Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nuthin But Mech 3 Out Now, Inc Revealed!!!

Design Studio Press' "Nuthin But Mech 3" book has been released! As well as mech related artwork from 54 professional artists, this book also contains the first full images of the main robot protagonist from my book project "The Story of Inc".

Next week I'll give you a sneak peak of some of the book's artwork on the blog (The big reveal of both Inc the robot and Landis, his human companion), but until then, please consider buying the "Nuthin But Mech 3" book. As well as containing tons of beautiful artwork, proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the family of Francis Tsai, a remarkable artist and inspiring figure who passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease in early 2015.

https://designstudiopress.com/product/nuthin-but-mech-3/


 See ya next week!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" Released Today

I started working on "The Good Dinosaur" in October 2010, first 1 year in the art dept doing 3d visual development, followed by 2 years in the sets dept making assets got the film. After the film's story got retooled, I worked another 2 years as a part of sets.

The environments in this film were quite an undertaking. First, USGS data was used to give us a base terrain to work on. Then in the far and mid ground, procedural trees and rocks were added by the tech team. For the foreground, a large team of modelers and shaders meticulously built thousands of trees, rocks, bushes and plants. These assets were then placed in the scene by the set dressers, who also painted procedural grass / moss / flowers to seat everything. Finally, procedural leaves were added to the trees.

I am so honored to have been a part of the sets team for this film, everyone did a fantastic job, and everyone worked together really well in the face of tremendous challenges.

So now here we are, 5 years later, in theaters today. 84% on rotten tomatoes. I hope everyone gets a chance to see the film, and I hope you enjoy our labor of love.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

SoulburnScripts Updated Nov 21st 2015

Updated 3 older Maxscripts:

soulburnAssetLoader (SAL): People have been asking for this for awhile now, finally added a Textures category where you can load textures into your material editor. Currently works with "Tif", "png", "hdr" and "exr" files. Also added ability to turn off any of the 4 categories of assets, removing them from the interface and giving you more screen real estate. Also fixed a number of issues relating to resizing the floater window.
viewportToVFBLoader: Updated some functions, no change to user.
sLib: Updated sLibResizeImageByPixelsFilter to allow for non-proportional rescaling. Removed sLibResizeImageByPixelsNoFilter as it was no longer needed.  Added sLibGetImageBitDepth.

To download the new script pack:

http://www.neilblevins.com/cg_tools/scripts/3dsmax/soulburnscripts.htm

If you've installed my asset packs before, here's how to upgrade to properly use the new "Textures" functionality in SAL.

1) Go to your assets/Materials directory, and delete the maps subdirectory (if you've added your own maps into this directory, don't delete those, just the ones that you downloaded from me)
2) Download and install this texture asset pack here: http://www.neilblevins.com/cg_tools/assets/3dsmax/tex/Soulburn_TextureAssetPack_Free.htm
3) Download and install this material asset pack here: http://www.neilblevins.com/cg_tools/assets/3dsmax/mat/Soulburn_MaterialAssetPack_Test.htm
4) Now you should be all set to enjoy the latest features in SAL!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Xeelee Sequence Resplendent The Worlds Of Man Fell Dark

Fan art of the book "Resplendent", part of Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence. Space is filled with the red glow of ionized gas nebulas, the remains of a thousand red giant stars, aged before their time. But for this star, its fate is to be extinguished by a different force, signaling the end of man's conquest of the galaxy. I wanted to give that feeling of the last bit of sunlight hitting the planet before the solar system goes dark. This was a surprisingly tough piece because it needed to be dark because that was the narrative, but if it was too dark, the viewer can't see the painting (you always have to consider that each person's monitor will have a different brightness, making it hard to do subtle darkness). Hopefully I hit a good balance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SoulburnScripts Updated Nov 10th 2015

Updated 2 older Maxscripts:

cameraMapTemplateRenderer: Fixed a bug where the script would crash if the vray render failed for some reason.
modelPreparer: Added high and low values to the curvature feature because this is a value users may want to adjust on a more frequent basis. Decreasing the low and increasing the high will capture more edges on a more subtly curved surface.

http://www.neilblevins.com/cg_tools/scripts/3dsmax/soulburnscripts.htm

Thanks to everyone for your support.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015

SoulburnScripts, Assets and CG Education Updated Nov 8th 2015


So now that we have a Blended Box Map for vray, I've been able to make a number of major updates...
  • I've updated all of the soulburn material asset files to use the new plugin, which reduces the size and complexity (and rendertime) of the materials by a substantial amount.
  • I have a new soulburnscript pack that includes both a Blended Box Map manager script to mass edit all the VraytriplanarTex maps in your scene, but also a script called modelPreparer, that speeds up the setup process tremendously when using my SAL asset materials.
  • I have released a 33 minute video on youtube and gumroad called "Shading A Hard Surface Model 2015: Texturing A SciFi Power Cell" showing how to use the new assets and scripts to quickly shade any hard surface model. This is similar to the video I posted last year, except with a ton of new material since technology has advanced a lot in the last year. You can watch the video free on youtube, or if you want a high quality downloadable version, its $1 on gumroad.
That's the basics, now for more details see below...

CGTools Updated Nov 8th 2015

Updated 5 Material Asset Packs:

All 5 material Asset packs now use the VrayTriplanarTex map instead of my soulburnscript blended box map. This leads to faster setup times and also faster render times. Also, where previously there was a 5 step process to set up any geometry before it could be used with these material assets, I have now written a script to do that process for you. Learn more about it in the following tutorial: http://www.neilblevins.com/cg_education/shading_a_hard_surface_model_2015/shading_a_hard_surface_model_2015.htm

Get the assets here:

http://www.neilblevins.com/cg_tools/assets/assets_3dsmax.htm

SoulburnScripts Updated Nov 8th 2015

Its crazy, but this is the 100th revision of the soulburnscripts! And this one's a biggy!

Added 2 new Maxscripts:

modelPreparer: Sets up your model to have materials applied to it from the Soulburn MaterialAssetPacks using SAL.
blendedBoxMapManager: Lets you change parameters to any Blended Box Map inside the material you currently have selected in the Material Editor.

Updated 11 older Maxscripts:

soulburnAssetLoader: Added ability to place materials in the Slate Material Editor.
sLib:
Did a more consistent job of adding returns in the various functions.  Added sLibFindParentsInObjs, sLibFindParentsOfObjs and sLibConvertBaseObjectToPoly.
cameraFromPerspView:
Fixed a bug where the wrong parameter was being set in the default Max 2016 Physical Camera.
cornerEdgeToVertexMap:
Added better error messages.
iDSetter:
Now it renames the Material modifier something more meaningful.
parentSelector:
Cleaned up a lot of code.
groupWithPoint:
Added option to not select the resulting point helper. Added some options on what to do if your selected objects have existing hierarchy. Cleaned up a lot of code.
blendedCubeProjectionMaker:
Cleaned up a lot of code. Fixed a problem that meant the specific size spinner didn't work properly.
blendedBoxMapMaker:
Cleaned up a lot of code. Fixed a problem that meant the specific size spinner didn't work properly.
cameraMapTemplateRenderer:
After a render, now returns the active viewport to the last viewport type you had instead of the view of one of the cameras you rendered from. Added option for adding a default light, and for turning shadows on and off.
xFormResetter
:
Temporarily removed the option to "Convert Instances To References" until a nasty bug gets resolved. Now names the normal flip modifier something meaningful.

http://www.neilblevins.com/cg_tools/scripts/3dsmax/soulburnscripts.htm

Soulburn 3D Education Page Updated Nov 8th 2015

The Soulburn CG Education Page has been updated:

Added a new tutorial video (33min) called Shading A Hard Surface Model 2015: Texturing A Scifi Power Cell

Monday, November 2, 2015

Autodesk's New Licensing: How This Will Affect The SoulburnScripts and Assets

So I've received a number of questions on how the new Autodesk licensing scheme (which goes into effect Jan 31st 2016) will affect the future of the 3dsmax SoulburnScripts and Assets. Read more about the new licensing here:

http://www.autodesk.com/products/perpetual-licenses/perpetual-licenses-faq

Here's the story in a nutshell. After January...

- you can't buy a single license for $3500 or whatever it cost in your area.
- You can't take an older copy of max and upgrade it for $800 or whatever it cost in your area.
- You can have a Maintenance Subscription, which means if you pay the $600 a year (or whatever it cost in your area), you always get the most recent copy of max, and if you stop paying you keep the last version of the software you received. But if you want to go back on Maintenance Subscription at a later time, you can't.
- You can buy a Desktop Subscription. This is the rental model, you pay a certain amount of money per month / year, you always get the most recent copy of max, but if you stop paying, you lose all access to the software. You can no longer open your old max files. But you can choose to start paying for a Desktop Subscription again any time you like.

Pretty much everyone knows I disagree with these licensing changes. My main beef is with the rental model. I like the idea of owning things. I do not like the idea that if I pay for something, if I stop paying for it, someone can basically come to my house and take that item away. I do not like the idea that a company has complete control over when I can and cannot use my software. I do not like the idea that a company can take away my ability to open my own asset files by denying me access to the software  necessary to open them. To note, my feelings extend to other media as well, when I buy music, I do not buy music that has any DRM, because once I buy an album, I don't want some company deciding later that they want to take that album back, or if say the company goes out of business, that I can never enjoy that music again. While I do watch streaming movies, any movie I want to make sure I can keep watching for the rest of my life, I buy the DVD/Blu-ray.

Anyways, how will this affect the SoulburnScripts and Assets? Since my issues are with rental, thankfully there is still an option for me, the Maintenance Subscription. Yes, its not ideal. But I am fine paying my yearly fee as long as, if for some reason I ever do decide to stop paying it, I get to keep my software and be able to open my old max files. And that is what I have done. So for people who have decided to just keep 3dsmax 2016 and not upgrade, you will continue to have access to the SoulburnScripts and Assets. And for the people who are either on Maintenance or who are going to use the rental model, I will continue to upgrade the SoulburnScripts and Assets with all of the new tools the 3dsmax team puts in newer versions of the software.

As a side, I do want everyone to realize that the 3dsmax team is not to blame for any of this, this is a decision made by Autodesk Corporate, and the 3dsmax team has to live with the ramifications of this decision just like we do. So at this point all the 3dsmax team can do is focus on continuing to make the software the best software it can be. And I feel the last few years they've been doing a great job of that.

Should at some future point Autodesk decide to remove the Maintenance Subscription option, and go fully rental only (like Adobe), I will not be joining in, I will stay with whatever last version of max I am able to get on Maintenance, and stay with that for possibly the rest of my career (or until some other company's software gets good enough to persuade me to switch). That's my current relationship with Adobe, I am using Photoshop CS6 still, and will do so until Adobe allows me to buy the software again, or some other company comes along with a painting app that can replace photoshop in my workflow. If this ever occurs, the Soulburnscripts and Assets will no longer get updates based on newer versions of the software.

So in short, at least for the moment, the SoulburnScripts and Assets will continue on as they have, with older versions for people on older copies of max, and newer versions for future copies of max. May Autodesk keep the Maintenance Subscription in the future, or even better, realize their mistake and go back to offering all of the licensing options their customer base want.

Any further questions, feel free to ask.