Don’t forget to BACKUP (VLOG)

Here are some thoughts about importance of having a backup. Digital data is so fragile because once it’s gone, it really is, and there’s no way to get it back. I had a bit of issue with my WordPress site yesterday because I ended up making a mistake and overwriting the data. I was able to recover from a backup but this really reminded me how important it is to have one.

I recommend to have automated solution such as Time Machine, which doesn’t require user intervention. Just remember to verify the backup every now and then to make sure it is safe.

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Data Matters, Vaultpress

Since this blog is so important to me, I decided to invest into Vaultpress backup plan. I had my own home-brew system in place but it is cumbersome and restoring a backup is very slow since it basically depends on moving files via SFTP, and is really quite a hassle to recover.

I had a bit of a glitch today with the site and this was offline for couple of hours during the most important business hours. Granted this glitch was my own fault, I kind of accidentally managed to overwrite data. The worst thing that can happen to a data basically is to be overwritten. Luckily I could recover from my backup, but thought, oh, why have I not made a better backup plan.

What Vaultpress promises is a real peace of mind, plus they also scan the site for security threats, and even throw Akismet key on top. For 9 dollars it isn’t too much I feel, and now I can just fully concentrate making content.

Basically, streamlining everything including the production schedule is always something to think about. We should be able to focus in creating new content and have peaceful rest in between. This is the ideal state of matters. So I think jerryrigging a backup solution might not be something I am interested in doing.

Anyway, setting up Vaultpress was straightforward and fast, so far I have a very good experience with them. I will report more later.

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PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial

PBR texturing in 3D coat, Jaakko Saari 2016 (3D Coat ver. 4.7.06 Windows 64bit) Please see my 3D-Coat 4.7 2016 review here.

Introduction to PBR texturing in 3D Coat

3D Coat has always shined when it comes to per-pixel painting. This feature has been very useful and even better than zBrush polypainting as the resolution of the texture doesn’t depend on the polygon density of the object. New PBR texturing in 3D coat is very attractive to many 3D modelers and texture artists. I’d like to take a look what we can come up just by using and modifying the ready made Smart Materials and stencils.

3D Coat can export both metal-rough and spec-gloss PBR textures. You can choose one in Export Options.

Painting UV Mapped Mesh in 3D Coat

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Start Splash Screen

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial Start Splash Screen

First, let’s select Paint UV Mapped Mesh (Per-pixel) from the start up menu. Alternatively you can go to File, Import and select Model for Per Pixel Painting.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Paint UV Mapped Mesh window

Paint UV Mapped Mesh window

The Paint UV Mapped Mesh menu will appear. You can select one of the pre-made 3d models or import your own. I’m going to click the folder button and import our object to the scene.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Paint UV Mapped Mesh window

Import Object for Per Pixel Painting window

Import Object for Per Pixel Painting dialog box informs you kindly that this works with intersecting or mirrored UVs.

There are couple of settings to mind of. If you have baked custom normal maps in software such as xNormal and want to preserve your mesh normals, do click Lock Normals. You can also select Normal Map Software Preset. Obviously it’s good to select the one that corresponds the tool you used. You may also triangulate if needed.

If your model already have UVs in them , you can keep the default “Keep UV”. Since we have already done UV unwrapping for our object, I’m going to select it. You can also name your UV Set Name here and select texture resolution. I’m going to keep the default at 1024×1024 but it’s good to increase it for further detail.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Model imported to the Paint room

Model imported to the Paint room

We have now loaded the object into the Paint room and we are ready to start to do PBR texturing in 3D Coat. Notice that we have three panels on the right side of the window. You can customise those but these are the defaults. The most important panel is the lowest one where we can see Layers.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - 3D Coat layer blending modes

3D Coat layer blending modes are similar to those found in Photoshop

These layers work similarly as in Photoshop. You can choose blending modes, and each layer have several channels such as Metal, Roughness, Depth and Color Opacity (which is oddly named just Opacity), and you can tweak the opacity of each channel independently by percentage. What comes to blending modes there’s plenty to choose from, and they work similarly as in Photoshop.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - 3D Coat will calculate necessary maps for you automatically

3D Coat will calculate necessary maps for you automatically

Now, let’s go to the Smart Materials panel and click one of the metals. 3D Coat will ask you “The Smart Material requires ambient occlusion layer. Do you want to calculate it right now?”. Yes, right now please. We will choose OK. We can keep default settings for the Occlusion Parameters and hit OK.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Smart Material preview window

Smart Material preview window is resizable

We have very handy Smart Material Preview window which is resizable. So if we are using old computer or have a very complex model, choosing a small area to preview can greatly improve the performance. You can browse different metals smart materials to find the one that pleases you.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Floating toolbar on the top

Floating toolbar on the top has handy texture resize magnifying glass. Use it!

Now, you should see a floating “Preview options” panel above. You can select several options here, mainly the method of applying the texture. But you can also do From Camera, Cylindrical, Spherical or UV-Mapping.  I like Cube Mapping because it’s completely seamless. What’s really nice about this panel is the magnifying glass. What this does is that it allows scaling of the texture of the smart material. If some details look too large or small in your model, you can easily resize them. You can also move and rotate and non uniformly scale the texture.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Opacity

Don’t forget to check these.

Make sure that the Opacity, Roughness and Metalness percentages on top of the window are all at 100%.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - PBR in 3D Coat looks awesome

PBR textures in 3D Coat look awesome

We can now right click Layer 1 and choose option “Fill whole layer”. Then, let’s double click this layer and rename it to BaseMetal. We can preview and check our object in full PBR glory. Congratulations. You have just PBR textured a metal asset. The result should look like this.

But let’s add further detail.

Let’s Add a new layer by clicking the button of the lower right of Layers panel. Let’s name this layer PaintLayer. We can go to paints in Smart Materials tab and pick the one we like. I’m going to choose this beige one which I created myself. You can experiment with any. Again, use Smart Material Preview to get an idea how it will look like.

Now, we can again use magnifying glass button in Preview options to get a nice scale of the effect. Now, I’d like to edit the curvature effect more. This effect is based on the Curvature Map that is automatically generated for you. So I will right click the smart material I chose, and select Smart Material Editor.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Smart material editor in 3D Coat

Smart material editor in 3D Coat is easy to use.

We have plenty of options here, but I’d like to focus in Overall Cavity Modulator. This will allow to change strength of the Curvature Map, which means that you can choose how strongly you want the worn-edges effect to appear. I like extreme effect so I am going to choose something around 5 or 6. I’m going to give this Smart Material a new name, and hit Save as New. And again I will right click our PaintLayer and select Fill Whole Model.

Now we can further tweak the paint layer. I like to chip some parts of the paint so that it looks less uniform and more organic. I’m going to select Eraser Tool. I will select hard looking alpha from the Alphas panel, and start to chip away the paint. It’s nicer to use those without much falloff to this task since we want the transition between painted area and bare metal to be sharp. You can scroll with the mouse wheel to change size of the brush. It’s nice to accentuate some of the worn edge effects, and also I like to use square alpha for this, changing the brush size constantly.

Let’s use a stencil for cracked paint effect. In the middle panel, clicl Stencils and select OT_random6. We can then scale this by using the magnifying glass in the preview options. We can also use rust. And now when we erase the stencil is applied and we only erase certain areas.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Further detail

Further detail added to the model

When we are happy with the result, we can move on and add some dirt to this. Again I’m going to add new layer and name it Dirt1. Before we continue, please click “Close” in Stencils window, otherwise the stencil will be applied to next smart material. I’m going to navigate to Dirt and click on the paint brush icon in the left toolbar to get our smart materials preview. You can browse between different kinds of dirts. I like dirt_2.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - dirt accumulation

Dirt is being accumulated in occluded areas

Notice how the dirt seems to accumulate in occluded areas. This is based on the AmbientOcclusion map the 3D coat rendered for us earlier. I’m again going to scale this using the magnifying glass and click Fill Whole Layer.

I would however like to add additional hand painted dirt. I’m going to create new layer Dirt2. Let’s do this. This time I will choose dust_1. Now, let’s not fill whole layer but instead paint the effect in using the brush. So we can move Smart Material Preview out of the way and paint. Remember that you can adjust the scale of the texture while painting. You can add hand painted details anytime during the workflow. This is definitely one of the benefits of doing PBR texturing in 3D Coat.

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Hand painted dirt

With hand painted dirt

If you want to add further layers, go ahead.

Let’s preview the textures we have created. I’m going grab the Texture editor panel and resize it to be larger. Please note, that you can paint on this editor just the same way as you can on surface of the model. This is the same thing, just in 2D plane

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Texture editor

You can also paint to textures directly in Texture editor.

Here we see our Color map or Albedo as it’s called in PBR texturing. This is what it should be, color data only, no fake highlights or ambient occlusion in it. We can preview Normals, Roughness and Metalness as well. The way how Metal-Roughness PBR workflow works is that basically what is considered as metal is white, and black values are non-metal, in our case paint. The roughness is a definition of micro surface detail, such as dust and dirt. What is more rough appears less glossy. We can paint on any of these maps to further define them. It’s nice that we can also toggle wireframe on this window.

Exporting textures

PBR texturing in 3D Coat Tutorial - Export settings

Exporting options for Geometry and Textures


Finally, to export our textures, we can go to File and select Export Objects & Textures. I will Export geometry, select Output mesh. In Texture Export/Import Workflow I choose Roughness/Metalness. If you are exporting your textures to Unreal Engine 4 for example choose this. The Spec-Gloss workflow is also supported.

We can choose several presets to export to, for example Unreal 4. This will export a lot of maps, including Displacement and Ambient Occlusion. I will just keep it as default and click checkboxes to export Color, Roughness, Normal, Metalness and AO. Now the textures are ready to go.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on PBR texturing in 3D Coat. Here is the video tutorial.

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zBrush Summit 2016 and thoughts on zBrush

Are you going to join 2016 zBrush summit? I can’t make it to LA, but I’ll be there virtually. I’m mostly curious about zBrush Core. Is this a lower cost alternative to the full zBrush or something completely different?

I have been extremely glad about my zBrush 4 investment. It’s been so many years since I bought it and there have been so many upgrades that have been completely free for me. And now there is even 64 bit version. Seeing the difference from the version that came in the cool Anniversary edition metal box is quite something. It feels like I have been part of this software’s development.

zBrush prop modeling

a prop being modelled using zBrush sculpting tools

If you are a sculptor or someone who comes from traditional art school, zBrush is definitely a worth to check out, even though recent versions of 3D Coat gives it run for it’s money . It all comes down to the very 3D sculpting tools built into zBrush that just are the best thing there is at the moment.

You can stream summit in http://pixologic.com

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Apogee Element

Apogee Element introduced

Apogee Element Series Thunderbolt was just introduced for mac with multiple inputs and outputs.

I love Apogee products. Especially my Apogee One for iPhone and Mac. Its the best audio interface I have ever owned what comes to sound quality. According to their announcement they have featured some of the best A/D and D/A converters so far. This got to sound good. They also have a solid looking clock source aboard to sync the AD/DA process.

The devices look solid and cool as ever. Apogee website says “Built like a beast. Not like a beauty”. But I think their design is quite beautiful and simple.

Element has has full Logic Pro integration and iOS controllers as well as the dedicated control remote.

Entry level model Element 24 starts $595 while the high end Apogee Element 88 is $1495. Even the entry level model has professional features like Word Clock IN/OUT via BNC connections for syncing. Like Apogee One, even this one rocks mighty.

What do you think of Apogee Element? Please feel free to comment below.

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Primitives in 3D Coat Tutorial

Introduction to primitives in 3D coat

Here is a free tutorial I did on using primitives in 3D Coat voxel sculpting room. It’s quite incredible how complicated shapes can be created with these when they are combined and merged with other shapes. You can also bring objects from other 3D packages to voxel room to merge and subtract with your shape. I like to have special set “cutter objects” that I use to build things like panels. Nice way to quickly create detail is to use radial symmetry.

You can use add and subtract and other blending modes. When in voxel mode the shape tries to blend into one seamless piece. Primitives can also be added when in surface mode. Think of this as like equivalent of zBrush’s dynamesh. If the result is too coarse it can be smoothed later.

It’s also nice to have things like nuts in the primitives section which are surprisingly versatile.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial. If you like, please feel free to subscribe to my Youtube channel and share these.

Some parts of this ship were modelled using primitives in 3d coat

Some parts of this ship were modelled using primitives in 3d coat

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Lightroom RAW Processing Video Tutorial

Introduction to Lightroom RAW

In this Lightroom RAW tutorial I show my most common steps to deal with RAW images in Lightroom. I like to use the Library module to put metadata to the images and sometimes also use the presets or quick edit tools (as I show in the video) for batch of images. This is quick way to correct images which are series.

I also like to flag images by hitting p in the keyboard for Pick and x for Reject. It’s nice non-destructive image to mark images, plus the rejected images become faded so that the good stuff will stand out more. (Hint, if you activate caps lock, you will automatically move to next image, so you can just keep hitting either x or p and move forward like in a slide show. Just pressing two buttons! Try it!)

Develop module

Lightroom RAW Image Processing settings

Some of the Lightroom RAW Image Processing settings.

Develop module has similar controls to Camera Raw in Photoshop. You get to adjust Exposure, Tone Curve and Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation settings. Being subtle is the key when adjusting these settings because relatively small adjustments can make a big impact to the image. Same goes for sharpness, I don’t usually like to do it too much here. I rather sharp during export.

Noise reduction is a big feature of Lightroom. It can really reduce noise quite significantly. It’s good to test the settings and see what is best result. I usually like to be aggressive with the color slider which controls the colour noise reduction, but I’m rather moderate with the main noise reduction slider.

There’s also a setting for Lens Corrections which is very nice, it automatically detects the lens you use and comes pre-loaded for presets for each lenses. I forgot to mention about chromatic aberration removal in this window, its very effective way to get rid of the purple fringe.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial. Please subscribe to my channel and feel free to share my tutorials in social media.

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