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Thread: What are you making?

  1. #1651
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    On fire in the rain, but still holding up their umbrellas to keep the rain off.

    They must be British.

  2. #1652
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    So, I've been poking around with Substance Designer.

    This is a tool for procedurally generating PBR materials for use with modern engines.
    It works by chaining together generators and effects and blending them into each other in a series of steps to slowly build up detail on a texture.
    You start off with a basic shape or effect, then apply more and more effects to it to add more types of detail, and by the end you have outputs for the various types of texture maps that you need for PBR - a colour map, normals, roughness, and metallic maps (plus potentially height and ambient occlusion for engines which support them.)

    The whole thing turns into a substance package which can be imported into UE4 or Unity and be configured there (such as choosing the resolution or any modifyable parameter you created), and it will automatically bake out all the texture files required.

    I've included some screenshots of a material I was working on.


    I wanted to create a pattern of tiles, so the first step was to design that pattern. I used a vector shape, stretched it, then cloned it a few times at different overlapping offsets to make the shape I wanted:


    Basic pattern

    Then I used that basic pattern to create a heightmap, using various effects to add chipped and damaged sections and irregularities, and also used various filters, combining noise and pattern generators to build the surface: rock grain, dirt, moss in the cracks for the colour portion of the material.


    Adding detail through a large set of filters, generators and blends

    This whole thing took me quite a few hours, though I was also poking about and learning the program at the same time.
    I could still do more work on this (especially for the areas between the tiles), but here's a larger preview of the result:


    Preview of the result

    And here's a shot of the resulting material imported into UE4:


    Resulting texture in-game in UE4


    It's still a lot of work to create good-looking textures like this, but it's an interesting workflow that has a lot of merit for someone who doesn't have the skills to draw textures by hand, and has the advantage that you can create anything you want without needing to find a texture-suitable royalty-free source image to beat into shape with liberal use of the clone stamp tool. Also, when you build up a material piece-by-piece like this, you make the heightmap (to build the normal map) and the other maps alongside it, so you don't have the hard job of trying to create them afterwards from a photo-sourced texture.



    Just today, I was also playing around with a very interesting feature: tri-planer projection. The basic idea is that it takes a model and tries to wrap the texture around it automatically, placing the details in the appropriate parts of the UV map for you and without any seams.

    The results varied a bit, but they were still impressive considering how fast it was compared to making the UV maps and painting the textures manually would have been, and even more so considering the somewhat awkward shape of the model I used.

    I guess this would mostly be useful for objects which have a mostly uniform surface, e.g. stone objects and rocks, though if you have good UV mappings (which I didn't), you could still use it to make a good base to draw details on in another program.

    Here are some screenshots of me applying the above-created material to a simple mesh (yes, I know that texture doesn't really make sense on this object):





    (imgur library of above images)
    Last edited by Nameless Voice; 18th Jan 2017 at 21:43.

  3. #1653
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Substance Designer is an awesome, awesome program, and can do some absolutely incredible things you wouldn't ever imagine could be done with procedural textures.

    It's only weakness is that it's pretty clunky at generating specific details. The way I figure it, you could use a vector program like Inkscape, Illustrator, or Affinity Designer to whip up your shapes, then run them through SD to bang out the texturing and detail.

    One day, I plan on buying it.

  4. #1654
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    All these procedural tools are going to start chipping away at the narrative that you need a 50 person team to make nice-looking levels.

  5. #1655
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    You still might as long as there's a large variety of bespoke models and constant iterative design required. Textures remain only one step of the process.

  6. #1656
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    Speaking of art, I got a question to the folks here:

    I realized part of my problem is that my general sense of "art taste" is just not very good. I have an idea for a style and can whip up some programmer art or assemble 3rd party free assets, but it never quite works in the end. Same with other games, I usually never have issues with graphics. Only after others point out obvious faults (like lack of consistency) I realize "oh yeah, you're right, how did I not see that..."

    I'd like to improve that. I don't care about developing a specific skill to be an artist myself (like drawing/painting/pixel/modeling etc.), rather just the overall sense of style and aesthetic. For example I finally realized from Karaski and Headliner that I often lack consistency or mix clashing styles together. So things like that.

    What's a good way to go about developing better taste? I was thinking maybe picking up a general art/design/color theory book but wasn't sure if that's the best way. Any specific books/websites/videos etc. that would point me in the right direction?

    I just picked up "Art That Changed the World from the library, as I got that recommended before. Gonna start going thru it and selfducating I also got advice to spend more time in the pre-design mockup stages and nail down the art before I even get to really putting it together. Lastly, I think coming up with a core list of visual traits (i.e. vector vs. pixel, color pallet, specific resolution etc.) and sticking to it would help with consistency at least.

    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    All these procedural tools are going to start chipping away at the narrative that you need a 50 person team to make nice-looking levels.
    Honestly I'd say Unity and UE4 asset stores will come before. As NV's post suggests, it took quite a while for him to get a rather "simple" effect. That's half (or more) days of work on a single texture. Granted, a well versed artist can probably whip it up much faster than all of us combined (hi Renz!) but I still wouldn't underestimate the time needed.

    Until we get to full procedurally generated stuff on the fly. Anyone remember the Krieg (I think?) that was ALL procedural? Probably an hour or more of an FPS game with nice graphics at 96kbs download only!
    Last edited by Yakoob; 19th Jan 2017 at 18:42.

  7. #1657
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Well, one thing is that after a while, you'd probably learn how to quickly make realistic surfaces of different types (stones, rock, metal, wood, etc.) and be able to whip up more very quickly (plus, you can make libraries of common effects and patterns to re-use later, so once you've built up such a library you can use them to work much faster.)

  8. #1658
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    .kkrieger wasn't exactly procedural in the way we use the term for games today, though. It was a linear game that remained the same from start to end, but the key thing was its compression tech, which was procedural. IIRC, they didn't store the actual textures, they stored the steps the artists used to create the textures, and the game generated them at launch (which was also why it took so long to launch).

  9. #1659
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    That's pretty much what Substance Designer does. Unreal and Unity have support for loading raw substance files, which are usually only about 30k in size for even 4k textures, and builds them at load.

    The only downside is they're expensive to use like that. A single texture can explode to over 100 meg in memory, and take 10 seconds to load. If you use a bunch, they can add up after awhile. It's something you have to be careful with if you want to use them exclusively.

  10. #1660
    What's a good way to go about developing better taste? I was thinking maybe picking up a general art/design/color theory book but wasn't sure if that's the best way. Any specific books/websites/videos etc. that would point me in the right direction?
    I don't think there are shortcuts here, and general information won't do you much good (except that you need to know it). But, you don't have to learn the whole history of art either. Pick up a discipline you're likely to obsess with: photography, cinema. Studying lightning and color grading in movies helps. Take screenshots of both movies and games that you think are interesting, obsess over their choices of light and colors. Do exercises like this one: http://moviesincolor.com/

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