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5. February 2019


With the recent Adobe acquisition of Allegorithmic, I researched alternatives to Substance Painter and Designer.  One of the most prominent entries was Mixer by Quixel, which is currently available completely free while in beta form.   Quixel Mixer is a PBR texture creation tool where you create textures using an easy to use layer based system.  It integrates with their Megascans texture collection, although it also supports importing your own PBR textures, plenty of which are available here for free.


Quixel Mixer Features:


Mix & match.


Mix textures to quickly come up with brand new materials, and match colors and reflectance values with a single click. The non-destructive layer system keeps things simple and tidy, and happy accidents have never been easier. Texturing is more fun than ever!

Seamless painting experience.


Unleash your creative potential with buttery-smooth painting. Accurately perform straight brush strokes with canvas or camera aligned painting in orthographic mode. With multi-channel painting and 32 bit sculpting, designing tileable PBR materials has never been easier.

Zero learning curve.


Mixer is designed from the ground up to be artist-friendly, intuitive, and extremely fast to pick up. Whip up stunning mixes in minutes, or design deeply advanced materials with incredible control—whether you are in a hurry or want to indulge, Mixer has got you covered.

Complete Megascans integration.


Instantly access the entire Megascans library directly within Mixer. Leverage Megascans to guarantee photorealistic base textures, or transform them into fantastic stylized assets effortlessly. Mixer and Megascans together give you virtually limitless creative possibilities.

Design any material imaginable.


With its advanced painting, sculpting, masking and blending features, Mixer transforms the creation of realistic and hand-painted textures into a rich, creative and boundless experience. Organic or hard-surface, modern or medieval, man-made or alien—anything is possible.

Channel pack & export.


Create custom channel-packed export presets with your own naming conventions, and export in 8, 16 or 32 bit in any file format. Or save your materials directly to Quixel Bridge, to leverage powerful integrations with all major 3D software.


Quixel is currently completely free while in beta, with downloads available for Windows and Mac OS… sorry Linux users.  Watch Quixel in action in the video below.


Art


25. January 2019


With the recent announcement that Allegorithmic is being purchased by Adobe suddenly one of the most asked questions is “what is the best alternative to Substance Painter”?  Sadly, no direct replacement exists, Substance Painter was a pretty one of a kind program.  Fortunately there are a number of other PBR texture painting packages available.  We also look at a few PBR texture generation alternatives for Substance Designer.


Substance Painter Alternatives


Substance Designer Alternatives


For more details on each of these packages, be sure to what the video below.  Did I miss a program?  Let me know and I will add it to the list!  Also let me know if you want me to take a closer look at any of the above packages.

Art General Design


15. January 2019


Today Autodesk have released the 2019 edition of both Maya and the stripped down indie edition, Maya LT.  The big theme of the 2019 release is performance, with 2019 having performance improvements across the entire application, from start up and selection speed, to animation playback improvements.  This release also includes tools to better track how Maya is using your computers resources, including Evaluation Toolkit and Profiler, which should help you track down bottlenecks to your scene’s performance.

Details from the Maya 2019 release notes:

This release focuses on letting you work faster than ever before through new workflows and numerous performance enhancements.

A myriad of improvements to Viewport 2.0 enhance its performance when doing everything from loading scenes to selecting objects, to handling dense meshes.

Additionally, cached playback speeds up your ability to preview animation changes by intelligently redrawing only what's changed rather than updating the entire scene. This greatly improves viewport playback performance, removing the need to constantly playblast your scenes.

This release also gives you the most powerful tools yet for tracking exactly how Maya is using your computer's resources. New features in the Evaluation Toolkit and Profiler allow you to pinpoint exactly where there may be inefficiencies or problems that are slowing down your scene.

Improvements to Render Setup enable you to better organize your render layers by coloring and isolating them in the Render Setup editor, or by controlling whether lights are included in each layer by default. In addition, more options are available for exporting and importing scene Render Settings and AOVs.

You can also now render Arnold right in the viewport, including all its RenderView options such as Debug Shading, AOVs, and region rendering.

New Graph Editor filters have been added to help you refine animation curves quicker and easier than before.

Plenty of examples and presets have been added to the Content Browser covering a variety of areas, from motion capture, to motion graphics, to characters. Use them as-is, or as a jumping-off point for your own work.

This covers just the top level new features, be sure to consult the full release notes for more information on improvements in the 2019 release:

Maya LT also has a dedicated release notes available here.

GameDev News Art


13. December 2018


In modern AAA games you often have a staggering amount of control over your character’s creation.  As a game developer you may think, “Why can’t we do this for creating game assets?”.  Simple answer, you can and that’s exactly what Character Creator 3 from Reallusion enables you to do.  Starting from a base mesh you have a staggering amount of control over just about every single visual aspect of your character.  You can flesh this out by adding a variety of clothing items, props, hair and more, all via simple drag and drop.  Best of all, your character is full rigged and ready for export and animating.

This approach to character creation is nothing new, several other packages we have covered in the past such as Fuse, MakeHuman and the recently cancelled Manuel Bastioni Labs all take a very similar approach to character creation.  Character Creator 3 however has some key advantages.  One of the biggest is it’s game engine focus, with the ability to create game friendly meshes (both in terms of polygon count and UV layouts) and export them to a number of game engines and applications including Unreal Engine, Unity, Maya, Max and Blender.  There is also functionality for tweaking your generated mesh right down to the vertex level, substance designer integration for materials, fine level PBR texturing control, templates for creating your own clothing and tools for automatically creating multiple LOD meshes.

Watch Character Creator 3 in action in the video below. 


If you are interested in checking out Character Creator 3, there is a 30 day trial available here.

Until December 31, they are also having a holiday sale with savings up to 50% available here.

Art Design


19. November 2018


The Game Creators have just released an updated version of the AppGameKit GameGuru Loader (phew, that’s a mouthful).  GameGuru is an extremely easy to learn 3D game engine with a complete game editor and loads of 3D content available to help you get started.   The 1.6 release adds several new features including LOD support, new 3D environmental effects (rain and dust), particle based bullet holes and more.


New features in the 1.6 release include:

  • Added 3D environment dust system
  • Real LOD support - 100% automated for much faster rendering
  • Fixed shadow fading errors in non PBR shaders
  • Fixed issue with rotation speed
  • Added ShadowCameraBias# to adjust shadow camera near plane, if you use a large spotlight object
  • Improved orthographic projection matrix to better centre on spot light position
  • Work in progress Shadowflashlight!
  • Added fake volumetric light - use "volumetric.lua" on a spot light to create the light cone
  • Added fake volumetric light shader that animates/rotates the light rays/smog
  • Fixed spot shadow camera rotation problem
  • Background GameGuru objects like billboard now don't get any light, results in better visual
  • Shaders expanded light ranges for improved smooth light
  • Fixed terrain distance improvement (did not work when using gamegurescale 1)
  • Improved terrain height map - it now matches GameGuru more precisely 
  • Added useVegNaturalPlacement = 1 - places grass using a formula, reduces the number of grass objects but still looks packed
  • Added PBR alpha control from AppGameKit code, so special alpha can be set per object
  • Fixed shadow bias for more precise shadows in new shaders.
  • Added speedShadows = 1 - will double the speed of your cascade shadows (really fast realtime shadows)
  • Added faster foliage/trees handling around 15 percent faster
  • Improved setup time for vegetation
  • Added makeBulletHoles = 1 - adds particle bullet holes where they hit
  • Added makeCharHitBlood = 1 , adds particle blood when you hit a NPC
  • Added environment rain, just set env_rain = 1 - many settings to control how it looks like speed/color/size/gravity!
  • Added rain_make_splash = 1 - make rain drops splash on the terrain and objects
  • Added rain_stop_when_indoor = 1 - stop rain when an object is above you ( you're indoors )
  • Added rain_sound = 1 - when raining play a rain loop sound
  • Added global maxNormalSize = 4096 - set max normal texture size to use
  • Added global maxDiffuseSize = 4096 - set max diffuse texture sizes to use
  • Improved: super sampling when using: "postprocessshaders = 5" - stops more flicker in distance
  • Added a additive blending particle effect sample
  • Improved: main game loop speed up by 50%! - Way better FPS when you have many objects on your levels
  • Improved: speed of water reflection render
  • Added tryconvertingmedia = 1 - source code can now convert .dbo to .x (no need to use fixpbr), and convert .dds to .png (Windows only)


If you are interested in learning more about GameGuru, be sure to check out this video also embedded below.

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