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.