Quick Diamond Knurl in 3D-Coat

Here’s a tutorial how repeating detail can be easily added to normal map in 3D-Coat, in this case diamond knurl. This is really quick way to add such detail. This can be used for virtually anything.

Just make sure that your UVs are straight and if possible make them so that the pattern will wrap around.


UV mapping in 3D Coat

Here is a free video tutorial how to use 3D Coat’s intuitive 3D unwrapping tools. I go through the process of marking and optimising seams, unwrap, and pack UV islands on UV efficiently. It’s really quick and easy to unwrap model in 3D Coat. This feature has been a pinnacle feature of 3D Coat since version 3, but the new version have even better and more efficient tools.

Please see my 3D-Coat 4.7 (2016) review here.


Curves in 3D Coat Video Tutorial

Curves in 3D Coat is a wonderful feature which allows custom spline models to be used with organic curve. Please enjoy this video tutorial to learn how to use this.

You can create chains or any shapes using this handy too. You can use closed or open curves, or use the curve to create a filled shape. There are many instances where this tool can come very useful. This can be used to create tubes on a machine for example.

It is also possible to brush along a curve. I will cover this in another tutorial.

Please watch the video tutorial and I hope you enjoy it.


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


Possible Issues with Concave Polygons in 3D Modeling

I made this video about possible issues with concave polygons in 3D modeling.

Concave Polygons in 3D Modeling

I had this issue with a knife model that I made before for games. One of the quads was kind of shaped like triangle and I didn’t notice. The model itself was pretty well optimised, there was no ngons whatsoever, and all was well. But this one anarchist poly just kept flipping about in 3Ds Max.

concave polygons in 3d modeling

Convex and concave (non-convex) polygons and a quad shaped like tri.

Now I know there are those who know much more about geometry in mathematics than me and I’m quite sure I will get some serious feedback. However, what my question really is is this; if you imagine a quad that is shaped like triangle, that one of the sides is actually two sides that share the same angle, is this convex or concave? Especially I’m interested about this from the perspective of a 3D modelling application. Max seems to think about this differently than other apps.

Now, it’s possible to use concave polygons even in final render. I have sometimes used it and even the letters in the flat 3D plane text that’s visible in the video is basically just that. (and the question mark has this actual issue!) But having extreme concave polygons can be a huge pain to deal with in render time.

None of this really matters if you are dealing with subD cage mesh, those meshes can and will get pretty wild and that’s just, well normal, anyway the mesh is subdivided and it’s nothing but a cage mesh after all. And as William Vaughan described in his wonderful tutorial series, four sided triangle can be a great way to optimise sub-D meshes.

concave polygons in 3D modeling

Quad that is shaped like a tri. Is this convex or non-convex polygon?

However it’s best to avoid non-convex polygons in traditional meshes.


Getting into 3D modelling and animation

3D modelling and (everything 3D for that part) used to be an arena owned by gurus. I remember when I first started playing with 3D in Povray back in 1996. I learned Bryce and completely enjoyed making landscapes with it, but it didn’t allow any kind of real 3D modelling.

Polygonal 3D modelling tools were scarce and expensive. Getting into 3D modelling was hard simply because the cost of the software was prohibitive.

Let’s zoom into 2016.

Aalto Votive in Lightwave © Jaakko Saari

Aalto Votive rendered in Lightwave © Jaakko Saari

Getting into 3D modelling for free (and reasonable cost options)

The world has changed some, to say the least. We’ve got free application Blender. SketchUp Make (free for non-commercial use). Sculptris. Windows 10 comes with free copy of 3D Builder. And for 99 dollars you can get amateur version of 3D Coat, a sculpting and 3D painting program that rivals even the zBrush (the professional grade sculpting program that’s used to make movie models. Amateur has some limitations but not severe ones). Even professional level applications which allow animations, particle effects, bone deformations and so, such as Newtek’s Lightwave are no longer crazy expensive.  Even Autodesk has a new pay-as-you go model, for less than 200 dollars per month you can get the best of the best.

Getting into 3D modelling and animation with Sketchup

SketchUp Make is free for personal use.

Definitely the cost can no longer be an excuse of not getting into 3D modelling. If you are passionate about it but can’t afford a software, just download the free version and go from there.

But the cost is not the only thing that has changed. I would argue that the tools are also way better and easy to use than they have ever been. Sketchup Make for example has a very low learning curve. You don’t necessarily need to know about ngons or polygons in order to use it. It helps if you do know the basic theory of polygonal shapes but you start to create 3D shapes even with zero knowledge.

For digital painters for example, the ability to build simple 3D buildings can help to achieve a good perspective. You can for example render out a simple scene and then paint on top the 3D construct..

Getting into 3D modelling and animation with Lightwave

Recent version of Lightwave is no longer so expensive, but it has never had such a strong potential.

Recommended 3D software production

If you are on a budget and need to create models for animation or TV production, I would recommend Newtek’s Lightwave. It has everything that a full blown 3D animation production would require, comprehensive 3D modelling tools, physics effects (that finally work now that we got Bullet Dynamics), node based materials, bone deformations and it works fully in Linear colour space. The latest version (2015 as of writing) costs $695 at the moment which is a bargain. Only thing that Lightwave doesn’t really have at the moment are the sculpting features and built in PBR support.

Getting into 3D modelling and sculpting with Sketchup

Spaceship modelled in 3D coat’s voxel sculpting room.

If you need sculpting I would recommend either Pilgway’s 3D Coat or Pixologic zBrush. I have commercial licenses for both and I love them both in their own ways. 3D coat has excellent UV unwrapping, pixel painting and retopology tools, and their voxel based sculpting truly rivals the bigger brother although the tools might not be refined to the extreme the same way as zBrush is. 3D coat is also somewhat often updated  and their support is fast.

zBrush 4 has not seen update since 4R7 P3 and it’s been a while, but the latest release continues to be the ultimate and arguably the best 3D sculpting application this planet has. It’s weird app to use (in a good way) as it’s kind of designed for artists and those who have studied sculpting academically. For example 3D models are called tools for some reason, and so on. Pixologic is preparing a new application, zBrushCore which they are going to release later this month in zBrush Summit which according to them is “streamlined version of zBrush”.

zBrush prop modeling

a prop being modelled using zBrush sculpting tools

If you have curiosity towards 3D modelling and graphics but haven’t had the courage to try, by all means do try. You can download free trial of even some of the pro tools and give them a go.

Updated September 22, 2016: I forgot to mention 3D Builder!

Check out the tutorial using 3D coat primitives: