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 all.

    Long time lurker here.

    I had my eye on the cart, but it seems to be a popular asset, so I was wondering if any team leads want to assign me to something.

     I'm somewhere between intermediate and advanced, and I'm looking for challenge. So a 2 or a 3 would be preferred.

    I posted some previous work on my colab 2021 WIP thread, so you can gage my skill level for yourself.

    Otherwise I'll just wait for something later on that people are avoiding. 😁

    • Hi andybegg I had a look at your WIP thread and I think you're going to be a great addition to whichever team you want! 

      I think at the moment the plan was to let the folks pick what they wanted to work on, so you could definitely wait and see what is left over if you wanted to. But it's really up to you!

    • Thanks, I've put down interest in the roof, as it looks like a big job that could be split between people, but I'm happy anywhere else too. :)

  • theluthier I just tested a .jpg and .png each 1024 pixles. The png was 6mb and the jpg was 750 kb with no quality difference. So if we convert all of the textures from png to jpg at the end, performance and gpu memory will definitely be better.

    • Naive question: isn't the gpu memory usage function of the uncompressed image anyways? (or do GPUs uncompress jpgs on the fly?)

    • chbug  I'm pretty sure the gpu's hold the texture and material data in their VRAM. So a smaller size texture will take up less ram.

      I could be completely wrong tho.

    • crew

      Excellent test stickdonkey. I really like the idea of working with PNG's until the end and compressing all textures down to JPGs. I expect the last week to be a lot of optimization efforts. Tests like this will be invaluable.

    • theluthier btw, I will try the trim sheet approach because it could save a lot of GPU and I'd like to learn how it work better. (I watched a video and unlike lightmap texture you can actually stretch you UVs to fit the texture as long as it isn't huge). I've already uploaded my progress on my WIP and will be continue doing so this week-end :)

  • theluthier Hey Kent! Thank you for organizing this project. I am really looking forward to participating. 

    I put in a comment in the Google Sheets that I would like to sign up for the door. 

    Could you please confirm? 

    Thank you.


  • theluthier not sure I made the registration , pretty sure I filled out the form pretty early , I don't see my name on the asset list sheet

  • theluthier  Am I registered? I filled out the registration form, but I missed the announcement on April 5th about emailing you. Am I too late too join? If so that's alright.

  • crew

    📢 Announcement #2: Updates & Loose Ends 


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

    This changes our communication structure a bit from what I discussed during the stream yesterday. Now I recommend LOW LEVEL communication happens on discord since it’s the easiest / quickest form of communication we have. By “low level” I mean casual, small-consequence discussion. The main negative of persistent chat is their brief nature; they 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 stuff like protocols, announcements, lengthy troubleshooting and idea pitches on the forum threads.

    A big shoutout to the leaders for just nike-ing the Discord idea into reality. I was against it for dumb reasons and now I’m already a big fan. Communication should be much improved as a result!

    Week 1 Stream recording available

    The steam recording is available to watch and features chapters for easier navigation. The stream was 3 hours after all and full of pertinent information. Please watch or at least skim the first 2 hours.

    As promised presentation slides also available to view and I’ve added a Week 1 casual stream for Tomorrow (Thursday). Reminder that this will be completely unrehearsed; just a fly-on-the-wall type stream watching me work and being available to answer questions.

    Team Threads

    It’s important to be plugged into your team’s thread. I recommend checking in at least 2-3 times per week for important info:

    Registration is CLOSED

    Officially registration for the class is closed. I let a few stragglers join because I have a hard time saying no...but I’m not sure we can handle anymore! If you’re interested in the Collab you’re welcome to lurk but officially no more joining.

    Asset Assignments

    I’ve been confirming a steady stream of asset requests and the spreadsheet cells are filling up beautifully! As I asked on stream, it seems several “fill-in-where-needed” people have waited to claim an asset out of respect for those who wanted specific assets. Thank you for that!

    At this point I think it’s safe for everyone to request and fill in remaining gaps. The goal being that everyone has a confirmed asset by the weekend.

    If you do not have comment access to the Asset List spreadsheet, please send me an email ( using either a gmail address or google-associated email and I will add you to the share list.

    Syncing to Google Drive

    I didn’t present this great during the stream. For week 1 I’d like to see everyone synced with the project directory but to NOT add their own .blend files until week 2. There’s some specific protocol I want to explain before contributor files are added.

    To sync the project directory I need to add your email to the share list. If you don’t see the “SPICE-VENDORS-HOUSE” folder in your shared with me section of Google Drive, send me an email ( using either a gmail address or google-associated email and I will add you to the share list.

    The next step is “adding” the shared folder to your Google Drive. This is a weirdly hidden feature using the SHIFT + Z hotkey. Team Leader Shawn recorded a great tutorial video about this process.

    Once you’ve added the shared folder to your Google drive, you can install the Google Drive applet and begin syncing to your local computer. This syncing capability is very important for the project to function for everyone.

    Submitting Homework

    Reminder that homework is due every Sunday at midnight (your time). This gives me Monday to look it over, grade, and choose submissions to review during Tuesday's stream.

    To submit homework, post a reply to your WIP thread with this top line in bold: "Homework Submission - Week 1 - Asset Name". This tells me that you're finished and ready for a grade / feedback. Below the bolded line please add "@theluthier" to mention me so I will be notified. Below the mention I want to see at least one screenshot of your blocked out model. You're also welcome to include any relevant info or comments if you wish:

    IF you finish your homework before Sunday, it's OK to submit early!

    • Thank you

    • theluthier I don't know if I've done something wrong or not, but when I try to add the SPICE-VENDORS-HOUSE (shared by CG Cookie COLLABS) to My Drive (Shift + Z) it first pops up and says that it was successful and then this pop up comes up immediately after it.

      So to summarize, I have downloaded and installed the Google Drive app on my Windows computer and it all seems to be working alright, the only problem is when I try to add a Shared With folder to My Drive in Google drive. Any ideas. Thanks.

    • In the mean time I have downloaded a Hard/Unlinked copy of the spice-venders-house_ASSEMBLY.blend file to my computer, so I should still be able to make and rename a copy of that to be able to work on my particular asset.

    • Scratch that idea.
      You can't really work on an asset when the .blend file is looking for the Ref picture and it isn't on your computer.
      Honestly this is my first time ever using "syncing" and I know that I'm out of my depth here. theluthier
      A tutorial or a quick how-to work in syncing for the Spice Vendor's House specifically would probably be of great value to a few people, not just me.

      I had hoped to start "breaking eggs with a stick" at this point, such is life.

    • When I do the Shift + Z command the folder does move to My Drive, for a second, before bouncing back and giving me the Server Error. theluthier I don't know if it has anything to do with my available drive storage: I have 6.1GB used out 15GB.

      Unless it's meant for week 2, I would like to know what the preferred workflow is for working with syncing and how I should copy the assembly.blend correctly so that I can work on the All Accessories asset.

      I did watch blanchsb Google Drive tutorial about how to download and set up the Google Drive Storage folder, but after that I started to get lost and my eyes started to glaze over when he began to go into the details about keeping your synced file current and what not.

      Sorry, I really am a total newbie at all this syncing stuff.

    • crew

      Hey vincav81 I think you may not have access until next week, which is why you will get the error, But here's what to check for:

      Be sure to select Shared with me then click on the Spice Vendor folder once so it is highlighted and then SHIFT + Z. Click on My Drive and you should see the Spice Vendor folder here also, you don't need to access it here, you should now be able to sync (save to it via the Google drive folder on your desktop)

      If you still have trouble see here 👇

      Try checking your Firewall settings in any antivirus software you have, the default or recommended setting is best.

      Also check your file sharing setting in Windows.

      Go to the start menu, scroll down to Windows System, in the drop down menu select Control Panel. or search 'Control Panel' if you have the search facility activated.

      In the Control Panel select Network and Internet, then Network and Sharing Centre, then in the list on the left select Change Advanced Sharing Settings.

      In the private(current profile) section under file and printer sharing, I think this will need to be on.

      Also in the All Networks section, under File Sharing Connections, select 128 bit encryption.

      Also check the Google Drive sharing settings (You said you have 6.1GB used you should have nothing used if you are a new user on Google Drive, so definitely check these settings).

      Do you see a cloud icon on the task bar next to the clock?

      If not, in the start menu scroll to Backup and Sync from Google and in the drop down menu select Backup and Sync from Google

      If you do, click on it and then click on the 3 dots on the right  and then click preferences.

      In the preferences window 

      Under My Computer deselect everything

      Under Google Drive select Sync My Drive to This Computer and then select Sync these folders only  (Absolutely Definitely if you have other non spice vendor files in your Google Drive) and you will see a folder named Spice-Vendor when you have access and done the SHIFT + Z thing next week, select this folder.

      Under Settings, select Network Settings, then check the proxy setting is Auto Detect and the Download and Upload Rate are both set to Don't Limit. (Limit setting not necessary but best for speed based on your ISP Mbps)

      Hope this helps.

      theluthier  Maybe worth everyone checking their settings, especially which files to sync so we don't share private files and blow our 15GB limit on day one next week.

    • adrian2301 Thank you for your response, I will check out your suggestion.

      About the 6.1GB, I'm an "old" user on Google Drive, I've just never had to sync anything before.

      Thank you.

    • I wish I could edit these posts. adrian2301 I made mention of the 6.1GB because I didn't know or not if it was a lack of space on my end that was stopping the file from being moved to the Google MY Drive section.

    • adrian2301 theluthier Ok so I've gone and done all that and I still get the server error.

      I may have got the stick by the wrong end. The way I understood (right or wrong) was that we all get access to a version of the Main Assembly file with the camera correctly set up and the artwork linked to the camera as a viewer background image; then we create and rename a copy of that Main file and make that our Asset Project (insert naming convention) file and create our model inside of that and then create a render and put that in our personal WIP Homework threads with Bold Text Titles to say that we are ready to be graded; and then upload the .blend files in the 2nd week after Kent's instructions in the next live stream.
      Hopefully that was clear.

      I have downloaded from the Shared Drive an unlinked copy of the Main Assembly file to my computer, but when I opened it I found/realised it did have the reference artwork set as a BG image for the camera, but the file path was for something that wasn't on my machine and I didn't want to mess with the download file by downloading the reference artwork onto my machine and linking that instead to the camera. I don't know if that's what everyone else has been doing, I just wanted make sure I wasn't doing something wrong which then led into the Server Error problem.

      I'm in Australia, so I'm kinda feeling the deadline a bit differently to other people and I obviously had wrong expectations/understand of what we we're expected to do and maybe I missed hearing something Kent said on the 1st livestream, I don't know. I only joined CG Cookie the week before this Collab started so I really don't have an back knowledge that the rest of the expats on here may have. Sorry for rambling.

      Thank you for hopefully helping me to set up my computer for week 2. Goodnight.

    • crew

      vincav81 We saw this issue a couple times yesterday and it came down to permissions. I just added your gmail address to the folder with proper permissions. Let me know if this fixes the sync issue.

    • theluthier Yes thank you. Every thing is green. Now I can start on my cart homework, thank you.

    • theluthier  If you could do the same for me--I'm running into the same issue.   Thanks

    • theluthier I can't do it either. I've tried linking the camera to my own scene, but there is no camera (despite me being able to look through it in the main file?)

    • Hi theluthier :) Hope you're having a relaxing weekend. I, unfortunately, am also in the same permissions boat as those above.

  • Hey theluthier

    There was talk about having moving water, thought I might draw your attention to this flow map addon in case you hadn't seen it.

  • Would it be possible to pin the team forum streams to the top of the pile like this one? I know you can bookmark them but it may be easier if they all appeared at the top. 

  • Hey theluthier

    Hope I'm not stepping on anyone's toes here. After the live stream, I got a little carried away trying to "xerox" the image to figure out those placements.

    Here is what I came up with:

    Not sure how apparent it is in the first image, but basically to get it all lined up the world has to curve away from the house. As does the water.

    But now the bushes rocks, water, water wheel, etc all line up pretty well.

    Anyway, I hope it's some help to you.

  • I signed up a the beginning but only watched the first livestream today. My internet fibre got drilled through by accident which took a week to repair. So I have been on a stressfull internet diet for a while filled with several repair appointments and calling companies to fix it.  

    I guess I'm a bit too late for participating now. It looks like a really cool project but there are already so many people working on it and I don't have the energy to really get into it now.  At least not by tomorrow. Is it possible to join from the second week?

    • That sounds horrible, jewelry girl from Eindhoven; I freak out when my internet connection breaks down for a minute or so ;)

      I don't know if theluthier  will let you join for the second week, but I will put in a good word for you.

      ( You probably don't remember, but we 'met' at the Blender Conference 2018. I asked if you could 3D print metal and you didn't know Captain Disillusion ;))

    • Oh wow! That was the first Blender conference I attended and I was kinda new to everything. Sorry that I don't remember you personally! What I do remember is meeting so many great people that I came back the next year. 

    • About the block-out, I've been working on the model uploaded in the google-drive and there's one thing bugging me, the wall of the house aren't lined up.

      Also, I understand that no wall in reality is perfectly aligned in a grid and we'll need that deformation to give authenticity to our house.

       However, here is a proposal. The block-out should be aligned with the grid so we can easily snap details/texture to the house and at the end we can add a lattice deformation (not sure it's called that in blender) to fine tune the angle of the wall so it looks more natural.

    • crew

      daphne2 Indeed you're on my registration list! Have Week 1's task is so simple, I don't think you will have any issue catching up in week 2. 

      I just shared out the asset spreadsheet and google drive folder. Please commend on the asset you'd like to build, get synced up to the folder, create a WIP thread, tag me in your week 1 homework post  and I'll grade it 👍

  • theluthier 

    2 questions:

    1.  How much detail are we putting into the various background assets?
      Using my MG trees as an example, one can't see the roots at all from the perspective of the photo.
      That said, if the goal is to be able to "walk around" in this environment, at least a rudimentary root structure should be modeled.

      I could also have floating bunches of leaves, and nobody could see that they aren't really attached to limbs. . . from the perspective of the photo. Walking around the floating leaves would become really apparent.

      2. From a workflow perspective, applying modifiers is one of the very last things I'd typically do before handing things off to somebody else. (I'm using the skin and a single level subsurf modifier to hand create the MGtrees.) I don't think we have to worry about it this week, but it sounds like pretty rapidly I'm going to need to apply those modifiers and clean up the trees. . . which makes any further modifications of them a lot more manual. It really. . . finalizes the limb structure.

      The answer to 1 will also affect 2.  If we only need to worry about the perspective from the view of the original artwork, then I really only need a very few main limbs.  If we need to be able to walk around the tree I'll need a lot more branches.
    • A good example of this is the image below.  The trees on the left and right feature only the limbs you can actually see from the perspective of the camera.  The tree in the middle represents a lot more branching.  If we're only concerned with the perspective of the camera, the trees on the left and right are probably more appropriate - a ton less vertexes.

      If we need to be able to walk it, then the tree in the middle is likely to get even busier as I find attachment points for the leaves.

    • crew

      Great question wardred. I think only the FG trees should feature the small branches you've presented in the screenshot. MG trees can have the thicker branches but thinner branches should be removed (i.e. hidden by the leaves). BG tree clusters will only be the trunks with all branches non existent ( fully hidden by their leaves)

      I'm planning to spend some time this week researching foliage methods. Look for a post from me about this and clarifying things like level of detail in the nature team post.

  • crew

    theluthier I just watched your casual livestream and was thinking of the dam,

    Maybe this will help

    This is the type of dam I thought of, the rocks are used to direct the flow of water into a narrow more powerful flow to turn the waterwheel and could be a feature behind the house. To build it would be to reuse some rocks from the front of the house.

    The front I see as a more tranquil and peaceful pool of water

    or this

    a bridge could be added before opening out into a lake like this.

    • crew

      Also the foundation of the house looks like it is actually in the water.

      Perhaps the house was built and then the stream widened when installing the waterwheel.

      What do you think  blanchsb could you build the foundations like this?

    • adrian2301 I agree. It seems that the vast majority of water wheels have masonry running on their side and below them. This makes sense for both the stability of the support structures, as well as erosion control. I'm no expert on the matter, but I imagine water wheels would increase the rate of erosion for the banks surrounding them. But even just going off the art, I would think that the foundation cobblestone would continue down and over, to at least the support.

    • adrian2301 Nice idea about the flow of the water, there should be a more poweful flow to turn the wheel. lexicolopolis It's indeed custom to build the foundation all the way down into the water to prevent erosion. I'm a structural engineering by day ;) so that's how I would design it :).

    • Sidetracking here: for bearings that are under water, people tend (or tended, I am not sure if they still do this) to use pockwood, which is a hardwood that has the property, that is becomes 'greasy' when wet. It is self-lubricating!

      'Interesting' fact is that there is a tool, used by church organ tuners, that is traditionally also made of pockwood...

    • spikeyxxx I'm not familiar with pockwood. Do they use it as a foundation or just for cladding?

    • lucky for underwater ball bearings for instance, like in ship's propeller shafts  or in wooden sluices. As far as I know, not so much for watermills...

  • Hey, how do I create a WIP thread here on CG cookie?

  • Don't really know where to post this, but the Multiresolution Modifier has some strange and confusing naming convention:

    The difference between Simple and Linear only becomes clear on a deformed (by Sculpting for instance, but also like in the example above) Mesh, whereby Linear is like Simple in the Subdivisio Surface Modifier and Simple is something new, smoothing, but smoothing the original Mesh less.....or something like that.

    • crew

      Thanks for digging into this spikeyxxx! Now that I'm seeing your example, I seem to remember the simple subdiv example used for (kind of) retaining suggested hard edges in a lo-poly base. Which is why it's more cubish than spherical. So I guess it's attempting to preserve suggested hard edges that don't have holding edges like I added yesterday...

      Interesting option but still seems a bit half-baked to me. Holding edges I can trust.

  • I originally posted this to my team thread, but it might be better to put here:

    I have a question about data linking, optimization, and performance. 

    I understand the benefits of using data linked objects for the sake of mapping numerous UVs to the same map space, and thus cutting down overall texture data. Clearly with that comes reduced time painting, and modeling. 

    But is data linking reducing the data load based on the vertices themselves? I imagine that you're essentially instancing the object, which I've always believed had huge performance advantages, but I don't know why I think that. 

    From a rendering standpoint, I could see that you'd probably be getting better performance on memory allocation by having smaller data chunks with the linked object data, but the instanced copies in my example below have faces that aren't being culled on the interior, so the payoff would probably be less. Not sure if I'm assessing this correctly.

    If data linking does increase poly-related performance, does this translate to other environments? For example, can you export to Unity in a way that the data-linked geometry is functioning as multiple copies of the same base object? Or would you have to use a different method to have this translate properly?


    Having these stones setup as 4 stones that have been duplicated and data linked gives me 278 verts. As single users they hop up to 2k.

    Alternately by making them single users, booling out their interiors, and then optimizing their geometry the best I could, got me down to 1,483, without data linking. 

    Retopo looked like it could get MAYBE get me closer to 1000. I started it to see how much labor was going to be involved with what kind of reward, and about 40% through I was already at 500. 

    So, what approach would be a) most optimal for performance as it relates to this project? and b) most optimal as it relates to exporting assets to game engines or other environments?

    • crew

      lexicolopolis Well..that is a Question with a capital "Q".

      Short answer: I...don't know! Since I've never done a project like this or worked on a shipped game, I was hoping we could figure out such questions together through the course of this project.

      Longer answer: I don't think a good answer to this question exists. It might seem like your questions could have a black and white answer because it's mathematical and this is computer art after all. But allow me compare it to this question: "What is the best computer for me?"

      I had to answer this question a couple years ago to build my current PC. I spent a week researching and watching reviews and I felt no closer to answering that question the way I expected. There's simply too many factors surrounding my specific computer usage and too many products on the market to find an objectively true answer. By the time I nervously purchased all the parts to build my PC, I was mostly just hoping it would turn on, much less if it was objectively THE BEST computer for me. Spoiler: The computer did work and it's accomplished what I needed! Who knows if it's accomplishing "the best" though.

      Your question is similar: What approach would be most optimal for performance as it relates to this project? Frankly we won't know until the end and we find out if our scene runs in real time in the viewport. If it lags, we'll know that either A) we weren't optimal enough or B) Blender's viewport is less capable that unreal or unity.

      So rather than comparing lo poly assets vs data sharing, why not expect to implement both? If we keep our geometry as low as possible AND we use data sharing where applicable, that's our best chance to achieve the goal. And that's really all we can know until we have the assembly file together. At that point maybe a technical math wiz could take a deep dive into the numbers but still those numbers would only directly apply to this project. The next project would have its own factors that switch up the formula. This is why every game has different poly count limits on assets, different texture resolution protocols,  etc.

      I'm rambling but your question touches on a giant conversation; endless conversation really. I hope this is helpful at least a little...

    • theluthier That's kind of where the conversation ended up with my husband. His short answer to me (which came after maybe an hour lecture on rendering), is that it probably has to do with the specific platform you're rendering on, and how computer hardware is scaling at any given time. And that I should just run benchmarks. Hahah

    • crew

      If data linking does increase poly-related performance, does this translate to other environments? For example, can you export to Unity in a way that the data-linked geometry is functioning as multiple copies of the same base object? Or would you have to use a different method to have this translate properly?

      lexicolopolis , Simply put you would use a different method. In your image you would model your 4 stones in Blender and optimize those 4 stones with details such as with normal maps, then import 4 stones into Unity and the linking for what, 20 stones, would be done in Unity. It's called a prefab in Unity. From your 4 stones you make 4 prefabs one for each, then you add the prefabs to the scene and duplicate, rotate and scale the prefab.

      Just looking at your image you could go as low as maybe 48 verts for the wall part.

      May I suggest a different approach.

      This is a basic silhouette shape of the wall the rest of the detail for each stone could then be sculpted, you may wish to add a little more detail first like this.

      This gives 171 verts, then you would duplicate this mesh sculpt detail then bake the detail to the original, it would be much faster workflow than stacking stones then deleting all those internal faces that will never be seen. Now that would be optimized. I just noticed I haven't left space for the metal part but you get the idea.

  • theluthier Just wanted to ask if you have and if you have sorry I missed it but have you posted the footbridge yet somewhere?


  • theluthier Any word on if splat21 is still doing a blog of Collab2021? Thank you.

    • crew

      vincav81 I think splat21 is definitely going for a blog, you'll probably find him lurking around a bush or tree, or even up a mountain, or he could be lurking inside the house watching us through the window. Just smile and wave.....

    • vincav81, yes, Splat is still doing a Blog.  It is taking me a few days to put it together.  That, and as adrian2301 pointed out, I keep quite busy lurking about.  I hope to launch the Blog on Friday.  Thank you for your interest.

    • I'm looking forward to it Splat because the information on the forum is rather fragmented and I'm getting information overload 

  • crew

    📢 Announcement #3: Blog, Syncing Saga & More

    Some inspiration / Food for thought

    andybegg shared a great video on Discord of an artist overviewing their modular game environment methods. The style and structure is very similar to our project. I wish the video was published when we started the Collab! But still it's full of timely insight about this kind of work. NOTE: None of it is done with Blender but it's the concepts we're interested in here, all of which can be translated to Blender. I highly recommend watching for inspiration and to gain some bird's-eye perspective:

    Splat's Blog is LIVE

    Splat has launched his Blog to detail the Collab from the inside! Expect to see meaty content about what we're learning from the project, interviews, tips, tricks, and spotlights on asset progression. Check it out regularly as he updates each week!

    Google Drive Syncing (and a Revelation)

    Google Drive has proven...cumbersome, right? Thankfully blanchsb has recorded a fantastic tutorial video about getting synced to this project's shared folder, including insight about working with the .blend's organization. PLEASE WATCH THIS IF YOU'RE CONFUSED:

    Also I finally understand how Google Drives storage works thanks to comments in the most recent stream! Each file submitted is only counted against the owner's storage. So if everyone's google drive storage has 10 GB available, technically this means our project has 890 GB or storage!

    This is a huge revelation. This means that we can be far less restrictive with our storage. In short: If you have Google Drive storage available to save 20 WIP versions of your scene, you can do that. Whew I'm so glad I understand this now 😅

    Week 3 Homework & Update to Texture Parameters

    Week 3 is all about map baking and texture painting. In short the assignment is 4-fold:

    1. Unwrap UVs for your LO-poly model(s)
    2. Bake HI-poly details into two maps: Normal & Cavity
    3. Hand-paint a Color Texture Map
    4. Setup a material using these textures.

    Here's some parameters regarding Texture resolutions and file format. During the week 3 stream I said to keep texture resolutions small (1024, 512px). Ultimately I think the final version of these textures will need to be small like this, but 2 factors have changed my mind:

    • Such small textures look hideous up close. This is really lame for individual beauty renders of individual assets, which I would 100% want if I were you. In fact I intend to make that a final homework assignment: rendering a beauty shot of your asset. To accomplish this we need bigger texture resolutions.

    • Since we have more Google Drive storage than I originally thought, we can sync bigger textures! So long as you have available storage space.

    Therefore I am raising the cap on texture resolutions. I recommend a minimum resolution of 1024 for small assets (vase, lantern, etc) and as high as 2K (2048x2048) for larger assets.

    As for texture format, please save your NORMAL maps as 16 bit PNGs and your COLOR + CAVITY maps as 8bit PNGs.

    Save your textures in the TEXTURES directory within the sub-folders, the same way you've been doing with you .blend files: SPICE-VENDORS-HOUSE/TEXTURES/

    Please do your best to follow this naming convention: category_asset-name_username_TEXTURE

    • EX: acc_lantern_monaloren_COLOR
    • EX: acc_lantern_monaloren_NORMAL
    • EX: acc_lantern_monaloren_CAVITY
    • EX: nature_FG-tree-A_danitufi_LEAF-ALPHA

    Most assets will only need color, normal, cavity, and leaf alpha textures. But the exceptions will be the creek, clouds, etc. For such exceptions you can save whatever you need in terms of textures, just change the suffix part of the file name.

    ** IF you saved textures in the TEXTURE directory before the stream yesterday, I placed those textures in the _OLD folder. Please move those into their proper folder before continuing.

    Week 4 Buffer

    Week 4 was always intended as extra time needed to catch up and polish your assets. So if you're running behind on any of the home work do not worry! You're welcome / expected to use the last week in April as time to catch up.

    I'm grading based on the effort I see each week, relative to each artist. So long as you're submitting work that you clearly attempted each week, you get points and feedback.

    • I'm wondering whether something like the animation of the stylized grass with texture cards in Unreal Engine as demonstrated in the first video of this posting could be achieved in Blender with some workaround?

  • The  link for the discord is expired, how can I join the  group?