Monday, May 30, 2016

"Nearly Paint by Number" An Already Made Mesh Garment (Personalize).

Blender Texture Painting
Using Stencil to "Nearly Paint by Number"
Tattoo, Add Lace Detail or Text
Blender Texture Painting
Applying decals to External Texture

It is worth opening Blender even if you never plan to model an object on your own.  Blender's surfacing options are many and texture painting will turn a sweater, a hoodie, even a whole suit into something you hand painted yourself.  Follow the simple steps below to add the personal touch to a blender mesh top, sweater or hoodie.
 1.  Download open source collada files from Outworldz.  Ferd Frederix has already packaged them up for easy download, and with helpful photos.  Download the alphas too.  You can use those to cover the parts of your avie body that show through.  Lo there were a solution for real body fat.  Spandex simply doesn't do this so convincingly.
2.  Important:  Select mesh clothing item that you will import into Blender.  When you open Blender you need to navigate directly to the Operator's Panel (default far right).  There will see the items that are in your scene.  On the far left,while you are in object mode, import the the mesh you chose.  It will most likely be too small to see, but you will see that its there in the operator's panel.  Optional:  Use the scale key (s) to resize the entire armature provided - only for your own visual purposes.  You are going to download the .dae mesh directly into Open Sim, so you won't need to fuss with rigging or any part of the model unless you experienced with conversions.
3.  So the only touching you need to do is to activate the mesh clothing item in the operator's panel.  You will see it highlighted when you do.
4.  Now choose edit mode.  If your screen is divided like mine, you should see the unwrapped mesh on in the uv unwrap window.  It is already nicely set up for you.  Nothing to do here either.
5.  Optional:  At this point you may want to add an already made cloth texture to the background.  In many cases this where Blender modelers stop.  You can easily do this in world too,, but its not personalizing your garment.  It is  personalized, if you add a decal as shown in photo 1.
6.  To add the decal go to Texture Paint Mode.You will not need to do the next step, because the cloth texture you added should already be in the slot.  This would be the layer you are going to decal (paint or stencil) over.
7.  If you don't have a background texture and you want the entire item to be hand painted, then you will need to choose your first layer now.  I usually choose a diffuse texture background.

8.  Once I find my diffuse texture background in snipping
the uv texture (Image options) I use the fill brush to add the second color (same layer) so that I can easily see the uv.  At this point I can either paint, use a stencil for  "nearly paint by number" painting or apply a decal.  Use common license stencils or make your own coloring book outlines (easy enough to do).  Here is a link to a share site where you can pick up stencils for
9.  For photo 2 I decided to "paint by number" using a common license stencil. For photo 1 used
an already made tartan texture and applied a stencil decal to the sweater. It the same process either way.
Reminder:  Shift key - changes the size of your stencil or decal. Ctrl Key rotates the stencil or decal so that it can fit to your uv.  You are not using the model at all for this exercise, so no worries about it.
Note:  If you make your own stencil use a square ratio dimension or you will run into problems. 
This is easy enough to do.  Add an alpha background to your stencil or decal that is square.
10. Since your material was already added, either manually or automatically, you will not need to do that again.  To add your stencil, additional texture or decal you can add that by selecting the checkered icon to the right of the materials icon.  You should see your first layer listed.  Add you new texture, decal or stencil right beneath it. 
Now when you look in the texture box on the left where your painting options are located you will find it.
11.  Change view to UV View to Paint mode and you are ready to apply your stencil for easy painting. If you aren't easily adjusting your image, "image aspect" comes in handy.
12.  Once you are done applying the stencil.  You can paint into it using the "Nearly Paint by Number" method.  More information about that process here. NPBN.
13. The last task you need to do is save your image.  It is always best to save every layer as you go through the process or you will lose the images, but its a must to save your last one and import it into Open Sim.  Also import directly your collada (.dae) garment and rezz it.  The item will be very small, so you will need to keep an eye on it.  Add the image texture you created in the usual Open Sim manner.  No matter what size it is take it back ito inventory and wear it. It should fit fine, but now you need to add your alphas so that parts of your stick out body won't show.
14.  This process most likely won't replace bottom up garment making.  You will eventually want to learn how to create mesh clothing (suggestion use the Avastar method - less frustrating in the long run), but using this mesh and texture painting will introduce you to some of the fun of texture painting until you do.  There are so many fun garments to personalize that are already rigged and ready to use.

The Joy of Texture Painting by Number and Other Fun Experiments

Since Blender 2.70 I've been using Blender Texture Painting. Before slots I did not enjoy so much the process. I didn't get the results I wanted every time. Once a few fixes were added, texture painting is my most fun task in storybuilding. The writing and diabolical plotting is fun too, but there is something fluid and colorful about texture painting that cheers me up.

Not that I didn't need to find out what worked and didn't work.  I did.  It took several tries to make the process fun and repeatable.  Now I use it for nearly every model I want to use for my storybuild, whether or not I decide to use surface nodes or just use specular and normal maps to go with.

Because its fun, and there is no need to make it less fun or this tutorial less fun, here are the bullet points:

Disclaimer:  There are most always several methods for using modes in Blender Render or Cycles.  Within each process there are choices to create internal processes.  The process that follows is about making texture painting easy and fun.  Once the basics are learned, it is best to add complication when you are ready for more involved outcomes.

1.  Build a lo poly model or sculpt that you convert to a lo poly model.
2.  Unwrap the lo poly model in Blender or Cycles.  For this phase of the process Blender Render is my preference, because I can choose to vertex paint my model visually and easily.
3.  Mark your seams and adjust the uv layout with the Lkey (less scattered layout).  Clear your original seams if needed and use Seams From Islands to mark them again.  Use Project From View if possible, but I don't suggest using the Smart UV Project, because it will scatter your uv into small islands.  Some folks do use Smart UV Project, particularly for houses, but I fuss later about this wrap when I start to paint it.  In other words, do as you please.  This is your painting project, but if you don't like what happens, take a few extra seconds to lay our uv for painting.
4.  Once you are satisfied with your layout, you can optional vertex paint it. If you decide to vertex paint your model, the map you make will be your first SLOT, or in painting terms, your ground.  See below for simple Blender Render vertex paint steps
5.  If you decide not to vertex paint your model now, go directly to Texture Painting.  It is an option option like sculpt mode, object mode or weight painting mode.
6.  When you choose Texture Painting you see your options (TOOL TAB). If you did not choose to vertex paint (causing you to add a material to your uv), then you need to make one now.  Note also if you didn't unwrap your uv as suggested, you can use the automatic unwrap method that is time saving for uncomplicated projects.  I rarely use this option, because I like to design my own painting template.  Especially when I plan to "paint by number."

7.  Now go the SLOTS TAB, where you will find the basic texture you can use.  If you don't like it for some reason, you can make a new one, or you can use your vertex texture.  If your materials data accumulated properly, it will be seen here, otherwise you will need to move into place manually (cycles or render).

8.  The final tab you need to use is the OPTIONS TAB.  The options tab gives you more control over where your paint dabs will land on your mesh.  Since most of my mesh objects are fairly simple, I leave them all checked.  If your machine is dragging, take a look at what option(s) work best for you.

9.  The next step I use is to fill the islands (shells) of my model.  It helps me to see better the shapes and lighting in my model's color.  For my work I choose to use the immersive paint box that you can change in preferences.  I can pick up the paint like I would off a traditional paint palette. Pick a hue/color and drag your pen or mouse across the box for saturation, down for value. 

Go to preferences and change the color picker type.

10.  Either use your per-made pattern outline, your vertex painting or paint directly from color picker or texture brush onto your uv map and/or model.  If I used a texture (common license) for a layer of paint, I tile it first.  I then stencil the same texture over the tiling, so that I can get the pattern I expect..  I either add it directly to the tiling layer or I make a new layer before I begin stenciling. Stenciling is also the process I use for adding decals, text, buttons or other details.  It is another way to paint by number.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Did you know That Nodes and Noodles Can be Saved, Recycled and Shared?

Did you know that you can save your own nodes and noodles to reuse or share  with other OS builders.  I have created several node templates that I use everyday to save time and frustration.  Then all I need to do is thread my nodes with the maps I make on the fly, AO, Normal and Diffuse.  My key node is always fresnel that I noodle to the Glossy or Glass Shader so that I can ratchet it up or down depending on my lighting and desire.  I can also add other nodes or even groups to the layout.  I've shared my node groups with friends who want to experiment with them.  I  love to experiment with any node groups I am offered.

These are the steps to keeping and using/sharing node template groups.
You must be using Blender Cycles with a model ready to surface.  Activate Node Wrangler in Addons.
Part 1 Saving the group.
1.  Add your nodes and Set up your original node group.

2.  Select all nodes that you want to group and choose Make Group
3.  Change the name of the group and change the color to help you remember what it does. (N properties in the cycles window provide options for this process).  Be sure you change the name in the three applicable entry options).
4. Now save the Blender file with the node group to a folder where you keep your favorite Blender files for  reuse. Note:  a one cube model file works well (less bytes to store. 
5. The group can be opened in the window by tabbing in and out of the group.
Part 2.  Using the Group
6.  The next time you need to use the nodes navigate to File, Append, The folder where you stored the blender file that you saved and drill down through the Blender file to find the node tree and the group you made previously.
Be sure you are in Object Mode while you Import through the Append option.  
7. Navigate to Add, Group and you will see the node group listed now.
8.  Select the node group.  To use this node group you will need to unravel it by ungrouping it.
9.  Noodle the group to the output (delete the unnecessary diffuse node) and start working with it.  Most likely you will only need to thread your maps, change your mapping repetitions and adjust your shaders, but you can add or delete nodes as needed too.  Deleting nodes from a group is a lot less fuss than adding and resetting them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Did You Know that You Can Save Time and Polys?

Did you know that you can save a week's worth of time and hundreds of polygons but using a free Instant Mesh gadget Instant Mesh?  I suspected it would not work for me.  So many addons and gadgets aren't quite what I am looking to find or are too expensive, but this one is saving me so so much time.  Its only drawback is that it is fairly PC consumptive.  I need to export my hi poly out of Blender and close it.  I need to be out of Out Sim to run it too.  My graphics card and ram needs to work hard to create the quads, but the gadget makes them quickly, uniformly and without a hitch.  I can now use my Myst/Uru origins to bake up some nice Hi to Lo Poly transfers in cycles without much of a fuss at all.  The scene here is finished and it looks fairly simple, but it would likely take me a week to repoly the Hi poly sculpts without the gadget.  Now I can concentrate what node shaders to use, and not so much on how to simplify my sculpts or mark my seams before I start that process.

I sculpt first, Instant mesh the outcome, use the instant mesh to for transfer process.  I am ready to surface.  I am not sure how it work on my character that I am also working on, but I am looking forward to trying the 5 minute process Fergus

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lazy Lady's 10 minute Add Sculpt Detail to a Model Process in Cycles

Another reason to use cycles for the after effects process.  Hi poly to Lo poly is much easier to manage.  I call the example here the lazy lady's way to add faux polygons to a model.  The Hi poly sculpt (done very quickly for the purpose of this demo) is 77,015 triangles, while the Lo poly version is 252 triangles (subdivided twice).  I use this process often for adding detail to environmental objects and terrain.  Albeit, in this example the ears of my head sculpt were not considered by the normal baking process.  For that to occur I would need to do a simple retopo, but most of the detail in this example did transfer without any retopo.  When its not necessary why go to all that trouble?
So how it *easily gets done follows:

*easily is in the hands of the builder.  I baked maps in Blender Render, but the normal Hi to Lo baking process (with my computer) is a fickle one.  The results vary.  When I use cycles it never varies and always works well with retopo models or my lazy lady's versions.

Lady Lady LO poly -  No retopo
HI poly retopo - no unwrapping required
1.  Added a box modeled sphere and subdivision modifier to create a 2 subdivided 250+ model.  I slightly scaled up (inflated) the model to better cover the HI poly, while realizing that an even better LO poly model would benefit by retopology (built after sculpting the Hi poly model to account for the hair and ears).  I did not choose the latter for this model, because I often need far less detail for terrain or other OS storybuild objects.  The Lo poly model needs to be renamed and added to the layer just below the HI poly model layer so it can be easily accessed.

2. Sculpted HI Poly 77,000+ model (not pretty but fine for an example).  Used multiresolution modifier to prepare surface and dynamic topology to add sculpt detail.  My machine much prefers dynamic topology to additional multi subdivides.  The good news is there no need to unwrap or add a material.  The model is not going to be around that long.  Be sure to add it to a layer you can easily find like layer upper left 1. Be sure to name it HI poly, so that you can find it in the outliner.  Much easier to manage from that panel. The Lo poly model needs to be unwrapped.  The material and cycle nodes are added to the nodes editor:  For the transfer process the only nodes required are the connected diffuse and output, plus the one stand alone image texture node loaded with a new image for the normal map baking.

Lo poly after transfer
 3.  Finally the transfer steps. In object mode and from the outliner choose the HI poly model first, then the LO poly.  You will know it worked, because the LO poly nodes appear in the editor.  Now choose bake from the render panel.  Look to see that selected to active is checked and the ray distance is set to 1.000.  The baking time should not take long.  Your map in the uv image editor will turn into a normal map that you can now add to your favorite texture set up for the Lo poly model.  And/or you can take it into world and add it to your texture.  When the map is attached in cycles I can adjust the strength.  In world not so much.  So I make two versions while I am at it.  The low strength version usually works better in world.  If I use one at all?  It does use a resource offset.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Did You Know That Some Assembly May be Required for Storybuilding Illustrations?

Developing a Storybuild Workflow is a Slightly Different (thought) Process

1903 Steampunk Skirt Generator
Open Sim is to open to all sorts of interpretations.  There is realistic art, minimal art, fantasy art and surrealistic art.  For my storybuilds I need to find or build fantasy elements that resemble traditional storybook illustrations, and these illustrations need to replace language.  Sometimes there is nothing already built to borrow or buy, because it needs to be invented.  The best way to invent is to start.

Out of the modeling comes an idea for a something or other (in this case a sewing contraption).  References are used and colors are picked from palettes or photo textures, but I am guessing the object evolves like all objects evolve with discovery and assembly.
Parts of 3 Inventions (References) Yields 1

The sewing contraption here is actually drawn from 3 separate reference photos.  The workflow took awhile to nail down, but eventually it started to take shape.  Once the contraption was built, I determined about 1/3 of what got done, never needed to be done at all.  Nevertheless, the experience of  trying this or that will  help me out later.  Even more important was learning what didn't work at all or how mistakes get made.

Eventually constructing steampunk could get into the Waymarker Live Tutorial Schedule.  For now I am satisfied the contraption is now sitting in the school outfitted with the skirt generator script.  A little bit of Open Sim flexi-prim building housed inside a "hi poly detailed" Lo Poly mesh.

Modeling for Interactive Use and to Replace Words

From 1 Engine to the Next Requires Adjustments

Finally In Use and Telling Ruby's Story

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Did You Know That You Can Use GIMP to Map After Painting Effects?

Did you know that you can use the portable version of GIMP to create a nice map for adding automatic detail (cycles) in 3 easy steps?

Sometimes we overthink when we really just need to relax and enjoy the process.  Who in the virtual world are we trying to impress with our knowledge of this or that when the solution is already on the table?

Blender cycles does not paint my textures by hand, but it does add some of the detail that I desire after the fact (fake polys).  And its so easy and useful, it is not time efficient or cost effective to create a non-color data bump map any other way.  This is how it gets done in 10 steps that takes no longer than a couple of minutes (aside from the baking):

1.  Paint your model and save the texture.
2. Open the texture in GIMP
3.  Select Image.
4.  Select Mode.
5.  Grayscale
6.  Filters
7.  Edge-Detect.
8.  Export Image to .png format.
9.  Import to Blender through Texture Image Node (non-color data)
9.  Use with Glossy Shader node and other desired nodes.

Flat Painted Texture Over Vertex Map
Disclaimer:  Depending on your computer and how many other nodes you hook up, the baking process could take several minutes.  Go get a cup of coffee, check out the forums or read your Google + (all those posts you've missed).  Better yet watch or read  a tutorial that many of Open Sim's most creative builders worked up for you.
Edge-Detect for Black and White Edges