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27. April 2012

 

 

This is the release of Blender I have been waiting a long time for, as this is the release where BMesh has finally been integrated into Blender!  For those of you unaware of what exactlyblender_263 BMesh brings to the table, take a quick look at this post.  Having worked in Wings for so long, and Nendo before that, I have been dying to see ngon support added to Blender.

 

 

 

Expect things to be a bit buggy for a while, the switch to the BMesh engine is a pretty massive change.  That said, expect to see new and more powerful tools coming out, as in many ways BMesh impacts Blender developers as much as it does end users.

 

 

KnifeTool

 

 

 

However, it isn’t only about BMesh.  Cycles has also received a lot of love in the 2.63 release, with new rendering passes for Ambient occlusion and shadows, as well as a mask layer for “masking out” objects in the scene.  Environment mapping has also been improved to support float precision textures.  A mirror ball project mode has been added as well, but frankly, I don’t really understand the use.  Additionally, there is now a panoramic camera, which will render a panoramic view of the scene around the camera’s location.  There have also been improvements to viewport rendering, allowing it to show background images as well as the ability to show the currently active rendering layer in the viewport.

 

 

There are other features as well, including the ability to hide portions of geometry while sculpting, a very handy feature.  There were some additions to the motion tracking tools, as well as over 150 bug fixes.

 

 

One of the biggest releases in a very long time and the one I’ve been most eager to receive.  Kudos to the Blender team for this excellent release.

 

Go download it now!

Art News


23. April 2012

 

 

Photoshop has always been the big boy in the 2D imaging world and I have always found it a bit too expensive at the @ 800$ a license.  What would you say though if you could insteadimage buy Photoshop CS on a subscription basis for 50$ a month?

 

How about if I threw in some cloud based features like online storage?  Still not sold?

 

Ok, how about if I threw in Photoshop Touch as well?  Still not convinced?

 

Oh, how about I threw in say… Illustrator, Lightroom, InDesign, Muse, Acrobat Pro, Flash Pro, Flash Builder Premium, Dreamweaver, Edge, Fireworks, Premiere, After Effects, Audition, SpeedGrade, Prelude, Encore, Bridge, Encoder, Proto, Ideas, Debut, Collage and Kuler?  Did that get your attention?

 

 

Because that is exactly what Adobe just did!

 

 

The newly announced Creative Cloud appears to be a an all you can eat subscription to pretty much everything Adobe makes, coupled with their fairly new web services, like 2GB of cloud storage.

 

Pricing starts at 50$ on a annual commitment basis, rises to 75$ on a month by month basis.  If you are already paying for one or more CS products, this represents a massive discount.  Oh, speaking of already paying, if you are an existing subscriber, it is available until August 31 at 30$ a month!.

 

 

 

Tempted yet? Winking smile

 

 

 

EDIT: I suppose I should point out, you can’t actually buy it yet, its in pre-order at the moment. 

General Art


22. March 2012

 

 

Adobe has recently made Photoshop CS 6 available as beta, which will last until CS6 is PSCS6released.  In order to activate, you need to have an Adobe ID ( freely available ) within 7 days of installing.  The Mac installer is now 64bit only and weighs in at just under 1GB, while the Windows install is closer to 1.7GB.

 

 

 

The biggest new features in Abobe’s own words are:

 

  • Content-Aware Patch — Patch images with greater control using the newest member of the Content-Aware family of technologies. Choose the sample area you want to use to create your patch, and then watch Content-Aware Patch magically blend pixels for a stunning result.
  • Blazingly fast performance and a modern UI — Experience unprecedented performance with the Mercury Graphics Engine, which gives you near-instant results when you edit with key tools such as Liquify, Puppet Warp, and Crop.* Plus, a refined, fresh, and elegant Photoshop interface features dark background options that make your images pop.
  • New and re-engineered design tools — Create superior designs fast. Get consistent formatting with type styles, create and apply custom strokes and dashed lines to shapes, quickly search layers, and much more.

 

 

The content aware tools are easily the biggest new feature, and look pretty impressive as demonstrated in this video:



Another good video showing off the new features is Russel Brown's 6 favorite new features:

 

 



Lynda.com have also made a number of tutorials freely available for CS6.


So, if you are interested in Photoshop CS6, or just want a free copy for a limited time, head on over to labs.adobe.com and give it a download.

News Art


16. February 2012

 

Blender 2.62 was released today.  The 2.6 series of releases is all about adding in the variousbl branches that have been in development recently and this one is no exception.  Key new features include:

 

  • UV Tools, a number of new features have been added including an interactive stitch tool, sub-division surface aware UV unwrapping and a sculpting tool for selecting and tweaking UVs
  • Boolean library now using “Carve” library which should be faster, more stable with better overall results.  To the end user, other then improved results, there should be little difference to the existing interface
  • Cycles render engine ( render via GPU ) has had a number of new features including render layers/passes, multiGPU rendering and more
  • Object tracking support has been added
  • Remesh modifier, creates a new topology based on an input surface.  If I am honest, I’m not really sure what purpose you would use it for
  • Many bug fixes and other new features

 

For full details, you can go here with the bug fixes listed here.  To download the newest release head on over here. Have some patience though, as always with every new release days, their servers are getting hammered.

 

 

The next release (in April) is the one I am really waiting for, as it’s the one that finally adds BMesh support!  There is also a new team focusing on improving COLLADA support.  The future is looking extremely good!

 

Nice work Blender team, keep ‘em coming!

Art News


13. February 2012

 

 

I have been playing around a bit with Daz 3D Studio since it was recently made freely available. At first I struggled to find an actual use for the program, then I realized how exceptionally easy it made creating animated sprites. The following tutorial will walk through creating the following walk cycle using Daz Studio:



The above image is actually a web animation generated from this spritesheet that we will create. All told, the process will take about 5-10 minutes, most of it will be you waiting for your computer!  If the above image isn’t animating, that means your browser ( most likely Internet Explorer ) doesn’t support the keyframes CSS attribute.  Trust me, it works. Smile

 

 

You are going to need a couple things to follow along this tutorial, all of which are (currently) freely available.

 

You will need:

 

 

 

Install all of these products.  Now we fire up Daz Studio.

 

We are going to use the default human, feel free to drag and drop and design your guy however you want.  That said, do not move the person from the default screen location.

 

Once your guy or gal is dressed/decorated however you want, its time to add some animations.  On the left hand panel, select Content Library, Walks then start-(N) and drag it down to the beginning of the timeline.

 

Like so:

 

imageimage

 

If done correctly, if you press play your character will now have a walk cycle.  You can drag down as many animations as you would like to capture, just add them one after another in the timeline.  In this example we are just going to do the single walk cycle animation.

 

Now comes the key part, you don’t actually want your character to be moving like it does currently, you want him to remain stationary.  First lets frame things into the left.  Click the view selector box to rotate to the left view.

 

image

This is the guy you are looking for, click the red section labeled left.  Now ideally your window should look something like this:

 

image

 

 

Now we need to strip out the movement part from the animation.  To do so, first we need to convert to Studio keyframes.  This is done by right clicking in the blank gray area above the timeline and selecting Bake to Studio Keyframes, like so:

 

image

 

You will get the following message:

 

image

 

Simply click Yes.  Now we can edit out your animation.  What we want to do is remove movement along the Z-axis.  In order to do this, select Parameters along the right hand panel, then you want to select the Hip ( the root of all animations ).  You can do this by either clicking it within the scene Window, or selecting it from this drop down:

 

image

 

 

Now that you have the Hip selected, in the Parameters panel ALT+Left click the zTranslate panel:

image

 

This process should reset it’s value to 0.  Now if you press play on the timeline, your animation should now be stationary.  Now its time to render our images out.  To do so in the menu select Render->Render Settings…  like so:

 

image

 

The following window will appear:

 

image

 

If not already done, make sure at the bottom right it is set to “Show Advanced Settings”.  Now drag the quality/speed slider down to 3 ( or it will take forever, for little visible gain ).  Now you want to scroll the options down a bit.  First we want to set our image render resolution.  I personally went with 128x96, but you can use whatever you want.

 

image

 

 

Now scroll the options down a bit more and select the Render To: drop down.  You want to select Image Series like this:

image

 

 

Now we want to select where to render it to.  Leave Start and End Frame at the defaults ( the entire animation ), file in a name and leave it as PNG so we get transparencies.  Switch the location from Library to Folder and pick a directory you want it to save your renderings to, like so:

image

 

Now click the green “Render” button.  You will get a warning like the following:

image

 

Simply click OK.

 

Now we wait… there is absolutely no indication it’s actually doing anything, but Daz Studio is now rendering your sprites.  The only real indicator it’s doing anything is the spinning “busy” mouse icon.  Let it do it’s thing, it took approximately 4 minutes on my PC.

 

Once it is completed, in Explorer navigate to the directory you told it to render to.  If all went well, your directory should be populated with 51 PNG images.  Here’s mine:

 

image

 

 

Now that we have our sprites, we need to make them into a sprite sheet.  If you haven’t already, install The GIMP and the sprite sheet plugin I linked earlier.  Now load up The Gimp.

 

In GIMP select File->Open As Layers…

image

 

Navigate to the folder you saved your images to, then CTRL+A to select them all ( or CTRL + Click to select them one by one ).  When finished press Open:

image

 

If everything worked correctly, your layers list should look like this:

 

image

 

Now select the Filters Menu->Sprite-Sheet->Create From Layers…  If this menu option doesn’t show up, you haven’t installed the spritesheet plugin correctly.

 

image

 

Gimp will now merge all of the layers together into a single sprite sheet in a new window like so:

 

image

 

 

Simply save this file and you are done.  My end results are this.  You may want to do some editing, like making your spritesheet square instead of one wide and short image, but this can be accomplished in a few minutes of copy and paste.  All told, one remarkably fast way to generate a walk cycle sprite animation.  Rendering other angles or different animations is simply a matter of repeating the process from a different angle or dragging and dropping different animation sets.

 

Of course, you can also create your own animations quite simply in Daz.  You can also import your own meshes and props, although I haven’t really experienced this part yet, so I do not know how painful the process is. 

Art


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