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11. February 2016


I have to say, I just came across this custom branch of Blender and it’s astonishingly good.  In addition to a number of improvements to viewport lighting, this Blender branch actually brings PBR (Physically Based Rendering) to the Blender viewport.  To really appreciate what has been accomplished here, you really need to check out the video.

Blender PBR viewport Branch v0.2 from Clément FOUCAULT on Vimeo.

You can also see a direct before and after shot below!

This is truly some impressive work. It is available on the Author's website. By the way, he is looking for work in the GameDev field... someone hire this guy!

GameDev News Art

8. February 2016


This story coming care of /r/gamedev, BDX released version 0.2.3.  BDX is a game engine hosted inside Blender using LibGDX and Java for game programming.  Essentially it enables you to define and create your game in Blender, including complete physics integration, while generating LibGDX code.  I did a pretty in-depth tutorial on working with BDX a while back.

In this release:

Here's a short change-log:

  • Per-pixel sun, point, and spot lighting. As it was before, you can simply create the lights in Blender to have them show up in-game, or spawn them during play.
  • Ability to turn off per-pixel lighting for lower-spec targeted platforms and devices.
  • Improvements to the profiler.
  • GameObjects can now switch the materials used on their mesh. You can specify the name of a material available in the scene in Blender, or you can directly provide a LibGDX material to use, in case you have one custom-made.
  • Various fixes and QOL improvements.

Check it out! We could always use some more feedback and testing.

It’s a cool project and if you are working in Blender and LibGDX is certainly something you should check out!

GameDev News

1. February 2016


PBR, Physically-Based Rendering, is the new hotness in the CG world, especially with the increasing popular of Substance Painter.  The end result of that process is a number of textures specifically for channels such as Roughness, Metallic, etc.  Taking the results from Substance to Blender however hasn’t always been the easiest.  Now there exists a plugin for easily consuming PBR textures in Blender using the Cycles renderer.

From the product page:

Easy PBR right inside Cycles!

With the rise of PBR in the AAA game industry and Allegorithmic’s wildly popular Substance toolset, it’s about time someone created a simple solution for implementing PBR textures inside of Blender. Finally, no more fiddling for hours with material nodes trying to vaguely make something that looks good. Now there’s one solution that gets it right every time and in every lighting condition! Liberate yourself as an artist to focus on your art!

Plug and Done!

Based on a PBR Metal/Rough workflow, all you have to do is import your textures, plug them in, and you’re ready to go! This node group supports maps for:

  • Base Colour (Albedo, Diffuse…)
  • Ambient Occlusion
  • Roughness
  • Metallic
  • Normal
  • Emission

It adds a new shader node to Blender that makes it easy to wire up the appropriate maps:


While not free, it does cost less than 5$.

Art GameDev News

19. January 2016


A few weeks back I looked at creating Isographic tiles in Blender.  Today we are going to follow it up with a tutorial on creating Orthographic tiles instead.  Orthographic and isometric simply refer to the camera’s projection mode.  In an orthographic project, the camera is straight on and the image does not become smaller as it gets further away from the camera.  Most traditional top down or side view tiles, such as Metroid or Mario Brothers, are orthographic.


Blender gives you a bunch of advantages when creating tiles, especially when it comes to auto-tile support.  You can see auto tiling in action in our Tiled Map Editor tutorial series.  By creating a sequence with the proper border between varying tile types, the auto tile algorithm can figure out the rest.  In this tutorial we will show how to setup Blender so creating these transitions becomes trivial.


There is also a video version of this tutorial available here or embedded below.


First fire up Blender.  Because we are rendering everything in the end, it’s critical we set the dimensions properly.  In this case I am going to try and keep all of my tiles to 2x2 Blender units.  With the 3d cursor at 0,0,0 add a new plane, the default location is ideal:



Now switch to edit mode, then UV unwrap it.  This is going to hold our texture.  I am going to use a pair of seamless textures I created for roads, one a straight section, the other an intersection:


The important part of these textures is they are (relatively) seamless.  I accomplished this by cloning the edge of the one corner of the intersection, then pasting it over the 3 other edges of the intersection, then the two ends of the straight piece.  It’s not flawless, but it’s close.


Now, in object mode, apply the texture to the plane.  We will start with the intersection.  Create a new material if one does not exist, then switch to the texture tab and add the texture to the diffuse channel.  If you don’t know how to do this, check out one of our existing Blender tutorials, they will teach you everything you need to proceed.


The end result should now look like this:



Woot, half way there... well, a quarter...  Now render this and you should see...



Well, that’s not ideal...  two problems here... first our lighting, second, our transparent region is being rendered.  First lets fix the lighting.  When creating tiles you probably want a flat lighting.  First select the scenes default light and delete it.  Now, with no lights in the scene, we want to turn Ambient Occlusion on.  In the properties, locate the World setting then enable AO, like so:



Now when we render:



Much better.  Now we just have to sort the whole transparency thing.  Select your plane, then go to the material tab and enable transparency, then set Alpha to 0, like so:



Now switch to the texture, check alpha and set the value to 1:






Perfect!  We are now at least half way there...  now lets create another tile, this one for the road.  Once again with the cursor at 0,0,0 create another plan, then move it by 2 units ( G, Y, 2 )


Now repeat the above process, just using the other texture instead, and our end result should look like:



Cool!  The only catch you might run into is you may have to rotate the UV 90 degrees to get the road to line up properly with the intersection. 


Now is where the magic of working in Blender can kick in... making our background.  Now create yet another plane object, this one 1wide, 2 high.  Most importantly, move it down the z axis a little bit, so the result should look something like this:



Now texture this new object however you wish... create your sand layer, grass layer, whatever.  Here it is with a quick grass texture applied:



Now we need to set up our camera.  There are two approaches we can take here... we can out camera to capture our entire image then split the tiles up using a tool like Imagemagick, or we can render each tile manually.  The choice is up to you. 


First switch your camera into Orthographic mode, with the camera selected, select the camera tab, then Orthographic:



The following settings are going to be determined by the number of tiles you have and the resolution of your map.  I will use the above example, and I want to render each plane out to 4 (2x2) tiles so our over all image is 4x2.  I am going to render out to a single image and split the tiles later.  To do this, first I went to the camera settings, and set the resolution like this:



I positioned the camera like this:



And set the camera properties accordingly:



With the Blender view in Ortho mode (5 on numpad), it should look like:



Now render, and:



Finally I fire up the following Imagemagick command to split the image into tiles.  As my rendered image is 1024x512, I am going to break it into 256x256 tiles:

convert -crop 256x256 tilesheet.png tiles%d.png

And now we should have 8 very game ready tiles:



Very cool.


Now, thanks to the fact we are in 3d using Blender, we can simply change the background texture and create instead a desert background say...



Five seconds later, a new autotilable texture transition!

Video Version

Art Design

13. January 2016


Welcome to the final part of our three part series on level creation using Blender.  In the first part of the tutorial we created a skybox for our world.  In the second we used a height map to create some terrain.  Today we are going to look at applying multiple textures to that terrain.


We are going to pick up where we left off, we have a large plane distorted to create our landscape.  If you haven’t already, apply the Displace modifier to make it permanent.  You should have already UV Unwrapped the plane object before we applied the displace modifier, giving us a nice even UV grid to work with.


Next we are going to need some textures to paint with.  Seamless textures work best as they can be tiled without creating a noticeable seam.  For this example however, I just downloaded a couple textures from TextureLib, a grass, rock and water texture.  Use whatever textures you wish to use.  Now that you have your textures, we need to import them into Blender.  I find the easiest way is to just add them as textures to the plane object and name them appropriately, like so:


No need to setup mapping coordinates or anything else, as we arent going to be using these textures directly, they just needed to be made available for Blender.


Now with your Plane selected, make sure there is a Material, and if there isn’t, create a new one.



Now switch over to the texture tab and add a new texture of type Image or Movie, then click the New button:



Call in GroundTexture or something similar:



You may find 1024x1024 is too low res for a large terrain, so you might want to try 2048x2048.  Now it’s time to start painting our texture.  Configure your Blender windows so you have a 3D view on one side and the UV/Image Editor on the other, and switch the 3D view to Texture Paint mode, like so:



Now in the UV editor, make sure that your GroundTexture is active:



In the 3D view, in the Tools (T) sidebar, we now set the texture we want to paint with.  Locate the texture area, click the thumbnail icon and select one of your textures, like so:



Now we can paint directly on the 3D model.  You have a ton of control over your brush, but the two most important settings are these:



These set the size of your brush and the strength of your paint tool.  Now simply paint the terrain as you desire:



You will notice that the texture updated automatically the the UV/Image Editor:



If you prefer, you can edit in the UV editor window instead, simply turn Edit mode on:



The brush settings from the 3D View Tools window will be applied to the UV editor in Paint mode.  Now simply change textures and repeat the process until your texture is complete.  When you are done, you may want to export your texture for use in an external engine.  In the UV/Image Editor, select Image->Save As Image:



End result:



Not the greatest looking level, but that’s due to lack of effort, not the tool.  Not bad for 20 minutes work.  Obviously there are other tasks you’d want to perform.  You probably want a normal or displacement map on the terrain to give it small surface level imperfections, and obviously you’d want to add static meshes for trees, shrubs etc... but that is simply a matter of doing more of the same.


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Art Design

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