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24. June 2011

 

 

One thing you are going to find very different when working with Wings 3D is that there are very few hotkeys.  It’s very much user driven and it is expected that you will define hotkeys all of your own.  Right off the bat, there is one you should define, that of Cut->Edge.  This shows just how simple the process is.

 

First off, bring up the menu containing the item you want to hotkey.

Hit the insert key.

Look at the status bar for instructions or further details. 

Hit the key you want to assign as a hotkey.

 

Done.

 

 

I highly suggest assigning Cut to it’s own hotkey, it will greatly increase your speed.  Really, the key thing to remember here is, when using Wings 3D, hit the Insert Key to bind a hotkey.  Should you screw up, you can always fix your mistakes using the advice in this thread.

Art


24. June 2011

 

Saved a hotkey you wish you hadn’t?  Want to go back to default settings?  It’s easy enough.

 

In Windows 7, follow the following steps.

 

Hit the Start button

Type “   %appdata%   “ then press enter

In the explorer window that opens, select the Wings3D folder.

Now either delete or edit the preferences.txt file to match your new settings.  Next time you run Wings this file will be recreated if deleted.

Art


11. June 2011

 

EDIT: Now with video!

 

After yesterday’s post, I noticed there wasn’t a recent build of Avocado available so I got to wondering how much work it would be to build a Blender branch.  In the end the answer is “not much”, with a bunch of caveats.  Frankly the hardest part is configuring your environment.  This guide shows but one way, there of course are other options.

 

First of all, I already have Visual Studio 2010 Professional installed, but many of you may not have professional and there is a big snag with Express C++ in that there is no command line 64bit compiler.  At this point you have one of three options, build for 32bit, download and install the Platform SDK which includes a 64bit cross compiler or you can download and use mingw.  The last two options are beyond the scope of this post and the instructions will assume you are using VC++.

 

Next up you need SVN, which is what you use to get the code from Blender’s repository.  In my case, I am using Cygwin from the command line.  For those of you with a command line aversion, you can use a GUI tool like Tortoise SVN.  Again, my instructions are going to assume you went the Cygwin route, but should still make sense a different SVN.

 

Now, to get Cygwin, run the Setup.exe ( from here ) and choose the default ( install to a directory without spaces! ).  You can add other features, but don’t do this now as some download locations don’t have all the packages, so it could result in your install failing.  Once setup.exe has completed, run it again and search for svn, if it is not installed ( as pictured below ), in the New column, instead of keep it will say “Skip”, click this and it will set it to download.  Then click next and it will figure all of the requisites and dependencies, download and install them.

 

image

 

Assuming all went well, you now have svn.  Only one more file to install, CMake, a cross platform make tool.  The install process is pretty straight forward, now time to grab the sources.  You are going to need to make two directories on your local computer, one where the code is going to be downloaded, then one where the code is going to be built.  In my case ( and in the instructions ) I used C:\Temp\Blendersource and c:\temp\BlenderBuild but you can of course use whatever you want.

 

Now its time to get the source.  Launch “Cygwin Bash Shell”, it should be located in your Start Menu.  Otherwise you can run it from [Cygwin Install Directory]\Cygwin.bat.  Now you need to choose which repository you want to build.  The list of branches is available here.  In your browser navigate to the one you want to build, then into the blender directory and copy this address.  In this case I am building Avocado, so I copied https://svn.blender.org/svnroot/bf-blender/branches/ to my clipboard.

SVN works in the form of:

svn checkout [ paste your clipboard ] [where to copy to]

 

One gotcha is you need to point BASH to a directory on your computer, in this case C:\temp\blendersource.  In order to do this, we use the /cygdrive link.  So, the actual command looks like:

 

$ svn checkout https://svn.blender.org/svnroot/bf-blender/branches/soc-2011-avacado /cygdrive/c/temp/blendersource/

 

That will go ahead and download all the blender code.  You will probably get an error stating server certificate isn’t trusted, check type “t” or “p”.  Later on you are going to need the precompiled binaries from the trunk repository.  They are located at https://svn.blender.org/svnroot/bf-blender/trunk/lib/ in the windows/ and win64/ folders.  Warning! This takes a long time, like go make and drink a pot of tea long time.  We want them copied into the /lib/windows directory of the newly downloaded source.  The command for this is:

 

$ svn checkout https://svn.blender.org/svnroot/bf-blender/trunk/lib/windows /cygdrive/c/temp/lib/windows

followed by:

 

$ svn checkout https://svn.blender.org/svnroot/bf-blender/trunk/lib/win64 /cygdrive/c/temp/lib/win64

 

At this point, you have all the sources and libraries you need.

 

Now fire up trusty CMake you downloaded earlier.  In the “where is the source code:” text field put C:/Temp/blendersource/ ( or the location of CMakeLists.txt if you are using a different path).  In the “Where to build the binaries:” text field put c:/temp/BlenderBuild.  Now click “Configure”, the following window will appear, select your compiler:

 

image

 

 

Click Finish once your compiler is selected from the list.  Now your CMake window should look like this:

image

 

Now you can optionally enable/disable features.  If building Avocado, disable WITH_IMAGE_OPENEXR! It will currently cause your build to fail. Once you finalized your selections click Configure again, then Generate.

Now if you look in C:\Temp\BlenderBuild, you will see that CMake has built the proper native build files, in my case for Visual C++ 2010.  There is even a solution file if you want to build using the VC IDE.  In this case I am going to use the command line, launch the Visual Studio X64 64 Bit Command Line.  Now type:

cd \temp\blenderbuild

msbuild Blender.sln /property:Configuration=Release

 

And off to the races…   See, nothing to it! Open-mouthed smile

 

After 5 to 20 minutes later, copy your new Blender.exe ( from bin\release ) into a Blender install and…

 

image

 

AHHHH crap, seriouslyjQuery152044251238950528204_1314637985251?  Well, we apparently have a very streamlined version, perhaps a bit too streamlined.  What exactly is going on here?  Well, truth of the matter is, if you followed along at home and aren’t using Windows 7, nothing, it probably works perfectly fine.  However, if you are like me and are running Windows 7, this post is very interesting.

 

There is some annoying permissions issue with Win 7, depending on who/how/where you install as. A known problem, being worked on. Maybe already fixed. (can you tell I'm not a windows guy?)
Easiest work-around for now is to download the .zip version, unzip it and run from that folder.

 

Welcome to life on the bleeding edge!  It’s called the “bleeding edge” for a very good reason!  Anyways, head over here and download the 64bit ZIP install, extract it and copy your new Blender.exe file over.   Voila!

 

image

 

 

A fresh new 64Bit version of Blender—Avocado, bmesh tools and all.  It may have looked difficult, but in the end, it really isn’t, with the exception of figuring out the most recent bug ( thanks Google ).

 

Seem like too much work?  You can download the blender.exe I generated.  Simply download and install the current 2.57b ZIP from Blender, extract it then extract my Blender.zip over top.

Art Programming


10. June 2011

 

One of the nicest features of going with Blender is the fact that it is open source.  One of the nicest facts of open source is you don’t have to wait for a vendor to release a new version, you can go get the cutting edge version at any time.  That said, building Blender from scratch is a non-trivial task, but nicely for that we have graphicall.org.

 

Basically graphicall allows people to post and share their builds.  You go on the site andBlogEngineLogo choose a build to download.  You can choose by OS, bit-ness or the various features included in the build. Why the heck would you want to do this?  Well, frankly some of these features are incredibly interesting, but perhaps most interesting of all, is the new BMesh tool.  Remember how I said earlier that the weakest link in Blender was the modeling tools, and the one feature it was missing the most was the lack of n-gons?  Well, bmesh addresses this shortcoming.  It is rumoured that it will be part of Blender 2.8, but it as been in development for a very very very long time, so don’t hold your breath. I will hopefully have a demonstration up shortly that illustrates this powerful tool.

 

But bmesh is by no means the only thing to look forward to.  Another area graphicall builds cover is Google Summer of Code builds.  If you have never heard of it, instead of getting a summer job, students instead propose a project in the open source world and if approved, get paid by Google to implement it.  This year, Blender is a pretty big winner on the number of projects sponsored.  About half of the projects on that list will be a huge boon for game development.  The various branches can be viewed here.

 

A quick trip to GraphicAll is going to confuse the hell out of you though…  Avacodo? Radish? Cucumber?  WTF?  Well lets just say the Blender group like their code names!  Last time it was fruit, this time, it’s veggies.  Anyways, this infographic that I brazenly stole from here which in turn they stole from here.  Anyways, it’s a good image, so here goes(click image for original).

 

Gsoc-2011-branches

 

 

Anyways, probably of most interest from a game perspective are the Avocado, Onion and Pepper branches.  Of most interest to game dev work is the Avocado branch, which is the only one based off the BMesh branch instead of the main trunk fork ( Salad branch ).

 

But by no means are we confined to the Summer of Code builds, lots of other stuff is available as well.  There is Blender Cycles a GPU based render, LuxBlend interface for LuxRender, Yafaray as well as builds using OpenMP for better multicore CPU support.

 

So, if you are willing to take a walk on the wild side and put up with a few more bugs and glitches, Graphicall is very much worth checking out!

Art


29. May 2011

 

Well here is one out of nowhere.  StudioGPU have released their flagship product MachStudio Pro 2 for free.  Real free too so far as I can tell, not free with an asterisk free.  For those of you that have never heard of MachStudio, it is in very rough terms a near to realtime renderer that makes use of your GPU.  In their own words:

 

StudioGPU's MachStudio Pro reinvents the 3D visualization production pipeline by putting the power of real-time graphics processing at your fingertips.

Render times that typically take hours or days are reduced to minutes and even seconds, limiting artists only to the scope of their creativity.

MachStudio Pro lets you truly Work at the Speed of Thought!

 

 

A Blender exporter is coming soon, but for now it does support importing FBX files.  Previous to this announcement, MachStudio sold for 4 grand!

 

Now the downside… you need a 1GB Direct X 11 GPU to run it.  In the world of desktops, that’s not too demanding.  For people like myself that buy only laptops, then it gets a bit trickier.  My best GPU is currently 512MB, but I am downloading it anyways to see what happens.

 

At that price though, if you have the system to run it, what are you waiting for, go download it now!

 

 

For those who ignore minimum requirements, just an FYI, it simply refused to run on my non-DX11 card.

Art


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