27. March 2014

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

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

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.

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.

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:

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.

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:

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.

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.
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.

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:

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:

To this:

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:

Becomes this:

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:

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:

### Game Engine Changes

1st person shooter style camera controls (WASD).

Level of Detail (LoD) support added:

### 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.

15. March 2014

MakeHuman started life in 1999 as a Blender plugin named MakeHead, a plugin for procedurally creating head meshes.  In 2000 the first version of MakeHuman was released.  In 2005 it was turned into a stand alone application. Today we seem a major milestone release of MakeHuman 1.0.0!

So what exactly is MakeHuman?  It’s an application for generating human models.  Most impressively it generates very clean, fully rigged, quad only, Mudbox/zBrush ready models using 1170 controllable morph targets.  If you’ve ever played a video game that allowed you to fully customize your character, you have an idea what MakeHuman provides.  The major difference is MakeHuman generates a model ready for use in major 3D applications.  In many ways it is very similar to the application Poser.

Oh yeah, did I also mention it was completely free and open source?

Now for a couple key links.

The source code is available here.

You can access the current buglist here.

The 1.0.0 press release is available here (and repeated below).

So why should you as a game developer care?

Well first of all, it is about one of the easiest ways to create game ready human assets.  Speaking of game ready, you also have the ability to create game appropriate rigs:

Perhaps most importantly, the resulting mesh is both clean and relatively low polygon ( unless of course you choose the smooth option ).  Here is an exported mesh opened in Blender:

All told its about 24K quads as currently configured.  The mesh is and ampature are both logically laid out (with clothing all as separate meshes) and ready for use:

If you need a human model for your game, you really have nothing to lose checking out MakeHuman.

Press release: