinery ..can’t ask for better.

But perhaps more important is getting to work with the team , and just everyone was super-great, and it really makes a difference working and spending time in such an environment : I’m talking about the scary-good ninja artists in the team, but also Ton (himself!!)  and the developers (and I was lucky to meet quite a few of them!) ..it really gives a different perspective to Blender not just as a piece of code but a more complex project and network of people.

So here’s the video I recorded for the weekly : there’s an awful lot of trivial technical questions in it .. but that’s the reality of the job :)

Cheers to everyone !  see you again soon on these pages.

post-apocaliptic spring-cleaning

by - 2012/06/23 27 Comments Artwork

The env. modelling phase is really approaching the end now!

i’ve been working remotely for the last 3 weeks , and next one is my last on the project ! sigh ! but it’s time for the models to be final since further steps depend on that.

Last weeks have been basically a big post-apocaliptic spring-cleaning, going around the dome fixing and adding all the missing bits . Once you’re done ‘adding’ things, there’s always a quite important phase of going over everything again and ..clean up, complete and repair.

Continue, to read more about this and control center detail modelling  :


dome models and texturing update

by - 2012/05/18 19 Comments Artwork

It’s texturing time for the dome , except for the scientist boat and a few props still needing more polies (the silos and boxes in a corner), I’m now setting up textures : a first pass tells me if the object is detailed enough and  whether it needs more mesh detail or more refined textures.

An example is the bridge , right now it’s quite low poly for being in the center of the set , but textures are going a long way , and right now it doesn’t seem to require crazy high-poly sculpting , but rather a solid material and some greeble models as filler (cables, lamps, and misc. tech probably)

So here’s some individual renders dome props , you can see some of the nodes used : they are just groups (made using trunk cycles, no custom or secret code :D ) .

I’m really excited about the current texturing/shading possibilities: thanks to  batchbake, vertex color channels, blended box mapping, nice tileable textures and the flexibility of Cycles nodes … you can get really nice materials, really quick.

Hopefully this will work nicely (as in technically stable and manageable) and make lighters/shaders happy (using groups heavily is now making these materials way more readable !)


is it dome yet?

by - 2012/05/04 17 Comments Artwork

The modelling for the dome environment is proceding steadily,  here’s a test render (from last week, actually) :

Light design and compositing are totally temp,  the shaders will need lots more testing and you can easily spot some meshes that are still at previz-level-of-detail.

This week I was more focused on modelling details so that for the shooting (or right after it)  shots can be framed and setup with a good idea of the final shapes and silhouettes (see renders at the end of post).


w.i.p. tileable textures

by - 2012/04/24 12 Comments Artwork

Textures .. there’s never enough of them (especially tileable , equalized , easily reusable ones)

While modelling stuff for the dome i’ve been doing some tileable textures kits, still lots to model, but some assets already need to be tested with materials to define the pipeline (.. or simply to check if modelled detail is enough :D)


Dome blockout, bridge detailing

by - 2012/04/10 12 Comments Artwork

The dome environment is currently at the end of the design/previz stage and at the beginning of the detailing / actual modelling.

Just a few minor props left to block out , but everything still needing many, many polies to look anything like a final…

Here are some shots of the dome and church sets : (still animatic level , materials and lights are totally temp ! )

Rendered in Cycles with the Tesla, 3-4 mins per frame is still too much for an animatic – and indeed we’ll probably use OpenGL render for it- unless we want to design/previz lighting already.

Then some detailing for the bridge and roads : i’m trying different combinations of shrinkwraps , solidify , particle scattering to organize these for  close-up (bridge) and mid-ground (rest of the dome) views.

After a few tests , it seems promising :  the risk is to rely too much on ‘heavy’ meshes for these tiny greeble details, but seems to be flexible enough for different situations.