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24. November 2015

 

It’s hard to believe that GIMP (General Image Manipulation Program) has now been around for 20 years.  To go along with the 20th anniversary, they also released version 2.8.16.  The following from the GIMPrelease announcement:

 

New Releases and The Future

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, we released an update of the current stable version of GIMP. Newly released GIMP 2.8.16 features support for layer groups in OpenRaster files, fixes for layer groups support in PSD, various user interface improvements, OSX build system fixes, translation updates, and more changes.

Our immediate future plans are to release first public version in the unstable 2.9.x series that will feature fully functional GEGL port, 16/32bit per channel processing, basic OpenEXR support, vastly improved color management implementation, new tools, on-canvas preview for many filters, and more. This release will encompass over three years of work and become the first milestone towards 2.10.

Following v2.10 release, we shall complete the GTK+3 port that is required to bring back state of the art Wacom support for Windows users. When it’s done and GIMP 3.0 is out, we shall finally be able to get started on some very exciting and much anticipated features like non-destructive editing. Please refer to Roadmap for more details.

 

Well then, happy birthday GIMP.  Head on over here to download it now.

GameDev News Art


20. November 2015

 

Recently I just finished a tutorial covering creating isometric maps using the Tiled map editor.  One commonly occurring question was “where can I get tiled-friendly isometric tile sets?” for free.  The answer unfortunately is there aren’t a ton of options.  There are a few good isometric tile sets out there (I may coverisometrictitle this in a different post), but not a ton of choices.  So instead I’ve decided to look at the process of making isometric tiles in Blender and thankfully it’s not that difficult.  The process follows.  There is also an HD video version of this tutorial available here.

 


First load up blender.  We are going to start by just making a 64x64 pixel tile of the default Blender cube.  For this exercise we are going to have our object centered about the origin.  Precision is of critical importance to this entire process, so we are going to be working numerically in the properties panel(N key).

 

image10

 

Now let’s delete all of the faces except the base:

GIF

 

The majority of the work is actually in setting up the camera.  With the camera selected we need to position it.  Since our object is at the origin, we need to offset away from it.  As the isometric style is from above and at an angle we offset 60 degrees on the X axis and 45 degrees around the Z axis.  If you are using a more skewed perspective ( not 2:1 ratio ), you will choose a different  rotation.  We also move the camera back along the Y axis and up the Z, we will be moving the location slightly later.

image

 

Next we set the dimensions of our camera in the Camera tab, we are going to start of with 64x32 at 100%, like so:

image

 

Now in the Properties editor, select the camera icon and we need to set the camera to Orthographic.  We then adjust our Orthographic scale until the camera extents capture the cube.

image

 

In 3D view switch to camera view (0) then adjust the Orthographic Scale and Z axis of the camera until your image is framed, like so:

image

 

Now change the camera dimensions from 64x32 to 64x64 and adjust the z value of the camera until the base tile is aligned to the bottom of the camera frame, like so:

image

 

Now render it out to texture.  We already set up the render dimensions, now we simply need to set the renderer to render transparency:

image

 

In Shading in the Rendering tab set alpha mode to Transparent.  Now render your tile and TADA:

tile

 

Now let’s extrude our tile to the extents of our camera frame, like so:

image

 

Then render it out:

tile2

 

Now you can test our two isometric tiles out in tiled:

image

 

Now you will notice the tiles look remarkably, um, tiled.  This is due to the shading.  In the materials for your tile, set Shadeless on, then the results look cleaner.

image

 

Creating a Reference Cube

It’s possible you want a framework to model non-cube shaped entities in an isometric style.  Thankfully it’s incredibly easy to create such a thing. 

First take your reference cube, then apply a Wireframe modifier to it:

image

 

This now gives you a nice shape to use for reference, like so:

image

 

Now chances are if you are going to model within the reference you are going to want to make it unselectable and mark it so it doesn’t show up in the renders, like so:

image

 

Now of course you will probably want bigger than 64x64 tiles.  One option is to simply duplicate our cube, then move it by 2 units (as our cube is 2x2 in size) along the X axis, like so:

image

 

We can then render each tile by moving the camera by 2 along the X axis, setting all other tiles to not render, although this could easily be scripted.

 

Chances are we are going to want to make several tiles at once too and this would also be extremely easy.  Simply take your reference tile and apply an array modifier then another array modifier, like so:

image

 

The only difference between the two modifiers is the axis of the relative offset.  This now gives up a 6x6 grid of tiles to work with:

image

 

Only problem is, now we have one big tile instead of 36 separate tiles, but no matter, this is easily resolved!  Make sure both Array modifiers have been applied.

 

Now enter Edit mode and press P –> Separate by loose parts.

Next select them all in Object mode and select Set Origin->Origin to Center of Mass.

 

And TADA, 36 tiles ready for editing!

GIF2

 

Of course if you wanted to edit the tiles as a whole (for example, connected terrain) you would do this before performing the separation. 

 

Next we have to render each tile.  Basically grab a tile, translate it to the origin, hide the other 35 tiles, render it.  Now repeat that process 35 times.  Sounds fun, eh?

Yeah, not to me either, good thing I’m a programmer. Let’s take a look at automating this using Python in Blender’s built in API.   Please keep in mind, I rarely program in Python and have never scripted in Blender, so don’t expect brilliance!

import bpy

objs = []
for obj in bpy.data.objects:
    if obj.name.startswith("Cube"):
        objs.append(obj)

# loop true all the meshes, hide all but active, and copy active to 0,0,0 and render        
for curObj in objs:
    prevLoc = curObj.location.copy()
    curObj.hide_render = False
    
    for otherObj in objs:
        if curObj != otherObj:
            otherObj.hide_render = True
            
    curObj.location = (0,0,0)
    bpy.data.scenes['Scene'].render.filepath = "c:\\temp\\" + curObj.name + ".png"
    bpy.ops.render.render(write_still = True)
    
    curObj.hide_render = True
    curObj.location = prevLoc

 

Now if you run that script it will render all of the tiles to your C:\temp directory.

 

Of course the key to making tiles look good is going to be the texture mapping…  but you’ve got all the tools you need to succeed and quickly at that.

 

The Video

Art Programming Design


19. November 2015

 

Just a quick note to announce a new series I have started, The GameDev Toolbox.

Toolbox

 

The series is intended to bring exposure to a wide variety of tools used in game development.  This includes graphic creation packages, IDEs, audio tools, design tools and more.  Basically if it isn’t a library, framework or game engine and it’s used for game development we will probably take a look at it.

These are not reviews, nor are they tutorials.  They are meant as a quick introduction and overview and nothing more.  For now the series is video only, but I will be creating a text based version in the near future.  There is a playlist for the series available here.

It currently consists of:

 

This video shows the premise of the series:

Art Design General Programming


15. November 2015

 

Just published a new quick tutorial to YouTube on retopology in Blender.  Besides being a word that spell checkers despise, retopology is the art of creating a low resolution mesh by drawing over top of a higher resolution version.  This quick video tutorial shows the process in Blender using model snapping and the shrinkwrap modifier.

 

The 1080p version is available here.

Art


9. November 2015

 

This is a feature that was quietly added in Blender 2.72 that will be a massive game changer to many potential Blender users.  The Blender UI has always been very keyboard focused and quite daunting especially for beginners.  Over the last couple releases we’ve seen some nice tweaks to the UI to make Blender a great deal more user friendly. The addition of radial menus is another step down the road of usability.  If you come from a Maya background this feature will be immediately recognizable.  Now keep in mind this feature is still under development and not enabled by default and there is certainly a reason for this.  Expects some bugs and growing pains, although personally I found it well worth enabling.

 

Before I show you how to enable pie menus in Blender, let me show you them in action:

Gif1

 

Enabling Pie Menus

To turn the menus on, go to File->User Preferences…

image

 

Next select the Add-ons tab, search for pie then click the enabled checkbox on “User Interface: Pie Menus Official”

image

 

You are now done.  However before you close the menu, there are some settings you may want to configure in the Interface tab.  In the bottom right corner you will set settings for configuring the Pie menus:

image

 

Personally I like setting the radius to around 40-50, which results in the menu being a lot denser, like so:

image

 

Available Menus

Now that pie menus are enabled, you will find several hotkeys perform differently.  Basically all of the things control via this toolbar are now available via pie menus:

image

Simply hit the right key(s) and the menu will appear.  You will notice a number next to each menu item, which can also be used instead of clicking the menu.  For example TAB + 6 will enable edit mode.  Right click or hit ESC to cancel a menu without selecting anything.

 

TAB key – object interaction mode

image

 

Q key – view selection

image

 

Z Key – shading mode

image

 

Ctrl + SHIFT + Tab – Snapping

image

 

. (Period Key) – Pivot

image

 

As with almost all things in Blender however, the bound keys can be configured to the users preference.

 

Again, this feature is under development and can be a bit buggy.  I found the shader menu a bit problematic on my computer for example.  However I view that even today it is worth the pain, especially if you like me work on a laptop without a dedicated number pad.  The new view navigation is a great improvement over enabling numpad emulation.

 

Never nice new feature, great job Blender team!

 

The Video

 

This video, available in HD here, illustrates mostly the same material we just covered if you prefer video form or if I missed a detail.

Art


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