Tips and Tricks

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Old 07 July 2003   #1
Tips and Tricks

Well, since I didn't see a thread like this in here, I figured I'd start it up.

So here's my tip: SPHERIZE

I know a few of you probably already know this but if you're having trouble with bone deformations in jointed areas..just slap a spherize effect on your mesh and parent it to the bone your having troubles with and play with the settings. You'll be pleasantly suprised. For the longest time I could get a shoulder to look right when I bent the bicep bone. So I parented a spherize effect to the shoudler and vvvvrrrrroooooommmmm!

please feel free to add to this tips and tricks thread no matter how small of a tip it might be.

Old 07 July 2003   #2
Ooo. Ooo. while we're talking about spherize, here's another one.

if you need a visual reference for a spherize effect, create a procedural sphere (setup->tools subtab ->procedural)
and set it's scale to 2.0

parent it to the spherize null, and you have a visual representation of the actual radius.
Old 08 August 2003   #3
Keeping it Positive

If you can, try and keep your models facing the + Z axis. Some of your expressions won't calculate correctly if something is facing towards the - Z. (at least some of MY expressions didn't calc right)

Don't know if it's really a tip or just a personal preference but there it is nonetheless.

Old 08 August 2003   #4
If you need to edit a lot of redundant expressions, do so in a text editor. After you have the expressions worked out, create a coresponding number of blank expressions in messiah. From there copy the worked out expressions (from the text editor) one by one back into the new blank expressions.
Old 08 August 2003   #5
To export a Depth Channel from messiah, apply the FogBasic Shader to the Cameras Atmosphere material. Connect the "Depth" output of the fog shader to the "color" input of the Atmosphere.
Render ;-)
To easier control the fog, make two Null objects "Fog_Near" and "Fog_Far" and add the following expressions:

Dist(Fog_Near, Camera, NOW, NOW)

Connect this expression to the "FogBasic"::min_depth Channel.

Dist(Fog_Far, Camera, NOW, NOW)

Connect this expression to the FogBasic::max_depth Channel.

Now you can easily adjust the start and endpoint of your Fog/Depth with those two Nulls.
Old 09 September 2003   #6
The FogBasics depth-channel output can be used for other things too: Feed the depth output to the "u" input of a gradient to control the gradient with depth.

Or fade objects with distance with the depth channel connected to transparency.

Or use it to fade the camera material "ground" into the background material so you get a soft transition from the ground into the sky. Very useful ;-)
Old 09 September 2003   #7
Master Light

If you're using Direct & Sky lighting, and your scene appears too bright, you can use the Render->Output->Tone Mapping options to correct this (note that Gamma does not affect final output).

However, if you feel that only the lights need to have less intensity, you don't have to modify the intensity on each individual light. Just go to the LightMaster for those lights and modify the Global Intensity Factor. This will affect the intensity of all lights contained in that LightMaster.

Also, you can use the Global Colorize channel to change the hue of all lights contained in that LightMaster. The closer you get to 1.0, the more the contained lights will take on the color of the LightMaster.

Old 09 September 2003   #8
One thing I use like crazy when animating are the master-dope-dots above the graph editor - if you haven't used them yet, be sure to give them a try - it may completely change the way you animate.
With them, you can easily move your keys, duplicate them (with Alt-Key down after start dragging) etc. Since they respect your channel settings (individual, group, all...) you can very efficiently work on the timing of your scene. If you move such a dot over an existing one, it will be overwritten (handy for copying a default pose over something "twisted" ;-)
You can also multiselect those dots (Shift/Strg an/or rectangle selection) to move/copy entire ranges and if multiple objects are selected, you can even move their keys all together.

Have fun
Old 10 October 2003   #9
Specular Layering: Gradient vs. Matte

While I was in the midst of performing some necessary render tests, I made use of the carpaint material that Kelly Vernon posted. Very nice:})

The basic premise of creating convincing carpaint materials is in thinking in paint layers. Basically, you want a base coat & a gloss coat and you'd simulate this by creating layered specular "reflections" (that's a simplification, but you get the point).

Just as Kelly did in the original carpaint material, many users have taken to using the Matte shader to create the layered speculars. This will work, but it can yeild much slower renders. This is because the Matte shader does much of the work of rendering; it will perform many rendering operations, when all you really need is to layer specularity.

The best way to combat this problem is to use the Gradient shader instead. On the Input Parameters tab, just activate Light, Camera, and Compute Light & Camera as Specular. Then just modify the Specularity and Glossiness on that same gradient. (be sure to connect the color or value output of the gradient to the specularity input on the material.)

Not only will this compute faster, you'll have a great deal more control. In addition to the Specular and Glossiness parameters, you can modify the Light & Camera channels. Not to mention the fact that you can actually "design" your gradient;})

Here's a modified carpaint, based on Kelly's original, that uses Gradient instead of Matte.

Red Carpaint Material

Feel free to modify it further. I was careful to mimic Kelly's material design, but you could probably simplify it by removing the first gradient and ramping the base material's specularity (depends on your needs). You may also want to try layering the specular_color input using color gradients for different effects. Throw in a little noise offset on those gradients and things will start to get even more interesting

Here's a simple test render using the modified carpaint. It's nothing too special, and the model isn't very high quality (downloaded it of the Net), but it gives a good representation of the material.

Well... hmmm... come to think of it, that image isn't really demonstrating any of the specular layering. There are no lights (you need standard light sources for specular to have any affect), it's all standard reflection/cards & Monte Carlo, which provides for more convincing lighting. But the same principle applies: you can layer the reflection input instead of specularity. It all depends on your render methods and the needs of the scene. Whatever it is, the shaderflow is quite flexible and should be up to the task.

I hope you find this tip useful:})

Old 10 October 2003   #10
This isn't a tip that I have found out about myself, it is brought up by Marek and Wes on the mailinglist and since it is esential to successfully using the MotionDynamics, I thought I put it on this list - thanks guys for that one!

Here you go:
If you make springs with the MotionDynamics, be it normal Springs or Hold Springs, be sure to make them affect only rotation, not translation.
To do that, you have to expand the spring with the little plus sign, expand further the affected objects and remove the little checkmarks from xpos, ypos and zpos. After that, your springs should behave much more "as expected".

I'm a happy camper now - although I have no idea why this works the way it does...
Old 10 October 2003   #11
Originally posted by Thomas_Helzle
I'm a happy camper now - although I have no idea why this works the way it does...

Your spring nodes need not be a hierarchy, so you may not need rotation. However, rotation may be relevant if your objects are in a hierarchy. However, you'll have to decide how you want that hierarchy to behave. This is why the added options exist. Rather than locking you into one specific way, we decided to let you choose.

Old 10 October 2003   #12
Originally posted by Thomas_Helzle
But why is there no rotation when position is active? I like to have options, but the rabbit-ear problem is only solvable if I deactivate translations for the holdsprings - position seems to totally overwrite any rotation. That is what I don't understand and what has taken users months to figure out...

I don't find it logical.

You didn't find it logical in this particular case, but you will when you start to use motiondynamics for other projects. In any case, one *has* to override the other. But it's a simple matter to change this behavior. Just select all the springs you want to modify in the list (not need to expand them all), and enable/disable the channels on one; all selected will be updated.

In later updates, we'll of course explore ways to make this all much easier.

As always, thanx for the feedback

Old 10 October 2003   #13
For those who use Messiah in combination with LW there a a is a nice LW_Plugin written by an ex college of mine the allmighty Richard Derancourt called DisplacementBaker.[/URL]

Its very useful for rendering softbodies (and other softbodylike effects that are timedriven) over the network. Everyone who uses messiah/LW and needs networkrendering should get a copy.

The man also wrote a nice and robust networkrenderingapplication for LW called NightOwl. (sorry no site. If interested, you should contact him via the link I mentioned earlier)

Big it up!
Old 11 November 2003   #14

if you need different rotation ratios for bones, you can
Eliminate using multiple expressions by using more than one copy of a channel in a single expression


(finger1 pitch)

+ Fingerfan pitch
+ Finger2 pitch
+ Finger2 pitch
+ Finger3 pitch
+ Finger3 pitch
+ Finger3 pitch

So finger2 rotates twice as much as fingerfan, and finger 3 rotates 3 times as much as Fingerfan.

just highlight the channel and click the copy button to duplicate it.

Old 11 November 2003   #15
Flex Effect Parenting

tip by jipe:

When we need to parent a Flex Effect to a Bone (like for a Bicep Bulge for example, we would parent the Flex Effect to the Upper Arm Bone so that when the Bone Rotates the Flex Points go along with it instead of being floating in space), we need to parent it with Parent in Place, doing so, it will allow us to then click and add the points were we click on the screen, if Parent in Place isnīt used to parent the Flex Effect to the Bone when we click to add the poinst those will will appear where we dont want them. So be sure to always use Parent in Place
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