DNA Double Helix 3D model

DNA Double Helix 3D model

I created this DNA Double Helix 3D model in Blender using modifiers and SSS which was super easy to setup in Principled shader introduced in 2.79 for Cycles renderer.

Modeling DNA double helix 3d model using modifiers in Blender is a breeze. Basically the strand was created using a path. If one wants to animate the strand, adding a basic shape key to the path would allow perfect animation as the geometry will follow the path; nice and easy workflow.

The displacement is taking advantage of the adaptive subdivision which for some reason still considered “Experimental feature” in Cycles. This is super efficient as it subdivides the mesh dynamically based on the camera position. This allows more complex scenes to be rendered fully in GPU. Rendering with dual GPUs it was a breeze to come up with nice looking renders, even with effects like depth-of-field.

Lightwave has had the adaptive subdivision feature since early 9 so Blender certainly isn’t the first one in this camp. And I think this feature should be in the main feature set. However, although being called “experimental” the feature is mostly stable and I didn’t have any big issues as long as I kept the subdivisions in reasonable amount.

I did some searching and found out interesting article which mentions that DNA is actually near white.  The colours we traditionally add to DNA molecules is just for labeling purposes. I am big fan of the beginning sequence of Prometheus where the Engineer’s DNA is being rearranged. With things like this we can have some artistic freedom.

The model is a good starting point for more complex CG animation setup in Cycles. One could add particles or volumetric lighting to make the environment look like the strand is in some kind of liquid.

You can buy this DNA Double Helix 3D model royalty free at https://www.turbosquid.com/3d-models/dna-double-helix-blender-3d-model-1211337

Rusty Steel Substance with inputs

Creating Substance with Exposed Parameters

In this video tutorial I take a look on creating a substance with exposed parameters and input nodes.

Creating materials like these can be extremely useful and time saving because it allows serialized asset texturing with weathering effects or basically any kind of effects that will respect mesh-specific maps such as curvature, normal or AO maps. This is crazy efficient way to create PBR materials for environmental game models, for example.

Substance graph with Exposed Parameters

This is the graph in Substance Designer with exposed parameters

The graph I created could use some rearranging to make it look more clean, but it works and it’s the most important thing. I have defined the input maps in the left area. The reason why I have basically unnecessary blend node sitting there is just that I can switch some baked maps into the graph if I want to tweak it, because when the input is empty I can’t see anything in the graph. Anyway having nodes like that shouldn’t affect the performance of .sbsar because the algorithm will understand stuff like that, it won’t calculate anything unnecessary like disconnected nodes or so.

Barrel textured with rusty steel substance with exposed parameters

Barrel textured with the rusty metal substance with exposed parameters. Single material, no hand painting in Substance Painter

So I have defined inputs for Position, World Space Normal, Curvature and AO, and then I apply these to few of the weathering effects, such as mg_metal_edge_wear, a Substance Designer node which I just use as it is, and also the Tri-planar node which I forgot to mention in the video. Basically I just connected Position and World Space Normal maps to the triplanar_grayscale node and used the Rust Level Control node output as the input. This will project the material to the mesh seamlessly, almost no matter how your UVs are laid out. It is possible to do this in Substance Painter but it’s absolutely fantastic to have the control in Designer as well.

Then, basically what I have done in Substance Designer is that I have exposed some of the node parameters, such as the histogram scan which samples (or more appropriately scans) grayscale area from the procedural BW data and some of the mg_metal_edge_wear params, giving me the control. I have also created some of the switches which I have then exposed to turn some effects on and off. Clicking the graph in Substance Designer allows you to further label and organize the sliders and buttons.

Substance with Exposed Parameters

These are the exposed parameters in Substance Designer. You can change their order by dragging the handle in the left side.

What I am especially proud of are the leaks effects. This is simple slope_blur_grayscale which takes gradient map as “Slope”. What this basically defines is which way is up and down in the object. You can feed a simple gradient to this or you can use y channel from position map by using RGBA split node. So again I have connected the Position map input node to this via a switch which allows me to switch to simple gradient if the map is missing.

Rest is pretty much the same thing, blending things together using blend nodes and exposing parameters that I figured I would like to change in future.

Check out this Allegorithmic video on exposing parameters and publishing substances.

The rusty steel substance with exposed parameters is available to purchase in Turbosquid.


Substance Painter Material Breakdown

Substance Painter Material BreakdownHere’s a breakdown on some of the techniques I used when creating this Sci-Fi Console asset for Unreal Engine 4 in Substance Painter.

One of the more interesting ones is the ability to use anchor points to reference added height detail in those lovely mask generators. This is technique that was introduced by this good video by Allegorithmic  (that guy is such a guru!)

I also realized it’s often a good idea to create a fill layer and mask that; in that way the workflow stays non-destructive the whole way.

Anyway I hope you like this video on Substance Painter Material Breakdown.


Sci-Fi Console

I created this  Sci-Fi Console recently for my personal portfolio for UE4. I baked the normal map from high poly using Substance Painter. I’m quite glad about how this turned out with PBR metal-rough workflow.

The model is also available now in Turbosquid.

Sci-Fi Console Game Model


Live Boolean in ZBrush 4R8 + Array Mesh

Here is an example how we can use Live Boolean in ZBrush 4R8. The feature is super handy- first time we can have accurate real time preview of boolean operation. We can keep working with the mesh pretty much infinitely by adding substract, union or intersect subtools, and we can also arrange these to boolean groups. When are are finished, we can create boolean mesh. This will create new tool for us, leaving the working tool intact. Pretty nice ZBrushey approach to booleans.

Check out the video below on how to create motorcycle engine kind of shapes using Array Mesh and Live Boolean in ZBrush 4R8.


Low Poly Artifacts in Cycles render (Terminator Artifact)

I made a video about this issue as some friendly folks in Turbosquid pointed out to me the reason I had these low poly artifacts in cycles renders of my models.

It turned out that this effect is not only happening in Cycles but also in Renderman and other packages as well. This is what is known as “Terminator artifact”.

Low Poly Artifacts in Cycles render

Here is the jagged edges we get in low poly models in Cycles. This is what is called “Terminator artifact”

This has got to do with just how shadows are rendered in polygonal models and actually this is expected behavior.  Programmers of Blender Cycles knew very well this would happen. It kind of sucks though and at the moment we don’t have a lot of alternatives except stick with Blender internal render, subdivide our models or use softer lights to reduce the jagged shadows.

This is where Eevee will be super useful. I can’t wait get my hands on it.. (and it will even support Filmic Blender which is awesome).

Here is more information about low poly artifacts in cycles:


and here is a more technical explanation of it:

I made video about this topic. Please check it in Youtube.



Disable Wacom circle in Photoshop CC (Windows 10)

I found a way to disable Wacom circle in Photoshop CC; you know that annoying clockwise turning circle that pops up in in Photoshop CC.

While it’s handy to have brush settings available when right clicking, with pen this doesn’t really work. It’s rather annoying and destroys usability of Wacom Tablet in Photoshop.

The fix is to go to Control Panel, Ease of Access Center and click Make touch and tablets easier to use.

Go to accessibility settings to disable wacom circle in photoshop cc

Under “See also” there is “Make touch easier to use”. Click that and there is the option for “Press and hold”. Select it and press Settings… There, uncheck “Enable press and hold for right-clicking”. Voila!! A way to disable wacom circle in Photoshop!

Disable wacom circle in photoshop cc

This works in the current version of Windows 10. I have heard reports that sometimes Windows resets this setting so it maybe necessary to get back in there and change it back when OS is updated.

It is also possible to disable “Use Windows Ink” in Wacom Tablet Properties, but this will cause Photoshop CC to stop recognizing Wacom tablet pressure so this really wasn’t a fix.

I am using Wacom Intuos Pro M (2014) model. I am not sure if this fix helps users of other tablets, but it’s certainly worth a try.

Also make sure that you have latest drivers for your Wacom tablet from Wacom site.


Wood Floor PBR in Substance Designer

I published a new tutorial finally in Youtube. I hope to give a breakdown on this wooden floor PBR material I created in Substance Designer. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to share this in social networks and subscribe to my channel.


Yokohama Landmark Tower 3D model

I modeled Yokohama Landmark Tower in 3D using Blender. (Now available in Turbosquid) As I live in Yokohama this is a structure that I see quite often. This is such a lovely piece of architecture, so modern and urban, a mark of Yokohama.

This was quite fun project to do. It’s interesting to realize that when I model architecture I notice things about it that I wouldn’t normally think about. It’s like reverse-engineering architecture..

This was based on satellite data to get exactly accurate proportion. I just followed the photos and reference as close as I could for modeling, nothing special. I created the slots for the windows using geometry just so that I can get a little more shadow detail than I would get from normal maps. Often in 3d models windows are sunk in too deep, while in real world they sit almost flush to the surface.

When I create models like this I try to keep attention to detail as high as possible but also be subtle with smaller details.

I made textures to the model using Substance Designer and Substance Painter. The building walls share same texture space since they are really exactly the same thing. The smaller details like antennas on the roof are unique to each side so this should help a little to break the uniform feel. The model has just a single 4K texture and everything is packed into it. It was fun making the leak marks using the physical brushes in Substance Painter.

The model has PBR textures in metal-rough workflow.

Please support me by buying the model in Turbosquid.