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Author Topic: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.  (Read 16541 times)

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Offline vortext

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #140 on: April 01, 2019, 11:31:47 AM »
Thanks Stephen, hadn't thought about that scenario.  :thumbsup:

Also as has been noted, gmax uses multiple lights while in Blender there's a single source (i.e. the sun) which results in pitch black 'shadow' side of the model. In the example below gmax render on the left, blender render on the right (don't have a bigger picture at hand at the moment and too lazy to whip one up...   ::))



Perhaps this can be remedied with additional lights, perhaps with some skybox or environment texture or whatever else gives a good result. The main reason for release atm is that people can start tinkering with these kinda settings, and we can incorporate it into the add-on later. 

time flies like a bird
fruit flies like a banana

Sim City 4 Devotion Forums

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #140 on: April 01, 2019, 11:31:47 AM »

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.

Offline Jasoncw

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #141 on: April 01, 2019, 11:31:56 PM »
I've been fiddling around with it, while trying to learn about Blender.

So first, for some reason my preview renders were exactly half as big as they should be. The renders are scaled 1:1, the object dimensions and units are all correct. I fixed this by scaling my model up. However, the preview render buttons as a whole work great, and the preview render correctly changes dimensions when your model is bigger or smaller. It's been very pleasant so far. :)

Also, the sun angle is incorrect although reading earlier this is temporary. While the sun angle does match in in-game sun angle, it doesn't match other BAT's sun angle. The in-game angle looks awful on BATs, the facades get drowned in shadow. For the purposes of testing, I've changed the sun angle to the BAT4Max sun angle, by first duplicating the sun, changing the strength of the original sun to 0, and then doing all work on the duplicated sun. This prevents the preview button from reverting my changes. The BAT4Max sun position is -474,-352,575, and it points towards the origin.


Learning about Blender's Cycles renderer has been... interesting, lol. On one hand some aspects are pretty solid, and other aspects are weird or behind the times.

For the material, in 3ds Max, I used an Arch & Design material with 50% grey, and reflectivity and glossiness of 0.2 each. In Blender, I used a Principled BSDF material with 50% grey and a roughness of 0.8. I used my Northern Trust Bank BAT because it has a lot of surface detail and a lot of deep crevices. Exporting messed up a tiny bit of the geometry. I don't have a Gmax comparison because there were too many polygons to import it. It's all grey right now in order to reduce variables (the materials and textures would never match anyway so you would never be able to use them as a direct comparison), and also because Blender is too confusing for me to go through and redo it yet, lol

I've tried to organize this so that it makes a little bit of sense, but please forgive me for this mess of a post.



Left: 3ds Max  Right: Blender

Lighting:

Normally in renderers that are trying to be physically accurate, lights are all given realistic brightnesses, and you use exposure control in order to adjust the ouput brightness. This happens with cameras in real life, and even your eyes, when you go between outdoors and indoors on a bright sunny day, you can't see anything for a few moments until your eyes adjust. This is important, because you need the light to be bright in order for it to bounce around and give proper indirect lighting. I was able to find this page (https://blendergrid.com/news/cycles-physically-correct-brightness) which does the work of figuring out how bright the sun and sky should be. So in line with the article, I added emissions nodes to the sun and sky, and have given the sun lamp and the sky strengths of 441 and 29, respectively.

I've given the sun the color from the main gmax sun (0.96 0.89, 0.74), and I've given the sky the color from the BAT4Max sky (0.56, 0.56, 1.00). I used the BAT4Max sky color because it was available, and that's what I'm aiming to match. I used the Gmax sun color because I don't know exactly what the sun color is in BAT4Max. imo the render looks very Gmaxish.

I also gave the sun a size of 0.1 m. "Size" gives the light source a dimension, and this is responsible for the effect of having sharp shadows that gradually become softer shadows the further out they are.

Since the lights are so bright, the render would normally be blown out, so you need to reduce the exposure. This is done in the "Scene" menu (idk exactly what all these different menus are called), above the BAT4Blender stuff. I used -6.75, but I think this is a number that may need adjustment.

Above the exposure is the color management area. Specifically, there's the "Render: View:" which can be changed from Default to Filmic. Switching between these two (or others) changes the way the internal color data is mapped to the final pixel colors in the renders. Filmic compresses a wider range of colors into output range, which is great. The disadvantage is that in order to make space for that wider range, the old range (the range that would typically be within visible range anyway) has less space, and so there is some compression and the image can look flat. This will take some further investigation.

From my current rendering, I'd like for the colors to be more vibrant, for the darkest areas to not be quite so pitch black, and for the forms to have a bit more definition (it looks flat). On the plus side I think the shadows are much better here, which is what you'd expect from a path tracer renderer.

Anitaliasing:

The next big issue is the antialiasing filter. These look at the samples in and around a particular pixel, and merge them, weighting them according to a curve. For some reason blender is really lacking in this department. There's Box, Gauss, the most ancient of filters, and Blackman-Harris, which is a modified Gauss. With BAT4Max we use Lanczos, which is a sharpening filter which is great for BATs. There are plenty of other common filters that would also work great but they're not in Blender. Blackman-Harris seems to be the best available. The default size of 1.5 is very fuzzy, and making that number smaller doesn't make the image sharper as much as it makes it less antialiased. I have it at 0.75 in my render.

In the sampling settings you can change "Path Tracing" to "Branched Path Tracing" which lets you manually choose how many samples each sampling type gets, so if you're having problems in your render (for example, glossy surfaces looking noisy), you can increase the samples for that alone. But since AA is the base sample type you can't individually increase it, you have to jack up the rendering settings as a whole, so branched path tracing is not helpful to us. But I've also found that increasing the samples doesn't fix it anyway.

This is a major problem and as far as I know it's unfixable. I'll keep looking into it though.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2019, 11:33:31 PM by Jasoncw »

Sim City 4 Devotion Forums

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #141 on: April 01, 2019, 11:31:56 PM »

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.

Offline fantozzi

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #142 on: April 02, 2019, 02:13:42 AM »
Reading through Jason's report it crossed my mind that "AMD Radeon Pro Render for Blender" could be the better option for rendering bats. It should work on CPU (only) even if no Radeon GPU on bord. But I never used it and can't say nothing about it except they say it has much more anti-aliasing options including lanczos.
If you wake up and ask yourself: "what should I ask myself today" - go and pay a visit to my thread "What should I lot".

Sim City 4 Devotion Forums

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #142 on: April 02, 2019, 02:13:42 AM »

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.

Offline tomvsotis

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #143 on: May 09, 2019, 07:48:31 AM »
Wow, Fantozzi, good find -- I never knew about that renderer. I might try it out.

Also, Jasoncw, fwiw, there are more anti-aliasing settings accessible if you select "Branched Path Tracing" as your sampling method, as described here. No idea if they'll improve matters, but maybe worth a try? 2.8 includes a new renderer, but it also seems to lack the anti-aliasing method you're after.

Sim City 4 Devotion Forums

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #143 on: May 09, 2019, 07:48:31 AM »

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.

Offline tomvsotis

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #144 on: May 09, 2019, 08:04:28 AM »
Perhaps this can be remedied with additional lights, perhaps with some skybox or environment texture or whatever else gives a good result. The main reason for release atm is that people can start tinkering with these kinda settings, and we can incorporate it into the add-on later.
Fwiw, it's pretty easy to use HDRs as environment textures for Blender, and there's also a pretty mature and well-supported (and free) dynamic sky plugin that could be of use here.

(Been busy w IRL stuff for ages, so I'm just going back through this thread now)

Sim City 4 Devotion Forums

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #144 on: May 09, 2019, 08:04:28 AM »

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.

Offline tomvsotis

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #145 on: May 09, 2019, 08:40:42 AM »
And with that a first release of the addon can be downloaded here. I'm curious if it will install and what issues may arise .. *fingers crossed*

AMAZING. Super excited to play around w this. One day we'll look back on this first release as the day we took our first step toward freeing ourselves from the shackles of Autodesk! <3   

Sim City 4 Devotion Forums

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #145 on: May 09, 2019, 08:40:42 AM »

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.

Offline vortext

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #146 on: May 09, 2019, 03:20:25 PM »
(Been busy w IRL stuff for ages, so I'm just going back through this thread now)

yeah ditto, been looking around for new job over the past month or so which was rather taxing with all the jumping through hoops and what not. Got a couple of offers and accepted one of them just yesterday! Super exciting, and while I still have to actually sign they already send me some flight dates to visit the offices abroad as part of 'meet n greet'. Say what now! All this is wildly off topic but I'm still reeling tbh  :D

At any rate, if things pan out how they're shaping up atm it looks like I'll be inbetween jobs during July at least, i.e. lots of free time. :thumbsup: 

time flies like a bird
fruit flies like a banana

Sim City 4 Devotion Forums

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #146 on: May 09, 2019, 03:20:25 PM »

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.

Offline tomvsotis

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #147 on: May 10, 2019, 01:21:12 AM »
(Been busy w IRL stuff for ages, so I'm just going back through this thread now)

yeah ditto, been looking around for new job over the past month or so which was rather taxing with all the jumping through hoops and what not. Got a couple of offers and accepted one of them just yesterday! Super exciting, and while I still have to actually sign they already send me some flight dates to visit the offices abroad as part of 'meet n greet'. Say what now! All this is wildly off topic but I'm still reeling tbh  :D

At any rate, if things pan out how they're shaping up atm it looks like I'll be inbetween jobs during July at least, i.e. lots of free time. :thumbsup:

Oh, congratulations! I also need a new job; fingers crossed things pan out as well for me as they do for you!

As far as Bat4Blender goes, I've just installed the AMD Renderer, and I'm gonna use it to render a new model that I had been planning to export to 3ds Max 2017. We'll see how it goes!

Sim City 4 Devotion Forums

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #147 on: May 10, 2019, 01:21:12 AM »

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.

Offline tomvsotis

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #148 on: May 10, 2019, 01:34:14 AM »
Hey, just FYI, can't seem to get the Bat4Blender package to install on my Mac. Here's the error i'm getting:



It installs OK on Windows. This seems to be a Python issue with pathing... I'll see if I can find a way around it.

Sim City 4 Devotion Forums

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #148 on: May 10, 2019, 01:34:14 AM »

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.

Offline tomvsotis

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #149 on: May 10, 2019, 02:12:18 AM »
Lol OK I've found the problem: I'm not sure what you used to ZIP these files, but for some reason MacOS was seeing each filename as including the relative path from Windows (I guess because *nix systems use a forward slash instead of a backslash to signify path separations, so Linux users may run into this, too):



Getting rid of the "Bat4Blender\" bits out of each file name, then re-zipping and installing, worked fine. I think this might be a problem with including an internal path in the ZIP file? Maybe just ZIP the files themselves?

Sim City 4 Devotion Forums

Re: Using Blender (open source modeling program) for content creation.
« Reply #149 on: May 10, 2019, 02:12:18 AM »

 


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