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.

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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.

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Unreal Engine Modular Sewer Tunnel

My modular Sewer Tunnel is now available in Turbosquid for Unreal Engine. The tunnel pieces snap seamlessly grid with tiling textures. It was quite fun to test this in the engine with automatic collision.

Lightmap UVs are set for each modular pieces, so there should be no shading issues even with lower values in Lightmap resolution settings. So many asset makers ignore this step resulting in poor lightmap UVs and unoptimized result. Lightmap UVs should be as continuous as possible and non-overlapping which may not be not what one wants to do with texture UVs.

I am thinking to expand this by making X section as well.

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Long time no see

I have been away for quite a while. I got quite much stress from doing Youtube videos and I started feel a kind of crippling loneliness. So I needed to have a break from all this, for a while. I have been doing photography quite a lot these days, but now I am finally ready to return to the three dimensional scene.

I will be doing new Youtube videos soon about 3D graphics and new stuff. Please stay tuned and feel free to subscribe to my channel.

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List of 5 Reasons to use NAS

I recently started relying on NAS (Network Attached Storage) for my work and pretty much whole life. I can’t say how much easy and streamlined and also economical my life has became. I wanted to make a list of 5 reasons to use NAS.

Now, I am what you would call a heavy user. I do music, CG graphics, photography and movies digitally. I own several computers. Having my media stored in one central location is a huge organizational benefit, but also this streamlines my workflow and also backup. I use nothing but SSDs in my work machines. My Lightroom photo library is now living on NAS; setting this up was way more straightforward than I expected.

I can also now keep all other computers turned off or in sleep mode, and only use the one that’s turned on as the work files are no longer scattered on the disks of workstations.

Here is my list of 5 reasons to use NAS

Centralized location

Most of us have more than one device nowadays. The data we store can become quite huge. Having all your data in one place is a big organizational plus and makes managing and backing it up more simple.

Increased reliability via RAID1

I am big fan of RAID1. I have had my share of broken hard disks over the years. But luckily no data loss since I always had current backup. It’s truth that hard disks, like all mechanical devices, break eventually. I always start with the presumption that hard disks are going to die, and I hope to minimize the downtime this will cause.

RAID1 is a mirroring scheme where content is being copied simultaneously on two or more disks. If a disk dies, no problem. My QNAP supports hot swapping; there would necessarily be no down time at all; files would still be accessible at all times as long as the remaining drives work. It’s important however to remember that RAID1 is not a backup. There are still plenty of reasons why RAID1 stack could go bad, so it’s still important to have the data backed up somewhere else, preferably using offline device that is not connected all the time. With NAS this is very easy to do. My QNAP 231+ has automated backup features that allow the whole machine to be backed up on external USB 3 disk or other NAS automatically. This can be basically set-up and forget kind of deal and quite fantastic in my opinion.

Absolutely definitely, please do use NAS hard drives in your NAS, not desktop hard drives. The dedicated NAS hard drives are designed for 24/7 operation and are more reliable for this purpose.

Time Machine & Wireless Backup station

We don’t need to buy Apple’s Time Capsule. NAS often supports Time Machine by default. If you have a wifi it’s possible to enable wireless time machine backups. And of course you can also backup windows machines to it. It’s great and it really works well. For advanced users there are also services such as RSYNC and some support incremental backups and versioning.

Personal Cloud

My QNAP NAS came with a QNAPCLOUD service which allows me to access the files on the device over internet. This is huge feature. I can basically access any file now from anywhere if I need to. I have almost 3TB data now. Cost effective personal cloud service.

Extra features in same package

NAS servers also offer several other features, such as media servers, email servers, web servers and such. Some of these can be quite handy even for home user. My NAS even has a virus scanning built in. If you consider investing into what’s just basically a backup solution, these all come as a free bonus. I would say that NAS is a very worthwhile investment.

Whether you are a home user who has a lot of data or SOHO, I really recommend NAS for data management. This is one investment you will not regret. Getting used to using NAS can take a little time but most of the consumer type NASes have graphic user interfaces accessible via webpage.

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Opinion: Why I will switch back to PC?

I made a prediction earlier in twitter that Apple will not release update to the Mac Pro. My prediction was right. Today’s keynote didn’t reveal exciting new upgrades to the iMac or the 2013 now considerably aged Mac Pro. Only update to the Mac was a redesigned MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 ports and touch bar, a touch stripe that exists where function keys used to be.

Oh man. I feel my relationship with Apple is like dating this girl who just keeps ignoring me, wanting to get rich and famous. No, I can’t see myself investing into Apple hardware in the future unless something changes. If a need for more powerful hardware arises in the future, I will invest into a PC workstation.

I have used so many Apple computers in my past and I really was a huge fan of them. What I especially loved about Apple (and still love) is their support for typography and included fonts in the OS which are so very good. And I do love Unix and pretty much everything there is to that world, the included terminal app and so on.  I have made my own unix programs too, and shell scripts which I rely on daily basis. macOS is elegant operating system, I still agree with that. It’s beautiful. And there are things like Time Machine which is fantastic. The whole experience has been so much better than Windows.

So why would I switch to PC?

It is because I feel like I have been kind of betrayed.

Let’s start with software. What Apple did with Final Cut Pro or Aperture for example, really shows where their focus is. Their way of simplifying the software and dropping necessary features shows how they now care just about mainstream. Well, they killed Aperture and replaced it with this demo version kind of app that is even less featured than iPhoto was.

Final Cut Pro is still a nice application but I don’t think editing 4K in it is realistic in it no matter what kind of Mac you use because of simply the hardware requirements. Almost all my video editing friends have switched to Premiere and so did  I. I don’t think Final Cut Pro is suitable for professional use for a lot of reasons, mainly just the lack of customizability and plugin support, but also just mere lack of features.

And if I am going to run Premiere, I so much more gladly do it with my PC workstation with Nvidia graphics card in it.

The hardware and lack of powerful components is a serious problem for a guy like me. I do 3D graphics and I need serious horsepower to do my job. None of the Apple’s current offerings are enough. The lack of serious graphics option (and indeed, lack of Nvidia option) is a total deal breaker for me. I rely on things like iRay, and baking large texture maps using GPU.

But it’s not just that. It’s their mentality. And seeing how horribly bad the Music app in iPhone is, I start to wonder about the future of this company to be honest. (Try running Music app in plus sized iPhone and see what I mean. The UI is like elementary school student just learned to code HTML without CSS support). This is mentality is not good for me, no, not from Apple.

Seeing Microsoft’s Surface Studio and what it means for graphics designers, it’s shocking what a pale shadow Apple’s keynote was in comparison. Only thing Apple really had to offer was the touch bar in the new notebook which otherwise don’t seem much changed form 2013. Microsoft’s announcement promised a real improvement in workflow for graphics designers and visual creators. Apple just added a new thing in what I consider to be a consumer device.

Creators want to know that company is supporting them and making sure that our hardware and software works and meets our requirements. I don’t think Apple has any interest serve the needs of serious creators and professionals.

//end Apple rant

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Custom Alphas in ZBrush tutorial

Now that we are all hyped and excited about incoming ZBrush 4R8 and it’s 3D alphas (vector displacement), I wanted to take a look how we can take advantage of 2D alphas. This stuff is nothing new but I think it’s good to realize how we can create our own custom alphas and potentially save a lot of time when making high poly models.

What I wanted to point out in this video is that if main use of high poly model is to be baked down to low poly and normal maps, everything doesn’t actually have to be 3D. Normal maps won’t be able to capture overhangs anyway, so basic hight detail is enough, and can even help with AO baking.

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