[HDRI] Golden Gate

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Turns out pretty scenery does actually make for nice image-based-lighting ;)

I went on holiday with my family last weekend to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, just North of Lesotho and down the road from Bethlehem (not that one).

I took a crapload of photos that I’ll upload sometime, surprisingly even more than I did when I went to see Rex in Scotland for three weeks (which I suppose I never mentioned here), but that’s probably because many of them were sets of different exposures as well as two (HDR) timelapses and two of these HDR panos (yes, another one coming in a few days alas, that second one failed :/ I accidentally twisted the lens to a higher focal length and thus there was not enough overlap to stitch with)


[HDRI] Parking Lot

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While driving home today I got hit by a giant thunder storm. One of my main roads home along with the nearby parallel ones were flooded, and when the hail started getting bigger I found a parking lot to hide in for a while. It was actually owned by a car wash company, so they let me stay as long as I got a vacuum as well (which was long overdue anyway). While waiting for the storm to die down I grabbed my camera and tripod and took this opportunity for a nice HDR pano.

I’ve found that pretty scenery usually doesn’t make for nice image-based-lighting, so it’s better to keep an eye out for ordinary places that have interesting lighting – under a tree, next to a wall or inside a restaurant. When using these images for lighting, you don’t see the epic landscape reflected in your characters’s eyes, you see the soft diffuse glow of the sky, the warm bounce from the grass and the harsh rays of the sun. In other words, most outdoor IBLs give you the same lighting, especially when you have your own ground plane.

ISS Renders and A Review/Rant of 2013



Chris Kuhn and I have collaborated before, he’s an epic modeler and I have an itch to shade and render things. Both of our previous collaborations are among the top 30 most liked blends on Blendswap, and both are ships of sorts: a Hyperspace Shuttle and a Victorian pirate ship.

This time, I had absolutely no hand in creating anything. Chris modeled, textured and shaded this epicly detailed accurate model of the International Space Station, and the full mesh can be downloaded for free. He is selling the textured version on TurboSquid for $99 – which is 10x cheaper than some other ISS models that are only a portion of the full thing. If you’re one of those FOSS freaks that would shout about how expensive that is, it’s not even worth trying to explain to you why it isn’t.

Chris sent me the full shaded thing just so I could make some renders of it, but I struggled a bit with the lack of any other elements in the scene to play with composition. In the end I gave him the two above images, though I don’t particularly like either of them.

Which brings me to my next point:


Victorian Pirate Ship – “Suzanne’s Revenge”

The last Blender project I worked on at home for the fun of it and actually finished was the Victorian pirate ship I worked on with Chris.

Which was last year February.

Of course I did some small things, like that 10mm SMG I uploaded the other day, but like the SMG, most of the stuff was either unfinished or a piece of a bigger (unfinished) project. The only thing that I finished since then was a weekend challenge on BA.org, which hardly counts.

I know I’m not the only one to have dozens of unfinished projects on their HDD, but I’ve only been blending for about 5 or 6 years, and this last year I seem to have made almost no progress in terms of shading/texturing skills. In fact I’m quite sure I’ve even regressed a bit. Maybe I know a little more theory, but working full time shading and lighting simple stylized scenes at BugBox seems to have made me both lazy and see anything CG-related as boring work.


“Low Light” weekend challenge

Still, working at BugBox for the last two years has taught me a lot. Even though my shading skills are taking a hit due to lack of exercise, I’ve learnt a lot about the more important side of CG: what makes things appealing, colour theory in practice, the difficulties and responsibilities of being the last guy in the pipeline, the time and skill that goes into good character animation, and the madness that is the political warfare of clients, agencies, competing studios and low budgets.

Sure, you could easily tell me I have plenty of time on the weekend to work on keeping my shading skills in check, but the biggest problem is my waning motivation. Coming home after 40 hours of CG, the last thing I want to do is push myself to do more CG.

Well I won’t bore you with any more depressing ranting, (actually I’ve just run out of energy to think), so here’s a picture of my cat:


Download: 10mm SMG



I’m not a huge Fallout fan, but I do really like the style of the games. Here’s a recreation of the 10mm SMG from Fallout 3. I was going to use it for another project, but life got in the way and it never happened.

It’s been sitting on my hard drive for a few months now, and I don’t think there’s much point in keeping it all to my self, so go ahead and download it :) Licensed CC-BY-SA

Download Blend File

Blendswap Mirror

Download Textures

Some of the textures used are licensed differently from the blend file and hence have to be downloaded separately. (licenses included in the zip)

To reconnect the textures to the blend file, simply put all these images into a folder called “textures” in the same folder as the blend file itself.

The structure should look something like this:

Enjoy :)