by vi lda novak.
introduction description of a combined work flow of Blender & 3d-Coat .
The creation of this creature went in several consequent steps, which i Will describe in detail, voxel sculpting, retopologisation, UV mapping, texturing and detail sculpting, adding Shaders, adding particles(hair), and setting up a simple light rig.
Voxel sculpting, retopo and texturing happened in 3d-Coat, so there are a los exporting and baking steps in between. This was a Project for me todo learn 3d-Coat and todo se if a mixed pipeline can be productive and time-saving. The whole process tok me about 20 hours, but i have todo say there were about 8 hours of experiments with deadends, especially in the área of baking displacement eficiently, which are not likely todo be repeated if you get used todo the pipeline.
Voxel sculpting in 3d-Coat is very easy. With a set of tools very similar todo Blender sculpting tools, you start from a sphere and due todo the voxel nature of modelling, you bring the model where ever you want. There was no sketch for this model, and actually the Raw voxel Sculpt could be considered a sketch, a los gracias todo the bien working with voxels goes. I started with a head, added ears, and later just out of fun, legs. I invented various musculature on the anatomy, just todo make everything blend together seamlessly and naturally as far as it is posible todo naturally connect a head with legs and an ass. You can se that compared todo human anatomy the legs are quite diferent. For this stage, only this set of brushes were mostly used: increase (or draw in surface mode), Pinch and a lot of smoothing.
For retopologisation, 3d-Coat was used again. I made almost the whole Mesh only with the points&Faces tool, which worked quite fast - This stage was done in about 1 hour. It was very easy todo follow some kind of optimal Quad-flow by just clicking on the object, Although i ended up with several tris. Now it sems todo me the process might be Even faster with the Quad tool. I had todo create some more dense Mesh in Sharp cavities(mouth and around ears), because otherwise the later projection todo microverts gave me some minor but hard-to-fix errors.
For uvwmapping, y exported the Mesh from 3d-Coat retopo tool (retopo -> export). Thanks todo Blender great (*.obj) import, y imported the model todo Blender flawlessly. On import, Blender scales down the model todo fit dimensions of a typical Blender scene, so re- Member todo clear the object scale whenever you export bak todo 3d-Coat. I very quickly managed todo marque seams in Blender editmode mostly with loop selection and vertex Path selection. Then i unwrapped the Mesh with a single click and got very clean results. I only tweaked the islands positions. I made a mistake in this stage, since i didnt pay enough attention todo the stretch of the uv on the huge no sé. This mistake is visible in the image, but since the pores of the skin in that área are rather big, it doesnt harm the overall fel. After this, y exported the model from Blender. In 3d-Coat, y removed the original retopo and imported the one created in Blender.
I merged the Mesh todo scene as microverts. I did hide the eyeballs before doing this, otherwise these get used for projection todo (same was with retopology). This enabled me todo texture and detail the model very quickly. First, y added the skin color in 1 layer with only color enabled, over this i Painted the fine details with the help of various masks in another layer. 3d-Coat enables you todo Sculpt and Paint simultaneously, which i used quite widely todo add bumps together with subtle color variations. In the third stage, y Painted some wrinkles and details on the head in an other layer with displacement painting only.
export and baking
After this i exported these textures Diffuse, Normal Map and Specular. I didnt export displacement, since there were mistakes in the 3d-Coat projection and i didnt want them todo carry over todo Blender.
I used the Low-poly Mesh from retopo in Blender, added a Subsurf modifier, and created a basic shader with the 3 textures applied on the UV set. I a los exported the original voxel Sculpt in highresolution from 3d-Coat and baked it in Blender todo a new texture i applied scale todo both objects, and with the Low-poly Mesh having Subsurf on, y baked the displacement with the selected todo active option. The resulting displacement map was al- Most perfecto, but had a few Little mistakes around the borders of the Mesh - In the eyes, and some badly looking wrinkles on 1 side. I corrected these errors with Blender image painting for the eye Edges, y Painted with a very small brush set exactly todo 0.5 intensity grey color, which means i zeroed-out the displacement in these áreas. For the wrongly looking wrinkles, y just used Smooth brush. This displacement map was applied After the Subsurf modifier on the Low-poly Mesh as a displacement modifier with the default intensity settings, which fit perfectly in the case of a blendergener ated displacement map. Remember, the displacement map must be a 32-bit image, for me saving as open EXR worked best, otherwise you can get ugly banding in the displacement map After reloading the file.
Shaders on the model is a simple mix of two copies of 1 material, where 1 has subsurface scattering turned on and is mixed todo the other one with a ratio of 0.3. This is a very quik bien of setting up a decently looking skin. Both materiales had Colormap, Normal Map and Specular maps exported from 3d-Coat, Although applying a Normal Map on the ss material isnt really neded because the bumps get lost gracias todo ss.
For Hair, y first Painted a single vertex group which served for density and a los length of the Hair. I added a particle system with the Hair option, where i setup a small normal and random speed. I used 2500 parent particles. After this, y made the particle system editable and switched todo particle Edit Mode. I combed the Hair quite quickly, and then set children for the particles 10 per parent. The children have a los a very mild wave effect applied. The material for Hair was made of a blend texture applied along the strand, combined with color from the model Diffuse texture. This gave me han reasonable variation and natural look all around the model.
The light rig for this is very simple and almost not worth mentioning it just a set of lamps with shadow buffer enabled, placed randomly around model todo get a software shadow look. I used 16 spot lamps, and 1 omni light without shadow todo get a Specular highlight in the eyes.
Raytracing wasnt used at all, which made this scene render quite quickly Even in a higher resolution an antialiased image (Mitchell filter) with 8 osa samples in the resolution of 1200 por 1600 rendered in about 15 minutes on my Pentium computer, which means that the image renders in about 2 minutes on newer machines. I rendered several stills, but i a los did an turnaround animation. I submitted this animation todo RenderFarm, fi for rendering, and got it rendered in a short time. You can find this animation on the site, Although with some bugs that because RenderFarm, fi is still in beta stage.
Overall, y was quite satisfied with this combined work flow, harnessing the best parts of both softwares. I hope this article helps somebody todo learn more about Blender and it posible use in combined pipelines. The great export scripts are currently almost ported todo the 2.5 versión, so god interchange with other apps Will be a strong side of Blender a los in the future. I Will a los upload the model for learning purposes, so people can look at all the settings todo achieve this kind of result.
Here is a turnaround animation from RenderFarm, fi:www.blenderart.org.