Reflective Journal Week 5 (03/04/2017)
Monday 3rd April/Tuesday 4th April: What? If you're wondering why I have merged the 3rd and 4th of April it is because the Tuesday lesson is an extension of the end of Mondays lesson.
I went into the lesson with the idea that I would open Unreal and see what I have thrown together so far and get some idea on what needs to be added most.
As you can see above I have made some progress in what I want my environment to look like, however there is certainly much to be improved on. My tutor Jason Barlow took a look at my work and gave me some advice on what I should look at next. He said "once you have a few more plants and maybe some grass you should looking into sub-surface scattering and it will really help enhance your environment".
I then began watching videos to where I could create realistic grass meshes for Unreal.
The video is pretty long so took up all of my lesson, however I didn't just want to watch the video and follow a step by step, I really wanted to understand how everything worked.
So What? With what my tutor had said in mind I had become inspired to create a realistic grass mesh followed up by a few more plant models and then some research into sub-surface scattering.
Watching the video on realistic grass was the first step towards completing this task and really understanding how it works will allow me to complete this process in the future without much trouble. The video was really complex compared to what I had done so far so posed a formidable challenge for me.
Now I have looked at my models, textures and particle effects together in Unreal I am pretty satisfied with the progress I have made since beginning this project. At first it seemed I have put lots of work into it and I didn't have much to show, but when you consider what goes into each design and the fact I'm learning the whole way through, I think I've done pretty well and will hope to keep it up in the future.
Now What? I will begin to make my grass texture and take screenshots the entire time to add to my weekly journal for review. I also plan on following up on what my tutor said and research sub-surface scattering.
Wednesday 7th April: What? Well today is one of those days where our resources for practical work are very limited so I sat and thought of ways to make my reflective journal better along with more efficient.
It became painfully obvious at the beginning of this week that I really need to start naming all of my screenshots correctly as currently the folder is a complete mess and I spend so much time looking for what image goes next.
So What? Naming the images correctly will then allow me to find the images I need much quicker and not only that, it could help me remember what I did in more detail so I will end up with a higher quality of reflective journal.
As I was unable to get much work done at college on this day I will have to make up for lost time at home on both Friday and Saturday.
Now what? I will wait till tomorrow and then begin getting on with creating my grass mesh. I will also name screenshots much better to allow me to navigate much easier.
Thursday 6th April: What? Today I actually began creating my realistic grass mesh from scratch. During the tutorial video the guy had photos of different blades of grass, but because I don't have those I decided to go ahead and create a few in Photoshop. As the grass is going to be small I figured I shouldn't waste too much time with the detail, therefore I made them pretty simplistic.
I then took each individual blade of grass and applied it onto a plane with an opacity mask in 3DS Max. The first thing I did was change all of the pivot points to the base of the blades of grass.
I then created a small circle plane as a perimeter on which I can paint my grass models. In the "paint on" section I selected "selected object" which means when I select the circle plane the brush will only paint onto that.
Selecting the "all randomly" setting and making a list I was able to paint whatever I added to the list onto the plane in a random order. I turned up the spacing because at first the models were much too close together. It is also important to change to alignment to the Y-axis so the models stand up and are not flat. I messed around with the rotation and size brackets every so often to create a completely random mesh. Each time I changed out the grass models on the list, to further add to the diversity to the mesh.
As you can see in the image below eventually I ended up with a random patch of grass which included each model that I created earlier on. The grass mesh was made up of many many planes that formed together to make one small model.
As I can't just put my grass model into unreal as it has thousands of vertexes and hundreds of faces I first need to bake it down. To do this, I used coloured direction lights to create the alphas required to bake the model into a map
So what? Looking back on this process I realise there is a slight white outline on most of my textured models, this is because I did not apply much "padding" to my textures, so I can now learn from this and change it in the future. I do believe there will be a way I can fix this in 3DS Max so it shouldn't matter too much.
Now I have learned and am more practiced with the whole painting models in to create a more in depth model such as the grass I made, I can now use this tool in the future to create more variations of grass or maybe even flower groups.
Using the lights to manually render my own height maps means I no longer have to completely rely on using the "generate normal map" in Photoshop.
Now What? Now I will render out the model increasing the angle each time to create a 3 dimensional normal map and a diffuse map so I can bake down my model and make it less intensive for when I import it into Unreal engine.
Friday 7th April: What? The day began with an issue from the very get go, at first I was frustrated and annoyed as I couldn't figure out how to fix it. The problem was that when applied, the lighting should make the model take on colours such as blue and white to resemble a normal map, however mine was black red and green.
I did know why this issue was occurring and that was because I needed to apply a flat plain texture such as a grey colour over the entire model. Then problem two arose. With each individual piece that went into the grass mesh each one had its own diffuse and opacity maps, I did not know how I could access all of these, so when I was applying a flat colour it was just removing the opacity and looking like a big lump of grey. I managed to find the "State Material Editor" and in this it had compiled a list of all of the aspect that went into my model so that I could edit them individually. All I had to do then was replace each diffuse with a flat colour (as seen in the image below).
Once I had finally figured out how to fix this the light reacted with the model correctly, all I had to do is press the "front" bit of the box located in the top right of the panel where you see the model which aligns me perfectly with the model. Once I was aligned I then rendered the model out and saved it, I then followed that process by rotating it 45 degrees and then repeating the process.
Once I had every normal map rendered as seen above I placed them all into Photoshop. I then turned off the light options and repeated the rendering process for the diffuse maps.
After this I placed all of them in Photoshop overlapping each diffuse with the correlating normal texture.
Remembering my former mistake of not adding padding I decided to add it this time. I used the "Gaussian Blur" filter from Photoshop to add a form of padding around all of my maps.
I then applied the textures onto a plane in 3DS Max and sectioned that plane off with divisions before choosing each face and while holding "shift" drag across to make each individual piece sit alone (see below)