Category: CG Related

Automotive Models

Check out the high quality vehicle models available for purchase. Presently in Lightwave LWO and Alias Wavefront OBJ formats.

[fancy_images width=”620″ height=”75″]
[image title=”Bugatti Veyron” caption=”Bugatti Veyron” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Lotus Elise” caption=”Lotus Elise” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Lotus Exige S” caption=”Lotus Exige S” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Ford Capri 2.8i” caption=”Ford Capri 2.8i” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Retro Truck” caption=”Retro Truck” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Retro Truck Low Rider” caption=”Retro Truck Low Rider” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Retro Truck Custom High Rider” caption=”Retro Truck Custom High Rider” link_to=””][/image]

Lightwave & Radiosity

So I was waiting on a render of my Rolex Yacht-master II the other day, and having read a few posts recently by Dave Jerrard on Facebook about his monstrous 32 core workstation; I commented how a little more horsepower would be nice. The subsequent conversation with him was very interesting in terms of the practical outcome. First, a grab of my render in progress (check out the time remaining!)

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Now I know these estimates are not accurate, but none the less when you are waiting on a render, it’s depressing to see. The settings for that render were as below.

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As you can see Final Gather radiosity was set and interpolated with settings that had worked pretty well on my vehicle renders. It was suggested that what I might want to do would be to use Monte Carlo instead, but WITHOUT interpolation, and with the RPE set really low around 4 or 5. Additionally, given the model I was rendering, the shading and lighting samples while not OTT at 4 would be fine at 1. i also took the opportunity to remove the secondary bounce and to stay with a single bounce.

These were the revised settings.

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The maximum samples value on the camera tab is one that needs to be tested and tweaked for your specific render, but I chose just to stick on 128 and get my render going. What was the upshot? Well the render came home in 3h 22m 53s rendering at 3000 x 2000. Pretty good all in all I thought. A few more minutes on top to get an AO render and a depth pass. Job Done!

[image_frame style=”framed” align=”center” height=”200″ width=”600″][/image_frame]

So when I thought interpolated must be the quickest way to go is not always true, and in this instance was very much slower.

Sci-fi, Roots, and Rendering

Like many people in the CGI industry in the cuurent era, their initial forays in to CGI were triggered and inspred by things seen on TV.

Myself? I’m no exception. I entered in to the CG arena totally off the back of Babylon 5, and the work produced for it by Foundation Imaging. Of course Fandation Imaging is long gone, but the ground breaking work of Babylon 5 lives on.

It’s actually a long time since I have done any Babylon 5 related imagery. Back in the dim distant past I started out downloading other peoples models. I would convert them from Lightwave to Imagine format, re-apply the textures, and render them in Imagine. Generally they looked terrible, and eventually I got to grips with Lightwave, still in the early stages creating renders using other peoples models. A community existed where the models were created called The Babylon 5 Modellers Guild.

They ran a contest to design a new Babylon station called Babylon 6 (who’d have guessed), and with the assistance of a guy known as ‘Hadrian’ we came up with an idea for Babylon 6. I set about modelling this station, and that started my career as a modeller.

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Well after creating a good few Babylon 5 models of my own, I gradually drifted away from rendering the subject. Then I came across a Facebook Page that made me dig up my models and make them available for download. This led to me doing a few new renders, which you can see below.

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I started out just rendering a Starfury, before adding a couple of extra ones to fill the frame. Then I added a couple of instances of my Hyperion model and some beam weapons. The last render is the same as the second, but with a slightly more aggressive grade.

Lightwave (and OBJ) Automotive Models

A selection of my high quality automotive models are available for purchase in the store. They represent great value at just under ten pounds for personal use (for commercial use you must purchase a full commercial license). All the models are highly detailed, come ready to render with a setup scene, textures, and where appropriate sliders to control specific model elements.

They are as follows, click the renders to go to the product pages:


[fancy_images width=”620″ height=”75″]
[image title=”Bugatti Veyron” caption=”Bugatti Veyron” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Lotus Elise” caption=”Lotus Elise” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Lotus Exige S” caption=”Lotus Exige S” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Ford Capri 2.8i” caption=”Ford Capri 2.8i” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Retro Truck” caption=”Retro Truck” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Retro Truck Low Rider” caption=”Retro Truck Low Rider” link_to=””][/image]
[image title=”Retro Truck Custom High Rider” caption=”Retro Truck Custom High Rider” link_to=””][/image]


Lightwave 11

So on Tuesday, Lightwave 11 finally arrived, much to my relief. I have to say it was a nice little bundle. In with the Lightwave 11 DVD case was a free Tofu the Vegan Zombie (which while being of zero practical use, is kinda cool and fun),  and a chunky Newtek branded pen which doubles up as a 2gb USB flash drive (whichis preloaded with some reviewer related material… nice).

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[image caption=”The Whole Bundle”][/image]
[image caption=”The Main Packaging”][/image]
[image caption=”The Install DVD”][/image]
[image caption=”The USB Flash Drive & Pen”][/image]
[image caption=”Tofu!”][/image]
[image caption=”Tofu!”][/image]

Obviously the installation is a breeze, and so far I have been pretty well impressed with 11. I can’t say much more as I am writing a short review for 3D Artist Magazine as I did for LW10, so watch out for that!

Copyright Infringements on eBay (and other outlets)

I was scouting around eBay, looking for good value used wrist watches, and chatting at the same time (it was evening so I was at home with my family). One topic of conversation was copyrights, and I just chance searched for Bugatti Veyron Prints. As it happened, one of the results in the search was my Stealth Veyron render (the one Newtek used in the LW10 booklet).

[image_frame style=”framed” align=”center” title=”Stealth Veyron” height=”200″ width=”620″][/image_frame]

So looking further the seller is clearly lifting artwork from the web and selling it with complete disregard for copyright ownership. I reported the infringement of my rights to eBay and the listings were promptly removed.  Sadly eBay don’t apply logic to it and look further at the sellers listings. They should.

I would recommend that any artists and indeed photographers check this seller out for your work being sold:

Now ordinarily I am not to concerned by material I post on the internet. I accept to a point that I post stuff on the net, it is going to be used by someone in a  way that it really shouldn’t, but I draw the line at commercial use and selling. It certainly pays now and again to check for your work on eBay and the likes.

A Tale of Two Softwares

Bunkspeed and Luxion

Back in my days at Ark, I modelled and rendered a mechanical dragonfly in Lightwave, which many people have seen. I recently got around to bringing it in to other renderers, namely Bunkspeed Pro Suite, and Luxion Keyshot Pro. This has been a slightly torturous process, namely because there seems to be several ways of getting the export and import process done, but there is always a caveat that catches you out.

[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Dragonfly in Lightwave” height=”150″ width=”270″][/image_frame]

I had been playing with FilmBox, because the Lightwave scene is pretty complex, and exporting the individual components as OBJ files and then saving each transformed from Layout was just too laborious to consider. FBX seemed like the perfect tool for the job. Indeed getting the actual geometry out of Lightwave and into Keyshot for ProSuite worked flawlessly, however it seemed that materials were being re-assigned so that only one was created per model layer from Lightwave. The only solution would be to split surfaces in to separate layers, but that would then require a lot of reloading and parenting in Layout. Again, not really an option.

Just as an exercise in interest, I thought I’d show a little comparison of how it looks in, and render with both softwares.

Bunkspeed Pro Suite

[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Dragonfly in Bunkspeed ProSuite” height=”150″ width=”270″][/image_frame]

The interface is very dark (black actually!) with all the main elements nicely integrated (should you wish you can moce and detach elements). This includes all the property panels for materials and cameras, as well as the main scene tree explorer. In addition there is the library of materials, textures, environments, and backplates. As well as locally stored assets, when logged in to your Bunkspeed account you have access to cloud based assets. This is a very strong feature as Bunkspeed update the cloud library with new assets. When selecting to use cloud assets, they are downloaded and integrated in to the local library for speedier access in future.

[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Dragonfly Rendered in Bunkspeed ProSuite” height=”150″ width=”270″][/image_frame]

By default ProSuite switches automatically between performance preview mode and full quality iray render. It’s a system that keeps things moving quite nicely and usually doesn’t need changing. You can however force the use of preview or quality modes full time as required. This screen shot shows the performance preview mode. When it comes to rendering there is a definite lower threshold to the weight of geometry that can be rendered, which I believe is owing to the use of the GPU and GPU Card Ram (my nVidea Quadro4000 is 2gb). ProSuite definitely loves you more if you have multiple big CUDA compatible devices.


Luxion Keyshot

[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Dragonfly in Keyshot Pro” height=”150″ width=”270″][/image_frame]

Keyshot has had a very similar interface for quite some time, and to be honest it’s not a bad thing. It differs to Bunkspeed’s product in having separate floating panels. It’s a very clean and simple interface as a results. Like Bunkspeed ProSuite, Keyshot comes with a very comprehensive library of materials, environments, and backplates. Unlike Bunkspeed, it’s purely local, with no cloud library to call on. One thing I find easier in Bunkspeed is a tablet rather than a mouse. ProSuite has specific tools for camera rotate, bank, dolly, and pan. A small matter, but noticeable all the same.

[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Dragonfly Rendered in Keyshot Pro” height=”150″ width=”270″][/image_frame]

Keyshot uses two distinct display modes. Full preview render, or simple performance render. You toggle between the two modes. Less elegant than Bunkspeed’s method, but in some respects more responsive in action. My screen shot of Keyshot shows the performance mode rather than full traced mode. Ram is less of an issue with Keyshot as it uses your system CPU and Ram meaning larger scenes are easier to handle. the GPU is utilised for added bloom and vignettes (useful as these can be toggled on and off without the render being interrupted).


On Balance

This little comparison covers just using the main software on the most basic level, and doesn’t touch on the off-line final rendering. On general usability, there actually isn’t much to choose between the two packages, and that is one of the things I really love. They effectively originate from the same ethos. Luxion developed Hypershot and ceased licensing it to Bunkspeed, at which point it became known as Keyshot (v1.9). Bunkspeed subsequently licenses iRay from nVidia while Luxion progressed the development of Keyshot.

There are some things that I find easier in each package. Automotive rendering I find easier in Keyshot, and jewellery rendering I find easier in Pro Suite. The joy of having both is being able to be selective. So do I have a preference? Actually, not really, I’d be hard pushed to recommend one over the other. I will follow up soon with a little more detail on each package.

Keyshot 3.1 : Realtime Environment Editing

With the Keyshot 3.1 update installed, here is a little demo of another brilliant feature built right in to the software.

Have you ever got the preview render running and wished you could just make some little changes to the HDRI map you are using? Well now this is just a minor step in Keyshot 3.1


The Process

[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Model Loaded. Environment Set.” height=”100″ width=”175″][/image_frame]

So we’re up and running, but I want some colour in there, rather than everything being sterile white. Hit the edit button next to your environment image path.



[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”HDRI Environment Editor Window” height=”100″ width=”175″][/image_frame]

The editor window for the HDRI has two tabs. Adjustments allows you to colourise the HDRI image, as well as tweak brightness and contrast (more on that a little later). The Pins tab is where you can add new illumination sources to the HDRI environment.


[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Stick a new pin on there!” height=”100″ width=”175″][/image_frame]

On the pins tab, add a new pin, and you’ll see a locator handle appear centred in a bright circle. Crucially you will see the real time preview render in Keyshot update to reflect the new light source you’ve added. You’ll have the default values of 0.5 for fall-off (how sharp and harsh the edges are) and 2 for brightness. The colour defaults to white.


[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Adjusting the new pin.” height=”100″ width=”175″][/image_frame]

Here I have adjusted the pin by dragging it to a new position (in this case specifically to be reflected in the watch glass to highlight it’s presence) and changing it’s colour to a pale blue. I also brightened it to 3 and adjusted it’s radius to be a little smaller.


[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Rectangular Pin!” height=”100″ width=”175″][/image_frame]

Now I have added a rectangular pin, coloured yellow to contrast the blue I added before. It’s worth noting the enabled check box, so you can switch pins on and off to adjust and see them individually for fine tuning.



[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Adjust the underlying HDRI” height=”100″ width=”175″][/image_frame]

Here I have adjusted the underlying HDRI content, toning the brightness down from 1 to 0.25 and upping the contrast from 1 to 1.5 to get more over all effect from the newly added elements. You can incidentally set the brightness to 0 which will then make all the previous existing HDRI elements black, leaving only your newly added pins to provide lighting.


[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Save your changes” height=”100″ width=”175″][/image_frame]

Once you are happy with the changes you have made, you can save your newly adjusted environment map as a new image, ready to use as and when needed in the future. It’s as simple as that.


All done!

[image_frame style=”framed” align=”left” title=”Final Results” height=”300″ width=”620″][/image_frame]

Keyshot 3.1 : Metallic Paint

So I just updated to Keyshot 3.1, and pulled one of my vehicle models in to try out the new flake feature on metallic paint.

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I’m impressed with the results!

After a little more work, I’ll post further results along with some examples of the in software interactive HDR Environment editing.