Kent Trammell (theluthier)

509 replies · posted

COLLAB2021 - HQ - Stylized Fantasy Environment

Announcement #4: Closing Post

Announcement #3: Blog, Syncing Saga & More

Announcement #2: Updates & Loose Ends!

Announcement #1: Collab2021 has officially begun!


#Collab2021 is focused on stylized, low-poly, fantasy environment creation! Specifically this gorgeous illustration by Vadim Zaitsev:

You can find more from Vadim on artstation.

Through April we will be creating a comprehensive 3D version of this environment and we need a committed team to make it a reality! If you’re not sure what this Collab format is all about, check out the blog article first. If you know what you’re getting into, continue reading about how to register and what the schedule will look like.


Collabs are open to all Citizen members (membership is required to participate). You need to be subscribed by April 5th and remain subscribed through May 4. You're welcome to subscribe earlier so you can access the recommended courses listed below. This option could be helpful for focusing on learning from content before the collab begins at which point you can focus primarily on applying what you've learned.

Collabs don’t have an official web page or system built into our site. Instead it’s facilitated through the Forum, Live Streams, and Google Docs. Fill out this form to register for the Collab. This will give us insight into how many people are interested, the skill levels involved, and some other info that’s helpful before we get underway.

The last day for registration is April 5th. After April 5th the team will be closed! [evil laughs]



As with any production, one can only plan so much before unanticpated things come up. That’s to say we will be at the mercy of the project and the content could change as needed. Schedule should remain the same though.

Week 1 (Apr 5 - 11): Modeling

Goal: Since we’re working within a low-poly, stylized (simplified) genre I think we could finish all the modeling in the first week. For most assets in the scene the modeling is straight forward. For trees and bushes it’s a little different. I highly recommend using the Sapling Addon included with Blender) as taught in the stylized forest course. Similarly clouds will be a unique asset to tackle; something we will need to brainstorm as a team.

Stream 1April 6th @ 1pm US central time

Helpful Content:

Week 1 Homework Due: April 11th by midnight

Week 2 (Apr 12 - 18): Sculpting Accents

Goal: It’s possible that sculpting will be the next step for some assets (ex: rocks) and not for others (ex: trees). If your asset doesn’t need sculpting then your task this week is UV layout and texture painting a color map. If your asset needs sculpted detail, you can do that in addition to the UV layout and texture painting. By the end of the week we all should have our completed model painted with a color map and sculpting done if applicable.

Stream 2April 13 @ 1pm US central time

Helpful Content:

Week 2 Homework Due: April 18th by midnight

Week 3 (April 19 - 25): UV's & Texture Painting

Goal: This should be an easier week than the first two. Since the style is simplistic, the material can also be simplistic. It can also be more complex if one is so inclined. Things like procedural texture accents, procedural water, randomization of the same material across multiple objects, etc. Additionally we will dip our toes into lighting. At the very least we need to implement lighting in a way that informs our material qualities. At the most I want us to light our asset in a standalone presentation, as if you were presenting it to a supervisor for approval.

Stream 3: April 20 @ 1pm US central time

Helpful Content:

Week 3 Homework Due: April 25th by midnight

Week 4: (April 26 - May 2) Materials & Finalization

Goal: As with most productions, the last stretch is the most unpredictable and often results in a lot of problem solving. I expect this week to be a smorgasbord of  tasks from catching up / putting final touches on assets, assembling the final environment together, polishing lighting and atmosphere, and who knows what else.

Stream 4: April 27 @ 1pm US central time

  1. Project status update
  2. Homework reviews
  3. Overview week 4
  4. Demo: 
    • Environment lighting (Day)
    • Environment lighting (Night)

Helpful Content:

Week 4 Homework Due: May 2nd by midnight

Closing Stream (May 4)

With the project officially complete, this stream is meant to be a celebratory bookend. We will revel in our hard work and discuss a post-mortem: What worked well, what could be improved next time.

Communicating as a Team

Of course communication is key for effective teamwork. To facilitate this we will utilize a network of forum threads.

Discord: Our resourceful Team Leads have setup a discord server for us! The server features channels for each team including audio + video capability.

Discord is best for LOW LEVEL communication since it’s the easiest, quickest way to communicate. By “low level” I mean casual, small-consequence discussion. The main negative of persistent chat is its brief nature; comments appear and then immediately get buried. This is fine for the majority of our discussions (let’s say 75%) but we want to avoid important info getting buried.

HIGH LEVEL communication is the important stuff that shouldn’t get lost in a persistent chat. Please keep high level discussion like protocols, announcements, lengthy troubleshooting and idea pitches on the forum threads listed below.

HQ Forum Thread: This thread is the foundation of our communication structure as denoted with "HQ" in the title. Discussion here should be broader in context; having to do with the project as a whole. It's the place I will be posting important announcements for everyone involved. It's also  ideal for general questions about the project and light-hearted "water-cooler talk" for the team. Things like encouragement, inspirational info / artwork, relevant memes. I love memes.

It's NOT ideal for *specific* things like questions pertaining to a certain part of the environment, WIP of individual parts, or person-to-person discourse.

Team Threads: If more than 30 members register for this project we will divide into sub-teams. Each sub-team will collectively tackle a group of related assets and will be lead by a member (most likely contributors from #collab2020). Each team will have a dedicated forum thread for specific discourse pertaining to their parts. Same guidelines as the Central Thread but with a specified topic.

Individual Homework Threads: Each contributor is required to create a thread for themselves for posting homework confirmation at minimum. This is also where any discourse about your specific part happens. You're encouraged to treat it as a work-in-progress (WIP) thread, posting updates about your work as you go.

Direct Contact: Tagging is ideal for directly contacting me or anyone involved with the project. Tag me (theluthier) with questions or advice in any of these threads. I guarantee I will be checking my notifications regularly every Monday-Thursday throughout the duration of the project.

Of course the more people that register the less accessible I will become for direct / lengthy conversation. This is where sub-team leaders will be invaluable. If we break into sub-teams please contact your leader first, then me second.

Livestream Chat: The realtime interactivity of streams is another great way to communicate. Taggin works there as well along with an additional tool: Typing "[Q]" in the chat adds a blue "question" label to your post. This makes it easier for me to spot direct questions for me to answer while streaming.

DISCLAIMER: These guidelines are only intended to streamline the challenging task of communicating globally across the internet. They're not meant to create a tense atmosphere of rules! We're a relaxed, reasonable bunch of Blender heads. If you don't know where you're supposed to ask a question, go ahead an ask somewhere and you'll be answered or kindly directed to the right place if applicable.

Syncing Project Files

Everyone working from the same project directory is important for a production like this. From linking models back and forth to sharing texture maps, it's a must for a smooth working experience. Further protocol like file naming conventions and saving files in the right place is necessary to avoid a confusing mess.

The following instructions are depending on you syncing the project's Google Drive folder to your local computer. If you haven't done that yet, please check the Announcement 2 post for instructions.

For this project I want to make the process as simple as possible for participants. To achieve this I've come up with a "plug-n-play" system. Basically I will save a placeholder .blend file in both the WIP and MODELS folder for each participant by including their username in the filename. Once the placeholder is present, each participant saves their work into the MASTER collection within the scene and that's it! I take it from there.

I covered this concept in the Week 2 stream but here's a set up step-by-step instructions as well:

  1.  Locate and open your WIP placeholder .blend file that contains your username. Within the "WIP" directory there are folders corresponding to asset categories. Navigate through these folder to find the .blend with your username.

  2. Once opened, you will either see a proxy version of your asset or a blank scene. Either way, copy and paste all the pieces of your asset into this .blend file.

  3.  Look for the "MASTER_" collection in the outliner. The naming convention is "MASTER_category_asset_username'. This collection will be linked into the final assembly file. It's imperative that you move every visible part of your asset into this collection.
    1.  You can have other objects in this scene like reference objects, image planes, utility objects (empties), etc. But they must be outside this MASTER collection.

    2.  Do not name any other objects or collections "MASTER" in the scene.

  4.  If your placeholder scene has a proxy object in it, you need to align your version of the asset to the proxy. Scale it, move it, rotate it however you need to match the proxy.
    1.  Note: These proxies also have a copy of the master camera in the scene for which the proxy is aligned to the art.

    2.  If your placeholder scene does NOT have a proxy in it but DOES have a master camera, your asset should align to the camera, simply keep your asset in the center of the world when saving

    3.  If your placeholder scene does NOT have a proxy NOR a master camera, simply keep your asset in the center of the world and scaled according to the human proxy in the scene.


How much time am I expected to commit to this project?

We stress commitment because it's the best to ensure A) the project succeeds and B) lasting skills are learned. We only expect you to commit as much time as you can. DO NOT commit full-time hours to this project (8 hrs a day). As the instructor, I should be the only one doing this.

Everyone else (sub-team leads and contributors) shouldn't need to apply more than 2 hrs per day to the project. It's all relative depending on your availability and skill level. If you can't afford 2 hrs per day you can pick a simpler asset. If you have more time to contribute then perhaps choose a more complex asset. It's up to your discretion.

If you only have 2 weeks available in April, that's OK! Just let me or your sub-team lead know and it's all good. 

How do I tag someone?

Like twitter and instagram you simple type "@username" to tag someone. Tagging fires a notification to this person. Everyone's username is either A) in parentheses beside their display name or B) substituted if they don't specify a display name:

What service do we use for syncing files as a team?

We used Google Drive last year and it worked pretty well. Syncing our files to the cloud proved to be a crucial way for everyone to stay up-to-date conveniently. Since we lean heavily on library linking, it's imperative that we all be up-to-date. Google Drive is very accessible too; most people have an account anyway.

If you don't have one, sign up to get 15GB of storage for free. That should be plenty of storage for our project.

I know people are hesitant to sign up with Google but a burner account just for this project isn't too invasive, right? Otherwise Mega drive could be a good alternative since it offers 50 GB for free.

What if I'm not available at the time livestreams are broadcast?

Unfortunately the stream time can't be ideal for everyone. If you're not able to watch the stream live, I will post the recording within 24 hours of broadcast.

When is homework due exactly?

Homework is due every Sunday @ midnight each week. This means whenver your midnight is; relative to your timezone. This gives me each Monday to review homework internally before streaming on Tuesday. Please adhere to this deadline as late submissions can really stunt  the flow of the schedule.

Can multiple people volunteer for and build the same part?

Yes! Early volunteers will have the best chance at picking a unique part but eventually parts will be assigned to multiple people. Of course we can't feature multiple of the same part for the final scene so the best execution of each part will end up in the final.

Are we bound to also 1 asset or if there is spare time can we even go for a second or third piece?

You're not limited to 1 asset. I'd love to see contributors challenge themselves with multiple assets, as several did last year. This gives contributors the ability to define their own scope of participation: If someone is newer to Blender they can choose one asset. If someone is more experienced they can choose multiple assets.

Who “owns” the final project?

Technically CG Cookie owns the project but the final project will be released freely as Creative Commons (CC-BY-4.0).

Can I feature my work from Collab2021 in my online portfolio and / or demo reel?

100% yes! Contributors are welcome to use/share visuals from the project to social media accounts, online galleries / portfolios, and featured in demo reels.

  • Hey Guys,

       I have a kind of generic question as somebody who picks up and puts down Blender as I have time.  (I've made time in April for this collaboration, so it shouldn't be a problem for this project.)

       One of the most frustrating things I've found is keeping track of things.  A simple thing was remembering how to center the view on a specific object or group of vertexes I'm working on.  A more complex thing is trying to wrap my head around nodes.

       I guess for the individual shortcuts I could use the F3 function more.

       What has anybody here done to make sure either the small stuff, like centering, or the larger concepts "stick".  Obviously, using Blender more frequently would help, but there's so much to it that there's bound to be something in one of the various tools that's handy to remember that you only use rarely.

    • wardred  The vast majority of essential shortcuts feels like they've remained static since 2.7ish (i forget what i started on, but it was a long time ago). But currently there is a search function that you can use,  and also the ability to favorite things (which i personally haven't really gotten into the habit of using but probably should). 

      Every time I've felt rusty Ive just done a really basic tutorial in the newest version to reacclimate. The low poly rocket tutorial should be pretty good for adjusting to the 2.8+ layout and remembering the basics.  

      If you feel like nodes are difficult,  I'd recommend the procedural eyeball course.  It was probably what really cemented nodes for me.

      But honestly,  i just use search engines to find things that seem to have changed,  moved,  or that I've simply forgotten.  

    • wardred If you have a keyboard with number pad you can press the period/full stop key ( . ) to focus the viewport on what ever you have selected; and pressing the forward slash ( / ) on the number pad will isolate whatever is selected so that you can focus on that. And pressing ( / ) again will take out of the isolation mode.

      Other than that I don't really know if there are specific buttons for these functions, but hopefully at least knowing about ( . )
      and ( / ) might help.

    • crew

      wardred I'm afraid frequency is the only thing that will make shortcuts stick. Which should be a benefit of this Collab since we're all committing an extended period of time. If you use Blender every day for an hour or more, I'm confident you would have the essential shortcuts locked into muscle memory.

    • Hi Wardred, it may seem old-fashioned, but when I was in class for 3D graphics, I used to keep a notebook right next to me and jot down the hotkeys to the software I was learning. The act of writing it down helped my brain make those connections to the material. There are other instructors out there that have made electronic cheat sheets and offer the PDF for just signing up to their websites. CG Boost is one example.

    • Not really very useful, because when you have to look up a shortcut, then that is very slow of course, but a lot of people ask for something like a cheat sheet for shortcuts....

      So here's a secret tip:

      Download 2.93 (experimental!) and in the Preferences > Addons enable Testing and scroll to the bottom:

      Not yet complete, but fun and it seems to respect your Keymap Settings (luckily, wouldn't be of any use otherwise...).

    • Hey Everybody,

         I just wanted to say thank you for all your suggestions!  I'm definitely working on frequency.  @spkeyxxx, thanks for this suggestion too.  ullreym, that's not old fashioned.  It's good advice and I sometimes do this myself.  I should do it more often.

  • I don't know if someone hasn't already asked this or it hasn't already been answered somewhere else, but is this Collab planned to be cross Blender version or do we need to be all on roughly the same version (2.82... 2.91, 2.92, etc...)?

    • Hi Vincent we use the latest official release: 2.92. It is best if we all use the same version, although if you want to use 2.83 or so, there should be no compatibility issues, but you'd have a 'handicap' and miss out on some great features (I think part could be done with Geometry Nodes for instance...)

    • Thank you. I just wanted to have a better understanding of the requirements for the Collab. Thanks.
    • crew

      vvincent Good question - Spikey is right that we generally use the current official release at the time the project starts. If a new version of Blender releases during our project we will decide if it's worth upgrading. However usually it's best to stick with the same version we started with (as is true with professional productions).

      I will post about this today in the official "kickoff post".

  • Just to let Kent and everyone know, a relative of mine is getting a hospital procedure done on Tuesday morning (it's nothing super serious) and I'm the one taking them to the hospital, so this will possibly keep me from attending the stream live.   However I AM 100% in for this main project, so if you don't see me, don't count me out!  I'll be catching up as soon as the video is available and of course I'll check in with this thread as soon as I get home.

    If teams are being picked during the stream, I want in on the house exterior!  Whoever the team leader will be can assign me something more specific if they need to, but I'll check in with them by Tuesday evening as well.

  • Guys, I'm changing housing right now. I'll try to be present at the first meeting, but if not, I'll catch you guys during the week. Don't kick me out >_>

  • After stalling for pretty much the entirety of the application period I've finally put my name down - there's always the internal hesitation of what I know vs what I don't know (I'd like to think I'm passable at the essentials these days even if there's bits I haven't done much of, and I can always do an asset that I know how to do) and committing to stuff (let's be honest, aside from Ludum Dare one weekend I'm not likely to be doing much else this month, even without partial furlough giving me multiple days off work to do this or other stuff), but it definitely looks like it should be a fun project to work on!

  • I have signed up at the last moment, hope I'm not to late

  • Do i get this right?
    Im registered for the Project but to actually find out more e.g. whats my team and what are actually my ToDos and so on i will find out while the Live Stream, correct?

    There is no Information besides this Post here which im currently miss out?

    • crew

      You are right.

      We will find out more during the live stream.

      At the top of the page here is most of the information you need, including the schedule for each live stream.

      The thread here is for general questions you may have and for a chat with coffee and cookies.

    • crew

      You are exactly right rrstich . I'm going to post a "kickoff message" today acknowledging the official beginning of the collab including basic instructions for getting started. But all the in-depth details will be covered during the stream tomorrow.

    • Thanks!
      A way to directly jump to the Answer would be really really helpflull here.
      Just spend about 10 Minutes searching for this post....

    • rrstich Agreed. I'm also having frustrations with the "New Reply" notifications  and a few other quirks of the CG Cookie website. You're not alone.

    • vincav81 and rrstich your pains are definitely felt by the community. We will roll with the punches but y'all are always welcome to offer up new options for your own teams if you find better ways to collaborate as a group.

      We had similar issues last collab but it didn't stop us. Just about every production pipeline has to overcome similar communication challenges. Ours is very similar. We are voicing our concerns as a community and Nick is trying to figure out how to make it better I hear. Just may take some time trudging through the mud. Don't let it stop us though. We'll get into smaller channels once the production kicks off and things will be more relevant for each member in their teams.

  • crew

    📢 Announcement #1: Collab2021 has officially begun!

    I. am. excited! March was quite a build-up of anticipation and even saw substantial work done by the rogue TSFHI initiative. Today marks the official start of the project and I want to welcome everyone who registered!

    At 130+ registrants I'm floored by the enthusiasm for this collaboration! NOTE: I will be leaving registration open for the rest of today since I said "sign up by April 5th". 

    More contributors means bigger, higher quality results are possible / likely. It also increases the potential for confusion and team members getting lost about what exactly they should be doing. Tomorrow's stream will go over all the details of the project in-depth but here's some notes for what you can be doing today:

    • Look over the Asset List. I've divided the concept art into categories and individual assets via google spreadsheet. Look over this list to get a feel for the categories / organization of the assets. Based on the registration data about 50% expressed interest in specific assets while the other 50% said "not sure" or "anywhere I'm needed". This should work out well for an even spread among asset assignments.

      Today I encourage you to look over the list and consider which category and/or specific asset you want to tackle. NOTE: The stars beside each asset name denotes difficulty:
      • * = beginner/easy,
      • ** = medium/intermediate
      • *** = intermediate-to-advanced/difficult/involved

    • Begin watching the recommended courses. Reminder that recommended courses are listed for each week outlined at the top of this thread. If you haven't seen the recommended courses, please begin watching them as they will prepare you to commence working on your assets.

    • Practice. Since we're not choosing / assigning assets officially until the stream tomorrow, you can start practicing your asset creation skills today. Especially if you've already watched the recommended courses or have already developed those skills prior to this collab. This practice can be a course topic (treasure chest, sapling tree, etc), as specific relevant skill like sculpting or texture painting OR something from the asset list.

      Just be aware that after we discuss the asset list during the stream tomorrow you may want to do something else (which is fine) or the discussion reveals info that could alter the way you've built your asset. In other words, don't get too attached to your practice material.

    • Sign up for a Google account. Remember that we're utilizing Google Drive to sync all of our project files together. You will need a Google account access the project files. This can be a burner account that you only use for this project.

      Once you have your google account, please email this message from your Gmail to

      Subject: I've drunk the Google Koolaid
      Message: [CGC username] reporting for duty. I'm ready to access the project files and receive commenter access to Collab google docs!

    That's all for today! Again, MUCH MORE will be discussed during the stream tomorrow.

    • beefkeef @blanchsb I spent a little time last month working on modelling a variety of tiles to populate the roof. If they're not up to the quality level needed for this project and/or you'd like me to work on a different portion of the house, I'll happily do that. I intend on spending the majority of my spare time this month on this project, so I'd love to take on additional components if there's a need for it.

    • Yes and remember, this here be the digital house of the Collab, the physical house of the Collab is in Tierra Del Fuego, Chile.

      Just after the small bridge, behind the waterfall.

    • crew

      It never ceases to amaze me how excellent the wifi connection is behind that remote waterfall 👌

    • Lol, ok that made me laugh out loud. 

      Because we all know what really happens when you step through...

    • llegobenj It is looking good man. I have not looked in depth at the sheet yet. Are you taking on the roof tiles or are you just practicing and stretching your modeling skills?

      Looks like you even did some research on Clay Roof tile installs too! I noticed the offset upside down crossing the rump-side up.

      My only comment at this point is that you will want to make sure you set up the scale and origin properly once the collab is underway and you have an idea where the roof needs to be (I'm assuming that you will be one of the roofers haha)
      Here's the critical feedback with the scale just to show you size comparison verses Melvin.

      He kinda reminds me of a colossal monster like on the game Rampage:

    • Yep, I'll help take on the roof. I wanted to get a jump start on the project and I picked the roof tiles precisely because of scaling. I figured they would be the easiest to resize once we get the blockout.

    • Duly noted. I may have already assigned you (wink, nod) . Kent may overwrite me but let's see where it goes.

    • You're in. Keith and I will get to work on our own team forum page where you can rampage to your hearts content on the Clay Tiles.

    • Sweet!

    • theluthier Looking forward to getting started, hope my registration went through some days ago as well as the google mail today. (EDIT: Just saw the e-mail, looking forward to the stream tomorrow!)

      I did some quick modelling of the water wheel to get back into shape, it's a bit different from the image (didn't want to do the exact mode as practice) and I didn't have any idea on the face/tri budget etc. One thing I noticed is that the type of wheel with buckets (my interpretation of the image...) would probably be more usefull if the water is actually flowing down on to the water wheel and fills the bucket. Some references that I checked just had planks that are moved by the water in case of a flat stream of water, but these are details and artistic choice ;)

    • Great start llegobenj these are looking good - I like that you have some nice variation going on in there! 👍👍

    • llegobenj Here's your new Exterior Home my homie from another homie. Check back in the HQ for general stuff but all other Exterior Carpentry and Masonic creations can go here from this time henceforth and forever.........or at least until the end of April.

    • What about the environment around the house?

    • Never mind; I found it.

    • Google Drive email is away and I've been having a look through that spreadsheet - gut feeling has me leaning more towards the House or Acessories sections given that I have less experience in the 'organic' modelling style of the Nature section, but I'll wait until the stream before making any solid commitments. From there it's just a case of choosing an asset that's complex enough to be interesting to work on but not so complex that I stand no chance of finishing it.

    • hunter-x cool man

      Just about every asset is going to be unique and amazing and it's own level of interesting and difficult. It's going to go beyond standard modeling. The lo poly aspect of probably going to be the easiest part but the texturing and baking process will make every asset uniquely interesting to keep most people engaged all month long.

    • theluthier Am I registered? I filled out the registration form last month, but I am not sure if I am on your list.

  • I`m interested in modelling the Crate and thought that crate maybe could look like this.

    So not fully closed, but with compartments, to store stuff like a cash register, a weapon to fend of robbers, more stock.

  • Hey guys I just have question. I filled out the form a couple weeks ago and I didn't get  conformation email or anything. I assumed I would get it maybe after deadline submission ended but I still didn't get it. Is this normal or did I just messed up filling out the form lol? Thank you guys for your time, hope all you reading this have a great day.

    • Bryan, in Kent's official announcement post, a few posts up from here, Kent mentioned the following:

      "Sign up for a Google account. Remember that we're utilizing Google Drive to sync all of our project files together. You will need a Google account access the project files. This can be a burner account that you only use for this project.

      Once you have your google account, please email this message from your Gmail to

      Subject: I've drunk the Google Koolaid
      Message: [CGC username] reporting for duty. I'm ready to access the project files and receive commenter access to Collab google docs"

      I recommend you reading his post.

      Once you have send that email, you ll get your confirmation mail very soon.


    • Hiya Bryan, My best guess is that you are in. But to be on the safe side... 

      • Sign up for a Google account. Remember that we're utilizing Google Drive to sync all of our project files together. You will need a Google account to access the project files. This can be a burner account that you only use for this project.

        Once you have your google account, please email this message from your Gmail to

        Subject: I've drunk the Google Koolaid
        Message: [CGC username] reporting for duty. I'm ready to access the project files and receive commenter access to Collab google docs!

      if you already have a google account still send in the "Google Koolaid" message just to be certain.

    • bbryandr thanks for the post. With such a large number of participants this was probably bound to happen. I’m sorry you feel like you fell through the cracks but fear not. You have done the right thing and posted your desire to be one of the greats despite such adversity.

      Thanks for rolling with the punches. Make sure to email Kent as mentioned above and I’ll @ mention theluthier to keep you counted.  We look forward to seeing you be a part of this collab.

    • Whoops looks like I was messaging while Matt was too. Haha. Well now don’t you feel like the center of attention now Bryan?!

    • bbryandr Looks like ddonsoarese , blanchsb and I are looking out for you. See you at the live stream.

    • Thank you guys!!! All of you guys are the best!!!

  • So this is what I was trying to convey, that I'm always curious as to what gives an art piece its appeal. 

    Here's the concept art.

    I don't want to throw anyone under the bus, maybe it wasn't finished, but I saw the render of that concept art and was like uh... that doesn't feel very appealing as the concept art does. But what is it? Yeah sure the lighting, the modeling, the composition, etc, etc, but then what do I have to do? Model more? light more? do some push ups and run 2 miles and then it'll happen? 

    Then someone with skills could take it as it stands and make the right choices and it will suddenly feel alive. But what did he do different? What choices did he make as he was working? I've always find it fascinating, that it all boils down to eye and tiny choices adding up to greatness. 

    This on the other hand, from the references Kent compiled, looks killer. I wonder what choices were made that ended up with this result compared to the one above. Gather up the scientists, we need science on top of this ASAP. 

    • I think you touched on it already, the lighting and textures do play a big role. Also, the staging of the camera adds to the overall feel of the image. The ones you like also have a nice background image. The sky, clouds, soft shadows all lend to the appeal of the image. The low-poly image does have a particular charm all on its own, though.

    • Yup I agree. The Melvin is in the details. The textures, mesh details, lighting, and environment. But there is a secret sauce that totally sells the piece on top of all of that and it's finding a way to bring the piece of art to life like a god breathes air into a newly created human. My question is how do we ignite that spark?

      This piece totally makes me think of you Omar, it's one I saw a long while back: Somehow you have a knack for this kind of thing.

      The difference is one is a piece of artwork and the other IMMERSES you into an artists' world.

      It's kinda like reading a children's book versus getting sucked into a Harry Potter universe.

    • I think it had a lot to do with understanding the details so well that you consider the smallest things like how the waves crash up against the fishing boat. How the puffin would be nesting. The struggles of a group of fishermen. The insatiable hunger of Seals.

    • Here's the wireframe: It's not that many vertices.

    • Just look at that emotion built into the scene!

    • We need to figure out how to get into the head of our concept artist/creator and into this Spice Vendor World in a big way if we are going to pull this off the way you envision it.

      I might as well start off by studying spices and spice vendor world and old carpentry/masonry (for my teams part anyway)

    • It just so happens this particular artist describes how he goes about creating such immersion:
      I don't think everything applies in this project but I learned some important takeaways reading how he goes through the main process and then builds on it later.

    • crew

      I think you all nailed it with the details and as ullreym say's the camera angle.

      For me the icing on the cake is the detailed colour (proper spelling), notice in the lower image from dostovel the roof tiles, the variation in colour, also on the wall, the rocks etc. etc. whereas the other is blocks of colour, the leaves on the trees are one shade of green, the rocks are all the same base colour. The first image's texturing highlights the low poly look, the second is a combination of low and high poly, the building is fairly low poly (I'm not entirely convinced it's even classed as low poly, we would need to see the wireframe), but the trees with all the leaves are high poly. It actually works to serve the purpose of conveying high detail in the overall image.

      The cherry on the cake is the artist's passion for their art and vision when starting a piece, so two cherries on this cake.

      I'm not much of a fan of blanchsb 's example. The use of image textures in this example in particular looks to me like someone has cut images out of a magazine and made a collage. I know this is a style in itself but it's not for me.

    • I think in that first example you linked dostovel that the modelling is sweet, but as the others have mentioned the presentation could really bring it to life.  The biggest thing that stands out to me is the lighting - it seems very sharp shadows from probably one light source? but the reference isn't lit like that at all. I see a shaft of light highlighting the centre hut, and there's a nice warm glow from the lanterns and the hut itself - I fee it conveys comfort and cozyness. 

      It got me thinking to Kents forest course, do you remember the lessons where the lighting and atmosphere are added - and you go from quite an unappealing scene to something quite incredible.

      Birds in the sky, leaves fluttering through on a windy day, some atmosphere - maybe things like this can help with our piece.

    • I agree with beefkeef that the lighting is the defining difference between the concept art vs render example. If you just spread their color palettes out in front of you it would be extremely apparent. 

      The colors you get out of the concept were very deliberately chosen,  and would look beautiful as swatches sitting next to one another.  There's a selection of vibrant saturated colors as well as more muted desaturated tones, and theyre used to make the objects in the scene pop.

      The 3D version is relatively desaturated across the board, diffuse, no gradient. Whats interesting to me is that it actually looks like the 3d version eyedroppered some of the concept colors,  but due to the lighting and materials,  you don't get great color depth.  

      The sky and lamps lend color depth to everything in the concept,  with varying levels of specularity / roughness -- and that is completely absent in the 3d.  That color variation in the original art even helps frame your attention, with the warm colors in the sand pulling your eye in. 

      Colors are so GD important.  And people that use them well blow my mind. 

  • Hello Cookies
    You are all extremely motivated and communicative.S o much power in this thread :).Not very easy to follow here.
    So I guess the communication will be my biggest challenge.
    I am not a native speaker, so I guess I need a lot of time for reading all these stuff ( and understand).
    Communication and Questions will also be a challenge because sometimes I´m even not be be able to describe a Blender problem in my own language.
    There are way too much to read- my poor brain - so I hope there will be some time for blender.

    I like the stylized theme very much and did the seashack tutorial recently.
    But especially I`m very exited about the teamwork and communication and I have no experience with google drive so far.
    With wise foresight I decided for the assets accessories, so I hope I can handle blender and communication;)
    So this is going to be an interesting project for me.
    See you at the live stream:)

  • Ill leave my fate in the hands of the great wizards to decide what part i get assigned to :D really look forward to the stream today. See you all soon 

  • crew

    theluthier I'm processing the approach to use for the background and was wondering on the texturing and shading stage, are we to be texture painting or are we free to use procedural shaders?

    I thought of your livestream series Creating simple EEVEE environments in Blender the one with Melvin on the beach with his surf board, when you created the islands in the distance, I feel this approach gave a perfect effect for the distant background, but I do remember you trying to use real world scale and the islands where some way off from the focus of Melvin and the beach. Are you ok with a large scene? And the procedural approach, adjusting the shape of the island on the fly with the 'dynamic' procedural shader updating with each adjustment.

    I'm thinking about mountains in the far distance and the background bushes and trees in the mid distance and then spikeyxxx team with the foreground, but I am concerned of the effect of the end result of any camera fly through of the scene. It maybe ok if the camera stays low to the ground.

    Any thoughts from anyone?

    • Silly idea, but maybe we could invent some kind of LOD system and combine procedural techniques with hand -painted textures.

      Like hand-painting a seamless texture, making it into a 3D  texture and then scaling it according to the Camera distance, something like this:

    • Spikey thinks brilliance is silly. I guess that's what you get when you grow up in Einstein's backyard.

    • Is there any way to get varying levels of detail in the geometry without firing up the game engine from Blender 2.79? 

    • ullreym I think that that will be possible. If necessary we can use Geometry Nodes and calculate the distance from the Camera to an Object and drive the detail level with that somehow.

    • Proof of concept:

    • spikeyxxx I am trying to duplicate your geometry nodes.  This is my first experience with it.  I look at this as a great opportunity to learn!

      1) Please confirm my understanding of the end goal:  As you zoom in closer the subdivisions increase on the Ico Sphere (wunderbar!).

      For those following at home, here is what I did.  Used a split screen like using a Shader workflow.  Top is the 3D Viewport and the bottom is a Geometry Node Editor.  Added an Ico Sphere to my 3D viewer.  In the Geo Node Editor, pressed the New button and removed the Group Input node.  Added and hooked up the nodes to duplicate your configuration.  Except...

      2) I can't find the "Ico Sphere" node - where do I get it?  I have looked at (I believe) every single node available via Shift-A, but it has eluded me.  Also, in the Geo Node world, is this considered a "shader" node (e.g., it has green connections)?



    • Ad 2) splat21 sorry for the confusion: that is 2.93. Geometry Nodes develops really fast these days. This was just a fast demonstration of the principle, so I cheated and used a version 'from the future'.

      Of course, for the COLLAB we will stick to 2.92, but there are enough Nodes there to make something like this work.

      And you do not need to delete the Group Input Node; I just left it unconnected (it was a Plane and I didn't want to show it here...) The GN Tree needs to be connected to an Object. A bit  like a Particle System, where you can decide to not show the Emitter.

      In 2.92 you could just use an Icosphere and add the GN Modifier (Node Tree) to that!

      in the Geo Node world, is this considered a "shader" node (e.g., it has green connections)?

      absolutely not!

      Those colors are independent from  Shader Editor Colors.

      Although Purple still means Vector and yellow color,  but Grey means float(ing point number).Turquoise/green is used for Geometry and green for integers. Then there is white for a  Collection, pink for a Boolean and blue for a String:

      But these color may still change, as this is in early development.

      If you want to learn more about GN look for Erindale on YT. He has some wonderful tutorials for beginners.

      He also made this (only modeled a few leaves for the flowers, the rest is GN):

    • spikeyxxx Thanks for your reply.  You have inspired me to peek into the future and take a look at 2.93.  Your simple proof of concept is very cool.  If you pursue this further, I'd be interested in seeing how you implement this in 2.92.  I already have a Erindale Youtube intro to GN's queued up to view.  

    • spikeyxxx I played around with this a little more in 2.92 and got it to work.  

      I used a Floor instead of your Ceiling as I wanted the subdivision Level value to be 0 when the camera is furthest away.  The 2nd Divide function was to dial in a little more granularity - it's value would need to be tweaked per the actual application.  Here are my camera zooms at different locations.

      1) Can you please tell my why you used the value of 10.3 when you divided it by the distance vector?  What is magical about 10.3?

      2) Is this how you would have approached this problem in 2.92?  Specifically, using the Mesh Subdivision Surface node.  Is there a better way?  

      3) It would be helpful to be able to monitor the output value of the math nodes.  Kind of like a debugger that monitors floating point, integer and Boolean variables.  Are you aware of any provisions to display such information within Blender?  Sorry, I have not looked into the future at 2.93 to see if there is that kind of a node there.  

      Again, thanks for your assistance in helping me to learn this.

    • Ad 1) there's nothing magical about it just a more or less random value that gave an exaggerated effect. So in stead of using two Divide Nodes, you can use one with a different value.

      Ad 2) i don't think there is a better way to make this example....

      Ad 3) in 2.93 there is a Spreadsheet:

      And I used Ceiling in my example, because the Primitive Icosphere in 2.93 doesn't have a zero Subdivisions (at least, it is the same as 1 Subdivision):

    • crew

      LOVE the brainstorming here. Wish I could move this subthread into the Nature BG team thread..

      adrian2301 My only concern about the procedural approach for the mountains / bg elements is that I'm pretty sure procedurals slow down Eevee; more computation. At least that was a takeaway from Simon Thommes course. So perhaps the mountain materials could be generated or supplemented with procedurals but would likely be optimal to bake down to textures for the final.

      Definitely something we should test towards the end.

    • crew

      spikeyxxx Love your proof of concept with geometry nodes! With custom shaped mountains I imagine a visual swap between LODs is possible. However I should clarify during a stream that I don't really expect the viewer to move their camera all the way to the mountains for close inspection. Pretty much the goal imo should be the house and immediate yard surrounding the house should be closely-inspectable. Everything else is illusory and cheated to serve the house area.

      So I expect the mountains to look great from the house's perspective but will break down quickly as the camera gets closer to the mountains. Otherwise a the scene turns into a legit game environment; way too big for this project imo.

    • crew

      theluthier , I think it is the decision of the artist to decide. But I remembered the island in the beach scene and it looked great and was an ideal solution if the shape of the mountain was to change slightly when the whole scene comes together. And they can be baked into textures when a for the final.

    • spikeyxxx One last comment before I heed KT's advice and no longer post this conversation in the HQ thread.  

      I did check out 2.93's GNs.  I'm loving the future.  Mesh Primitives seems pretty cool.  I mean, you can Add a Plane, delete three vertices and with one create a complex object within Geometric Nodes.  What is not to love?

      I did look at the Spreadsheet view.  I don't believe that it's functionality is what I was looking for.  I am looking for a way to view the output value of a Math node.  For example, as you camera zoom into the object, how do you know the value of the Math-Ceiling node going into the Ico Sphere's subdivisions input?  Is it 0, 1, 2, etc. ?  The only way you would dial in the right values is by experimentation via changing the numerator in the Divide node.  I suspect that that is how you landed on the magical 10.3 value.  If the Spreadsheet View does indeed allow the monitoring of node outputs, I am not seeing it.  

      Thanks again for this dialog - it has been very enlightening.  

    • You need to use a trick for that:

      Usually you are interested in Attribute values and Booleans, so here I just made one and that shows immediately in the Spreadsheet ;)

    • spikeyxxx YES - I get it now.  Great Trick - Thanks.

  • Due to an apparent sudden interest in a discord server for this collab project I wonder if people are interest in at least interacting on dedicated team channels there.

    I have the know-how to set something up but I would need a good amount of votes to set something up "unofficially but officially"
    If you heart the idea of chatting on discord as you work out ideas then give a heart. I think I need to see a large amount (30-50 hearts) to consider this a community interest.

    This would not replace the dedicated channels on the forum for each team. But may help with some real-time communication that the forum cannot provide.

    Cast your votes/hearts and we'll see how many people are interested in this. I'll leave voting up through Thursday perhaps?

    • I think some people signed up on the cgart cafe yesterday

      If they did please talk to Morten Fjellheim for access to the cg cookie only discussions (talking out loud chat is available for everyone)

      If you decide to make a new discord I'd definitely join for this project blanchsb 

  • theluthier Hi Kent, Can you please confirm if I am signed up for this Collab. I am not sure if I filled the form in. I would be really sad if I missed this opportunity. Thanks a lot!

  • theluthier Here's a (somewhat) similar collab project I've seen:
    Not as "educational" but similar vibe.

  •  Hi theluthier, I am the guy that forgot to fill google registration and asked if I can jump in the colabb.

    If there is a team that needs one guy with basic to advanced modeling skills that would be great?

    If there isn't, no problem.

    • crew

      I have a hard time saying no. I'll add you to the list - Welcome to the team! (But don't anyone else get any ideas 😅)

      Please email me ( from a gmail address or google-associated email address.

  • Just thinking out loud but it would be a good idea to BOOKMARK your personal WIP forum and Team Forum. It will make it easy to navigate through all of the others.

    • crew

      I think that might be a MUST add a bookmark

    • Yes, that's a great idea - cheers blanchsb 

    • crew

      Oooh great idea blanchsb

    • Okay so the discord server is up and running. 7 hearts + team lead interest + Kent's support = 30-50 hearts in my book.

      The main invite to the unofficial discord server is below: The Spicy Invite doesn't have a long shelf live and goes bad in 6 days so get on it now.

      There is a Text and Audio channel dedicated for each team. Once you have a team confirmed on the Asset List sheet then head on over to the Discord if you like.
      Rules channel is a great place to start. Then head on over to your team channel and announce your self in all of your spice-builder-glory:

      There is also a general channel that is for general chat. Not as useful IMHO but it's there.

      Side note: Discord is only a home away from home. This is participate-at-your-own-will and will not eliminate any forums dedicated for teams on our CGCookie home. It just helps keep forum traffic down and more real-time. We're trying to help the masses keep up with the communication hurdles, and this is another spice tool.

  • Ugh,
       Really missing "Undo" on the sapling modifier.

       If you have something you're starting to be happy with I'd save it quickly rather than trying to "finalize" it.

       You can always go back and save a different preset and/or overwrite the original save with a more refined version.

       If you lose your modifier window, I think you've lost the ability to save that preset and have to start over.