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Alex Lovett


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I've made some serious progress towards my goal of creating sculpted art/math art style pieces

I have found 2 amazing programs: 3D-Coat and Substance


Link: www.3d-coat.com


Link: www.neuro-systems.net --- substance_features


Here is what I have created in my limited time with 3D-Coat + C4D + Mograph:

Head was created by someone else, I just used Mograph to instantiate a ton of cubes over each vertex, then brought it into 3D-Coat where I converted it to voxels and then applied some smoothing to round off certain areas making it more globular/fluid like.

Before smoothing:

Before import into 3D-Coat:

I modeled a Torus(Donut) and made a disc for it to stand on, then importing it into 3D-Coat results in the two objects blending as if one surface, giving the joins a nice rounded edge.

Then using the topology tools you can create a nice low res counterpart:

And it can create a displacement map/normal map to the low res model to make it look identical to the high res model.. important as the high res model is in the millions of polygons.

3D-Coat handles millions of polygons fine in the viewport, however C4D just bursts into tears at the very sight of it. Possibly because MAXON CANNOT CODE opengl at all.

And my first play tests below ;-P

All shown in the 3D-Coat viewport

It's a bit like Zbrush or Mudbox or something... but It's quite different when you understand how it works... honestly It's very different internally, in a very useful and important way!

Zbrush tends to be restricted to modeling organic forms, pushing and pulling an existing surface. At best you can create the base form out of zspheres or bring in a basic shape you made elsewhere to work as a foundation which you then push and pull... but if you try and make new areas or push and pull it too much it just distorts and rips apart the existing model.

What happens in a typical surface sculptor like Zbrush if you keep pulling the same area (it goes all low polygon and rubbish)

3D-Coat is vastly different in that you shape and cut thru a volume like a real piece of clay, you can create and destroy areas of clay at will with no repercussions as the polygons are created after the fact at whatever resolution you want.

All things combined it makes 3D-Coat vastly better suited for hard surface modeling and creating more mechanical shapes that have nice blends/welds/fillets where pieces join.

It also has some great topology tools if you want to control how the polygons are created from the sculpt, as the polygon density can easily go thru the roof.

The price you pay is It's very very CPU intensive, but it makes brilliant use of multiple cores and even uses Cuda/GPU acceleration for the modeling operations if you have a really beefy GPU.

The following are not by me:

It can take a while to fully grasp and understand what is going on and what makes it different and good... but trust me It's reeeealy worth checking out.

I imagine Zbrush and Mudbox will get the same functionality eeeeventually, but right now this is the only thing that's anything like it, and the app is really surprisingly full featured considering I had never heard of it.

And theres no reason you can't use it in conduction with other modeling programs, as Zbrush is still very much the king of billion polygon super high detailing. The two programs can compliment each other very nicely in there unique strengths.


Secondly I found an amazing specialized procedural math art modeling doodad called Substance:

Link: www.neuro-systems.net --- substance_features

Some examples of Substance from:

Link: substance3d.deviantart.com --- gallery

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Tags: - C4D - Vray - Rhino
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Just playing with materials in vray for c4d... why are there no good standard or 'open source' Material preview scenes?

Maxwell has a real nice one, so I thought id have a go at finding one... turns out you can't nick maxwell as It's LOCKED and I found one for Vray for C4D that has copy protection written all over it... so erm... what's the deal guys? you spent an aftertoon making a material test object and you don't want to share it with others?

Seems gay.

So I've taken the Vray4C4D one as a starting point and improved it a bit. Reason being it was full of glitches... the sort of thing you do not want for material tests!!!

As an exercise I recreated the main ball shape in Rhino for Mac, only just started using it took about 2 hours from first starting it to do.. not too bad for a first model!

Here it is inside Rhino all nurby and infinite resolution... mmmm infiniiite

I unlike certain others, welcome you to the original files so you can adjust and tweak it for yourself.

Just playing with using Brute Force GI + Light Cache, renders fast enough for stills with pretty near perfect quality, no artifacts. Worst case you get a bit of noise... which I quite like even!

Ignore the glitching on the right, My normals were flipped on that one side.. oops!

Experimenting with SSS Sub Surface Scattering... wow this takes long to render:

Yes both renders are incomplete and crapped out at exactly the same point... (ok fixed it now) not happy! something in those unfinished squares was pissing it off something rotten as I left it for houuuurs and it didn't budge...

Ok after some investigation I found a big error on my part, one of the parts of that sphere was duplicated over itself, which Vray's SSS apparently dislikes intensely.

The highlight on the ball is pretty bad looking, horrible pinkish dull highlight... oh well otherwise It's looks very delicious!


Oh and now just for kicks, I've been thinking about displaying my renders in a more 3D manner, holographics/rabbit holes, stereo vision glasses, panning via animation, parallax mapping etc etc

So here is a simple render for red/blue glasses:

Or if you like your color intact and you can cross your eyes and focus independently (takes some practice) you can cross your eyes at this:

Hah, fancy that, youtube has built in 3D support:

Link: www.youtube.com

You can choose to view certain videos in variation of different methods such as red/blue or cross-eyed. How very cool, now if only I had a monitor capable of polarization then we'd be cooking.

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Look what using Adobe Flash has done to my keyboard:

I was cleaning my keyboard and noticed an odd scuff on my S key, trying to figure out what caused it and it dawned on me!! I constantly and rather habitually tap command-s now all the time, especially when using Flash because it has trained me by It's constant crashing.

My C key is also looking a bit scuffed too (Command-C for copy)

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Tags: - Apple
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I love Stars: a Very Nice/useful tool to show current playing iTunes songs Rating in Stars in the menubar:

It's the best one out right now, simply click on the star and it will rate it as such very elegant, uses almost no cpu and it vanishes when iTunes isn't playing.

Link: www.macupdate.com --- i-love-stars


Also of note is Unsanity's Menubar MemoryCell

Which shows the frontmost programs memory usage which is great for spying on Adobe apps followed by the inevitable drop of jaw and gasp of 'how much!!?'

Link: www.macupdate.com --- memorycell


I've been googling long and hard for a way to effectively create OSX Icons with the proper size variants. As OSX Icons are made up of several sizes so that an icon may use a different image for different sizes, reason for this is so that a small icon is still readable/legible and remains sharp and iconic.

And I'm pretty much there, It's a bit of a dark art to do it really.

Firstly generating an icon is tricky enough as you need to generate an .icns file from several images.

And then you need to get that .icns onto an actual icon! which turns out to be quite tricky -- till you find the right tools

A list of tools and sites regarding this will be linked at the bottom:

The end result is I can now generate my own icons dynamically and apply them pretty damn fast.

You could use this for example to change the actual Icon color for folders/files based on label color

Change folder icons based on how many items are inside

Make folders dusty if they haven't been used in a while... etc

I have also made my own Icon template in Photoshop for generating stamped folders, and a photoshop action to go with it so that with one keypress it extracts all the different sizes and outputs them to a folder as separate image files

The Photoshop template:

And this allowed me in minutes to generate these label colored icons for folders.
It took a few more minutes to write a script that finds all the labelled folders in a specific location and change the icon to match the color of the label it has on.

I can also generate folders based on the contents, I have a script that takes the first image it finds in side a folder and applies it to the folder icon like so:

Or if it finds an image inside the folder called ICON, it will use that and make the image file invisible so it doesn't get in the way.

I use it for my work folder to help me navigate and make it look spiffy:

And while I'm talking about this, I just improved my application switch script. I hate the Dock, It's useless for application switching. So I instead wrote a small script that leverages DragThing to draw a ApplicationSwitcher with favorite folders and apps inside it also.

The main advantage are it has more room and make better use of space.
It can be triggered by a mouse button press, so you hold down a button on your mouse to show it and let the button go over the item you want to open.
Your mouse typically will be in the middle of the screen and so is this dock, unlike the built in dock which is all the way down the bottom of the screen making it further to travel. Fitts law and all.

Heres what it looks like when It's triggered:

Along the top left are some statistics that only show when my AppSwitcher is showing, they help me see stats like how much disk space I have, how much VM I\'m using and the list of application shows me how much time I've spent and in what programs I've spent it today/

The menu bar is also dimmed using 'Menu Eclipse'

And on the right is Adium, the program I use for Instant Messaging with AIM/Yahoo/MSN etc.
The text list next to the Trash icon is my todo list. And applications that are open that are not part of my favorites are shown next to the trash:

I also just wrote a script to help create folders and empty documents

This has always annoyed me, when you are in list view in the Finder and your half way down a long list of nested folders opened up infront of you, and you want to create a folder inside the one you have selected, press the new folder keypress creates one at the top level of the window!! not much help! so I wrote a script to create a folder in the current selection and remapped it to replace the normal new folder keypress.

Also If I press command-alt-N it creates an empty text file in place which I find handy.

And another pet peave is when in icon view you can select a file/folder and press command-delete to throw it in the trash, but when you have throe away everything in side a folder there's no way to throw away the folder your in, so I made a script that checks if the folder your in is empty if so it trashes it when you press the same command-delete shortcut, It's really handy actually.

And yes I did have a fair bit of time to kill, Spring cleaning and tidying up in general have been my dedication for the past few days... I spent about 2 days sorting through my sort folders.. not sorting what's in them just sorting all the different sort folders


And reorganizing my infinite todo list with some much needed prioritization


Links to ICON related gear:

The tool I use to generate an ICNS file from multiple images (using code from IconFamily)

Link: www.amnoid.de --- makeicns

SetIcon is part of osxutils and It's a command that lets you copy an icon from one file/folder to another
And if you use the -d option you can set a file/foldes icon to the contents of an icns

Link: sourceforge.net --- osxutils


A not quite fully functional command line tool:

Link: www.macgeekery.com --- setting_an_icon_from_the_cli

A web based system for making Icons:

Link: www.eisbox.net --- iconvert


Link: icns.sourceforge.net

IconFamily: is a Cocoa/Objective-C wrapper for Mac OS X Icon Services

Link: iconfamily.sourceforge.net

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Tags: - C4D - Unity
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Just created a little example in Unity 3D. Below is a screenshot from a realtime web demo:

And here is a link to a live working interactive version which you simply drag on with the mouse from left to right to rotate the model:

Link: helios.mine.nu --- Grey

Note: it requires unity plugin, but don't worry; it downloads fast, installs fast and you don't have to quit your browser, once the install is finished the site will just load the content without any interaction required.
Also worth noting is that it will scale to fit the browser window and if you right click, you can go Fullscreen.

The Lighting and shadows are all baked/frozen onto the models texture. This model is 50,000 polygon and has 5 1024x textures. I could probably reduce It's size and complexity by about 6x with various optimizations and use of normal maps. And that's exactly what I'll be trying out next.


And as a side note I've just updated my folder icon generator for Leopard icons, bit late, It's been generating icons in the old fashioned perspective format up till now, now it looks like:

It looked like this before:

It's an apple script app you drop Folders onto and it generates the icons from any images it finds inside and then puts the generating icon onto the folder all in one go. Powered by ImageMagick and the built in SIPS to a degree. I still like, almost prefer the perspective icons, but they do look dated now and they look awful in most places such as in Docks and in Coverflow because of the fake perspective.

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