Sunday, November 21, 2010

Walking Paper Girl

We're giving away a character to go with last week's Paper World Texture Set!  The new pack also includes a Unity 3D game project that demonstrates how the character can be used.

Download character pack here.  To learn what's included in the pack, play the following video.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Paper World Texture Set

Here's a texture set that will get you started creating environments that look like they've been mocked up from arts and crafts materials.  Download the pack here.

In addition to bitmap textures that have been rendered at a size of 512 x 512, the pack includes the original GTX files that can be opened in Genetica either for modification or for rendering at a larger size.  Download Genetica here.

The included textures can be placed on planes, boxes, and cylinders to make environments like the following.

The textures can also be used for 2D side-scrollers.

A number of the textures include opacity channels so that they can be layered on top of other textures.

Full-featured 3D environments will include decal or texture layering functionality for this purpose.  However, textures can still be layered in environments where such functionality is not present, such as Second Life.  To accomplish this, create two surfaces, one of which is slightly in front of the other one.  Then place the transparent texture on the closer surface, and the opaque texture on the farther one.

The chimney texture is intended for use on a cylinder that has end-caps removed.  If the chimney is sunk halfway into the rear wall of the environment then the smoke texture can be placed on that rear wall as shown below.

To modify any of the designs, open the GTX file in Genetica, then double-click the Canvas node to reveal the Canvas tab as indicated by the following illustration.  Once there, designs can be modified using standard drawing tools.  A tutorial demonstrating those tools can be found here.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Free Light Strips Tile Sets

This free pack contains two sets of interlocking tiles that can be assembled to create a variety of light strips.  The original texture files are also included for creating light strip sets that match your own custom walls.

The pack and be downloaded from here, and is available for use under these terms.

Download and unpack the ZIP file to find two versions of the set.  The blue version is intended for more neutral environments, while the red version will assist in creating a more foreboding feel.

Within each of the main folders you'll find the individual files forming the set.

As shown above the contents of each set fall into three groups.  Here's a description of each:

1. Individual Tiles

This folder contains the 16 individual textures making up each set.  They can be assembled in a painting program, or they could be placed on squares or cubes and assembled in a 3D environment.

2. Combined Sets

Combined sets contain all 16 tiles packaged into a single texture.  These can be used with certain game engines, such as Torque Game Builder, as described here.

3. Genetica Files

Open the GTX files within Genetica to create custom versions of the set.  Replacing the wall with one of your own materials is easy, with Genetica automatically adding the lights and other details to it.

Many more goodies are on the way!  Use the signup towards the top-right of this page to be informed when more free items are released!

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Friday, October 22, 2010

10 Stunning Images by Allan Miller

Anyone who comes across the artwork of Allan Miller can't help but notice its mesmerizing blend of abstract patterns, intricate details, and symbolism.  We got a hold of Miller to discover the story behind the designs.

Spiral: How did you first get into art?

Miller: I remember in art classes at school as a kid having no ability compared to some others who could draw portraits that actually looked like the subject. However I got into a career in IT and found that I had the ability to think in pictures rather than words. I gave up IT after about 20 years because of the stress and incipient high blood pressure and decided that there must be more to life. I had risen to the top of my IT profession and was looking for a new challenge.

After giving IT up I found I had this urge to do art. It seemed that this visual thinking faculty that I had honed was now looking for something else to do. So I started doing etching and woodblock print making and really enjoyed it. Later I took up digital art which was much cleaner and needed far less space and no messy things like acid baths and presses.

Coming across Genetica back in 2007 revolutionized my images. It has enabled me to achieve a level of subtlety that I was not able to before. Initially I was using the textures in a very much in-your-face sort of way but that is not so much the case now. To take as an example the following image, the misty background is constructed of four textures, one solid as the base and three transparent overlays to build up the effect. The central element also uses four textures. I often use the textures to provide a textured "wash" over solid colors or even other solid textures. I use a palette of basic textures and build up the effect.

You do have to see a full size print to see the subtle details as a lot of it just vanishes on a low resolution computer image. But something still comes through because if I turn the textures off the image can look quite stark, naked even.

Spiral: Where do your ideas come from?

Miller: Well, taking the current series as an example, many of the images have a vaguely techno look. The sequence was triggered by seeing a painting by the French symbolist Gustave Moreau who was very popular in his day. The painting is popularly known as the "Tattooed Salome" and shows a woman dancing--Salome dancing in front of Herod. But what is particularly interesting is that she is depicted wearing a transparent shift which has embroidery on it and the embroidery then looks like tattoos, hence the name of the painting:

But it made me wonder what a male equivalent might look like. And I didn't think of some male ballet-dancer-like equivalent but a "real" man, a warrior, who might have tattoos in the normal course of events. I had a particular warrior in mind who would be wearing high-tech transparent armor with decorations that had a techno feel. I did some initial sketches using an anime figure:

But as always happens the idea took on a life of its own and evolved into the abstract armor images you see in my current series. I started using the shield shape as a shorthand reference to armor but it is quite an ambiguous shape in itself and can be interpreted also as a mask, or even a spaceship.

So all the themes that I follow are triggered by chance events, by something I happen to see--often in a movie. And that trigger lives on in the images even if not in an obvious way. Plus earlier themes live on in later themes in a subtle way.

The images almost create themselves and with just a little help from me. If I try to impose my ideas too strongly the images often don't work. It is almost as though I am just a midwife in the process. Each image usually grows out of the previous one. There aren't many sudden jumps. And if you look at the images in sequence it is almost like looking at the frames of a movie.

One of the main thrusts of my images is to depict "shimmering," or putting it more metaphysically, creative instability. By that I mean the images have to be always moving or coming into being or dissolving away and how they appear to the onlooker is dependent on them. And this is where the backgrounds particularly become important. To facilitate that visual instability I often use multiple vanishing points and try to get an effect where the subject is both advancing towards you and receding at the same time.

But behind it all there is yet another layer. I am a Buddhist and my artwork is an expression of my Buddhist practice. It is just that I am not making recognizably Buddhist icons, and I am using my own visual metaphors to express that. I'm also influenced by Japanese culture and the unique Zen aesthetic.

I sometimes joke that I create art to stop myself from going mad. Or at least to channel my insanity. It is a joke but there is an element of truth there as well. I think I would go nuts if I wasn't able to create images any more.

Allan Miller uses Genetica to create textures and CorelDRAW for the overall design and assembly of his artwork. Miller's latest series can be found here, while previous works are available here.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Make a Movie with iClone and 3DXchange

In this tutorial we'll learn how to create a 3D movie using iClone and 3DXchange.

Specifically, we'll examine how our gas tanks promo video was created, which originally appeared in this post.

Part 1: 3DXchange

The following video explains how 3DXchange is used to prepare models and textures for use in iClone.

Part 2: iClone

The final part of this two-part series shows how the video is put together in iClone itself.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Free Gas Tank Model and Textures

This free pack contains a model of a gas tank along with five complete texture makeovers that can be used to dress the tank up in a variety of ways.

The pack, which can be downloaded from here, can be used royalty-free in your projects with a link back to this page.

Did you like this promo video?  A tutorial 
explaining how it was created can be found here.

Once you've downloaded and unpacked the ZIP file you'll find the model in OBJ format, along with a folder for each of the five texture variations.

Within each folder you'll find the texture maps themselves, plus the original Genetica file.

All the textures included in this pack were created with Genetica.  Use Genetica to open any of the GTX files in order to modify the textures.  Genetica can be downloaded from here.

More goodies are on the way!  Use the signup towards the top-right of this page to be informed when more free items are released.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Make a Wood Floor Seamless Texture with Nails

In this tutorial we'll examine how to create a seamless texture of wooden boards that are held in place by nails.

Download Video  |  Download PDF
To download, right-click link and select save.

Genetica will be used for this tutorial, which can be downloaded here.

The creation of this texture involves three overall steps.  First, a plain wood texture is created.  Next, the wood is converted into a series of boards.  Finally, nails are added at the corners of the boards.  Each of these steps will be represented by a node in Genetica.

Step 1 - Creating the Wood

The quickest way to create a plain wood material is with the Synthesis node.  This node can create seamless textures from photographs.

Start a new document (marker 1 in the following illustration), make sure that the Advanced nodes category is selected (marker 2) and drag a Synthesis node (3) into the empty slot in the middle of the workspace (4).  Finally, double-click the newly-created Synthesis node that should now appear in the middle of the workspace in order to open its options window.

The Texture Synthesis dialog should appear.  In this area we could create our own wood texture from scratch.  But we'll use one of the presets for expediency.  Select the Wood category (1) and then select the Plywood 2 preset (2).  Close the dialog either by double-clicking the selected preset, or by clicking OK.

Step 2 - Making the Boards

Now that the basic wood material has been created, we want to convert it into boards.  This can be accomplished with the Cut & Tile Lab.

With the Advanced nodes category still selected, drag a Cut & Tile Lab (1) onto our Synthesis node (2).  In the menu that will appear, select Insert Below (3).

As shown below, this has caused a small pipeline to be created, with a Synthesis node that is creating a wood material, followed by a Cut & Tile Lab that is taking that wood and turning it into a brick pattern.  The brick pattern and thick gooey mortar created by the Cut & Tile Lab's default settings aren't appropriate for our texture.  To modify the Cut & Tile Lab, double-click it (1).

The Cut & Tile Lab organizes its options into a number of selections.  Begin by choosing the Select Pattern section (1).  This section reveals the options controlling the overall shape of the brick pattern.  To select a pattern that is more appropriate for our texture, first click the Select Type button (2) and then in the window that pops up, choose the Long Boards pattern type (3).

To reduce the width of the thick gooey mortar, select the Mortar Width section and set the mortar Width property to zero.  If you need additional help finding this property, or any of the others mentioned in this tutorial, please refer to the video version of this tutorial that was mentioned towards the beginning of this article.

To make the direction of the wood grain match the orientation of our boards, select the Scramble section, then set the Material Orientation property to On Side.

To make the beveling more appropriate for our texture, select the Bevel section, then set the Width property to 6, the Depth property to 1, and the Curve property to zero.

Finally select the Mortar Material section (item 1 in following illustration).  Set Mortar Opacity to 60 (item 2) and set both color properties to brown colors (3).

Step 3 - Adding Nails

The final step is to add nails to our texture, which can be done with the Canvas node.  This is the node to use when you wish to either draw a new seamless texture, or to draw on top of an existing one.
With the Advanced nodes category still selected (1), drag a Canvas node (2) onto our Cut & Tile Lab (3) and in the menu that pops up select Insert Below (4).

As shown below, even though our wood boards are feeding into the Canvas node, the Canvas will begin blank.  To correct this, begin by switching to the Canvas tab either by directly selecting the tab (1) or by double-clicking the Canvas node (2).

Select the Shape tool (1), the Rectangle shape (2), and then drag from one corner of the workspace (3) to the other in order in order to create a rectangle that covers the entire texture.

Our newly created rectangle is filled blue by default, but by changing its style we can fill it with our wood board texture instead.  To do so, select the Style tool (1), click the Edit button (2), select the style's layer (3), and set its Effect type to Fill Input Texture (4).  Finally, close the dialog by clicking OK.

Now that the Canvas workspace has been filled with our texture, it's time to draw some nails.  The nails need to be made out of a different material.  In the Canvas node, all shapes in a given layer share the same material, so to begin working with a second material we need to create a new layer by clicking the New Layer button (1).  Then, select the Shape tool (2), the Ellipse shape (3), and finally drag in the workspace to create a circle (4).  Holding down the Shift key while dragging will constrain the proportions, allowing a perfect circle to be created.

As before, we need to modify the style of our newly created layer.  Begin by clicking the Style button (1) and the Edit button (2).  Next, select the Metal, Shiny preset category (3) and the Crumpled Gold preset (4).  Finally, close the dialog by clicking OK.  Alternatively, the dialog could have been closed in a single step by double-clicking the selected preset.

While the folds and shadow of the selected style will work well for a large shape, they'll be too big for the shape once it has been shrunk down to nail-size.  This is because such visual aspects of the style remain the same size regardless of how big the shape is.  To fix this, with the Style tool still active, set the Scale property to 4 (item 1).

Zoom into the view by using your mouse wheel.  Then select the Transform tool (1).  With the circle still selected, drag one of its corner handles (2) in order to reduce it to nail-size.  Remember to hold down the Shift key while dragging in order to constrain the shape's proportions and keep it circular.  Finally, drag the middle of the shape in order to position the nail (3).

Press the Copy (1) and Paste (2) buttons, or use the Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V hotkeys, to make a duplicate of the shape.  Then drag the middle of the shape (3) to place the duplicated nail at the next desired position.  Continue performing these actions until a nail has been placed at all four corners of each board.

Once finished placing the nails, select your desired render size (1) and press the Render Texture button (2).  Once rendering is complete, press the Export Image button (3) in order to save the rendered result as a bitmap texture that can be opened for use in other applications.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Four Free Tile Sets

This is a great pack of four different interlocking tile sets that can be assembled in endless configurations.

The pack, which can be downloaded from here, is available for use under these terms.  Read on to see what's included in the pack.

Download and unpack the ZIP file to reveal four different versions of the set, each of which is contained in a different folder.  Enter the folder of the version you'd like to see more of.

Once you've entered one of the main folders, you'll be presented with all the files making up that set.

As shown above the contents of each set can be broken down into four sections.  Here's a description of each one:

1. Individual tiles that can be assembled by hand

This folder contains the 16 individual textures making up each set.  These can be used in a 3D environment, or pasted into a standard paint program and assembled into countless unique configurations.

2. Combined sets usable in some game engines

The combined sets have all the individual set pieces combined into a single image.  The white grid in the following illustration doesn't appear in the actual image, but was added to show how this image contains all sixteen of the individual textures.

These tile sets can then be loaded into certain game engines where they can be quickly assembled into unique arrangements.  For example, a tutorial on how tile sets are used in Torque Game Builder can be found here.

What's nice about using tile sets from a single image is that all you need to do is replace that one image and the whole setup instantly updates to the new look.

3. Standard seamless texture for floors and boxes

Standard seamless texture versions are also provided along with height and specular maps.  These will look good on floors, walls, columns, boxes, and just about anywhere else where seamless textures can be used.

4. Original files that can be modified in Genetica

All the textures included in this pack were created with Genetica.  The GTX files provided in the pack are the original files that can be opened in Genetica for full customization.  Genetica can be downloaded here.

Once one of the GTX files has been opened in Genetica, you'll find a series of nodes that represent the various components forming that texture.  Double-click either the Canvas or one of the Synthesis nodes to modify either the pattern or the materials used to create the texture.

More goodies are on the way--don't miss out.  Use the signup towards the top-right of this page to be informed when more free items are released!

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