Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Throwing good work away

One of the things I’m gradually getting used to as an artist is having to throw away good work. As a writer I’m familiar with this feeling - you must “murder your darlings,” Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch said, meaning that sometimes you have to kill your favorite bit for the good of the work. 
Today’s murder is this beautiful pleated petticoat that I have spent god-knows-how-many hours on. It started life in Marvelous Designer, and has a whoooole lot of historically-accurate pleats, each pointing in the correct direction, that I painstakingly worked out. 
Then I moved it to Cinema 4D and retopo’d it using Quad Remesher 1.1 (absolutely fantastic plugin; works in R20) so it has beautiful square topology - look how pretty those pleats look with a couple of levels of subdivision.
Then I UV mapped it so fabric textures will lay nice and flat, and made a couple of shape morphs. 
Finally I imported it into Daz studio and after a preliminary dforce test, I set up some hand-painted weight maps and then started tweaking the dforce simulation. Which is when I got stuck. I needed to finish dforce weight maps and move on to texturing, but I was just...stuck. It took me a couple of weeks to figure out what my subconscious was telling me.
See, when I make something for Daz Studio, it can’t just work for me - it has to work for every customer, from every camera angle, with every animation or pose. And - pleats are a BAD IDEA. Pleats involve sticking two facets on top of each other and asking them to NOT intersect, even when they share two edges (side and top) where they connect to the waistband. It’s not that it CAN’T work, it’s just that it’s asking a lot of an algorithm to make sure that it DOES work. And when a mesh has stepped through two or three applications on its way to the renderer, there are a lot of opportunities for things that worked well in the first application to explode in the third. My subconscious was telling me that there is no way this petticoat will clear QA.
SIGH. The rest of the outfit is coming along well but...this petticoat has to die. Instead of modeled-in pleats, I need to figure out how to make pleats with displacement/normal mapping. Which is a whole lot of new texturing skill that I need to develop. AND I need to entirely re-model the top quarter of the skirt, which means all of the UV mapping and shape morphs will also have to be redone. Ugh. But for the good of the project, that’s what has to happen, so this is my goodbye to this nice skirt that just isn’t cut out for life in Daz Studio. 
xpost: http://canary3d.tumblr.com

Monday, July 27, 2020

Coloring Page - Wen Qing from The Untamed

I'm determined to improve my drawing in 2020.  To that end I got a set of brush pens and am learning to use them.

This is a simple portrait of Wen Qing from The Untamed, done with Sakura Pigma brush pens.  I've colored it a couple of times and I'm not very satisfied with either result. For the first attempt I printed it on, wow, totally the wrong paper, and colored with Copic markers. I need a paper that doesn't suck up the ink so much - this was on ordinary card stock. For the second attempt I used photoshop but I was kind of out of steam at that point, so I didn't spend a lot of time on it. Meh.

So I figured I'd make it into a free coloring page in case someone else would like to give it a try. Here's the link for the PDF, which includes a page with sharing permissions and restrictions (basically, if you color it, you can share, but not sell).

Sunday, July 19, 2020

My tumblrs

I'm using tumblr right now for some stuff, although if my gifs don't start appearing in searches soon I'll stop! I'm not sure the multiple-blogs-per-account model that is the basis of tumblr is going to work for me.

Art process blog: https://canary3d.tumblr.com
Stuff-I'm-obsessed-with blog: https://canary3d-obsessed.tumblr.com  - currently this is The Untamed gifs.

Also, here's some of my The Untamed gifs.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Marmoset Toolbag materials

I'm learning to use Marmoset Toolbag, which is a product that makes nice renders of models. It has the capability to do big fancy scene renders--for someone who isn't me--but I use it because it is great for making a turntable render of an object.  So it's a nice way to show off a single piece. I have a lot of individual props in my portfolio and I want to be able to show them to people so I can explain what this "3D" thing is that I spend so much time on! 

It's a great app, but it doesn't come with a nice set of default materials, which is annoying. It can import all kinds of materials but I want to have a basic library that I can drop onto things quickly without a lot of messing around.  I usually buy this sort of thing on Gumroad, but I wasn't able to find anything specifically for Marmoset until now - Poligone has a new set out that's got 9 very nice materials in it. If you're looking for Marmoset materials, check it out - the indie license is $4.99


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Workflow: UDIM UV Map layout using Cinema 4D, Daz Studio, and Maya LT

This workflow will be of interest to you if:
  • Use Daz Studio and
  • Model in something that doesn't do UDIM UV Maps and
  • Use Maya LT for UV mapping and
  • Want to create UDIM mapping for your object
I spent some time fiddling with this and got it working so I figured I'd write up a quick workflow. 

UDIM UV mapping is the kind where maps are laid out in multiple tiles, rather than all being on the first tile. Genesis 3 and 8 use this type of mapping in Daz Studio.  There are plenty of articles explaining it in depth if you need to know more.

Cinema 4D R14, which is what I use for modeling, lets you stick your maps all over the place in UV view, but it doesn't show you the tiles so unless you are great at guessing, they will cross tile boundaries which is bad. A lot of other modeling programs don't do UDIM, so this is for any of those. 

Maya LT lets you move your UV islands around into tiles. It has really good UV mapping generally, but since I'm just starting to learn it I still do my main mapping in C4D.

Cinema 4D's FBX export doesn't seem to produce anything Maya can read, and Maya's OBJ import doesn't bring in the UV shells I make in C4D, so this is my workflow to get around that:

  1. Make the object in C4D and move the UV islands around to "best guess" positions so they aren't overlapping.
  2. Export as OBJ using Spanki's Riptide Pro exporter, with whatever settings you normally use for DS
  3. Import into DS
  4. Export as FBX from DS
  5. Import FBX to Maya LT, using default settings
  6. Select and move the islands around (there are tutorials for working in Maya LT if you're not used to it) until they are all nicely in tiles without overlapping any tile boundaries
  7. Export OBJ from Maya LT, using default settings
  8. Import OBJ back to Cinema 4D using Riptide Pro importer
  9. Store UV from the new object
  10. Restore UV to your old object
  11. Ta-da!  

Alternately you can import the UV onto an object in DS.  What I would NOT do is replace my original object with the Maya LT version of the object because I have no idea what other things it did to it while it was in Maya - like I said I am just starting to learn it. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017


This is a promo image for a shader/texture set made in partnership with my friend "A," of Defiant Goods.  She did the knitting; I scanned the knits and made them seamless in Photoshop and ran them through Bitmap2Material (part of the Allegorithmic Substance suite) to create normals, bump, etc. This is rendered in Daz Studio - the robot model is by Stonemason.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016