Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Skirting Board factory

I created a blend file with a bunch (x45) of skirting board profiles to make it fast and easy to add skirting boards to a room. 

The .blend file is available >>here<<

While many of these profiles are standard across the building industry,  some are registered designs.  We are grateful to for allowing us to include some of their designs in the set.

Each profile is created as a curve in blender,  each curve sits in a group named to make it easy to link/append the curve to your main scene.   In your main scene,  create your own curve that follows the edge of the room  (tip:  make sure you use vector handles for sharp corners).   Now in the settings for your main curve,  add one of the profile curves provided as a Bevel Object.   You should see the skirting board appear in your room.

It might be necessary to add an edge-split modifier to your main curve to create nice sharp corners.


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Architecture Academy - Week 2 House

Week 2 of the Architecture Academy stepped through creating an exterior view of a house from a groundplan.

Some early frustrations with Mr Price on the plans provided,  there was no way to make the side view and the top views match up,  and no front view provided at all,  so it was necessary to fill in some gaps and imagine what the front looked like without a front elevation to go on.

With the modelling out of the way, the topic moved onto texturing,  I learned quite a few tips and tricks for UV unwrapping and layering textures to get the right effect,  even for the bits I did know,  some useful guided practice.

Then adding foliage,  straightforward.

Finally adding grass - what a nightmare.  My trusty workstation, which is a couple of years old now,  my  fairly recently upgraded Nvidia 580  GPU rendered useless as it didn't have enough RAM to hold the scene,  really stuggled to handle the  particle systems.

There really needed to be around 250,000 x 20 child particles to make the grass look convincing.  Max I could handle was 100,000 x 20. 

After a lot of messing around,  simplifying the scene wherever possible,  loading lower res texture files, dialling back a few subsurf levels and bevel amounts, I managed to get a render going that would not crash my system.  Then,  tweaking was painful,  two hours to see the result of any adjustment and a further hour each time to get back in balance where my system would not crash.   Time to get really precise on the adjustments,  it just took too long to be thrashing about in the dark.

I ended up making the ground texture look as much like moss as possible with heavy "bump" applied, colour matching the ground with the grass, and weighting the secondary clover particle system to the area immediately infront of the camera as much as possible.  Even with that,  I needed to add additional vignetting to the bottom of the image in post-processing with a box mask to take the eye away from the close-up areas of lawn. 

The final render took 4 hours to get 500 passes.  Although it was a struggle,  I am quite pleased with it.

Edit:  I should know better by now.  Every time I rush to post a result,  and say I am pleased with it,  I look at it next day and I'm no longer pleased with it.

At the very least, you should, time permitting, let your images rest and cast a fresh look on them before pressing the "send" button. {Bertrand Benoit}
 Here is the better version:

Furniture and plants scaled down to 75%,  re-did the grass and daisys,  lowered the environmental lighting for stronger shadows, dropped the over-done bottom-half vingnette,  desaturated the sunflowers, and rendered for another 4 hours.   

I've kept the original below for comparison.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Architecture Academy - Week 1 Lounge

So,  just completed week 1 of the Architecture Academy,  a modern lounge.  Took quite a long render time @ 800 passes = 2hrs 47mins.  Andrew's rig apparently took 20 mins. 

Blender 2.68 was released just as I was completing the scene,  so I was able to render out using GPU for the particle systems,  although I needed to upgrage my NVIDIA drivers to handle the scene as I was getting errors when trying to render with GPU.

My PC specs:

Quad core Intel @ 2.66GHz
8Gb Ram
Win7 64bit
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580  (512 CUDA cores) 3Gb RAM

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Andrew Price launches a new course - The Architecture Academy

Andrew Price has just launched a new follow-on from The Nature Academy - The Architecture Academy.

To promote the launch,  there is a preview tutorial on producing a simple interior scene,  which I have just completed:

Ontop of the tutorial, I retextured one of the book models,  pretty easily achieved by taking one from my bookshelf and scan the cover using my muti-purpose printer/scanner.  Messed around with the blind textures and adding a different image to the wall hanging. Also added a wee dram for the side table, modeling the bottle from a real one I have tucked away.   The whisky level in the real one is a bit lower than shown in the model by the time I finished.

The tutorial was basic,  and although I did learn some tips on using HDR files,  not a lot of new information in here.  However, where Andrew excels is in boiling the task down to its essential elements with attention to composition and colour to come up with pretty decent images.

As an individual tutorial on architectural interiors,  I learned more in the CGCookie tutorial last April.

The price-tag for The Architecture Academy course is a hefty $500 US. Since I am using Blender for my own enjoyment, and not a career move or anything I plan to make money out of, the price is off-putting.  However, I am still seriously considering signing up.  I really enjoyed The Nature Academy,  and following that course definately took my skills to a new level. My output has slowed in recent months and the timetable for the course is the sort of push I think I need.  With the added bonus of being able to fall behind and catch up later as real-life work inevitably gets in the way.

Update:  I went ahead and signed up - on the understanding this is my birthday gift sorted out for this year ;)