Substance Painter release Beta 3 to Steam

17. April 2014

 

I suck at texturing.

 

There, I said it.  I love 3D modeling, I even enjoy rigging and animating.  While not my favorite activity, I am even OK with UV unwrapping…

 

But texturing, I suck at texture mapping.

 

Over the years I have tried a number of solutions that make texturing easier going back to the early days of 3D Studio Max plugins that allow you to paint directly on your models.  Since then, those tools have become progressively more built in to the base package but at the end of the day, the vast majority of texturing still takes place in Photoshop and I still suck at it.

 

Enter Substance Painter.  It appeared on Steam about a month back and I’ve been playing around with it ever since.  I intend to cover it in more detail soon, in fact I would have already if it weren't for the massive influx of goodies that came with GDC this year.  Anyways, stay tuned for more details shortly…image

 

For now, a spot a of news.  Beta 3 was just released.  Oh, and if you buy during the beta it’s 50% off.

 

Enough talking, so what exactly is Substance Painter?

 

Short version; it’s the program that makes me not completely suck at texturing.  That’s about the biggest endorsement I can give.

 

Long version, well, I’ll use their wording for that:

 

Substance Painter is a brand new 3D Painting app featuring never before seen features and workflow improvements to make the creation of textures for modern games easier than ever.


At Allegorithmic, we have a long history of working very closely with our customers, from the small independents to the largest AAA studios. Today we want you to help us design the ultimate painting tool and bring innovation and state of the art technology to every artist out there at a fair price.

 

Today, as the title suggests, they released Beta 3.  As to what’s new in BETA 3:

Testing focus

  • 2D View
Change list
  • Added: Seamless 2D View!
  • Added: Bitmap layer masks
  • Added: Environment exposure control
  • Updated: Fill Layers now use the Tools windows to set their properties
  • Updated: Materials can be applied to Fill Layers
  • Updated: Added more stencils in the stencil library
  • Updated: Particles presets updated for faster computation
  • Updated: PBR shader optimization and quality improvement for lower quality settings
  • Fixed: Layers thumbnails are linked to the currently selected channel
  • Fixed: Lots of crashes

 

Sound interesting?  Here is a video of Substance Painter in action:

There is also a free trial available.  It’s a stand alone program, although some of the import options are disabled right now ( I used OBJ personally, from Blender ).  Keep in mind it is a beta, and feels Beta-like at times.  Some features are currently missing and performance can occasionally suffer.  On the other hand, outside of some missing features, it feels production ready.  I hope to have a more detailed preview available soon.

 

If you try it out, let me know what you think.

Art, News ,




Building a 3D Mech model: Part 2 Getting a leg up

27. March 2014

 

Ongoing documentation of creating a 3D mech asset.  Previously we ended with the torso and upper leg, like so:

 

image

 

Since then, I’ve rotated the upper leg back, created a foot and lower leg:

imageimage

 

Current face count is at 527, but there is a hell of a lot of optimizing that could occur here.

 

There are a couple ugly areas too, that I intend to address later.  Not to much sense worrying about the ugly bits until you are cleaning things up.  One area of ugliness is the union between the foot and lower leg.  I modeled the foot first then extruded the leg up from it.  I then needed to connect it to the upper leg, which had a different number of edges.

 

I could have simply added an equal number of edge loops, but that seems like over kill, so instead I’ve created a problem to be solved later.

 

image

As you can see, I have about 5 faces blunting into a single face (top arrow ), as well as some triangle junction points.  Getting rid of the tri’s should be simple, but the lower leg presents a bit more of a challenge.  Reality is, I am using far more polygons than I really need to be, so I will probably solve things by reduction, not addition.

Art ,




Building a 3D Mech model: The initial stages.

24. March 2014

 

I have the need of a fully rigged Mech model, for a couple of reasons, so I’ve started working on one.  Figured I would document the process as I go.  It’s somewhat of a background task, so don’t expect a whole lot of speed.  This isn’t a tutorial either, look here for that, just a documentation of my process.  Hopefully some of you find it worthwhile, while I am sure some of you will find it cringe worthy!

 

Here, are the humble beginnings:

image

 

One of the challenges all modelers face is where to start?  I had trouble deciding.  Generally if I stat with a limb, I struggle a bit with proportions going forward, so this time I decided to start with the torso and upper legs.  Of course details are going to be added as I carry on in the process.  Currently we are sitting at 390 faces.  Ultimately I want to be in around the 5,000 mark.  There are several easy points of optimization here.  The eagle eyed viewer may also spot my first mistake too.

 

image

 

I always try to work in quads only, but sometimes corners just turn into triangles like this.  Look what happens if we apply a couple sub-divisions around this corner:

 

image

 

It’s not the end of the world, but not as clean as I would have liked.  In this case though, it still leaves me with proper edge loops in both directions, so I am not to phased about it.

 

 

So, where you might ask, is the concept art?  This is a good point and generally I would sketch in a front and side view, like I did in the Blender tutorial.  That said, for reasons I can’t bring myself to understand, whenever I do this with pen and paper, I just end up ripping off existing designs.  So in this case, I’m just going to wing it, although when it comes to the cockpit area, I may have to reconsider.

Art




Quixel dDo 5.3 texturing tool free for commercial use

23. March 2014

 

This tidbit comes care of reddit.  Quixel dDO 5.3 can now be downloaded (that’s a direct link) and is free for commercial use.

Here are details of the release from Quixel:

Yes, we are now making dDo as we know it free. Not only that but we have also spent some love and care on improving features, stability and UI. This version will have limited support but will still be updated as per your needs.

We sincerely hope that you who own dDo will not feel let down that you paid for something that will now be free, but rest assured we will do our best to make it up to you with a free upgrade to the all new, arguably more bad-ass, DDO.

So what exactly is dDO?  Here is the official description:

DDO empowers artists with tools to make better textures. DynaMask unlocks extreme masking control over ultra-real wear & tear and shape based coloration. The 100% customizable Smart Materials empowers artists with the easiest PBR workflow to date. And Fusion lets you plug DDO right into any app.

 

Perhaps of more use is actually seeing dDo in action.

Just a bit of a heads-up... dDo works in Photoshop, and thus requires Photoshop. Without Photoshop dDo is of no use to you.

Art




Blender 2.7 released

20. March 2014

 

Today marks the release of Blender 2.7 and you can download it here.  Let’s take a look at what’s new, with an eye towards game development.image

 

The first and most obvious thing you will notice is the changes to the user interface.

 

UI Changes

 

The number one thing you are going to notice is the toolbar tabs.  The Tools (T) pane is now organized in context sensitive tabs.  So like minded operations are grouped together, like so:

image

 

Personally I am a huge fan of this change, it makes the UI much more streamlined and cuts down on the noise. 

 

There is another UI change that I personally love, as I love very sparse windows when possible.  You can now collapse menus down.  For example, you can now go from this:

image

To this:

image

Simply right click, select Headers->Collapse Menu.  Again, I like this change.

There are several other UI refinements, but those are the most visible.

 

Modeling

 

First they’ve added the wireframe modifier, which is useful in a very limited number of scenarios.  Basically it makes a (3D) wireframe out of the selected model.  So this:

image

Becomes this:

image

 

NGon tessellation has been improved. No more holes on bad geometry.

In 2.69 it did this:

 

Now it does this:

 

Much better.

 

Bevel has more options now:

image

 

Laplacian modifier added.  To be honest, I don’t really get this one yet but it sounds pretty cool.

 

Of particular use for game exporting, the triangulate modifier has been improved with more fine control over how triangulation will occur:

image

 

Game Engine Changes

 

PSD File support added.

1st person shooter style camera controls (WASD).

Level of Detail (LoD) support added:

Manual-Level-of-Detail-Panel.png

 

Cycles Rendering

 

Cycles is probably the biggest improvement portion of this release.   Probably the biggest new feature is WIP support for volume rendering.

 

CPU support has been improved, shader language updated to increase performance and a host of other changes.

 

 

There were a host of other improvements including threading improvements for the dependency graph, API updates for the NPR (non-photorealistic) renderer, motion tracking improvements, general bug fixes and more.

 

All told a very nice release, with some great first steps for an improved UI.

News, Art