The MadMan is back.

 

More Madness

 

When I read my last post I must say I really must have had a boost of optimism and god-like energy over me back then, eh?

Books to be written, 3D art to be made, Allegorithmic products to review, Python programming, Blenders Game Engine, Modo stuff.. Phew!

Well. I have actually done something. I won’t present anything here today, but some things stayed and some things did not.

I’m still into writing the book series, that’s one. (But it will be a bit postponed)

What I’m still into is off course Blender! It has gotten a LOT of updates the last seven months.
I’m still willing to create a tutorial series on the BGE (Blender Game Engine) which we all know is programmed with Python. Actually A LOT of Blender is programmed with Python now. It’s just the low level bits and pieces left in hard core C / C++ (?asm?).

I was planning on starting on this in a couple of weeks and off course post it on this blog, if it is any interest for it.

As some of you know, I’m a software developer, mainly using C# and C++, but I’ve also been using some Python through the years.

Lately I’ve been keen on learning to program GAMES. What kind of games? No idea. Just games. Fun programs that can include gaming elements, like “gamification” or something.

So I’ve downloaded the latest Unreal 4 Engine, but that was totally overkill for me. I need to know the basics first.

Even Unity seems a bit cryptic to me sometimes. But that’s mostly because of the horrific implementation of C# / .Net they’ve chosen. Goes against all good usage patterns.

So now I’m going to test out Blenders Game Engine, to see if I can make any sense of that.

Along the way will be some tutorials and some Python code for those interested.

 

Also I’ll look into some rendering with Cycles, Thea Render and LuxRender…

 

Until next time…

Blender Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Modo Logo

What do you know, now I’m back on the Modo Track…

To cite myself in my last post:

“Then we have Modo. Once my favorite polygonal modeler, back in the version 3 days. Now the whole company has been snatched by The Foundry, and all clues given leads in the direction of massive feature and price increases. So, no more Modo for me I guess.”

Then, out of curiosity, I visited the new Modo Site to check out how things where looking and what do I see?

Modo upgrades at a 40% rebate…
So, after bragging about Modo 701’s ability to run smooth on Linux in an earlier post I decided to get my CC and order the upgrade from my commercial 401 license to the latest 701 SP3. Hey, it was like $220 or something… Can’t let that slip by when I’ve always wanted to learn the ins and outs of Modo. I’ve been using it since the second version, so I figured, what a heck, it’s Christmas!

Besides, I needed a stable modeler to run on Linux besides Blender.

I mean, Blender is an awesome project, but that’s the thing. It’s a “Project” in a constant state of flux more than it is a stable “Product”, one version does things different from the next, not just in terms of the details but in the core implementation. So I find myself using about double the time on modeling something in Blender compared to using Modo, and as we all know time is our most precious asset in life.

So this winter I’ll get up to speed on the new Bullet physics implementation, the sculpting tools, the Python and the C++ API’s and the rest of this polished package.

I’ve also purchased the “Substance Designer”  version 4, which has very smooth integration with the Modo shading system, and it’s a joy to use.
I urge you to try it out, either as a trial or as a non-commercial learning tool for $99.

My goal in the world of 3D is to gather set of tools that makes a “good enough” pipeline, suitable for artists on a semi to low budget, that does things clean and efficiently and produces output that’s “on par” with expensive packages like Autodesk’s suites and tools like NukeX. Modo will definitely be a large part of this pipeline, but so will Blender and the Substance Designer from Allegorithmic.

Blender has some good compositing tools, Modo is the king of UV’s and texturing and is starting to get quite good on things like rigging and animation as well.

I believe that it should be perfectly possible to get a complete 3D pipeline of good tools for around $1000. If 3D is what you wish to do for work or as an advanced hobby, that’s not a bad price to pay. But you’ll need to be constantly monitoring the extreme offers from the tool producers via newsletters, RSS and forums.

I’m so sick of reading about a semi-professional artist with an image posted in magazines like 3D World and when they list the products used you see things like: 3DS Max, V-Ray, Nuke, Mari, Photoshop and ZBrush.
Should I seriously believe that this artist has legal licenses for software with an estimated value of $15.000 – 20.000? Seriously doubt it.
And if so, it’s NOT WORTH IT! Go figure, man!

Learn how to draw, learn Blender, Gimp and a semi-expensive package like Modo or Lightwave and you’ll be able to create just as nice results.

It’s in the hands and the mind of the artist, not in the tools. Only a poor craftsman blames his tools.

Until next time, have a wonderful Christmas you all and remember: Never stop learning!

40% off on Modo 701!

40% off on Modo 701!

 

 

 

 

 

The MadMan.

 

 

 

The Future Of Decent 3D Software for Enthusiasts and Professionals alike

Blender Image
Create what you want for free!

Ok. We all know and love Blender. But let’s face it, it has its quirks that needs some ironing out before it can totally     replace a package like Autodesk XSI or Autodesk Maya for many professional artists, or at least they think it does.

Don’t get me wrong here, it is definitely the tool of choice if you want an open source solution that can do “almost      anything”.

This is not to say that Blender has missing features, on the contrary, it has features that Maya tries to include, but has shipped with pretty serious bugs since around version 2009.
Now they have snatched a perfectly good plugin called NEX and “integrated” a.k.a. “slammed” it on top of their existing buggy tools, creating somewhat of a monster. Again. Those guys really never seem to learn the basics of Software Lifecycle Management. I’ve tried using it, but it’s so buggy that it ruins my models from time to time.

The 2014 Edition is already in SP3 and still bugs aren’t sorted. This is a frustration for many small studios that depends on stable software and don’t have the resources to create their own in-house work-around using the SDK. But what do they do? Soon they’ll release a new 2015 version with even more features and new bugs on top of that.

Then we have Modo. Once my favorite polygonal modeler, back in the version 3 days. Now the whole company has been snatched by The Foundry, and all clues given leads in the direction of massive feature and price increases. So, no more Modo for me I guess. I have my stable commercial license for Modo 401 that never stops to be valid, but hey, things evolve right? Who knows if it will be compatible with the next operating system I’m forced to update to because of other applications demands?

It still amazes me to see a company like Newtek still being alive and actually even kicking these days with the new Chronosculpt and Nevronmotion applications that lets you sculpt in time based layers and record motion data via a cheap $99 Kinect Sensor! Way to go!
How much this will be used remains to be seen, but they are on a creative roll and they NEVER give up. That is the true spirit of life. In addition they’ve released a free update to existing v. 11 (maybe also v. 10?) customers in form of Lightwave 11.6.
This edition is the most groundbreaking release since version 9.6 in my eyes. It actually is a NEW LIGHTWAVE.
A lot of new cool modeling tools and a great deal of new features on the rigging and animation side with the introduction of the Genoma system and off course an updated integration of the Bullet Physics engine, so sorely needed.
To bad I only have an educational license for version 9.6. But they do have a good offer these days, letting me upgrade to 11.6 for around $350 or something.
But, it’s Christmas and I have other posts on my budget screaming for coverage…

When it comes to a simple, fast and stable polygonal modeler we have the option of using Silo. It’s a $159 application and is an extremely competent modeler application.
But it hasn’t been actively developed for over two years.
So the reason for starting this article was really to investigate the possibility to crowd-fund a purchase of the Silo source code from Nevercenter and turn it into an actively maintained Open Source project. Personally, I have an hour or two now and then for coding some C++, Python or whatever they’ve used to create the product.

The question is: How many others are in on a project like this?

I’ve posted a poll over at CG SOCIETY (CGTalk) and for those that would be so kind, I urge you to give your vote to one of the options presented there.

I’ve been lousy at posting new stuff to my blog lately and probably have lost a lot of readers, but hopefully some remain truthful to the old madman.

Here is the link to the post on CGC:

Poll for Open Sourcing Silo 

For those that does not have a CGC account, get one! Kidding.

I’ll present the poll in this post as well, though it won’t be linked with the results on CGC, so the best is if you take the time to register over there. They even have a $19 / Year deal for a premium subscription right now (normally $79) with a lot of goodies.

All the best,

The MadMan

Luxology / The Foundry Modo 701 now available for Linux

Modo Logo

Ok, so I was a little bit intimidated when I first heard about the Luxology merger with The Foudry. I was thinking in terms of Autodesk buying every small to medium Graphics Company and whirling it all up into one big package (or three).
But then I read about the fact that they had already thought about joining forces for some time and that they actually knew each other long before the fusion took place. Than it’s a whole other story the way I see things.
One of the best things that came rather instantly after the fusion was a Linux Edition of Modo 701! I could barely believe my eyes when I first read about this and how fast they produced a well functioning beta.
Now I’ve installed Modo 701 on both my mediocre laptop computer and on my main workhorse, both running openSuse 12.3 and it works beautifully.
If you’d like to try Modo on Linux, they have a free 15 day trial that you can download from, mark my words, The Foundry’s homepage.
If you want to get a little bit more out of the demo, I’d go for the $25 package that includes the program itself (for 30 days I think), lots of contents and a lot of tutorial videos of extremely high quality.

I’ve been waiting to upgrade my Modo 401 commercial license for some time now, because I’ve not really felt that the updates in the previous editions have been worth it from my point of view.

Don’t get me wrong, the updates have been substantial, but not the updates in the parts of the program I mainly use for my modeling work, besides I’ve been using Blender for pretty much everything.
But this is my reason to upgrade to 701! No doubt about it.

I encourage everyone to try out the new edition of this incredible 3D application, that has in relatively short time went from being a “modeling only” tool to a complete 3D Production Pipeline product, including physics, animation, very nice rendering and other cool stuff. Now supported on both Windows, OS X and Linux!

Here is an image of Modo 701 running on my openSuse KDE Desktop:

Modo On Suse 12.3

 

Here’s a video showing some of Modo’s modeling capabilities:

Making the move, “From Commercial 3D Software to Blender” Part 1

So. I have used software like Maya, Lightwave and Modo for some time now. The reason I could do this is because I have gotten educational licenses for the software. Well, I actually have a commercial license for Modo but anyway…
If I want the latest editions of these packages, I would have to upgrade my educational licenses to commercial, and that is anything but cheap!
My economy these days suck big time, so I soon came to the conclusion that this would be impossible.
So what are my options? Blender!
I have tried Blender many times before, each time there is a new version I download it and goof around in the the viewport, but every time I have been put off by the non-standard way of doing things compared to my other software.

The thing is that Blender IS a bit different from everything else, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
It just takes some getting used to. I have never before actually tried to LEARN Blender, but this time I have seriously committed myself into learning this software.
I will not lie, it has not been all easy, and I still am in the very early stages of “Mastering Blender”, but for each day I learn something new, and discover the cool things that is different, but good.
So, my goal with this series of posts will be to share my experiences with moving from commercial software packages like Maya, Lightwave and Modo to Blender.
I’ll compare features and methods of doing things along the way as I discover this myself.

There are many good reasons for using Blender. These are my reasons:

  • Cost (this one is obvious)
  • In the latest version Blender has gotten bMesh and bSurfaces
  • The integration of Bullet Physics (Same as in Lightwave, Modo, Maya 2013)
  • A very active and vibrant user community
  • Always get the latest innovations for Free (as in beer)
  • Deep support for scripting with Python via the API
  • A new rendering engine with a superb node based shader system (Cycles)
  • Great modeler (once you get used to it)
  • Some of the best UV tools available both commercially and free

So this is a pretty impressive list if you ask me.

I’ll continue sharing my experiences with this project, hopefully some of you will see that there is actually an alternative to Autodesk!

I don’t say that Blender is the best tool for everything, but neither is any of the commercial packages. All has its flaws.
But if you ever thought of switching to Blender, now is a good time to do so! New tools and features makes Blender a serious competitor in the market of professional tools for creating Digital Art.

Happy Blending!

I’m Waving again…

As readers might conclude from the previous post, I hereby declare myself as an official “Waver” again.

I’ve recently purchased a new Mac Book Pro, with the Nvidia GT GPU option and some ekstra RAM and a faster hard drive. I installed the 32-bit (will it ever be 64) Maya 2010, and Lightwave 9.6.1 (64-bit beta).

I took both applications for a spin.

You have to feel it to believe the performance differences between these applications. Well, ok, I know that Maya is a “giant” package, with LOTS of (maybe too many) features, but, nevertheless, I think a brand new MBP should be adequate for any application that is supposed to run on a workstation.

My rendering is sent to my two stationary Quad Core machines anyway, so I need good response when working IN the application. I don’t see why I should need a $3000 workstation, and a $4500 piece of software that runs like crap on my Mac, when I get by with my current setup.

Plus, now I get 999 FREE NETWORKED RENDER NODES with Lightwave, just in case!

Did I mention that Cinema 4D requires an additional “Advanced Render” module ($400), to set up 3 render nodes???

So, now I use Modo 401 (Runs fairly well in 32-bit) for the more organic modeling, Lightwave for rigging, animation, special FX, Rendering, pretty much everything.

For detailing I use Mudbox 2009. This runs well on my MBP. And off course I use Photoshop CS3, because I’m addicted.

Just for clearing up my mind, I needed to write this down… 😉