Kent Trammell (theluthier)

1,434 replies · posted

Collab 2020: Modeling Heavy Equipment (Backhoe)

Accomplishing a BIG project TOGETHER

Starting in March 2020, I began a large stream project to model a comprehensive, highly-detailed Caterpillar 434E backhoe. Please watch the first stream (first 3 minutes of abridged version at least) for an overview.

It's a straight-forward project of building a complex model over an extended period of time. The spin on the project is that I want your help to accomplish it! If I build some parts and you build some parts, we will finish this thing much quicker. Plus the contribution format will include reviews, the potential of having your piece(s) assimilated into the final model. Not to mention large quantities of XP are at stake 🤑

NOTE: This is an involved project reserved for Citizen members.

Collaboration Details

The general idea is that I kickoff stages of the project via live stream, which is typically once per month. For the time in between streams, you choose a piece of the backhoe and apply what you learned from the stream to that piece. For example, the first stream covered initial block out. So between stream 1 and stream 2, your job is to pick a piece and block it out.

This is the repeating protocol for each Assignment Period (between-streams):

  1. Signing up for pieces of the model. I will be maintaining a Google Sheet to organize piece selection and grading. Following this URL will give you the ability to comment. The sheet is sectioned vertically and color-coordinated with a backhoe image. To sign up for a piece, right click on an empty cell below your desired piece section and click "Comment" (CTRL + ALT + M). Comment your name or username and I will fill it in officially as confirmation.

    Remember that it is OK for multiple people to model the same piece. But lets try to have at least one person assigned to each piece before doubling up.

    2. Project file structure. We're going to use Google Drive as a means to sync a single working directory among all contributors. See this thread about details and how to get set up.

    3. Submitting your piece for review. Exactly one week before the next stream is scheduled to be broadcast, your piece is due. In the "Attempt" cell of the spreadsheet, paste a download link to your .blend file via Dropbox, Google Drive, or equivalent hosting service. This will earn you at least 10 XP each week.

    4. Review. On stream I will review each submitted piece and decide which will be assimilated into the master model (in the case of multiple submissions of the same piece). The purpose of the review is to generate feedback for you work and advice for improvement.

    5. Assimilation. If your piece makes the cut and is assimilated into the master model, your name / username will be added to the object in Blender. You will go down in history as a definitive contributor to this epic backhoe model!

    Once the model is completely done, I plan to render a short demo reel showing off the model and crediting all contributors. It should be a rewarding conclusion to all the work we will do!

Assignment Prompts

I will reply to this thread after each stream with a [big] assignment post denoted by a  📣 emoji in the title. There I will clarify instructions about each Assignment Period.

Online Resources

Reference Images


This is THE thread

We will centralize our collaborative communication between the streams and this thread. Ask any and all questions pertaining to the Backhoe project here.

  • And an important side question: theluthier  adrian2301 blanchsb spikeyxxx 

    How important is it that we all work with this project in blender 2.9? As it currently stands, my laptop keeps crushing when I try to open up the Dog Pound blend files in 2.9. As a result, I am forced to use 2.8 to finish up the enclosure. Would this break things?

    • crew

      aartifact you are right, from that image there is a fairly sharp edge. There is a shadow from there to the window to be mindful of.  My approach here I think would be to take the edge you highlighted in green and extrude and scale down and adjust the shape of this extruded edge to match as best you can the shape of the window frame. If you find the window frame is too low theluthier will be able to adjust to match your engine enclosure. 

      If you can save a file in the WIP folder on Google Drive, I will give you an example of what I mean.

      As for files made in 2.8, they will be fine in 2.9. The issue comes when files made in 2.9 then opened in 2.8. So continue in 2.8 and you will be fine.

      Strange though because I have less trouble opening the Dog file in 2.9.

    • adrian2301 Thanks, Adrian. Will post the WIP on Drive later on today and we can assess it further from there. 

      As for my 2.9 issues,  I can see my laptop's hard disk is getting thrashed when I open the files, pretty much staying at 100% and then the laptop crashes. Strangely, 2.8 is a bit slow to open the file but is otherwise OK once the file opens.

    • crew

      I can't see how this would effect your hard drive. Unless you are have low GB's of RAM and you are using virtual memory (an allocation of space on your hard drive to be used as if it was RAM. How much GB memory do you have installed?? I have 16GB and it opens fine, as long as I don't have anything else going on in the back ground. 8GB should be enough but slow opening. if you have that or more check your virtual memory settings as it maybe set too high or prioritise the hard drive over the RAM.

      You probably know this but I used to work for a company building PC's, laptops and servers to order, but there is a lot of hidden settings most people don't know about. especially in Windows OS.

    • adrian2301 My laptop has 8GB RAM. I have allocated 520GB of the hard disk to virtual memory so I dont know why that would be the issue. Still, I suppose 8GB is pretty low for RAM nowdays. It is a fairly old laptop.

    • Yeah 8GB of RAM is almost a minimum recommendation for Blender as I was shopping for my new Lappy. According to Blender.0rg the minimum is 4GB. So 8GB should be sufficient for most tasks (though our DOG is getting more and more complex of a model and is definitely High Poly Count). Maybe your install or blender build has an issue. But back to the original comment: Kent said to continue using 2.8 to finish up this project aartifact.

      I'm saving myself from Blender 2.9 and haven't used it since beta. I'm kind-of using it as a milestone reward for finishing this project.  Prizes always motivate me to keep going.

    • blanchsb I thought the same and tried a dice. Still crashing. And now for the last 3 hours, 2.8 is also not opening the Dog Files either. This is exasperating...

    • crew

      aartifact can you open your own engine enclosure file and then link others in if you need them, like the chassis or cab??

      Please say yes....... we need you...... 😟

      No more hardware woes for this project 🙏

      Don't really need the master file to work with, I only open it to view for intersection or issues.

    • adrian2301 I'm giving that a shot. Fingers crossed...

    • @adrian230 I can open my own blend file OK. And linking in the cab and chassis works. Still slow for sure, but atleast responsive enough to get some work done! Thank you, Adrian.

    • crew

      Phew!! 😌

    • Phew indeed...

    • adrian2301 Intersection with the chassis should be gone now. 

    • crew

      That looks great aartifact 

    • Thanks adrian2301

    • adrian2301 This is the curvature you were talking about, isn't it?

    • crew

      aartifact I meant towards the window and down to the frame

      But yeah that also.....

    • adrian2301 Go ahead and give yourself 100 XP for the great troubleshooting support. I'm sure the Pound Master won't mind.

      aartifact I am soooooo glad you can at least open the files. I bet the master file is too much to handle on open.

      Here's a performance screenshot on my scrappy work lappy (it has 32GB of RAM capability) and the picture speaks for itself haha:

      That's 17GB of my PC's memory that is loaded into the file. It's still sitting there at 17GB fat dumb and happy as I look around.

    • While I was there I took a minute to MOLE about and I notice this Omar dostovel

       Are these older wires supposed to be deleted? Also looks like the upper step is hidden on the driver side battery box, or am I missing something? Those two cylinder projections nearby look like supports for another step, or am I wrong?

    • Everytime I use the word "Deleted" I think of this Homestar Runner episode "Strong Bad Email #50 - 50 Emails"

    • blanchsb That's it right there, Shawn. 17GB is just too heavy. I have no option but to pony up for a new build. Sigh...

    • Yikes yes, I forgot to delete the cables. They are deleted now. But no there's no step missing, the two cylinders I don't know what they are for but they were in the reference so I put them there.

    • crew

      dostovel I think they are air holes for the mice.

  • adrian2301 I've added the curve down towards the window. See highlighted area below. You can open up the WIP folder and have a look through the file as well.

    It seems to match up pretty well with theluthier 's frame so it might require spikeyxxx to adjust the steering column down a bit if you all agree that this is the way to go. I've just done a rough block to check the shape so topology is messy. If we're all in agreement, I'll go ahead and create the final clean mesh.

    • crew

      I had a look aartifact , looks exactly right.

      I couldn't help myself while I was there, I did some house work. There was a lot of errors when I opened the file, broken links etc.

      There was a lot going on in the outliner. Best if you link in the MASTER collection from the MASTER PARTS folder  and when you have finished delete hierarchy and this will delete all objects in the collection and the collection itself. (but not necessary, as long as it is not linked in your MASTER collection). May have given you some of your issues when opening the file.

      What was:

      What is now:

      I also cleaned up the mesh a little. Straightened out some edges mainly to better see the shapes.

      Hope you don't mind.

      It is looking good.

      theluthier I think you will need to scale down the frame. It looks like that maybe the inside of the vertical edge should line up with the inside edge of the chassis.

    • crew

      duerer What was that magic number for highest posts in one thread????

      Are we there yet??

      Are we there yet??

      Are we there yet??

    • adrian2301 Yes, we've made it!

      Fun fact: the top 5 are all threads by theluthier 

    • YES, adrian2301 and spikeyxxx, WE ARE ON TOP 🏆🥇🔔🎺💪👍👏🎆🎇!!!

    • adrian2301 And it was your post 16 hours ago that was REPLY #1277:

    • crew

      WHEW what a thread! Sorry I'm late to the party but I think I'm all caught up now.

      First off, major props to adrian2301 for being an exceptional MOLE in tying up this loose end with aartifact. It's easy for attitudes to go awry in this kind of text-only-online situation and you both handled it like absolute pros. Teamwork like this is what makes dreams work 🤝

      I agree with adrian2301 that I should alter the front window of my frame to align with the engine enclosure. I'll add that to the MOLE list now.

      My heart is very full at this moment.

      PS: I forgot to address the 2.9 question. I don't think it's a problem to save your MASTER files with pre 2.9 versions of Blender. Forward compatibility is usually less concerning than backward compatibility. If MASTER files were saved with 2.9 and the assembly was 2.8 then I would be worried.

    • adrian2301 Thanks for the assist, Adrian. And no I don't mind the house cleaning at all. I still have a few mesh niggles to iron out as well so I will be handling that too.

    • crew

      Your welcome aartifact, happy to help.

      It's all about the team.

      Just doing my duty as a MOLE.

  • Check this out it will tickle your funny bone...

    Back ho in action lol

  • We're approaching the "1300 Replies Sound Barrier" very soon 😉:

    • crew

      I'm with Buzz

    • Will this project ever end? 🤔

      It all sounded so easy in theluthier's initial description for this project. "Something for the kids", I thought and decided to participate. If I had only known what would come up to me ... 🙄😉

      But read yourself, what theluthier wrote here:

      Buckle up for a LONG project.

      My kids absolutely love "diggers" and as a 3D modeler I certainly appreciate them too. All the complex shapes, hard edges, bolts, hydraulics, tire treads, etc. It's a modelers playground and labyrinth rolled into one.

      I'm going to start building a digger - a Caterpillar 434E specifically - as accurately and detailed as I can. The name of the game here is organization, perseverance, and efficiency because most of the shapes are not difficult to build. There's just. so. many. of. them. Which gave me an idea...
      Stop! Collaborate and Listen

      Why don't we build this thing together? For those interested in following the project, I'm hoping at least a few will participate by modeling certain pieces of the backhoe themselves to be submitted to me for review and incorporation into the final model.

  • Hey Omar dostovel The dash is looking really good. Just wanted to point out that the sub-d looks like it is turned off for a part of it. Notice the gauge outline circles. Everything else is super crisp but that section looks like sub-d wasn't applied or forgotten about. I'm sure you are probably aware though.

  • Just a friendly side note: I opened the master file tonight to MOLE around a bit and noticed a 2.9 message and possible data loss (I'm running 2.83). Just be aware........ and I'm not saving anything.

    • crew

      ✋🤚 I hold my hands up to this one.

      I accidently saved in 2.9 when fixing some errors.

      theluthier 's response to this...

       I don't think it's a problem to save your MASTER files with pre 2.9 versions of Blender. Forward compatibility is usually less concerning than backward compatibility. If MASTER files were saved with 2.9 and the assembly was 2.8 then I would be worried.

      But DON'T save the MASTER ASSEMBLY in 2.8 now it is a 2.9 file.

      Come on blanchsb keep up, stop sitting on your chair and get with it.

      Just jesting 😄, your chair is looking outstanding.

    • I only sit on my laurels. This chair is meant for more noble rumps haha.

      Trying to dedicate the tribute to rritag due to her unfortunate circumstances, but I fear I may not complete everything by Monday evening. Just doing what I can and hopefully it is good enough for the pound.

  • adrian2301 has written REPLY #1300  8 hours ago 🥇🏆👍!

  • adrian2301 I just had an image in front of my inner eye: Your pumpkin steering our backhoe 😉😁! He's the only pumpkin from our team who can do this job with his tentacles 😉!

  • I am afraid I am not advanced as Shawn Blanch (blanchsb) with the chair.  Mine is not as complete as his. It is not rigged. 

    My file link here: 

    Well done, Shawn.  

    • That looks great rritag given everything else going on!

      And my chair is by no means rigged. I don't even know how the scissor lift accessories interact. That's my biggest hurdle. Everything else should not be terrible though.

  • crew

    We have a road to dig up with the DOG

    A piece of road rendered in eevee

  • crew

    The Modeling Chapter of this Project is officially FINISHED!

    This post is designed to bookend 7 amazing months of modeling with this crew, The DOG POUND. If you're reading this in 2033 here's the inside terminology decoded:

    • We modeled a *CAT* 434E backhoe
    • Being *our version* we called it the "DOG"
    • Contributors to the project are thus part of the "DOG POUND"
    • I.e. WE let the dogs out

    I said this all on stream but once more I will reiterate how proud I am of the work everyone has done. Thousands - nay - HUNDREDS of thousands of people will dip their toe into the world of 3D modeling yet only a small fraction will ever build something as complex as this. I wear this as a badge of honor as I hope you do too.

    Truly the quality of modeling is professional-grade. We couldn't, or very likely wouldn't, have done it without each other. Cheers to each of you in our collective accomplishment 🤝🍻🎉

    Officially Finished but technically not...

    Being "officially" finished means that there won't be any more streams scheduled about modeling the project and no more grading. BUT technically there's work left to do. A couple of us still have some bits to add. Also I'm committed to animating + rendering + editing a show reel for the DOG! More on that below...

    Though I will be unpinning this thread today, If any DOG POUND members still have a little modeling left to do the thread will remain open for discourse or if you want to share your progress. I will be posting when I finish my bits. Again, if you're reading this in the future and the project inspires you, feel absolutely free to build your own backhoe / heavy equipment and post your work in this thread! That would be a very rewarding after effect.

    Final XP Delivered!

    Yesterday I tallied and added XP totals to every contributor's account. @adriant2301 takes home the most points with a staggering 937 total! That's by far the largest single XP sum delivered by me. Adrian doing the work of 2, 3, and sometimes 4 people really paid off.

    DOG Showreel

    I'm convinced that a slick animated and rendered video is the best way to show off our amazing model! *Somehow* I'm going to find the time to animated assembly / exploded view shots of everyone's final parts and render them into a stunning video. I admit that it's a LOT of work and it won't be done soon (the next few months) but surely at some point in 2021.

    FULL DISCLOSURE: Understand that my goals with a showreel is as follows:

    • Share / show off an incredible model. Simply put: We made a cool thing and I want to share it with the world!
    • Collaboration is a primary theme. The project is meaningful *because* it was built by a team. Therefore it makes no sense to downplay this aspect. Quite the opposite actually: Contributors will be clearly credited throughout and at the end of the reel.
    • Potential to use your clips in your own personal reel: The license for the final video will allow contributors to use the clips of their parts in their own individual demo reel if they wish.
    • CGC Marketing. I want to use this reel to market the collaborative format we, frankly, stumbled into. Meaning sharing on social media, YouTube, CGC blogpost. Remember anywhere it's shared credits to the DOG POUND will be imbedded in the video. The way this format fostered a deeper, more advanced learning environment AND resulted in an impressive asset - Of course CG Cookie wants make the format known abroad so more people can engage with future collaborations.

    With the goals clearly stated, CGC is more than willing to heed any objections from the DOG POUND. If you're not comfortable with a reel being used this way please contact me at If you could please do so by the end of October, that'd be great. I will wait to hear by then before commencing reel work 👍

    Sharing the Final Model

    An unforeseen (and potentially awkward?) aspect about the DOG is "who technically owns this model?" Since it's made by a see where I'm going with this. As discussed on stream, I'd like to see the DOG available to download as a FREE CGC resource.

    I don't want to get too legalese but, legally speaking, I'm not sure we have this officially covered since this kind of project has never been done before. That said it's safe to assume the model is akin to the resource files and source files which are licensed this way:

    According to this license CGC is technically the owner BUT rest assured that CGC will never sell the DOG (or any future collaborative project) as a standalone asset (like on the Blender Market for example). Likewise no one else can sell it either, including DOG POUND members.

    Again if anyone is uncomfortable sharing the final model as a FREE CGC resource under the above license, please email me:!

    If anything is unclear don't hesitate to ask questions in the replies!

    To conclude this massive wall of text, even if a reel is protested out of existence and / or the model never loads on anyone's computer but ours, I couldn't be more proud of what we've accomplished! DOG POUND FOREVAH!!

    • I'm totally cool with CGC using my part of the model.

      Furthermore, I'd like to offer my services for this showreel when the time comes.
      I can help with camerawork, rendering (via sheepit or whatever) and editing (using Motion Graphics templates, or standard video editing.)

      This will look great on a reel, and I'm really glad I signed up!

    • crew

      Whoops I meant to tag all members of the DOG POUND:

      1. aabm3010 
      2. adrian2301 
      3. aartifact 
      4. aaz93 
      5. blanchsb 
      6. dostovel 
      7. ddoulos4iesou 
      8. duerer 
      9. hellosudeepsingh 
      10. jjakeblended 
      11. ketre 
      12. ppfbourassa 
      13. rritag 
      14. rryzen7 
      15. sshanr 
      16. spikeyxxx
    • crew

      ppfbourassa I certainly haven't forgotten your willingness to assist with the reel! It's going to be a big undertaking and I will definitely need help. Thanks again for offering 🤝

    • theluthier as you know, I still have to finish my 2 interior pieces. Will it be enough to update the .blend files on the google drive,so the linked versions will be updated automatically? I will of course give notice when I'm finished.

      Second, when we are going for the assembly/exploded view format, I will also need to revisit my front axle with hubs, as I tend to leave out things that cannot be seen...won't be a lot of work though, mainly a few screws, most of the front axle is one piece, which made it hard to model, but 'saves' me now ;)

      I should have everything technically finished by the time you get to those parts, no other projects on my plate yet.

    • crew

      theluthier participating in the collaboration, the experience of working on a large project as part of a team, improving my skills and making new friends, far out ways the 937 xp. It was a honour to be apart of this huge collaborative effort by everyone involved.

      Thank you all

      Thank you Kent. 🤜🤛

    • I see they saved Spikey for last on the list! A proper design choice.

      I hereby grant all permissions, conditions, rights, and privileges for my contributions forthwith to the the PoundMaster  theluthier to do with our DOG as he wishes for the greater Cookie good!

    • A proper design choice

      Or just alphabetic order ;)

      I might (and even that is doubtful)  have started out as being the "most experienced" contributor (apart from theluthier of course!), but at the end I have been surpassed by many...

      I have grown more than I would have expected and you (read: everybody else ) have grown even more!

      This was/is an amazing collaborative project!  

      Thank you Kent and junior "luthiers" for this amazing opportunity!

      Shawn, I will come to you next when I get stuck on something ;)

      Thanks to all contributors and to the DOG god Kent!

    • crew

      Will it be enough to update the .blend files on the google drive,so the linked versions will be updated automatically? I will of course give notice when I'm finished.

      spikeyxxx absolutely that will be fine. I'm taking a breather from the project for a bit - maybe the next month as I'm beginning to record a new course this week. So there's time for you to finish and notify me.

      I might (and even that is doubtful)  have started out as being the "most experienced" contributor but at the end I have been surpassed by many...

      It's a funny thing about teaching / helping others. My gut reaction is to assume that I should be the most experienced if I'm going to teach. A jolt of self consciousness occurs when a student meets my level or surpasses it. But the reality is that's how it should be: Students surpassing their teachers! That's how we can know real skill is being learned, not just mimicked.

      So consider it a badge of honor Spikey! I certainly do whenever I look to you for advice about advance shading techniques / math. Our interaction is always a pleasure 🤝

      Cheers adrian2301 and blanchsb. You both are rockstars 🤘

    • It's a sad day seeing a project like this turn to it's final pages. I remember feeling sad like wanting to say goodbye to The Pound during the end of the last stream. But today I remembered: no one has truly parted ways here. We're all still part of the bigger Cookie!

      And I imagine more people are going to come on board during the next collaboration project. I am super excited to begin as I am sure the rest of the crew feels similar.

      These projects really help me in unique ways because they keep my focus and drive to complete projects! I'm hungry and looking forward to more!

    • Shawn Blanch (blanchsb). I too am looking forward to the next project and I can't wait.  I admit the CAT backhoe was very tough for me, as I was unfamiliar with its mechanisms and had difficulty in finding blueprints for whatever I was working on.  Well, we girls don't look at tractors like you boys don't look at fashion, if you get my drift. 😁  

    • crew

      Students surpassing their teachers! That's how we can know real skill is being learned, not just mimicked.

      theluthier it takes a great teacher to create great students.

  • theluthier and ppfbourassa I did some small adjustments to Parker's Loader Bucket assembly to remove the 3 collision issues that were on the M.O.L.E. sheet still.

    Super small impact but I didn't want to save over the Master Loader Bucket sheet until both of y'all approved. So, I saved a WIP file in our google drive WIP folder called PFBourassa_Loader-Bucket_Blanch-Bucket-Tweaks.blend . It can be made the master file at any time.

  • crew

    An update on my little puppy. Still got little bits to do, nuts and bolts and brackets mainly.

    I have a question for spikeyxxx or theluthier or anyone else that may know, in regards to the use of the Bevel Node and the Vector Math Node. With this approach when I rotate the tipper it messes up the edge scratch and I get a swirly pattern of scratches all over the tipper. From playing around with it would I be right in saying it is the Normal output from the Geometry Node into the Vector Math Node causing the issue and is there a way of finding out the value of the Normal output and manually enter this into the Vector Math Node so it doesn't change when I rotate the tipper??

    Note: The long scratches on the side did rotate with the tipper.

    The node setup 👇

    and just the edge scratches 👇  (I have replaced the Bevel Node method with a Pointiness setup to combat this for now) 

    • Hi Adrian, I'm not sure, a link to your .blend could be helpful, but at a first glance, I'd say the problem is that you are using generated coordinates, which take the bounding box of your object (the complete truck!) as coordinate system and then you rotate the tipper, which rotates inside the generated coordinate system and you have a Mapping Node with Z-scale set to 20, but the Z doesn't rotate with the tipper, but stays as "local" Z with regards to the bounding box of the truck.

      So the problem lies in the Scratch Node Group...

      My guess is, that if you'd make the tipper a separate Object, your shader should work.

      Taking the Dot Product between the Geometry Normal and Bevel Normal is perfectly fine! Even better than the Pointiness imho.

    • crew

      I tried swapping to object coordinates same thing happened.

      The Z-scale in the scratch frame is to compress the longer scratches on the side which did rotate ok.

      The swirly pattern comes from the noise texture at the bottom of the edge scratch frame.

      I am not entirely sure why, as you can see the edge scratches are still there and also the long scratch on the side. This is using the Dot Product which I would prefer to use.

      This is with the tipper as a separate object, its own shader.

      and with the pointiness

      I'm confused 😕

    • I am confused too :)

      Don't know exactly what you want  and what is not working, sorry.

      But about the Dot Product; this is the easiest way to multiply two vectors. Let's say you have a vector (a1, b1, c1) and you take the dot product with a vector (a2, b2, c2) then the result is simply (a1*a2+b1*b2+c1*c2).

      Now know that Normals are normalized, meaning they are of length 1. According to Pythagoras, that means that for a vector (a, b, c) the square root of a²+b²+c² is 1 and therefore  a²+b²+c²=1.

      If the Normal of the geometry is the same as the Normal of the Bevel Node, (where there is no edge), let's say it's (a, b, c) then the dot product is a*a+b*b+c*c=1. If they are not the same, the dot product is less (e.g. 3*3 + 2*2 > 3*2 + 2*3).

      So I 'd say that the Dot Product trick is not causing the problem.

    • Geez adrian2301 that looks awesome!

      I am not a shader expert by any means but you could always bake in the details when you are happy with them and then attached them to a UV map. (requires UV unrwapping, something dostovel can speak more about haha).

      That way when you rotate you won't see any different behavior.

    • crew

      I trust your explanation for the dot product spikeyxxx
      I have tried everything I can think of. Even applying the rotation.

    • There really shouldn't be much of a difference between the Pointiness version and the Dot Product one,,,,????

    • Maybe you can work around that problem by having an empty and parenting that part to it. Then rotating the empty to rotate the part and I think that way it should not effect your textures. 

    • crew

      Thanks aabm3010, but that didn't work either. But I have solved the problem and using an empty works this way as well.

      I was playing around this morning, opened a new scene with a modified cube added the edge scratch nodes through an emission node and this was the result.

      so far so good, and then rotate

      so I know the issue is here some where, try changing the multiply node to add, screen and same or worse

      so I add the pointiness node setup and swap between the two just in case there was some confusion and to see if Blenders brain is not as smart as @spikexxx.

      Nothing worked.

      But then while deleting the pointiness nodes I accidently used the geometry node normal output instead of the texture coordinate node normal output into vector math second input. 

      and hey presto

      Note the word accidently, just in case you thought I was as smart as spikeyxxx 

      Thanks for the help. With out you all I would have just settled for the pointiness option, I think the dot product option is better.

    • Oh man, how could I have not seen that!

      Glad you got it working now. Lucky accidents can sometimes really save the day :)

    • crew

      WOAH this is looking so good adrian2301! You're in good hands with spikeyxxx's shading tips 👌

    • I think that makes sense. Since your geometry is tied to the object, correct?

    • When I'm not mistaken, jlampel also mentions the difference between the Normal outputs of the Texture Coordinates an the Geometry nodes in his shading course.

  • crew

    Greetings DOG POUND! It's been a long time but I'm happy to announce that the DOG showreel is underway. Admittedly I got a little overwhelmed immediately following the streams last year but I enlisted the help of jlampel to make this showreel happen first thing in 2021. Here's a previs blocking out camera movement and part assembly timing:

    While it's still a long way from being final, I for one am pretty jazzed about the previs! The first time getting a solid grasp is a big step.

    The fade-in is a temporary way to establish timing of each part's assembly animation.If you're wondering what the flickering is at the beginning, I'm not going to tell you yet - don't want to ruin a small surprise 😎

    The environment is likely going to be a dark, hazy, concrete garage with spotlights on our dear 'ol DOG. In the vein of this artwork we discussed on stream.

    I intend to post updates like this as we go. Feel free to comment with feedback!

  • crew

    spikeyxxx I'm finally into the interior portion of the assembly animations and your steering column + port console are up next. Did you want to finish polishing those models? If you don't have the time I can 👌

    • I'm on to it ;)

      Been testing and experimenting on how to get things done...think I've got it now...Give me 2 more days max, please. 

      Funny how a lot of the 3D/CG work is done, at least for me, when I'm not at the computer...trying to figure out how to do something for days, without success and then going for a walk and suddenly 'know' how to 'do it' ;)

    • crew

      2 days is perfect! I can start applying materials + lighting in the mean time.

      trying to figure out how to do something for days, without success and then going for a walk and suddenly 'know' how to 'do it' ;)

      I know what you mean. Sometimes it's figuring out a problem / process but for me it's mostly losing objective eyes on the project. Commonly I've looked at what I'm working on too long and can't tell if it's good or what needs improvement. Taking a break like a walk or a weekend away can drastically improve my decision making going forward.

    • theluthier  a bit more than 2 days, sorry, but almost finished now:

    • crew

      Very nice spikeyxxx! 🤩🤩 

    • I think I'll call this done:

      At least the modelling. Do you want me to make some images for the buttons & co theluthier ?

      Also if you haven't started rendering the wheels yet, I can put some text on the tires...

    • Spikey, by the powers bestowed upon you by that piece, you are hence forth known as the designated backhoe driver.

    • crew

      Looks amazing spikeyxxx! Thanks for coming through, sir 🙇

      There was a slight misunderstanding when it came to the tires. I chose yours as the final version but when Lampel volunteered to animate their assembly he grabbed Ryzen's tires. An honest mistake since there were multiple versions of parts and I didn't specify which tires. All that to say the tires are animated and shaded so no need to for text imo. Besides Lampel cleverly animated the modifiers so the tire starts flat and wraps around the hub. Looks really cool and might be tricky to add text within that framework.

  • crew

    Started adding materials today 🤩

    • looking top notch!!

    • crew

      This looks so good. I hope you are recording this theluthier , not that we need a tutorial, but we are in awe when we watch you work. Pick up a few tips and tricks along the way also. 👍

    • Awesome 👍! And theluthier I agree with adrian2301 that you please let us know if you have some tips concerning how to make the shading look that excellent 😀.

    • Looks sooo sweet. Am I the only one who sees  that part as two horses pulling a chariot?

    • I can't wait to see those mammoth wheels pull that hoss!

      And plus 1 for teaser video on the metal and painted metal materials creation. We always love watching theluthier work. I don't even care if you kids are playing in the background. Or just share the node tree.

    • Ah, that looks great! I'm guessing this is all procedural, right? No UVs / textures?  I second/third/fourth the idea of a  video recording of this process if you have the time, theluthier. Or maybe even a.... livestream?  🤞

    • Place your bets... Eevee or Cycles render?

      I say it's a Cycles render. I can see the noise, some chromatic aberration and bloom and I can see the two horses pulling the chariot and a guy with a dark helmet in the middle with all the ropes and the whip.

    • crew

      Place your bets... Eevee or Cycles render?

      Cycles it is! For 1) I tried Eevee soon after the DOG model was complete and it crashed 2) I use the pointiness attribute a lot which doesn't work with Eevee.

       I'm guessing this is all procedural, right? No UVs / textures?

      You are correct: all procedural, no UVs. Can you imagine laying out UVs for all / most / even half of these parts...THEN painting textures for it... 😵 I think procedural is 1000% the way to go with something this complex.

      I hope you are recording 1 for teaser video on the metal and painted metal materials creation....I second/third/fourth the idea of a  video recording of this process if you have the time

      Honestly I've been grinding this assembly animation almost the entire month of January - just trying to get it done - so no recordings unfortunately. However I'm thinking I should make a short course about the animation process (of one part) since it's very fresh on my mind and there's lots of tips/tricks to share about it. Basically a more refined version of the last DOG stream.

      I promise I'm not doing anything new with the shading and lighting that I didn't do in this livestream. Sorry if that disappoints but it's the truth. Perhaps a "behind the scenes" blog post would be good for sharing generally about the process, including materials. Definitely some useful tidbits have cropped up along the way.

      Here's some initial render test clips fresh out the kitchen! They're really quick despite rendering the past 16 hours lol. Still some errors like some parts not animated right and others missing materials AND a yet-to-be-created environment. Mostly these tests are for shading quality and vector blur. Averaging about 5-6 min per frame on my GPU.

    • crew

      That is so cool. I love the way the fan spins into place. Great job theluthier.

    • We understand..........and can't wait for more!!!!!

    • My goodness, that is lovely!!!

    • I confess that I keep coming back just to look at this from time to time. I may have even stared at the teaser picture for 5 minutes while I was supposed to be organizing some files. lol

    • Awesome job everybody!

    • crew

      blanchsb That's very motivating to read! Everyone's positive comments is fuel for me right now.

      I can sincerely say that this model + animation + render is shaping up to be in the top 5 things I've ever worked on in my career. I knew the model as a whole was impressive but going through every nut an bolt through animation and shading...we truly built something special.

      I'm very close to final rendering but it may take all of February just to render. At the moment hitting the render button is crashing blender about 25% of the time 😬

      Please send thoughts and prayers!

    • it looks awesome  🤩 🤩 as for rendering we could help if you want to. we could get ppl to volunteer and render certain numbers of frames and send it to you for final composite.    

    • theluthier Absolutely breathtaking 👍!  Please let us know if we can further assist rendering this. Best wishes and prayers for the remaining animation rendering 🙏🙂!

  • crew

    I'm feeling HYPED right now, Dog Pound! Hope you don't mind a little story time 🤓

    A significant piece of this puzzle - an environment - has been looming over my head since January. While I was very happy with the way the DOG's S&L had developed, 5-10 minutes per frame with no environment made me nervous about what a fully modeled interior would do to render times.

    Most of this week I spent modeling a parking garage type environment. Once I blocked it out I tried rendering with a basic diffuse material on the whole environment: Simplest possible starting point. The DOG render times started chugging AND drastically increased in noisiness. Also the lighting changed drastically since everything prior was based on an HDRI which can't contribute to an enclosed parking garage model. True rendering of the whole scene (DOG + environment) was never going to be an option.

    So I did what any Blender 2.8+ user would do: Turn on Eevee. I needed Eevee to work.

    As I block out some concrete and metal materials I see Eevee keeping up in near real time. Only issue was without global illumination everything was too dark. I fiddled with the indirect lighting settings and it worked brilliantly! Way better than expected. And I could get quick volumetrics that I wouldn't even attempt with Cycles. I realized Eevee can do this. Hallelujah 🙌

    So part 1 of the environment implementation was complete: Build and shade it. Now part 2: How do I composite my Cycles DOG with Eeevee Environment? That's the question I struggled through today....

    After some trial and errors, I'm SO HYPED to share with you that I figured out a decent workflow! I present to you a final-quality stills of the DOG assembly animation:

    What do you think?

     I'm not quite ready to hit the big Render Animation on the whole thing yet but I'm really close. This weekend I'll render the Eevee background sequence (only taking 30-40 seconds per frame). Then I'll polish off some final animation / render tasks in preparation for rendering all 2800 frames of the Cycles Dog. I'm expecting 1-2 weeks of render wrangling but then it's done.

    One question I have: What do you think about the digger arm bucket material? I'm trying to decide if I should leave it the way it is (shinier) or use the loader bucket (dirtier / rustier) version. Give me some votes either way 🙏

    • That is looking AMAZING!

      I figured out a decent workflow!

      Please share that workflow with us, when you have time,

      I'd leave the digger bucket mostly like it is now, so it fits nicely with the rest of the model and still has a nice contrast with the front bucket, And anyway, it's your piece, so you decide ;)

      Absolutely looove the cushion material of the seat!!!! So inviting to sit down there!

    • crew

      I knew it was going to be good, but............ WOW.

      The digger bucket looks great as it is, so does the loader bucket. I feel you don't want to over do the dirt/rust otherwise the frame will look out of place and to clean. I'm trying to imagine (and Google some images of the backhoe, ahh memories 😊) what level of wear would look best and what would be realistic. Rust needs time to form, the use of the digger arm constantly being scratched by rocks and stones whilst digging would probably mean lots of scratching and worn away paint but less rust. Whereas the loader bucket would get scratched and lose paint but more chance of rust forming.

       My conclusion is you nailed it with both buckets. 👍

      blanchsb 's seat was looking comfy before, now it's like a plush throne.

    • theluthier Absolutely amazing what you've rendered in EEVEE👍 and an excellent demonstration why it was a good decision of the Blender developers to add that render engine to Blender 😀!

      The contrast between the "Loader Bucket" and the "Digger Bucket" is maybe a little bit too big so that I would reduce the amount of rust at the "Loader Bucket" and increase the percentage of rust at the "Digger Bucket" as it can be seen here.

    • God damn that's a cool shading and lighting job there Kent. So this is what it must feel like to work on a production and see everyone's work come to life through the pipeline. Simply put, me is loving dis group collaborative enterprise yo. 

      So are you rendering the tractor alone with alpha first? then you did the background scenario and then render that with the same camera motion and then compositing them both on the compositor? Why do it on two passes? the tractor first then the background? Are you going to do the shadows using shadow catchers?

      Seeing that environment conforms what I have always feared, just your hero model isn't enough, I always hate modeling something cool only to have it on a simple backdrop, there needs to be an environment, the thing is that's another huge level of work and complexity to work after you're exhausted on working on a complicated model.

      Another thing that this confirms is the hassle that is lighting a closed interior, that has always been a struggle for me. HDRI's are a life saver, and when they are useless because everything is encompassed on a close environment, setting up lights is a b*tch man. Not to say about the noise in the scene that becomes unbearable. 

      About the question, I'd say use the loader bucket (dirtier / rustier) version. Looks great, maybe leave a little yellow paint here and there, looks way too 100% just rusty. 

      This looks so sweet I could bake a cake with the form of the tractor and eat it.

    • Change nothing. I love it as it is. Ship It.

    • dostovel If you bake your backhoe cake 🥧🚜, don't forget to post a photo of it and the recipe 😉😁!

    • crew

      YES! I'm so glad to read the positive reactions. Collaborative ambition, collaborative work, and collaborative excitement - doesn't get better than that.

      it's your piece, so you decide ;)

      spikeyxxx I was about to say "No way, it's OUR piece!" but then realized "oh wait..that is one of the pieces I modeled" lol. 

      Seems the majority is suggesting to leave it alone. The main reference we used in our collage shows both buckets with similar rusty/dirty.

      Initially I planned to keep everything more new than old / used so I went with shinier on the digger bucket. But once I got to the loader bucket I couldn't resist going grimy. Something about the shinier digger bucket feels kinda cool but kinda unrealistic. I may do one more pass on it but am leaning toward leaving it alone.

      seat was looking comfy before, now it's like a plush throne

      adrian2301 Only the best for our invisible operator!

       Good assessment duerer. When I take another pass I will increase the rustiness of the digger bucket.

      Simply put, me is loving dis group collaborative enterprise yo.

      dostovel Yes and amen! I've said it many times but the potential of CGC collabs continues to mount imo. Just imagine what we can accomplish with a refined process 🤩

      Your questions are like reading my own questions from Monday of this week haha. The main problem with rendering all as one pass is A) all the materials lean heavily on the pointiness node which only works with Cycles B) Eevee crashed when I tried to render it back in October C) the environment and the backhoe combined was snails-pace slow. As you pointed out HDRI is crucial to decent render times.

      So my solution turned out like this:

      1.  Create a realistic environment to be rendered with Eevee for plausible render times.
      2. Render an HDRI equirectangular map of the environment model and use that for the Cycles backhoe scene. How powerful is that feature?!
      3.  Copy the ground and nearest objects from the environment to the backhoe scene. I tried getting fancy with shadow catcher but got stuck on how to capture only the backhoe reflections. So instead I added a soft mask to the ground's shader and nearest objects (columns, handrails, emissive lamp shaders) as a means of cleanly dropping in the foreground pass.
      4.  Final touches with vector blur, glare, color adjustment, vignette, chromatic aberration, film grain - the usual suspects

      What's nice about using Eevee and Cycles is that they integrate pretty seamlessly. It's not an exact much but I think with a feathered transition it's really hard to tell. Finger's crossed this stays true in motion 😬

      Change nothing. I love it as it is. Ship It.

      blanchsb The feedback every artist wants but never receives (unless they take FOREVER to finish) 😆

    • Sweet sweet, rendering the HDRI equirectangular map of the environment model was top notch thinking. I'm starting to guess it's like this in every production ever, figuring out tricks for over coming limitations and cutting corners here and there. 

      Seeing the GIF helped in understanding what you did with the floor, I can see it comes with the tractor cycles render with alpha on the edges. And I'm guessing everything is in the same scene, meaning blender file, for the camera work to match. 

      I'm thinking, how would the group workflow been achieved for shading if everyone was working on their part? it seems impossible for everyone to keep the same material being left on their own. But then again, how do they do that in a production then? I guess there are heads of shading that make all the decisions and everyone adheres to them? Well no matter, that's a job for detective pikachu.

    • The things I have learned from rust by growing up on a farm are:

      1. Rust happens. Mainly when paint wears.

      2. It's a chemical reaction and causes material to break down. So, the metal is actually withering away after the reaction. Which is why we apply paint to certain metals to slow this process down on finished parts. Paint is our feeble attempt to keep rust from happening lol.

      3. Once you slam that loader bucket or digger arm into the ground, the paint comes off naturally because rocks are harder than paint. Paint exposes bare metal and it rusts fairly quick in the rain.

      4. Even though rust happens. Funny enough the rust comes off the same way the paint comes off and the metal looks quite shiny again!

      5. The most important point I want to make: If the digger arm just got done doing some work and the loader bucket never got used, you could totally have a scenario where one is rusty and the other is "shiny".

      So back to my response. Yes you could continually tweak things BUT it is still believable in my opinion with how it looks now lol. And you already have a major hurtle to overcome doing the animation renders. I say just keep going my man. You're gut got you this far and we're all just riding in this DOG's loader bucket merrily down the road from here. I am totally ready to sit back, eat some of Omar's Doritos and enjoy this ride!

      I really wish there was one more live stream to show some of how this stuff came together or maybe just a livestream where we invite the whole community to come and watch the end result. (I know I would show up haha).

      Last words for the day: When this is done. I know everyone is thinking it. I'm gonna say it: This DOG deserves some screen time. And I couldn't think of a better place to show it off than at blender conference if they accept the submission. (maybe we could submit our personal real life portrait picts to the project as well, showing off the team members in all their human-y glory haha).

    • Wait wait wait wait wait... I just had an idea, I don’k know if it’s too late, I think we should all sign the tractor. You know like there are signatures on a steel beam on the Empire State kinda thing. We could send our signatures on a png with alpha and stick it as texture on some part. That has that easter egg vibe. Maybe? No? Is that like ohhh dammit, great, more work, when this thing was almost finished, kinda annoying? 

      I know we added our own symbols and logos all around, but this is OG signature, hand written real ones as if we sharpie them physically on the tractor.

    • crew

      I couldn't think of a better place to show it off than at blender conference if they accept the submission

      Absolutely blanchsb ! Great idea. BCON2021 make room for the DOG.

      dostovel I'm planning to add everyone's name / username to the final sequence in a motion-graphics-y way. Like when the camera focuses on the battery box assembly "dostovel" will be labeled so the viewer knows who made that part. Each part will be *signed* in that way. Also in the ending credits.

    • Absolutely amazing! Almost a  year on and I still can't believe how great its all turning out.

  • crew

    It's time to add ending credits to this animation! I'm planning to format the credit with at least your CGC username. If you want to be credited by another name (real name, twitter handle, instagram, artstation profile, etc) reply to this comment with up to two additional names or forever hold your peace:

    1. aabm3010 
    2. adrian2301 
    3. aartifact 
    4. aaz93 
    5. blanchsb 
    6. dostovel 
    7. ddoulos4iesou 
    8. duerer 
    9. hellosudeepsingh 
    10. jjakeblended 
    11. ketre 
    12. ppfbourassa 
    13. rritag 
    14. rryzen7 
    15. sshanr 
    16. spikeyxxx

    For example a credit will at least look like this:


    but could look like this:


    Kent Trammell, @khtrammell

  • crew

    Hello again DOG POUND - Every night Linux Luke is churning out more final frames of the DOG. I'm about halfway done and currently sitting at 85GB in images alone! This is one big reason I haven't asked for help rendering...way too much space needed to sync through Google Drive.

    In the meantime blanchsb requested a 4K render of the DOG for his desktop wallpaper and I figured I'd share it here:

    • I feel glorious.....glorious! (booming from the BellWorthy speakers inside our DOG)

    • So Kent theluthier  I have to ask: Have you tried E-Cycles yet? They are claiming extreme performance increases in render time. I want to know a professional's opinion though.

    • Looks amazing, you all did an awesome thing! :)

    • Who even wants a Porsche anymore.

    • crew

      blanchsb Like a goober I have NOT tried E-Cycles. I absolutely should have for this project! Seems like a brilliant tool. Admittedly I don't know any colleagues that have used it though. Just high praise on twitter.

      I should preface that being a teacher makes me very hesitant to user 3rd party tools (free and especially paid). It muddies the water when teaching to not use stock blender (hard lesson I learned years back) and I don't want to get hooked on a good tool I can't use when recording. Like retopoflow. It's one of the best retopology tools in 3D (not just Blender) and developed in-house and I don't use it at all because it would be so hard to go back to stock tools afterward lol.

      louhikarme Thanks! We missed you on this project. You think you'll be available in April for the next collab?

    • theluthier  Last year was interesting, to say the least. :) I'd like to, though currently, April is looking really vague. Have to see how things are then. :)

    • Ooooooof. Yeah your explanation is spot on! I myself am an add-on junkie. That E-cycles carries a hefty price tag though and I just don't render enough currently to feel the pain. But when I do I plan on buying it.

      I love Retopoflow. Another great tool in conjunction is Quad Remesher (makes using retopoflow more of a fun exercise because most of the mundane retopo parts are already done quite well).

      Between fluent and hardops and boxcutter to machin3 tools and Serpens I'm a little addicted to working more efficiently.

      However my SKILLS came from doing things the vanilla way and I appreciate you sticking to that teaching style. Yup I can agree with only teaching vanilla skills. Makes the playing ground fair for everyone and that's where the skills are learned,

      In engineering I learned to do really stupid-tough math problems by hand for hours (and some of them took all week for 1 homework problem......thanks Advanced Dynamics for teaching me pain :P ) and then I leave university and everyone uses programmed tools because it is impractical to sell stuff waiting on an engineer with paper and pen to draw up the same equations every day.

      The same goes with Blender. I just figured this would be a use case where E-cycles would probably shine.

    • crew

      Sorry for the delayed response ppfbourassa , hope it's not too late. I have added a file to the backhoe folder on Google Drive named dogtag, this one is from the puppy. There is another version on the top of the engine which is in a collection called dog tag in the engine file. Have a look and see which one you want to use. If I remember the only difference was the triangle, one is at the top the other the bottom.

  • crew

    It's Done. It's finally DONE!!!

    One last excruciatingly long slow clap goes out from me to the amazing DOG POUND. What a project 👏

    Shoutout to jlampel for assisting with camera work, animation, and rendering power. Also shoutout to ppfbourassa coming through hard with his offer to help with video editing. Parker added all the sound effects and edited the credit sequence. 👏

    • crew

    • WOW!

    • crew

      I hope everyone spends a little time perusing the Reddit and Youtube comments. The vast majority are super positive (rare for the internet). Some people are straight flipping out over this! The detail of this model shan't go overlooked.

      I have to say it again: Well done Team. WELL DONE 👏👏👏👏

    • I've been reading the Reddit and YouTube comments as well - I highly, highly recommend everyone do the same!  IMO the confidence boost that comes from seeing those traditionally-tough crowds giving such positive reactions to something YOU helped make is not trivial!

    • crew

      Our model was epic, awesome. Thanks to ppfbourassa theluthier and jlampel our complex model has been brought to life like something from the Transformers. It's amazing.

      Is it possible to share the video file with the dog pound, on Google Drive, so we can add this to our own social media channels and Art Station accounts. I want as many people as possible to see this, we should all be proud of what has been achieved. Not only for what people can learn and be apart of at CGCookie, but what can be accomplished with Blender. I see a few comments on YouTube that seem surprised that we did this with Blender. I am a massive fan of Blender, and CGcookie, and want the world to know how great life can be.

      Step aside Maya, Blender is in town.

    • crew

      adrian2301 nearly forgot to respond - I added the final export of the showreel (~400 MB lol) to the shared google drive directory we used for the project. The highest quality version in the world! Just don't mint it as an NFT 😉

    • crew

      Thanks theluthier , so far I have used the link from CGCookie channel on YouTube on ArtStation and shared on Twitter. I wanted to post it on Instagram, that's where I have my main fan base, (my mom follows me on Instagram), but the max. length of video on Instagram is 60 seconds. I'm reluctant to chop up the video. I may just use a few images and link to the video on YouTube.

      By the way I have already been asked if I can GIVE them the model, I have not even responded to this request. It's not mine to give. My intentions are to get maximum exposure for the video and the entire Dog Pound, if I or anyone else gets a job offer of the back of this , I'll be happy.