So here’s something cool, I was contracted by the Google Blocks dev team to make them a character kit! They bought the kit from me, and it’s now available for anyone to download and play around with. This one took a while, but I’m happy with how it came out, and I’m loving what other users are making with the pieces.
Check out (And get!) the kit here.
No Man’s Sky is one of those game that I love to come back to every now and again for the scenery, and since the entire game is based on having things made from different modular parts, I thought it’d be fun. It’s a basic scene, but I spent way too much time on the small detailing lines on the ships hull. Still, had a good time! Also played around with some colours to see how it changed the tone of the piece. Fun fact: colours opposite each other on the colour wheel tend to complement each other nicely.
Check out the basic ship model here, and the planet plus ship model here.
OK, I finally had time again! Blocks had an update last week that fixed that issue where pieces would just suddenly not line up anymore, and I wanted to test that, so here’s a piece that has lots of thing, aligned components. As always, rendered in Blender’s Cycles engine.
This one really helped with practicing UV unwrapping. I’ve been using the basic smart unwrap sofar, but that’s not good enough for this close-up. So I generally selected “Cube unwrap”, and using the “UV/Image edit” view in Blender, positioned the relevant faces over the parts of the texture that I wanted it to use. Went pretty well, although doing all those edges took a while.
Here’s the VR.Google link, if you want to check out the original piece.
Other update: I’m back at UNI now, so these will be more spaced out. But, I’m learning to use Maya there, so expect some more professional pieces soon, hopefully!
So this one was really fun. I took a bunch of photos of my hand in the pose that I wanted, and checked out a bunch of drawing guides for hands. I imported those into Blocks, and set about making a segmented model. It took a long time (Especially the thumb) because it turns out the human eye is really good at detecting when such a familiar shape is… a bit off. For the butterfly I traced over an image from a research paper. The hand and butterfly were two separate Blocks models, so I could import them around easily individually in Blender. (But I now know you can actually split models in Blender!)
The solid material was (once again) a remix of Reynante Martinez’s Dragon Ball freebie, with some extra emissive to give it a nice glow. The outlines were tricky. I had to make an exact copy of the model, keeping it in the exact same position. This copy I made emissive, and applied a wireframe modifier to. The wireframe was set to only 0.005 thickness, and that made the edges glow! The issue was there were several that were unwanted, so I had to go and individually delete those that I didn’t need.
Check out the Blocks model here.
Will definitely use this style again, I love the look!
I actually made the alien head in this piece a while back with Oculus Medium, and was wondering how well it would import into Blender. Not that well, to be honest. The piece was usable, but the massive amount of polygons (Even at 50% decimation) was enough to give me several crashes. Probably won’t be doing many Medium to Blender pieces.
Still, this one was a fun experiment, if nothing else. Came out a bit boring and plain, but hey, good practice for next time (Although that black line on the one portraits annoys me… can’t figure out what’s up. Not a flipped normal). I did learn how to resize UV images to fit a face, so that’s handy!
I once again used my adaptation of the excellent Reynante Martinez’s DragonBall material.
Crash Bandicoot is a dear childhood memory for me, so I gave Aku Aku the remaster treatment to celebrate the release of the new NSane trilogy. Modeled completely in Oculus Medium, this one was a lot of fun. The colours blended particularly well, considering there was no post-editing or rendering involved. The background is just a big reference image positioned behind the sculpt! A lot easier to do than in Blender, that’s for sure.
Probably one of my favorite VR sculpts I’ve done, so I might do some more Crash Bandicoot stuff in the future!
Alternate Title: Fun with Shaders! This one took advantage of Cycles’ advanced PRB shaders. I used the amazing Reynante Martinez’s free Lava and Dragon Ball examples as bases, and tweaked from there. It took about 800 samples, and several minutes. I added in a touch of volumetric lighting effects, just for atmosphere.
Comparing the original Blocks piece to the final render really does show how sometimes a good lighting and texturing engine can make an absolute world of difference. Honestly, I really do with Blocks had at least a custom colour picker. Emissives and positionable lights would be sweet, but a stretch at this point. One issue I ran into constantly with Blocks was that when faces folded back on themselves (and this being a single cube, that happened a lot) there was this weird error where you would have half a face. See one of the images for what I mean. It’s quite frustrating.
Overall, a really educational session, and I can’t wait to get back into it!
Happy day! I finished up the new logo for the site (and my Twitter). This was probably one of the easier ones to do, mostly because I took a lot of elements from my other sculpts. It is very much a testament to how much of a difference a good render can make, I’ve included the original un-edited Blocks image for comparison, which you can check out here. But! The main cube required a lot of inner blocks to line up just perfectly, which wouldn’t normally be an issue with grid mode on, but Blocks has a glitch where sometimes blocks will just go off by a tiny bit when you move them, meaning it doesn’t line up anymore. As far as I can tell this happens when you’re working at the smallest level, and you edit a piece to go right to the smallest it can go. This can ruin an hour’s worth of work, because there’s no fix at all. Hopefully it’ll get ironed out soon.
The water looks almost magical, which was an accident. I used a glass shader, but then added some light emission, and didn’t let the renderer run for enough samples. Those are technically bad artifacts, but I like ’em.
This was actually one of the simplest renders I’ve ever done. I just imported the .obj, added two lights, made the inside of the letters (and the campfires) emissives, and messed around with contract. I didn’t even have to unwrap anything, because Blocks saves .mtl files with the .obj, meaning the colours from Blocks carries over. Even if that wasn’t the case, rendering can be a simple process for Blocks, I’d encourage anyone to check out my Blocks to Blender guide to add some life to your pieces.
Anyway, time for some more Blocks!
This my first attempt at using Blender’s Cycles engine to texture and render a piece. The freighter was created in Google Blocks, and it took about 4 hours. (Shout-out to the very kind developer who helped me recover a lost file when my PC crashed!) Here’s a VR.Google link if you want to check out the model in more detail.
Now for a bit about Cycles. Getting the .obj was easy, I just copied it from My Documents. It was simple to import into Blender, but as this as my first time using it, the rest of the process had a bit of a learning curve.
Not to worry, I’m planning on making a step-by-step tutorial on how to import and render an .obj from Blocks in Blender, with lots of basics and terms explained! Coming soon 😉
But for this particulate scenario, I had to smart unwrap the model (1 click, not as scary as it sounds), and selected faces to apply textures to. For example, I selected a container, and added a diffusion shader (Shader: A material applied to a surface with properties like roughness, transparency, etc). On the shader, I added an image texture from my desktop, and it automatically wrapped the image around the selected faces. The glowing bits were basic diffusion shaders, and the reflective windows were glossy. Lighting was intentionally a bit stark (because space), but I added a bit of ambient occlusion just so I don’t lose too much detail in the darner areas.
Quite happy with it for a first try!