Garstor's World, My realm of 3D art, LEGO and atheism

Some Catch-Up And Mustard…

Posted on Sunday, April 24th, 2016 at 7:51 AM in Personal by Garstor

Well it has been nearly a month without a post. For awhile there I was making doing regular posts. Well work has been quite busy with a fair amount of things to do off-work hours from home. It has left me mentally fatigued in the evenings.

I have managed some activities in 3D and Photoshop. It would be awesome if I could share that work here but I am hoping that it will become a commercial product. So I will have to hold-off on that.

The 3D news that I can share is that I have upgraded to the newly released Substance Painter 2 (here is the YouTube release trailer for v2) and LWCad 5.1. It is absolutely stunning what can be created with these tools. I really hope to build my skills with them.

In technical and personal news, one of the drives in my ABEIR server died. It contained several of my virtual machines – including my most used GREENDRAGON, which was running SQL Server 2012. I was not performing proper backup practices and had been storing the backups for my key database on the same VHD as the VM. So I’ve lost quite a bit of work from many years. Bummer.

This isn’t really tragic, it won’t impact me financially or anything. It is just extremely annoying. But also educational – have a backup plan that actually protects the data.

I expect this coming week to be every bit as busy as last week. Hopefully I can managed another post before May rolls around.

Finished Reading “Did Jesus Exist”

Posted on Monday, March 28th, 2016 at 4:11 AM in Religion, Skepticism by Garstor

I guess it was appropriate that I finished the book on Easter! Open-mouthed smile I would have completed it sooner but I took it out of my laptop back to fit the Surface Pro and work laptop in there.

As I fully expected with Bart Ehrman’s writing, I enjoyed this book immensely. He presented a ton of useful information about the historical criterion for evaluating the likelihood of some past event. It is very difficult to argue against these points.

I was a little disappointed with the section on Josephus. The Antiquities Of The Jews has long been cited by believers as evidence for their stories. I remember the shock of reading (in Earl Dougherty’s book, The Jesus Puzzle and later in Robert Price’s The Incredible Shrinking Son Of Man) that the paragraphs about Jesus are likely later insertions by Christians to beef up their claims. I think that they present a solid case for that claim.

Ehrman makes the opposite claim. To me this part of the discussion feels too much like a He-Said-She-Said argument. Ultimately, neither side will overcome the other. My only other choice is to become a first century historian and Josephus expert myself – something I have neither the time, money or sufficient interest in doing.

As mentioned, I will read some more of the mythicist side regarding Jesus’ existence. Richard Carrier and more Robert Price are likely. There will probably be a palate cleansing read in-between though. Winking smile

Ehrman’s newest writing concerns how Jesus has been transformed into God over the centuries. There is even a video lecture series about this. I’m very likely to buy this lecture and probably Ehrman’s book too.

Another Photo Walk: Albion Falls

Posted on Sunday, March 27th, 2016 at 5:59 PM in Personal, Photoshop by Garstor

The weather seems to be warming up – although this winter has been about as stable as Charles Manson… So I used this long weekend to take another photo walk around a Hamilton location. Today, I went up to Albion Falls.

I had a brief scare once I got there (it is near the end of the Upper Kenilworth bus route). I started taking pictures and saw my Pentax flashing at me, “No card in camera!” I swore harshly but then remembered I had space SD cards in my camera bag. Phew!

March 27 Photo Walk - Timer & Aperture mode blendOne of my goals for this walk was to photograph a waterfall with the Timer Mode. This keeps the aperture open and creates beautiful silky textures out of flowing water. However, you need a neutral density filter to pull that off. I don’t have one… But I do have Photoshop!

So my Timer Mode photo got blown out but I also took an Aperture Mode photo. Since I used my tripod, it was easy to blend the two pictures with Photoshop. I managed to get some of the silky texture in the water while keeping the rest of the image tack sharp.

All in all, I took 77 photos but only a few were worth putting up on Flickr.

March 27 Photo Walk - Albion Falls 2I should have worn hiking shoes and climbed down into the gorge. I’ll do that next time!

I felt that some of the photos would look good with the Brad Goble’s Photoshop Actions. So I used the Watercolor Action on the photo to the right. That turned out surprisingly well and I only made a few minor tweaks to it.

Mountain Brow Boulevard crosses Albion Bridge just above the falls. On the other side of the road, I took a few photos at low angles of Red Hill Creek before it plummets over the Niagara Escarpment.

One of those photos got the Brad Goble Hand-Drawn Action applied to it. Pretty good there too I think!

Further Terrain Tweaks

Posted on Friday, March 25th, 2016 at 3:26 PM in Ray-Tracing by Garstor

Terrain test 3It seems that I am spending my commute time during the week thinking about what I can work on in 3D over the weekend. To that end, I am grateful for the three-day weekend.

As mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to add an HDR background so that I could have realistic sky and clouds. That is exactly what I did here – I used LightWave’s Image World feature to display this HDR.

Unfortunately, it is a rather low resolution HDR. It was a free sample from some site that I have long-since forgotten. I should put together a collection of better quality HDR skies; even if it means paying for a few images.

I also tweaked the water texture since it was really bugging me. While still not great, this version makes big strides forward. I used the Fast Fresnel shader so it started reflecting the terrain and sky. I couldn’t get the ripples / wave displacement but there is enough there to distort the reflections.

I may try another terrain creation and another photo-walk this weekend.

Improving The Terrain

Posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016 at 7:01 PM in Ray-Tracing by Garstor

terrain test 2A bit later on Sunday afternoon, I managed to get some of the original terrain texturing that I was seeing in Substance Painter. Inside LightWave Layout, I mixed the flow map from World Machine with texture map from Substance Painter.

That really added punch to the crevasses in the rock!

In the previous post, I mentioned adding a brownish coloured fill layer. The Substance Painter mask generator created a happy accident and added very nice strata layers throughout the rest of the terrain. I was very pleased with that!

Several people in the LightWavers Are Everywhere forum on Facebook provided positive feedback. I appreciated that. Mention was made of Andrew Comb’s compound node network that allows LightWave to use the Substance PBR maps. I will definitely have to get that installed and try it out.

I cannot post this without mentioning the terrible looking water plane here. I used a LightWave preset shader for water and did not try to tweak it. Obviously it takes quite a bit away from the scene rather than enhancing it. We’ll see if I cannot improve it.

I’d also like to try out an HDRI sky dome (or LightWave’s Image World) to get a realistic sky with clouds. Fortunately, this is a long weekend – so I’ll have some extra play time!

Terrain Testing

Posted on Sunday, March 20th, 2016 at 9:02 AM in Ray-Tracing by Garstor

terrain testI have long loved creating terrains in 3D. It was one of the big initial attractors to Carrara for me – terrains were easier to create and texture than they were in POV-Ray. Now that I have moved on into LightWave 2015 and other applications, I want to build a good workflow for terrain building.

I used World Machine 2 and the GeoGlyph plugins to create the height map. The terrain was created in LightWave 2015 using a two kilometer square plane divided into 50×50 segments and subpatched. I saved that transformed plane and opened the object in Substance Painter 1.7.

World Machine created an initial normal map for adding surface details. I used one of the Smart Materials in Substance Painter to get a basic grey rocky surface. I then started painting my own strata layers around the mesa. The texture looked pretty good in Substance Painter but I kept tweaking. I tried making a sandy surface on the flat areas. I then used a mask generator on a fill layer to enhance the strata lines on the rocks around the mesa.

I probably should have stopped while I was ahead. The latest render here was done in LightWave using the Substance Painter texture maps. Unfortunately it looks more like chocolate pudding than the nice rocks and strata!

Well this is all about learning and getting better at creating these models.

New Toy!

Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2016 at 4:56 AM in Personal by Garstor

Although I thoroughly despise cellphones – all of them – I have to admit that I finally do use my Nokia 920 Windows Phone for more than just phone calls. Now that I am commuting, I have started to play some games to pass the time when I don’t feel like reading. Most notably, Wordament.

I would like this time that I have to be more productive though. No cell phone screen is large enough for my ever-worsening eyesight.

So last week, I bought a Microsoft Surface 3. It was on sale at Best Buy. I had originally thought it was a Surface Pro but in my haste – quickly confirming the recommended storage, memory and CPU type – I had bought a regular Surface 3 (and the Type Cover keyboard).

Sure, the Surface 4 is now available but it is stupid expensive. The Surface 3 serves my needs quite nicely. I can now watch tutorial videos while commuting on the bus. I have a wide-ranging collection of videos for LightWave, Carrara, Photoshop, World Machine and Substance Painter. I also subscribe to PluralSight and pay extra for their offline viewing – so it is time that I actually use that feature.

I’ll have to do a blog post about the types of tutorials that I have and their strengths and weaknesses.

This morning is my first commute to work with the Surface. Should be fun!

[NSFW]–New Carrara Image

Posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 at 4:40 AM in Photoshop, Ray-Tracing by Garstor

This image may not be visible on my Flickr site because I have marked it as “Moderate Safety” for topless female nudity. You will need a Flickr/Yahoo login to see it.

Orianne & KnivesThe recent experimentations with the Victoria model made me want to create a completely gratuitous, Heavy Metal sort of image.

Originally, she was completely free of clothing; but I decidedly a few bit of metallic covering improved the image dramatically. Two of my friends wanted to see bigger breasts than I usually create, so I entertained their request and made the image even more cliché.

When I added the metal bikini, that model could not properly conform to the pose that I had put Victoria into. Most of the bikini pushed-through to be “inside” Victoria’s body. None of the pose morphs could correct it and editing the bikini model directly failed (as it often does for Carrara). My solution was two renders.

The first was the full scene with the poke-through problems on the bikini. The second render was with the Victoria model set invisible. This changed the lighting very slightly but otherwise the two images were the same. I could then use layer masks in Photoshop to correctly reveal the bikini on top of Victoria’s “skin” rather than underneath it.

I have uploaded this image to my WIP album because I am still not entirely happy with it. I want to add some background instead of that flat brown. A realistic sky with some clouds would be good too – probably an HDRI image. Maybe I can add some blood stains to the knife blades and blood spatters to her torso.