Sunday, January 29, 2017

Substance Designer - Sunray Mosaïc

And another! Couldn't stay away from Designer this weekend. Jumped on it again yesterday and watched a couple tutorials for reference and inspiration. Turned out I wanted to a mosaic pattern and so I watched some stuff by this guy called Sharpstance on YouTube.

I spent quite some time figuring out how to set up circular and curved mosaic patterns without having them sloppily blend into each other. Then the curved carve out pattern in the concrete was pretty cool to see come together and the sun was good fun as well. I guess more fun than skill went into this graph. Oh right.. and setting up the various curved colors came to me in a dream and I'm not kidding.

Visit my ArtStation page here or watch the images below.


Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Substance Designer - Concrete Ornament

I bought the Substance Indie Pack, on Steam, during the winter sales for a.. I think 50% discount? I'm not sure anymore. Spent some 20 hours in it since new years day... which reminds me.. Happy New Year!

So far I've not made anything noteworthy. Some tile-able stuff at work to get things going and testing out iRay renders at home.. but clearly not anything quantifiable. I got sick of only having some shitty tile pattern or test to show so I figured I'd just spend some time on getting a network done. Started it yesterday and finished it today with some inspirational input from a post.

I guess the most interesting stuff about this graph is how I've used the height map and fed it through a normal map to single out the channel responsible for the vertical relief to create a mask for my moss. Otherwise, it's a pretty regular graph. I'm a big fan of the crackling though.

You could also go to the ArtStation page; otherwise images below.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Back on Track

I got everything back to work again this afternoon and I think I got all the right versions as well. I was lucky I had most of my installs on my other drive, which really just means I didn't lose anything except for my windows OS. Afterwards I drank a couple cups of very strong coffee to celebrate and quickly painted an albedo in Mari to justify my effort. Below is a quick render of that with a soft roughness. All this data was saved on Dropbox, so I pretty much had an infinite copy of it.

Then, during the rest of the day I've been trying to get a Mari 2.6v5 license to try out the Material Manager on my home computer. I haven't been able to get a reply from The Foundry's support team yet and maybe they won't agree to it, but I hope they will. I've been working with that system at my job and it's great at distributing the workload and creating a nice overview of your project. In theory it should work quite well when you create a system that is clean. In practice you will need a GTX760 equivalent or better as it's sharing a lot of layers. Though regardless of system performance, Jens Kafitz did an absolutely amazing job.

Then I went on to write some scripts, to increase the speed of my workflow. I've always had a little interest in writing code. These are very simple, but exponentially increase my speed of working. I'm thinking about writing a windowed version but am a little afraid of QT.

So I don't have to go inside each mesh to change the smoothing method and iteration.

import maya.cmds as cmds
mySel =, ap=1, sl=1, type='mesh')
for each in mySel:

     cmds.setAttr (each+'.aiSubdivType',1)
     #Sets subdivision method to catclark.
     cmds.setAttr (each+'.aiSubdivIterations',1)
     #Sets subdivision iteration to any number.
     cmds.setAttr (each+'.aiOpaque',0)
     #Sets shape to transparant in combination with opacity or transmission in shader.
     cmds.setAttr(each+'.aiSssSetname','SSS_Share', type="string")
     #Enables Sss sharing between two intersecting shapes.

The Maya dropdowns are way too small when I'm iterating a lot between textures.

import maya.cmds as cmds
     cmds.arnoldFlushCache( all=True )
     #Flushes all caches (Texture, SSS, BG, Hair, Quad)

And, since I built this lightrig and hate clicking the right mouse button.

import maya.cmds as cmds
mySel =
myLayer = = 'renderLayer')
for layer in myLayer:
     if layer == 'defaultRenderLayer':
     cmds.editRenderLayerMembers( layer , mySel )
     #Adds all selected shapes to all currently present render layers.

I gotta thank Wijnand Koreman for helping me out on the last one. Couldn't get the for loop to work. I felt pretty dumb when he showed me, since I found the solution a couple hours earlier but didn't implement it correctly. In total, that was still a busy day. Glad I got a couple things done this weekend.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Windows 10 Anniversary Corruption

So yesterday I was (finally) confronted with the Windows 10 Anniversary update and figured I didn't have much of a choice so gave the installation a whirl. It rounded up nicely and I went to sleep. Then, when I came home from work my machine didn't boot. Ran as far as the BIOS, but I wasn't able to enter it and it sure as sh*t didn't boot all the way through. This almost makes me a yearly victim of Microsoft updates.

So now, after a couple hours of troubleshooting I think I can come to the conclusion that my windows OS has somehow corrupted during the Anniversary installation. Yesterday night it was fine and now it doesn't do anything. At first I was afraid my SSD was dead; then my suspicions lead me to believe it may be my SATA hub or mobo were dead, but that wasn't the case fortunately!

I have a windows 7 install as a backup to check for these sorts of things, so when I tried installing it on a HDD, everything went fine and I was able to conclude that the problem was with the SSD. So I tested that, with a SATA docking station I had lying around. Turns out the SSD is fine too and even the windows install looked fine... apart from the fact that it doesn't boot... which defeats the purpose of having a fine looking windows install.

To fix the whole thing I figured I'd just delete everything on the drive and start from scratch seeing as it's an SSD. Hopefully it was just a corruption and not a drive wide failure. We'll see. Safe to say I won't be working on my project tonight.

edit: Succes! I got Windows 10 working again so I should be set somewhere tomorrow. Right now I'm working on getting everything installed and tomorrow I'll make it workable again.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Lightrig v1.0, Mari 3v0 and Substance Designer

It's been a little while since I've updated this blog and not because of lack of attention to my hobbies. I've been quite busy at work and personal life took over for the past 8 months. Time flies when you're having fun or something like that. It's worth noting that, since my last blogpost, I've had a small 'revelation'; purchased Mari 3 and subscribed to a couple of personal learning editions of various types of software. I hate the limitations, but whatcha gonna do.

To start things off I built a little light rig using HDR images from HDRlabs. They've got a very nice library with images pretty much in the same value range. There were some inconsistencies between the ones I took, so I comped them in Fusion to get similar value ranges. I also resized the bigger ones down to 2k images because I don't think I'll need any bigger, Below are a couple of renders. I tried going for a wide variety of lighting conditions and reflective detail. Satisfied with the current results but I'm calling this v1.0.

I've also taken a violin from Turbosquid here to start texturing and get my game on at home, since personal studying has been on a low burner lately. The violin itself was exported directly from Zbrush so it's hardly clean but has an 'acceptable' topology. The UVs were okay, but since I will be the guy who's texturing it, I figured it'd be good practice to just do the UVs from scratch. Took me little over an hour but I think I can work with the results. I'm planning to do much of the detailing in Maya instead of Mari so I can shave off some texturing work. Below is the violin and rig behaving as intended. I could show you the UVs, but nothing is quite so boring as looking at UVs.

Then, a little over a week ago I jumped on the Substance bandwagon and created an account at Allegorithmic to try out their software. I haven't bought their software yet, but it's so much fun I'm definitely considering it. Maybe during the next Steam sale... I've done the absolute first tutorial on their youtube page. Afterwards I went a little deeper and came accross a guy called CynicatPro who had a 4-part tutorial on making a simple tile pattern. Below is the result of that, including a link to my Artstation account which I really just solely made for the purpose of stalking my idols.

That's it for now. Probably will update within now and 6 months.

Kind regards,

ps. I've also updated my portfolio website, but since there's so little on there that I am actually happy with, I feel like I should just have it link to my Artstation page. Not sure yet what I'll do.

Friday, January 29, 2016

3D Render Challenges

I've found that has one of the nicest setups for personal improvement in terms of lighting and shading. I remember visiting their website a while ago so it was an easy find. For this personal project I've taken Challenge #1, the fruitbowl, as I think fruit is one of most difficult subjects to shade tastefully. Yesterday night I've set up a few lighting keys, but I think of them as just tests. Tonight I will prepare the models for texturing in Mari.

The darkest of them all has a nice key however, clearly too dark. The others are just tests with different HDRi's as a feed for the lighting. Not sure yet if I want to keep the model in the center of the image, but seeing as this is a presentation of materialism, I don't think I need to spend much time on composition.

I've also looked into using Ptex as a viable option for rendering in Arnold, but I have found only little support for it. A two year old workflow presented by offers more insight in the availability of this method, but alas nothing more. This Russian website has a working plug-in called 'BeshaPtex' which works... but at the cost of having to downgrade your Arnold version. I'd rather not... so I'll do it the old-fasion way.

Fast forward a little over an hour, the UVs are done. Ready for texturing.

As I continued, I noticed the pear appeared missing from the scene. How had I not noticed this? Then I wrote a small script to enable Catmull Clark smoothing on all assets and exported my file to an alembic for painting in Mari. The visual difference of the smooth is slight but, surprisingly, shaved half a minute off of the rendertime. Now to see whether or not the UVs hold up; stranger artifacts have occurred.

Current UVs are placed in an orderly fashion and I am planning on using udim's just so I can avoid having to export and manage so many different folders, locations and file names. 

Kind regards,

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Autumn to Winter in Ghent

edit: Seeing as I am getting more and more into photography I thought it would be a good idea to create a profile on 500xp; a sort of portfolio website. This is me.

Photographic update on life in Ghent and with that a written start of the search for a Minolta AF 135mm f2.8 (100mm is fine as well) and perhaps a better (affordable) all-round lens for my a-mount bajonet as the one I am using right now -although fine- is giving me poor results in low-light conditions. A tripod may be a better solution to this nuisance.

Anyway, I've shot the occasional panorama during my walks from work. Below are the two best ones. The camera on my phone performs (unsurprisingly) even more poorly in low-light conditions, so both panoramas are from quite a while ago.

6th of October at 6.26pm

9th of October at 6.17pm

The following pictures (not the ones in this blog), taken this weekend, have offered me the insight that my lens might need calibration or replacement soon. Many of the pictures suffered from the same type of blurriness that I was not able to adjust by manually focusing the ring.

Shoppingcenter Zuid (by Karlijn).

Miniature cyclists.

Sint-Simon en Sint-Judaskerk from the Gentbruggebrug.

River Schelde from the Gentbruggebrug.