Matthew Halls (hunter-x)

31 replies · posted

COLLAB2021 - WIP - hunter-x

Currently working on Vase B for the project, but we'll see whether I feel up to grabbing anything extra once the asset lists for the rear and (if it happens) interior of the house are finalised.

Homework submissions:

Original Post:

My thread for the project; please enjoy the vast nothingness it contains (for now).

Leaning towards the Accessories section but I haven't settled on a specific asset - I'll sleep on it for the moment and see what the interest levels are like for the different areas once I wake up.

  • This is where I'm at with my vase so far; tried a few different ways of shaping it and ended up going with a Curve to define the silhouette, then Screw and Solidify modifiers to produce the mesh followed by some manual tweaks and optimisations. I'm reasonably satisfied with the general shape relative to the reference image, though I haven't decided yet if I want to bevel the sharp edges slightly and/or try to reduce that vertex count a bit further. Got a bit of a headache this afternoon so I'll probably sleep on it and make any tweaks based on feedback tomorrow before submitting the final version for review. 

  • Here's a few work-in-progress screenshots from yesterday for the sake of properly documenting my progress:An initial concept before I switched to using curves; the plan was to block out the mesh then use either Subdivision Surface or Bevel modifiers to smooth it out, but I was having difficulty getting the shape to look quite right.I switched to defining the silhouette with a curve, then used the Screw modifier to generate the vase and a Solidify modifier to, well, solidify it.The first version of the vase had faces inside it, but I removed those once the spice was added since they'll never actually be seen.I tried filling the base of the pot using the curve, but the Solidify modifier started playing up and making faces pass through each other on the sharp edge, so I had to do it manually.I converted the vase to a mesh and filled in the hole manually, plus I chopped off the bottom to flatten it out. Later on I went back and adjusted the size of this part slightly to better match the reference image.The spice was done using the same curve-and-screw method as the vase, albeit with a much less complex curve.

  • Homework Submission - Week 1 - Vase B


    Following feedback yesterday I bevelled some of the sharp edges slightly (I've left the join between the stand and pot and the hidden edges underneath the stand as-is for the time being, though I can always adjust them later) and now I think the model is about sorted for the week. Since I'm not aware of the specific polycount limit for assets just yet I left it at the default for the curve, but it's simple enough to dissolve some of the edges if we need to optimise things later.

    • crew

      Fantastic work this week hunter-x! I love the curve approach instead of polygon modeling - Clever! You've easily earned full points this week 👍

      Are you comfortable converting this to a mesh for sculpting accents in week 2?

    • theluthier The file as it stands has already been converted to a mesh (the Solidify modifier didn't like me trying to fill in the base while still using curves) but it shouldn't be difficult to increase the geometry for sculpting. Currently planning out how I want to balance the detail work between sculpting and procedural details in the material; my first instinct would have been the latter (given that I've been going through the Shading and build-a-snowman courses on the site lately) but it depends on how much larger-scale detail I want to add to the shape of the pot or if it's more uniform due to the wheel sculpting (with the exception of the horizontal bands that result from that method).

    • crew

      hunter-x You make a good point about sculpting vs procedural texture accents. Personally I never skip a chance to add some hand-sculpted touches but it's a valid approach to do it in the shader only.

      Here's some examples of surface quality I'd like to see (whether sculpted or procedural textures):

    • hunter-x Congratulations to full points 😀! I'm looking forward to your detailed version of the vase 😀! Personally I would use the procedural shading for the basic material structure and sculpting for details as the diagonal crack in the last of Kent's theluthier 's  example images above.

  • Here's a few more WIP pictures as I set things up for submission this evening:

    Added the vase to the Google Drive file, and it appears to be just a little bit too large!

    Much better.

    Here's a shot of how it compares to the reference image.

    The way my mesh was generated by the curve means that there's more edges on some parts of the vase than others.

    This means that there's a lot more faces on that area when I subdivide it, which isn't great when aiming for higher levels of detail.

    I ran a 4-degree Limited Dissolve on the mesh to merge some of the edges.

    Marginally less smooth, but still close enough to be acceptable.

    The number of faces still isn't even across the entire mesh, but it's a lot better and makes it a bit less taxing to subdivide it.

    And this is where I've gotten so far with my sculpting - a combination of Scrape and Smooth on the surface of the vase (the trick is finding a balance between adding detail and keeping the overall shape fairly uniform), a slight pinch on the edge of the stand and not pictured I also flattened/smoothed the underside of the stand to reduce some ripple effects from the subdivision process. I still need to consider finer detail such as cracks and horizontal banding, though whether I include them in this week's submission or as part of the shader (either procedurally or texture-painted) depends on whether I can sculpt them to an acceptable quality.

  • Homework Submission - Week 2 - Vase B


    The fine details like cracks and the horizontal bands are still to come, but I'm fairly satisfied with the initial effect produced by the sculpting process:

    The result is fairly subtle at present, especially in the second picture, but I'm hesitant to overdo it before I start working on the material and the finer details that will provide - I suspect it's going to be a case of going back and forth between the various methods to find a good balance. The spice mesh is currently unmodified as I plan to handle that entirely within the material (I envision it being fairly evenly piled like this, or perhaps this).

    As a bonus, I added a procedural bump map to the high-poly mesh as a demonstration of what the vase might look like once the fine details are in place:

    • That's already looking good 👍! Exaggerating with the sculpted details so that they become appropriately visible with the final shading is a good point for which elubie gives a good example  here

    • crew

      Nice job on your sculpt this week hunter-x! This looks like a very authentic vase according to the art.

      My only note is that it's a little basic; boring...again, I will say the vases in the art also look basics. But I've enjoyed watching other vase makers add some character like cracks, chips, and subtle decorative accents like design ridges. Similarly I feel like a plain vase like this is an opportunity to make it unique; stand out a little.

      This probably sounds like contradictory advice when I've said "match the art" far more often. However the vases were the one asset that I would like to see interpreted more uniquely instead of matching the basic versions from the art. 

      That said, you've certainly accomplished the task and it is authentic after all! You get full points. I hope at least this feedback is food for thought. Maybe in the texture you could add an interesting paint detail...

      It was at this point Kent realized he didn't read the description of the homework submission....

      LOL I wrote all that feedback out before reading that you intend to add the details I described. My apologies 😅 Keep doing what you're doing!

  • With Ludum Dare coming up this weekend I need to get off my ass and not leave everything until Sunday this week; first step is getting that normal map baked properly. 

    My unwrapped UVs. There's a lot of green because the vase and spice parts are slightly different scales, but if you select only the one object it reports a lot better. I also had to flip the normals on the spice mesh because those had been inside-out the whole time apparently, as well as a duplicated edge loop hiding near the top of the vase (not that it had been causing issues just yet, but just in case).

    The first pass of the normal map, once I'd gotten some details like the Extrude value dialed in.

    The main surfaces came out okay, though I was getting some pretty nasty jagged marks along the sharp edges of the vase.

    Went through a bunch of different configurations before I finally found that disabling Auto-Smooth on the low-poly object helped improve things somewhat.

    For the most part, this then came out a lot better.

    The jagged edges are still present in some places but considerably less obvious, though the main remaining issue are a couple of dents on the edges that haven't come out quite right. If anyone has suggestions on possible fixes for either point (short of smoothing out those areas on the high-poly sculpt) please let me know!

    • hunter-x I like to see your progress on the normal textures! For the jagged edges and the problematic dents best ask Jonathan jlampel since he's the texturing expert here on CG Cookie 👍.

    • crew

      It looks like the remaining issues are due to the angles of the cracks being too extreme. Notice how the top of this part has a lip that would block the ray from hitting the surface behind it:

      I'd recommend turning auto smooth off for the high poly as well, and smoothing out that section so that there isn't any portion that cannot be reached by a ray coming from the low poly normal. You can still use a crease but it can't cause an overhang. 

  • Switched up my approach slightly today: instead of trying to apply procedural details on top of my baked normal map, I'm going to build the material on my high-poly model (through a combination of sculpting, procedural stuff and texture-painting), then bake everything (colour, normals etc.) down to a set of image textures for the low poly version.

    Discovered somewhere along the line my high-poly model had gotten busted and this edge was no longer displaying properly (later tests suggested this may be due to the duplicate edge from yesterday causing more issues when deleted on the high-poly model than on the low-poly model; not sure if this is at all related to the baking issues from yesterday yet though). Thankfully I keep plenty of backups and was able to revert to a previous version.

    Expanding on the Noise texture bump map shader from last week's submission, I added some variation to the colour of the vase to make it less uniform.

    Next up I hooked up an image texture to a MixRGB node and the shader's Clearcoat value to produce a glaze effect, then texture-painted a mask to apply it to the lower half of the model.

    I combined the Noise texture with a Wave texture to add the horizontal bands I keep talking about to the normal map - this is almost certainly the wrong way to combine normal maps but it produced a reasonable visual proof-of-concept and I can always adjust it to use the proper method later.

    The spice material is considerably less complex and just needed some slight detail applied to the surface of the pile.

    And this is where I'm at currently. There's a number of things I'd still like to work on - the bands feel a bit too uniform so I may attempt to vary the strength or shape of them across the vase, I'd like to make the edge between the glaze and non-glaze sections of the model less flat, there's potential to add cracks on the vase or scratches on the glaze using various methods, and I think the Specular value on the shader could be turned down somewhat - but it's gradually starting to look more like a viable set-piece for the scene.

  • Homework Submission - Week 3 - Vase B


    Today's work involved taking the current state of my high-poly vase and baking it onto the low poly version:

    I re-did the low-poly UV maps after reverting my save in the previous update.

    In order to bake the colour map I needed to bypass the shader and hook the colour node directly to the output, otherwise the bake would be affected by lighting which isn't what I'm after.

    The vase colour gets baked down...

    ...and so did the spice using the same method.

    Hooked the texture up to both materials and now the low-poly model is the correct colour.

    Next up was the normal map, now containing both my sculpted shape and procedural fine details.

    Interestingly I had few issues with applying the normal map this time, even in regards to that dent from the previous updates - the settings that ended up working for me were Shade Smooth enabled and Auto-Smooth disabled for both the low-poly and high-poly models. Also featured is a third map for the Clearcoat value (mostly the same as the texture-painted version but applied to a slightly different UV map).

    Which brings the state of my low-poly model to this. Overall I'm fairly pleased with how it's gone so far, though the high-poly model showed deformation on the clearcoat from the sculpted detail while the low-poly normals don't produce the same effect, so I'll be looking into that soon. Week 4 is probably going to consist of working further on the details and generally improving the overall quality of the material, following my thoughts as described in the previous update.

  • Fantastic 😀👍!

  • hunter-x, I just saw your comment in the TSMF blog.  When you do create a final render, please post it here, in your WIP, and comment me.  I will see it and update your artwork that is being showcased in the blog.  Thanks.

  • Homework Submission - Week 4 - Vase B


    Not too much different from last week, but with a few added details and polish:

    I started by tweaking the normal map for the high-poly model; sharpening the horizontal bands slightly and adjusting their scale, as well as reworking it to only use a single Bump Map node instead of some kind of vector math abomination. Also featured is the change in the Specular value of the shader to a better, lower number.

    I also noticed that my glaze mask had a few patches that weren't entirely white from the texture painting process. They didn't have any serious impact on the current materials, but I figured I'd take the opportunity to fix them while I remembered.

    I adjusted the colour slightly to add some variation to the glazed portion in addition to the non-glazed areas.

    After some experimentation I came up with a passable system for adding some roughness to the surface of the glaze. I'm not 100% sure whether I think it's the best way of doing it just yet, but I'm curious what other people's opinions are!

    At this point I began re-baking my changes onto the low-poly model. For the normal map I had to make sure to disconnect the clearcoat normal nodes so that only the vase itself would be baked to that particular layer.

    I was also able to solve the issue of the low-poly clearcoat not matching the sculpted shape of the vase by doing a second normal bake with the high-poly normal nodes disconnected and the clearcoat normal nodes connected to the standard normal input, producing a second map which I hooked into the low-poly shader. The majority of the texture is black here because I forgot to switch off Clear Image in the bake settings, but the current version in the Google Drive doesn't have this issue.

    All of which produces this as my 'final' submission! On the whole I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, though I might go back to it in the next week or two in my own time and see if I can add any more scratches or imperfections to the surface.

    Here's the same image with a blank background for splat21 - I'm also planning a proper render/video in the near future, but that requires me to set up something a little more permanent than the Blender studio light so I don't quite have the time to do it tonight.

  • hunter-x, thanks for providing this money shot.  I have just updated the image in the blog.  Thanks!

  • crew

    Great work hunter-x! You finished strong with your vase. Looks good in the assembly:

    I tweaked the reflections a bit and also added a subtle gradient + sheen to the spice pile:

    Thanks for joining Collab2021! It's been a pleasure working together 🤝

    • theluthier Thanks for having me!

      I had a look through your tweaks to the model; I'd experimented with using Roughness for the glaze after seeing a couple of the other vases use it but decided I preferred the way Clearcoat produced a smooth layer on top of the rough surface of the clay (with Roughness it clings a bit too tightly to the surface of the vase for my taste if that makes sense). That said, as project lead you of course have final say on the way the models are presented in the scene itself :) Out of curiosity, was the change more of a stylistic thing or are there performance considerations when using Clearcoat? The changes to the spice look good though and help make the edges stand out a bit more.

      I'll probably combine elements of your version and mine for my personal renders (and stick them in a third WIP file on the Drive for anyone who wants them). Would it be better for me to start from WIP_acc_vase-B_hunter-x_01.blend or MASTER_acc_vase-B_hunter-x.blend in the event that you want to bring anything from that version into the scene model?