Dragon Iterations

Finally I have done all the remaining texture maps for the dragon’s head. What comes now is creating the material/shader setup for the final shots.

I have also recorded the texture painting process for the bump maps and the final result and am now in the process of putting all together. Expect a new blender/Mari diary soon.

The image above is the result of the first iteration of material/shader tests with quite some more to come. I had hoped for a straight-forward workflow, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I spent too much time already in fixing problems with visible seams caused by normal maps.

All texture maps work fine without showing any seams. But there is one exception: the normal map I created in blender by baking the highres sculpt. I did various rebakes, with different settings, both using the old method (selected to active) as well as the new one (multires bake). I got different results but never a seamless one.

What helped a lot, was to load the normal maps inside Mari and apply the bleed operation and manually paint over the seams and try to heal them. That gave me the results I have now. In the image above you only notice it, if you know where to look, but have a look at the following closeup of the snout area. Here the seams are quite noticeable ( at least in a still …) .

This type of closeup shot will be used in one shot of the movie and is the main reason for the insanely high texture resolution I have to use for the snout area. The final shot will have an even closer setup.

I will try to get rid of the seams and then will do the teeth and the eyes. This shouldn’t take too long ( I hope 🙂 ) and then all should be prepared for doing the final shots.

And finally for the interested the current state of hours spent:

  Time    Task
----------------------------------------------
   5:34    01-Script
  43:54    02-Storyboard
  73:54    03-Concept Art
  14:48    04-Animatics
 152:45    05-Modeling
  76:37    06-Rigging
 179:53    07-Animation
 255:02    08-Texturing
 173:36    09-Simulation
  33:40    10-Project Management
 131:54    11-Research
 208:44    Lighting/Compositing
----------------------------------------------
1356:50 Total

4 thoughts on “Dragon Iterations”

  1. The normal map seam you got. Did you also get it when viewing it in Blender or only in Mari? You see every piece of software using (or making) normal maps uses a tangent space implementation of their own. Blender and xNormal are both using a specific standard –>
    http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Dev:Shading/Tangent_Space_Normal_Maps

    The different implementations of tangent space cause problems such as unwanted hard edges in the lit result (shading seams) when moving normal maps across tools/programs. There is nothing else to do other than trying to get people to agree on an implementation standard.

    1. Yeah, it would be really great if there was a standard on how to use normal maps across different tools.

      But in this special case that wasn’t the culprit.

      As is turned out, it was the baking function of blender which didn’t work correctly across difficult seams.

      My workflow for this project involves baking the bump maps (done in Mari) to normal maps in blender 2.6. These normal maps are then used for rendering in my 2.49 setup.

      The reason I do so, is that I have to use 2.49 for rendering but want to have the improved bump mapping from blender 2.6. With baking the bump maps to a normal map this quality bump mapping can be transferred to 2.49.

      What I did in the end, was to load the baked normal maps back into Mari and healing all the seams manually.

      This did the trick, not 100% percent but enough so it wont get noticed in the shots.

      1. sounds complicated 🙂

        Since you’re saying you’re using 2.49 for rendering I also thought I’d point out that tangent space in Blender changed a lot in 2.57+
        and is not the same as 2.49 which will lead to seams.

        In the future if you’re having issues with blender’s baking perhaps you could bake with xnormal instead? You’d be able to use the bakes in Blender 2.57+ since they use the same standard.

        1. Oh yes, its complicated, but thats what you get when doing a project for more than two years. The tools you start out with, get outdated very soon, but you have to stick with it 🙂

          I wasn’t aware of the differences in tangent space handling between the blender versions. Thanks for pointing that out.

          xNormal might be worth a try. I didn’t use it before as it is still Windows only and my workflow is completely linux based. There was once talk about a version 4 having linux support as well, but it seems that project is abandoned.

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