Friday, 15 December 2017

Minor Project: Material Influence Maps #1

Now that I'm planning on moving onto some other textures/materials, I thought it would be a good idea to share some influence maps showing some images that I looked at while creating my ice and sponge textures. Since I'm trying to achieve relatively realistic results, I know that looking at reference is very important (for some materials I may go out and find reference myself so I can look at them more in person). These textures may still require some tweaking as time goes on, but I also want to move onto textures such as chicken skin.

For the snow/ice texture, I decided to go with ice because it reminded me of the frozen lake in front of my grandparent's house. I may see if I can add some snow details onto it or perhaps find some special effects to give it a sort of dry ice fog/mist effect. For the sponge I looked both at sea sponges and synthetic sponges and I may still experiment with some other colours. I have begun looking at both chicken skin and human skin for reference, I'm pretty sure I'm going to go for a raw chicken skin rather than a cooked one as raw meat - especially poultry - is repulsive to me and I'm often nervous about handling.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Minor Project: Sponge 001-015 (With Labels)

I've now added the labels onto my renders that have all of the settings I played around with in the renders. I mostly experimented with the SubSurface settings including using different colours (reds, oranges, yellows, and greens) to see what different results I would get along with experimenting with the scale setting. I also experimented a bit with the displacement settings, which were set to 0.030 for the majority of the renders but near the end I tried 0.100, 0.200, and 0.050 to see what they would look like. I found that the displacement settings can be glitchy sometimes and you may need to play around with the other settings for it to recognise you changed the values on other channels.

Out of these, I like 005, 010, and 011 the most. I feel the other ones appear too 'thick' and the shadows can appear too dark (although this may be due to the lighting). I may do a few more experiments with the sponge settings that I prefer just so I can see what it looks like in different types of lighting. I may also experiment with different colours for the sponge other than yellow.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Minor Project: Sponge 001-015 Preview (No Labels)

Today I worked more on a sponge texture...I recorded all of the channels that I was messing around with. Unfortunately, I forgot to take that file with all of the numbers with me. I will recover them tomorrow and once I put these images together and create their labels I'll make a proper post about this describing what I did, which ones I like/dislike and why, along with any other relevant comments. For now, here are the images that I've rendered out today...I still wanted to post something in the meantime to show my progress.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Minor Project: Initial Sponge Test

I decided I wanted to begin working on a sponge texture. So far, I did not create this using Substance Designer, but with some images so I could create diffuse, specular, height, and normal maps with Crazybump. It's nowhere near what I want to get it to, but it's a start...I may see if I can import these images to Substance Designer in hopes that I can improve it there. I also tested out animating the displacement height for this texture as well to see what it would look like.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Minor Project: Displacement Map Animation & Animated Label Test

After this experiment, I wanted to see how animated displacement maps would look. I quickly set up this scene using the tiles from a previous experiment (for some odd reason they rendered wrong) as well as a spot light with some atmosphere so the light rays were visible. I attached a noise node into the displacement of the sphere and animated different values. I wasn't really sure what results I would have until it rendered, but I think they look really interesting and I want to experiment with it more.

I also took the labels I began making and I tried to apply it to this test. Since the values were animated, I added a slider control to the numbers and changed the expression slightly so there were more decimal values visible when the numbers were animated. These numbers are not the real values that I used in Maya - when I decided to add this I didn't have access to Arnold so I couldn't check what the real numbers were.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Minor Project: Initial Label Designs #1

To further evoke a sense of 'hospitalisation' or some sort of institution, I was encouraged to explore ways of labelling my texturing experiments that will later on help me design my Art Of document. After some conversations, it became clear that it would be a good idea to explore the font and layout of medical prescriptions, pill packets/drug information tables, and nutritional information. It's odd because before I started actually looking at references, I didn't realise how similar medication labels and nutrition labels were which I think is interesting considering what my project is about.

I also researched a little online about which fonts are best for nutrition information and medication/drug information. Both of them recommend clear, easy to read fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, Franklin Gothic, and Verdana. I also found on this website that recommends using APHont as it is apparently easier to see for those who have weaker vision (I saw several other websites mention this font as well). I explored these fonts in the tests below, which were inspired by 'Drug Facts' (specifically the 'Active ingredients' section). I think out of all these fonts I prefer Helvetica, Arial, and APHont but I think I want to explore a few other fonts too. Some fonts were wider so for this test, some of the 'Bump Value' sections were shortened to 'Bump Val'...I'd change this in the final version but for this test I wanted everything to be the same dimensions. The render time in this is also made up for now.

I think this will be really interesting when paired with my texture tests. I need to figure out what backdrop/ground I want when rendering these images as well so I can keep it consistent throughout all the textures. I also plan to explore a few other layouts for these labels...for example, maybe including some bullet points or having it be more similar to a food label instead.

Minor Project: Ice 001-006 & Ceramics Glaze Test Influence

In these tests, I've actually applied my ice maps to the aiStandardSurface shader in Arnold rather than different shaders in Mental Ray. It was suggested to me to begin recording these texturing experiments in a more formal, organised manner...similar to glaze tests for ceramics. I like the idea of this because, despite saving all of the files anyway, it'll ensure I can recreate the materials as I'll have the settings all documented as well as exhibit the work that I've done that may not be seen otherwise.

The format below is just one way I may record my textures, I will most likely change the font. In Maya I used a Skydome Light and a Directional Light, a polygon plane with an aiStandardSurface shader (slightly reflective so I can see how any lights, reflections, and refractions look), and a polygon sphere which is what I am using to experiment on. I kept the camera locked in the same position and all the render settings the same. Perhaps I'll add this to the swatch description somewhere too so I know what samples and other settings I used, for now I'll have a separate image describing the settings I had (I realize that some of these values may be wrong/too high/irrelevant...this is just what I had at the time of rendering due to previous experiments).

 On the swatches themselves, I included the main channels I used and I only wrote down what values I changed/what type of image I plugged in. I hope to figure out a similar layout I could use for the animation tests as well. I will most likely re-render these as well once I have a better idea of what setup I want...I also want to add the render times of each image since some of them took a lot longer to render than others.

I really like how this turned out using Arnold rather than Mental Ray and I prefer Ice 004 and Ice 006 the most. I felt I was able to get better results a lot easier in Arnold than Mental Ray in this case, despite struggling with it in the past so I hope that is a good sign. I may continue to experiment with this substance, and I think I want to try creating a height map to see if that will enhance it any further or produce interesting Displacement Map glitches (like in this test). I also plan to try and progress onto developing some other substances in Substance Designer such as a sponge. I also hope on experimenting with animating Displacement Maps and I have to see how that would work using just shaders (ex. the aiStandard Surface) and how that would change or distort a texture file like the ones I have been using for this ice material.

Ice 004
Ice 006

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Minor Project: Experimenting with Emission & Adjusting Shaders (Mila Material)

After some feedback on my ice material, I started looking at some ways I could brighten it up or give it some sort of 'inner glow' feel. I'm not sure if these results are too stylised, but I wanted to experiment with it anyway. For this test I used the Mila Material in Mental Ray, so I'm unsure if this will be useful overall other than just experimenting with what look may be worth exploring since the Mila Material isn't in Arnold.

I mostly wanted to experiment with emission which is an option in the Mila Material layering system. First I just added the diffuse and normal map, I then experimented with the emission by plugging in my diffuse image into the colour option and adjusting the weight and intensity. After that I also used my roughness file to plug into a glossy reflection layer. I think these results are interesting, although not necessarily realistic...but having a slight light emitting from the materials may not be a bad thing.

Diffuse Only

Diffuse & Normal Map

Default Emission Settings (Weight - 1, Intensity - 10)

Adjusted Emission (Weight - 0.7, Intensity - 3)

Glossy Reflection

Minor Project: Projecting Onto Multiple Objects #1

For this test I wanted to try projecting onto a number of objects rather than one solid one such as the domes I have been experimenting with. There were several films that I thought were interesting that used the technique of projecting onto multiple separate objects so I wanted to try it out in Maya.

All I did for this test was create a number of cylinders, flattened them slightly, and arranged them so they were relatively scattered but still close enough that they created a near solid form depending on the camera angle. I then mixed a few different aiStandardSurface presets (plastic, metal, glass) and set up a spot light with a gobo filter. I also decided to add in aiAtmosphereVolume but unfortunately because of the way I rendered it (no background/sky dome and I rendered them out as TIFF files) the rays of light didn't show up in the animation...but it can be seen in the still image.

I do quite like how this test turned out, and I wonder what it would look like if I created tons of these bars. Perhaps it would be interesting to try that out and perhaps experiment with the material on it. I think it would be interesting to apply the tile texture to it, but it may also be interesting to create a dome with the tiles like in this test, and fill it with the bars and try out different materials such as glass.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Minor Project: Projection Reflection/Refraction Test #1

One of the experiments on my list was to test out how a projection may behave when projected through several layers of geometry or through several 'screens' or 'walls'. To do this, I created a wave using a polygon plane extruded on a cure I created in the side view. I then mixed together a combination of different presents on the aiStandardSurface material including clear water, deep water, glass, and frosted glass. I then added a gobo filter with my footage onto the spot light and adjusted the rays in the render settings to try and ensure the light would pass through all of the layers.

It was difficult to see the results at first, and I tried my best to render out something that was interesting (apologies if the quality seems low, since this is just a test I didn't want it to take too long to render and I also time stretched the footage so it would go slower). I think this has potential, but at the moment I found it somewhat difficult to control. But I do think the use of transparent or semi-transparent objects or reflections may be interesting in combination with some of the previous tests I have done. I think this sort of thing needs further experimentation and research before I decide if it's something useful or not.

Minor Project: Substance Designer - Attempting to Create Ice #2

I've decided to return to Substance Designer to see if I could figure out how to create the diffuse for the ice substance I began creating by following a written tutorial. I tried looking over the instructions on how to do this again, but only understood pieces of it (I think part of it was meant to be explained with screenshots but they were missing) so I decided to try it out largely on my own.

Once I exported the maps, I rendered it using the mia_material_x shader in Mental Ray (rather than Arnold due to which computer I have access to) and I think it looks alright for my initial attempt. However, the white scratches didn't show up as white as I was hoping/expecting but I can always return to Substance Designer and adjust this.

For my first attempt on my own I think I did okay, but I do not know if I'd be able to get the light to shift and refract like cracked ice would. I'm sure there would be a way to do this, but I'll need to figure it out. Perhaps in Arnold I'll be able to depending on the settings and maps I use such as height maps along with normal maps. I also like how the material looks on a flat plane rather than a sphere, but again this may look different in Arnold.