Sunday, 4 September 2016

Bitmap2Material - PBR Texture Showcase

These are just some 30 PBR textures I did in the past few days for my texture library, and for use in a personal project of mine before I get back to university. All PBR textures were rendered using Marmoset Toolbag 2.

I created these using Bitmap2Material 3 with photos taken from my camera. The process of creating these textures was pretty simple, since most of the maps were generated by the software. I altered a lot of fields on the different layers of the textures (e.g. AO subtraction from the base colour, tiling sliders etc) to make them seamless without any obvious tiling repetition.

I have learnt from this experience from using Bitmap2Material that it is a very useful tool for creating seamless, realistic textures, but not quite so useful for textures which are in a pattern (e.g. brickwork) - you need to either acquire a perfect positioned photograph, which will allow the tiling algorithm to then tile it for you perfectly, or photoshop your photograph to then make it useful for Bitmap2Material. 

For metals, you will also need to either make your own mask for the metallic map to define what is and what is not metal, or use Bitmap2Material's metallic threshold tool, which will try to calculate metals from the photograph that you have taken based on the contrasting colour information. 

Also, if you plan to create textures which do not exist in the real world (sci-fi, fantasy, stylistic etc), then this tool will not be useful. You can't completely rely on Bitmap2Material for making all of your textures. It depends on your situation and what texture you want to make.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

After Effects - Galaxy Map

Lately, during my summer holiday after my first year at university, I've decided to take up a mini-job for the Star Wars: Ascendancy team (who are friends of mine, and the same people who made the Empire at War mod "Thrawn's Revenge/Imperial Civil War"); make a faction trailer showing off the Imperial Remnant. Instead of just showing off a bunch of boring old gameplay for about a minute, we've decided to give this one a bit of narrative. The trailer is narrated by a guy named Zach "UnassumingWhiteGuy" Johnson, who "assumes" the role of an unnamed, upper-class sounding, English accented, high-ranking Imperial officer. It starts off showing the old Galactic Empire, shows off the shift in territories across the Star Wars galaxy (which does not look good for the Imperial Remnant, since they start losing a lot of territory after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) and ends with the belief that he will restore order to the galaxy himself by crushing all of the warring Remnant warlords who are trying to claim the Imperial throne for themselves.
For the section where I had to show the shift in territory, Corey (the mod leader) originally wanted me to show off a bit of gameplay where the New Republic faction destroy an Imperial Remnant fleet, but I decided to go the distance a bit and create a completely lore-accurate, 3D, galactic territorial map of the Star Wars galaxy (from the years 4ABY - 18ABY, where 18ABY is just a prediction of what the future holds for the present Imperial Remnant if they keep on losing their territory). Creating the map itself required quite a bit of research, and was a massive file (to see the whole thing, you had to zoom out to the point where the quality was resized to about 12.5% of what it was. The dimensions for the thing were roughl 7000x7000 pixels), but it wasn't that hard to do, it just takes up a lot of your time. To animate the map, I used Adobe After Effects and quite a few custom plug-ins (e.g. VIDEO COPILOT's Element 3D, Optical Flares and a few more). Below is a still from within the first 5 seconds of the 16 second animation. All in all, it took about 2 weeks to create the animation just for 15 seconds of the trailer.
In total, there were 102 layers used for this render. I don't know how many particles there are (from the galaxy stars), but there are a lot. When I decided to start doing my final render of this thing, it took roughly 6 minutes to render just one frame when all of the particles, individual image layers (territory colours), video files (the animated 360 logos, which I also used in After Effects and rendered before rendering the animation) and adjustment layers (e.g. the motion blur) were running in the timeline (so, that means only 10 frames were rendered for the video in one hour, a total of 400 frames (for the frames which took the longest time rendering)) where I couldn't just render the whole 700-ish frames in one night, but over a number of nights where I wasn't using the computer to do things during the day.
This is not the only animation that I have been working on for the trailer; there is one other, which comes near the end, and it's also 3D, using a bit of Autodesk Maya to create the models I need. Thanks to my time at university this year, I have been able to pick up a lot of 3D skills to create things I wasn't sure I was even capable of doing before. It is much better than the 2D animated logos I did previously for them on the Thrawn's Revenge/Imperial Civil War mod for Empire at War (if you want to see those, click on this link and then click on one of the links in the description). The trailer was uploaded some time ago, and can be seen below.