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Rolling own textures

Cloud Hidden

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After going through all the considerations on C4D and alternatives, and making the decision to not yet make a decision, I'm gonna spend a bit more time seeing what I can accomplish within VW. From what MikeB and others write, it seems to come down to improving the textures I use.

In all the playing around with textures, I'm sure I'm missing some useful tricks. I can find all the dialog boxes, and push all the buttons, but there are so many combinations of options that it feels hit-or-miss as to whether I get a more realistic result or not. Anyone have any guidance for getting beyond the basics?

For example, I am really hung up (obsessed?) with getting fuzzy looking grass for the lawns surrounding the houses, and I can't figure it out. Should I take a digital photo of the prettiest lawn in the neighborhood and use that as the basis of a texture? What are the options I should be looking at to yield the best results--trial-and-error has its limits. Thanks for any ideas for getting beyond Textures 101.

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I would go with a good photo and try to create a bumb map to go with it. Bump maps gives depth to a texture and hence more realistic. Also try pick a photo so it does not show a repeat pattern. Do you know how to create a seamless texture from a photo in photoshop ? I checked out the VBVisuals.com catalog and they have 15 different grass textures! Too bad they do not work in Vectorworks.

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Kurt, the only way I know to create a seamless texture is to mirror the image. Is there another way?

Here's the prelim results of yesterday's experiments with grass. Grass texture.

Before and after:



Also followed Dave's advice from another thread to turn off ambient light. I'm pretty darn happy. Still have work to do, and open to suggestions. Haven't done the skydome lighting he describes yet. Gotta work on trees and stuff. And need to experiment more with sizes. My "grass" image is currently 7 mg. Don't know how far I can reduce that before the results degrade. Also gotta work on those seamless edges. Also could get a better grass image that doesn't include the clippings that will make a repetitive pattern more obvious. And haven't figured out good settings for a bump--anything I tried made it look worse. Still, huge improvement, and much closer to where I need to be. Further suggestions?

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You can mess around with the shaders and get a grass texture that is pretty decent quality, although probably not as nice as your second image. However, it is much less memory intensive than using an image.

For example, you can edit the colors and grain of the "Wood" color shader to get a resonable looking grass, without any repetition, with minimal effect on file size.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hello CloudHidden:

Re: the grass size being 7 MB, you should be able to scale that down a lot and not see much difference in the rendering, if you are at the distance shown in this rendering. If you get closer to the house you may notice differences with a lower resolution.

Here are some other ideas:

I think the grass looks really good. It maybe should have a smaller size to match the scale of the house and yard. If you turn up the softness parameter in the edit image color dialog, the grass will render softer when rendered with antialiasing on (like in Final RW).

You may crank up the sun brightness to make it look more like contrasty daylight. I would think the domes would be brighter in sunlight. You may tweak the reflectivity (None is the same as Matte) of a matte shader to get it brighter.

I would tweak the palm tree leaf colors; their assigned color is cartoony.

For the car, create a texture that uses a mirror reflectivity shader, with the mirror factor low like at 10%. Apply the texture to the car body, windshield, and wheels (not tires).

If you want a tree using geometry instead of image props, you can get something like a leafy look by using a green sphere with an eroded transparency shader applied. The eroded shader renders as blotches of color. That would be one way of getting less scraggly leaves on your trees.


[ 08-28-2003, 09:55 AM: Message edited by: Dave Donley ]

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hello again:

Like Kristen said, some of the non-image-based shaders can produce something like a grass look without the seam problems you get with image-based shaders. I think Granite with the colors set to green works OK. Granite is one of the slower shaders though.

I have been looking at your website (http://www.cloudhidden.org) and you work on some really neat projects! I think since you have access to some completed domes already, you could use photos of them as a basis to get the concrete looking correct in your renderings. Like, take a picture of the side of one on a sunny day and use that as a guide to get the right shade of color and right brightness level on a rendered one.

Here is an image that I think shows that the sky color makes things look blue (in the arch) and the sun is a warmer orange or yellow color. The layer ambient light or a skydome symbol with a the lights set bluish can give you something like this, and a bright directional light with its color yellowish orange can provide the warmer tones:


The bump shaders currently use sliders for the amplitude value, which doesn't give enough control on the "low end". In the future they will become edit fields so you can set them to make more subtle bumps.

[ 08-28-2003, 10:00 AM: Message edited by: Dave Donley ]

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Dave, Kristen, thanks! Those are the kind of practical suggestions that I can't find in the manuals, but are a lot more useful. I tried some of them...

Good eye on the grass size. Used the lawnmower tool to knock it down by 4 to realistic size. Was worried that I'd see too much of the mosaic effect, but it worked out ok. When I tried to soften it though, the repetiveness of the pattern became lots more obvious. Maybe I need to add a bump as I soften it? Any rules of thumb for what makes a good bump?

Used the chainsaw tool to cut down the palm trees. Later the other trees will go, too. No time for that right now.

The SUV presented two challenges, though in principle I like the changes. First, the glass on the passenger's side windshield is giving a reflection of the sky or something, but it makes it seem as though I used the wrong material. Don't know how to prevent this. And I had trouble with the Custom Selection menu command. The SUV is nicely designed with different pen colors for the different objects. But I couldn't get it to select all the blue objects (bumpers), for example, and that makes putting textures on all 386 objects much too difficult. Did some, but not the body. Any ideas on why they wouldn't select despite matching the choice from the color palette?


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Cloud~ mirror yes, but then mirror again in the oposite direction (90?). blend the seams in the middle (cross) with a smuge tool . Your texture shows the mirror seam in only one dirction which is kind nice, sometimes. It simulates a mower pattern which some lawn guys are real finicky about. Your texture would look good in a baseball staduim. You could definately lower the res to get a smaller file.

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