Sunday, January 13, 2013

Painting for Simutrans: Evolution: Part 2

Continues from Part I

Practice is All

After the planes, I gave a try to several spanish locomotives, but I didn't sucess very much with those. I hadn't yet enough knowledge in blender, and it was difficult for me to get good results: most of them were just too boxy and/or sharp, and lightning wasn't good, either too much or too dark.

Then I started with ships, big ones. Slowly I was getting better using blender, and understood better how does it work. I begun to use oversampling to get more soft pictures, but I had to remove blurry edges by hand, which was like hell for me.
After several ships, I started to make some buildings using blender, some were successfull and other weren't. One of my best was the old-style fish cannery, which I still think it's really cute. I also used some image texturing (not UV) in blender, which consists in loading an image and use is as an internal texture; you can't adjust the texture to the shape that way, so it must be used on an object with the same texture in all of its surface.

This wasn't a very productive time, but I gained a lot of practice using blender and producing graphics for Simutrans with blender renders.

The Era of Automation

Then Hajo changed my life! Talking in the IRC chat room, he proposed me to use a mask to remove the blurry edges of my OSA renderings. Then I started to render twice my creations: making an oversampled render and a regular (mask) render; after that, I used the masks to remove blurry edges, which saved me lot of suffering. And that pushed me to automate my tasks: I decided to write a program to put all my renders together and apply those masks automatically for me.

Now I've been using this small program that I created for over a couple of years, and I can only say that my addons production has (at least) doubled. The amount of time that I need now to create a Simutrans addon having a blender model is about 15 minutes, when before it was between one and two hours. Not to mention that my ability with blender has been increasing a little more, and now it takes me half the time to create an acceptable 3D model.

The Pak128 ship set includes the very first objects created using those tools, specially the last objects in the set. So, it has been lots of things in not such a long time, as four years and a half means I'm still a kid in the comunity. I hope I can be still many years contributing to Simutrans, and enjoying it!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Painting for Simutrans: Evolution: Part 1

I've been for over four years and a half in the forum, and I feel it's time to take a look back and see who am I and where I did came from...
I discovered Simutrans on March 13, 2008; that's what my welcome message at the forum archive says. Since then, I've been playing a lot, more at the begining than now, but always enjoying this fantastic game.

My first creations

It took me about three months, until end of June, deciding to create content for Simutrans, where I started my airplane set for Pak128: that's two years and a half ago. Lots of things changed from those first contributions to the last ones I am currently developing, and I will talk about them!

At the very first, when I painted my first airplanes, I used only very basic capabilities in blender, as I was an absolute newbie to it. Moreover I used always UV mapping techniques, which consist on drawing images with an external tool (I used Photoshop most of the times), and then sticking them onto blender's objects surface. That gave my first vehicles a real-like style texturing, which I used to like very much.

During that first stage, I went from using only very square and sharp objects to use more cylinders and rounded objects. That can also be seen when you look at those airplanes: the Airbus series were one of the first ones, while 747 and the old W8B or the IL Candid are the last ones. There's a big difference between them, mostly in their shape and concept.

And Shades was right there...

The technique used to build simutrans objects in these days was rotating manually the objects in blender, in order to take the proper renderings. I made a first render to get the size of the object in pixels, then scale properly the object into blender. After that I had to render manually all eight views, then load all into my image editing software, manually align each view, and add special colors like windows or green/red lights. After half of my planes or more I discovered Shades (yes!), which made my life easier by aiding a lot with aligning and special colouring.

Will continue in part 2... soon.