Mar 22, 2017

On the value of simple characters

Getting creative with 3D has a striking likeness to play, especially when creating a proto character and coming up with a caption for your Instagram. Using b3d the process can be a breeze, before you get stuck on refinements.

In this instance, it would have taken me under an hour to come up with an arrangement of blocks that resembles a simple robot, and take a few pictures from different angles for creative options down the road. What took a toll at the next step was experimenting with multiplying the character. Why? Because we can. Initially I started with the array modifier and duplicating the resulting lines to fill a square area. Maybe I should have stopped there. The results were OK but I wasn't feeling it. Then I tried using particles as the mechanism for multiplying the images. This was like falling into a rabbit hole for time expenditure. Noticing the apparent potential I had a hunch that it would be a worthwhile method to hone, but only time will tell.

This is a sample of what was produced.

Feb 23, 2017

On product photography and 3D rendering

Sooner or later we come to a point where we question our methods and wonder if there is a better way. As with many things, the usual answer is yes. However it is never an easy crossover to get to the other side. It takes will take a lot of work before seeing useful results. I am referring to 3D rendering in this instance.

My journey into Blender 3D started about a year ago. For me Blender represented an amazing tool, and a solution looking for a problem. Over the course of the year, the skill build up took up a crazy amount of accumulated hours. With a good amount of determination it was like solving a puzzle, and it started to make more sense as the various bits fell into place. Recently I opted to set up a beverate can model. This seems simple enough but it took a bit of a run up before I could produce a useful model. This is the point where product photography and digital illustration blur the line.

Here are some initial results --  two rendered can models, and an earlier example of typical product photography.

In theory the huge win from 3D is that you can get creative with composition as if you were at the shooting table, but with more precision. In practice however, there is also an unknown. It is the random quantity of required effort that is expanded on trial and error, with no guarantees of getting anything usable. Certainty and predicatabity comes over time.

From the general to the very specific, it is worth mentioning a hint that Blender material parameters include Index of Refraction (IOR). This is useful for modeling anything transparent, or in this case condensation droplets. Water should have a value of 1.333. If you miss this detail then you may just end up with hollow air bubbles.

Feb 17, 2017

On typography and rendered word art

Fancy looking motion graphics are all over the TV, flying, zooming and adding lots of punch. It is amazing how much visual impact you can get out of simple words if you just do them in 3D. It is words, and art, but is it word art or typography? In any case, here are some tips on how-to:
  1. Background: Create a complex looking background. Add a mesh, subdivide it, select random, and move up them up a nudge, just to get your triangles visible. Copy paste the mesh and flip it 180 to increase complexity with a sense of symmetry. Play with the material properties of both meshes to get a good color combo and a small amount of reflection. Render it. Import it via File, Images as Planes (ticked in Preferences Add-Ons) into your words project.
  2. Words: Add your message of inspiration. Extrude, bevel, white, reflection. Copy the words, stack them, and change render to halo to get your vapor trails, adjust material color and transparency, and extrusion.
  3. Sky: black
  4. Camera: orthographic
  5. Light: Sun, adjust it to get shadows and complete scene illumination
  6. Grounding: Remember that the objects in the scene need a sense of connection and real-like-ness, hence the shadows and reflections. Otherwise you might as well had done this sort of thing in photoshop, where layer 1 sits on top of layer 2.

Getting this far, you are only one step away from motion graphics. To animate it just add a keyframe into your timeline, move the camera, add another keyframe, click Animate, and WAIT! LOL.

This is not orthodox flat typography made of pure letters. Rather this has one foot in Type and the other foot in the realm of 3D, but it illustrates my point that is, you can do amazing looking graphics out of relatively simple things!

Screenshots: background composition and final scene

Feb 9, 2017

Puppies on tartan?

Meet Margaret. Dachshund. She's modeling a magenta tartan pattern, in three poses.

Hmm, is this really what the client imagined and asked for? That's hard to tell, but in my mind I like to think that this is under promised and over delivered.

Oh Margaret, why must you be so cute? Cuteness overload.