Monday, April 26, 2010

Blender and Simutrans

Blender is an open source 3D modelling software that I use to make graphics for Simutrans. This software allows you to build a 3D model, apply textures to it, and render images, which means taking pictures of the model.

Using a 3D software to make graphics for Simutrans has cons and pros. I will analyze them, despite as I've never painted using pixel-art techniques I can't guess many advantadges it may have over 3D software. Comments, advice and suggestions about both techniques will be appreciated.

Cons. There are mainly two reasons to not use 3D software:
  • You need to learn how to use a complex tool.
  • You need to practice/learn a different workflow for making graphics.
Pros. I can see many of them, some quite cool:
  • You can make basic changes to the model (e.g. rescaling) with relative ease.
  • You can easily re-use previous work (e.g., for different freights, even for other similar vehicles).
  • Models can be used for different paks, or shared with other paks' painters.
  • Lot of work can be automated (techniques, rendering, colouring...).
  • You work on a single 3D model, no matter the number of views needed.

In my oppinion, I understand those people who don't want to use 3D software due the difficulty on learning the new software. Actually I think it's not as difficult as it looks like, but I must admit it's not easy at all. By the way, I keep learning some basic techniques I didn't know after two years of using Blender!

The difficulty of learning how to use Blender is one of the reasons that encourages me to write this article and the ones that will folow. I'll try to build a collection of articles about small tricks, techniques and other short tutorials that can teach other people to use Blender step by step, based on small chapters that are easy to read and learn, with the intention of making easier to learn the whole.

So stay tuned, because I will write very soon the first chapter about Blender. It will be a very simple introduction to what is Blender and how does it look like.

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