Mapbox plugin in Houdini: Terrains

Mapbox is an amazing plugin within Houdini. It allows you to download elevation data (heightfields) from anywhere in the world along with a color map.

Mapbox node with zoom capability to download data

You just zoom to whatever region of the world and click download.

Downloaded data
Zoom around and download again

See below for a little quick demo.

Demo

Substance Painter and Auto UVs

I haven’t talked about Substance Painter in awhile. I’ve gotten a bunch of 3d model kits from various sources. Some have no UVs and others have just okay UV layout. Now a couple years ago Substance Painter released the ability to do auto UVs. It’s works great. The algorithm is pretty neat working with simple geometry to complex. You can always finish up the UV layout in another application afterwards.

Below is a robot head I purchased off of ArtStation that I’m going to incorporate into a painting. I just wanted to use Substance Painter to do a quick pass on this head. I wanted the color scheme of the head along with some wear and tear on the head.

Some renders out of Substance Painter

Well, it’s Groundhog Day….Again…

So, most of my friends will tell you, I love the movie Groundhog Day. I watch it every year on Groundhog Day.

What I do love about it is that it demonstrates how someone can change for the better. So, I always find a great way to check up on my recent New Year’s Resolutions from a month ago. Am I staying on track or have I already fallen off the band wagon.

This year I started using the App/Website Evernote again. It’s had some great updates to it. I made tons of lists and started pages for projects. All to make sure I stayed on track this year. The basic version is free which is great. It’s web based so you can check your lists anywhere.

Here my home page. You create pretty much any document. You have a little notepad to jot down notes for that moment. You can create “To Do Lists”. Once completed you check them off and it crosses it off the list (which always feels great).

TO DO List

You create Documents (Notes) for whatever you need. I began using it to create cliff notes for new applications/tutorials I go through. This one is from Artstation using Blender for Sculpting.

Blender Sculpting Tutorial

It really helps, I can type down the hot keys, mark up screen captures, etc. I use a Windows machine, so I found clicking the Print Screen button a little cumbersome. I have dual monitors, so I have to download the image, bring it into Photoshop to crop it, then save it. There are other ways to do this and I’ve tried them. I found LightShot a free application to be great. Once installed it takes over your “Prnt-Scr” button. I always you to quickly marquee your screen, make a note, and then paste it. It works on Mac and PC.

Light Shot

Having this note is so much easier than going back to the video, and you can paste weblinks to go back to the videos if needed.

There are templates you can use or create your own. I have found this very very useful to keep track of my projects, to do lists, and organize my day.

“Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ‘ cause it’s cooooold out there today.”

Dengar on Watch

So here’s a little sketch I did using Maya with Arnold. I wanted to play with lighting scenarios and the Lighting Filters I mentioned last week.

I was originally inspired with this piece by trying to pay homage to the 19th century artists, like Jean-Leon Gerome and Ludwig Deutsch. They were part of a movement called Orientalism, which was a depiction of the Middle East thru artists from a Western culture’s perspective and interpretations.

I began researching Star Wars related elements. I wanted to incorporate, specifically a bounty hunter, but with all the attention to Boba Fett with the amazing Mandalorian I chose a more obscure one with Dengar. A friend, Brian LaFrance pointed me to a great reference gathering tool Pure Ref. You can create your own pin board of various references easily.

I was able to find low resolution models on RenderHub. There were a bunch of free Star Wars characters from a user, Rip Van Wrinkle.

From here, it was trying to figure out a layout and characters to support my main character, Dengar. For some characters and environments I swapped out textures, used megascan textures. I combined some characters together (made a jawa out of the emperor, etc).

Then just played with mood using different lights in Arnold.

It was a fun exercise. Now onto the next piece.

The Dawn of 2021

Well, we can all say we are very VERY happy to be rid of 2020. But for all of 2020’s misery and pain, it did show us how interconnected we all are still in this day and age. One person’s pains and hardships can have ramifications on so many other lives. It made me think back on one of my favorite Christmas movies (and actual all around movie), “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

It’s very appropriate now, it deals with hardship and mental health along with happiness and realization your life isn’t as bad as you think. A quote from it came to mind:

Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

This has tremendous meaning in 2020, we’ve lost so many souls this year around the world. Many have suffered unimaginable heartache, mental, physical and financial loss and fatigue. But we have gotten through the year by leaning on friends, family and kindness of strangers.

As we embark into 2021, let us not forget that everyone around us is still reeling from an incredibly hard year and it will still take some effort to get 2021 going in a positive direction. We’ve learned that even the smallest gesture of gratitude can brighten someone’s day; from a clerk ringing up our groceries and risking their health to do it, to a first responder caring for our loved ones, our mail carriers delivering packages and to us trying to shelter in place and following safety protocols to keep others from harm.

Put good out in the world and let’s have some good come back. Figure out what you can do in 2021 to help others. There is no gesture to small.

As my favorite line from the end of the movie, we need to lean on those around us, to then have them lean on us when they need it as well. Be a friend to all. Happy New Year everyone!!

New Tutorial: Vehicle Concept Art by Pablo Dominguez

I don’t have much to report this week but I wanted to give a plug for a new tutorial that hits the virtual shelves. If you’re looking for something awesome and inspiring, check out Pablo Dominguez‘s new Learn Squared course: Vehicle Concept Art. Check it out soon, it’s marked down 40% as an Early Bird Special.

Pablo’s work is amazing and it’s awe-inspiring to see his workflow and thought process as he tackles his design.

I’ve been following his’s work for awhile now and very excited to see his workflow up close. Needless to say I’ve purchased it and will be tinkering with it ASAP!

Lightbox 2020 – ONLINE!

Lightbox Expo 2020 has just finished, it was all ONLINE and it was amazing!!

I have to admit it was so seamless and fun. I love meeting artists in real life and catching up with friends at conventions, but considering Covid-19 didn’t allow it was a great alternative. Plus, we live in Pasadena where Lightbox was held last year and it’s completely covered in smoke from the Bobcat Fires up in the San Gabriel Mountains.

The upside, no waiting to get into the lectures. You could easily watch a lecture later, so you could see other lectures at the same time slots. Working remotely where everyone has had to get used to Zoom or Google meetups it made it a real snap.

Simple design for schedule
Click the talk you wanted to watch and add it to your calendar
Diversity talk where my friend, Eric Wilkerson was on the panel

The artists alley was completely virtual and pretty darn impressive.

Navigate to your favorite artist or company
Click on anyone’s virtual booth
Here you can buy their prints, brushes, see their recorded greeting
James Gurney’s page was fun and he released some new gumroad videos

Check out their demo on using the site

You can watch any of the lectures/demos afterwards online on Youtube or other sponsored sites. It was great listening lectures while working remotely at home.

Youtube page for Lightbox Expo
Rewatch artists talks like Jama’s great talk here

Big thank you to the whole Lightbox Expo crew and Bobby Chiu, who made the Expo still happen even during the crazy times of 2020!!

Here’s a great Forbe’s article talking about how revolutionary this Online version was.

Wakanda Forever!!

A gentle soul and brilliant artist has passed from our ranks all too soon. Chadwick Boseman was taken from us last week after a four year battle with colon cancer. His silent struggle through it while giving back to so many is beyond words. The world is mourning the loss of this great man. I’m still reeling from the news as the year 2020 keeps delivering so much heart wrenching anguish.

There have been many many wonderful articles of the man that will be forever remembered in hearts so I won’t go on on.

I would like to reach out and beg people, please get tested. Statistics show there are even more reasons to get tested earlier than most doctors tell us. Cancer in all it’s forms is one of the vilest of vile villians out there. Do not hesitate to get tested. Spread the word.

FIGHT COLON CANCER!!

FIGHT ALL CANCER!!!!