Lord Hayden

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

702 Excellent


About Lord Hayden

  • Rank
  • Birthday 09/25/95

Profile Information

  • Gender Male

Recent Profile Visitors

3170 profile views

Lord Hayden's Activity

  1. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Regarding our discussion about normals and smooth shading, this might be of help to visualize how normals work and what's happening to your model:

    It shows the vertex normals as well as what happens when they're shaded or flat.
    • 0
  2. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Glad to see you're progressing well! It's all looking great so far. Seeing the entire set all modelled looks amazing! I've found that in most cases I do go back and tweak my model UVs to better fit the texture atlas also. The main thing is just having a good idea of how much texture space you want to give each model, and make sure any parts of the texture that tile can do so appropriately. 
    Just curious, did you manage to be able to get 3DO working in Photoshop? If so, I'll try and make good use of it in the further tutorials. If not, it's no problem, we can run through some traditional texturing methods to get the texturing all done.
    • 0
  3. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    I'm glad you're enjoying the tutorials and walkthroughs so far. There's a great selection of tools when it comes to UV editing, and when it comes to 3D work, there's no real 'right or wrong' way to unwrap your model, in a sense. There are more efficient and less efficient methods, although when we're working with such unique models, there will always be multiple ways to do things. Because we're going to be texturing in Photoshop, it's always best to keep in mind what will be easier for texturing, and what UV layouts look best to result in less texture stretching. In the UV editor in Blender, you can press the 'N' key to bring up the properties panel (while your mouse is in the UV Editor window), this is where you will find several tickboxes. One of them is 'Stretch', and if you tick it, it will color the UVs to show how the texture would get stretched across the model.

    Blue means there is minimal stretch, while green through to red means there is a lot of texture stretching. Another useful tool in the IV editor is pinning UVs, which is set to the default hotkey 'P'. If you select a vertex or edge in the UV editor and press 'P', it will be pinned to that area. The next time you unwrap the model, anything you have pinned will stay in the same location. You can unpin things by using the hotkey 'Alt + P'. Examples can be seen below:

    Above is how I would unwrap my mesh to make it easiest when moving into the Photoshop phase.The large circle is the inside of the bowl, the smaller circle is the flat bottom, and the long strip is the sides of the bowl.

    Because you're making such great progress with the set, we may as well combine everything you're doing into a texture atlas as we go, which is kind of a single large texture sheet that contains all your mesh's UVs. While we're not texturing it yet, we can start thinking about what pieces could share UVs and textures. For example, both the Sentinel bowls look like they would use a white porcelain-like texture for the insides of the bowls, while the outsides have unique painted textures. The same applies to the Sentinel goblet and chalice, the flower shaped parts could both share a UV and texture space. 
    Here are a few examples of the clutter from Skyrim and how they have made use of a texture atlas:

    As you can see, a lot of the clutter from Skyrim's sets use that one single texture atlas, allowing the developers to furnish a room with just about one texture. The downside here is that it can take a bit of playing around to get the textures to fit on your models, and you lose the ability to have truly unique textures for each model (but, nobody really picks up on this when they play).
    When it comes to planning this out, there's no 'best way' to do it. You could model everything first, UV everything, and export that UV layout to use as the base for your atlas. Another way would to be to make your atlas first and then UV your models to the atlas. Because you've already got most of the models done, I'd suggest finishing off the set, and then we can UV everything to use as an atlas base. 
    What I like to do in Blender is move all the meshes onto one layer and make sure they're a fair distance apart. I then select which models I want to add to the atlas and press the hotkey 'Ctrl + J' to join the meshes into one. From there I move the UVs around the UV square, resizing and shaping them as I see fit. Once they are where I want them I pin the UVs so they won't move, and then join in my next mesh to add to the atlas.
    Once everything has been UV'd into the one UV square, in Edit Mode you can click on a vertex, edge or face, and use the hotkey 'Ctrl + L', this will select all adjoining vertices, edges and faces. You can then use the hotkey 'P' to separate the selection from the current mesh. This will once again split up your objects into separate pieces, while maintaining the UV layouts.
    I've also looked into getting someone to jump in on the Photoshop stage while I'm away on holiday incase you get those meshes finished really quickly.
    • 2
  4. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Great work on the rest of the models! They look fantastic!
    And you're pretty spot on about the PBR and traditional differences. A lot of the shadow details usually seen in PBR engines are rendered in real-time. They also have access to various other input maps such as metallic, roughness, and ambient occlusion (shadows) which help build on the lack of detail in the color maps.
    Because Skyrim relies mainly on diffuse, normal and specular (shinyness) maps, we're required to get as much detail into the diffuse as possible. 
    The Questions and Answers
    All of your questions kind of come down to vertex normals (or face normals) which is a whole topic on itself. There's an incredible amount of information out there about it and I couldn't hope to explain it properly in one post. If you want to do some further reading into what they are and how vertex normals work, I'll add some links explaining it down below.
    Skyrim can smooth faces in-game depending on how you've shaded your model in Blender.
    Whatever you have in Blender will export into Skyrim in a similar manner, so the pinching will also appear in-game.
    Once texturing and normal maps are applied to the model, the pinching will be less visible, although it will still be present.
    Advice on why/how the pinching happens will be explained at the bottom of the thread, as it can be fairly technical, so as not to clutter up the rest of this stuff.
    The Fix
    In other programs such as 3DS Max, they have tools such as Smoothing Groups (more on these in my vertex normal explanation), but in Blender, we don't have the Smoothing Group functionality. Instead, we have an alternative method, called Edge Splitting. What this does is it separates the edges, so they're not actually connected to each other.
    The easiest way to keep your model organised is through an Edge Split modifier, and marking your Edge Splits. If you go into your modifier panel (little wrench icon), you will find a modifier called Edge Split. Make sure you have the correct object selected before selecting the modifier.

    Once you select it, your model will most likely look pretty weird now. This isn't a problem, because the default settings are causing Blender to edge split and faces that are on angles greater than 30 degrees. While edge angles is a totally valid way to organise your edge splits, a more precise and custom method can be found by unticking the 'Edge Angle' box in your modifier.

    This turns off the auto-edge splitting, however, now your model is back to it's original state. Now we can go back into Edit Mode, and using the edge selection tools, select the edges we want to be a hard edge. I made an example below of where I would cause edge splits:

    Going into our left toolbar (still in edit mode) in the UVs/Shading tab, there is an edge options for smooth and sharp.

    If we click on 'sharp', the edges we have selected will now be edge split (thanks to the modifier we added earlier). The edges we have marked as sharp appear as a blue/aqua color by default in edit mode. This should also remove all of the shading errors you are experiencing. Below is my final result:

    This method can be applied all over your models where ever you think a sharp edge would be more appropriate, while still maintaining that smooth shading across the rest of your model. Another example below of a before/after:

    Now, if you apply this modifier, then go into edit mode, you will find that where you placed your edge splits, you now have two separated edges. This is why I highly suggest keeping a backup of your working files before applying the modifier (or by copying the model to another layer for exporting). Working with an edge split model can be confusing, hence why we keep it confined to a modifier for as much of the process as we can.
    The Technical Stuff
    I'm not going to go into details about vertex normals, but I'll explain the reason all models look funny at times when set to smooth. I'll leave links for further reading if this interests you further for you to delve into if you like.
    The pinching occurs because when you are shading the entire model as 'smooth', the individual vertex normals get averaged over the entire model, trying to make it all appear smooth. If you had more vertices around the poorly shaded areas, the averaged vertex normals would appear smoother and cleaner. Because we are aiming for low poly models however, we tackle this issue with Edge Splitting (or Smoothing Groups) instead of adding in more unnecessary geometry. If you took a generic cube for example, and made it smooth, it looks terrible, as you can see below:

    But if you were to add more geometry (but not change the shape of it at all), the vertex normals, when they get averaged, would appear a lot better and smooth around the edges instead of the entire face:

    That's my short explanation on is, but there's links below if you want to learn more: 
    The Polycount wiki has a pretty good coverage of vertex normals and how they work here. There's also a section dedicated to face weighted normals which are starting to become a more common technique in newer games such as Star Citizen and Alien: Isolation. Keep in mind that although people are only starting to use custom normals to their full potential, the ability to modify vertex normals have been around for a relatively long time, and as such, we can implement custom face weighted normals into our Skyrim models. I have started using this technique lately with an addon, and I know a few members in the Iliac Bay team have also started to look into the technique. If you wish to go into more detail and add these techniques to your models, I'm planning on writing up a tutorial on it at some point as to how they work and how we can use them, although that will have to be once I'm back from my holiday.
    Further Learning
    I might have some time this weekend to write up a tutorial about texturing in Photoshop, although I am away from my PC for around 11 days after Tuesday. If this is the case, depending on your free time and how you're progressing, just post in this thread when you're ready to move on and I will see if I can organise another Beyond Skyrim member while I'm gone to walk you through any texturing questions you might have, or walk you through how the .nif exporter works and getting stuff in game depending on how you're getting along with it. Once I'm back home I'll be jumping back on and ready to walk you through where ever you are up to, or if you've got some models in-game, we can go into more depth about improving techniques. Once your models are all textured and you can get them in-game with collisions, we can start looking into getting you added to our team repositories so you can merge your models with the project. That way level designers can start playing around with them and get ready to put them in Hammerfell.
    • 1
  5. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic Nothollom WIP   

    Hey there, excellent work! Your landscape work is fantastic, and it works beautifully with the custom assets.
    I have to point out that the Atronach Forge is a place specifically for cross-province Beyond Skyrim works. If you're looking to create a thread for your own mod/s then it belongs in the Community Modding forums. For this reason I have moved your thread into the appropriate forum.
    Keep up the awesome work!
    • 0
  6. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Glad to help! Geometry looks great now!
    Skyrim doesn't use PBR shading (like newer engines such as Unreal and Unity use). Back then a lot of the texturing was done straight in Photoshop. It was a lot slower, but it got the job done. Newer texturing programs have PBR texturing workflows that are a lot quicker and more efficient, although they output a few different texture maps which we then have to make manual edits for in Photoshop anyway. A little while ago I made a Substance Designer node that converts PBR textures to older Skyrim formats. Below you can see the difference between what is 'PBR' and what is 'Traditional':

    Left is non-PBR, right is PBR. If we were to use a program like Quixel or Substance Painter/Designer, we would have the results on the right, which don't look too great in Skyrim unless we took the time to convert them. 
    I do suggest doing most of the texturing process in Photostop traditionally as opposed to the PBR methods, at least when you first start. It'll give you a better understanding of Photoshop, as well as most likely give you better results. The program I would highly recommend downloading is the Quixel Suite. The suite is a PBR texturing suite as I mentioned above that plugs into Photoshop, although it does include a 3D Viewer that you can import your models into and see it in 3D as you work. The programs included in the suite do require a purchase (nDo and dDo), although 3Do (the 3D viewer) does not as far as I am aware. So, to start our texturing process, I'd say download the Suite and test out if the 3D viewer works without having to activate a trial or pay for anything. If it does, we're ready to move on into texturing.
    To clarify, Quixel is a PBR texturing program that plugs into Photoshop, however we won't be using the texturing side of Quixel, we only want to use it for the free 3D viewer that comes with it. All of our texturing will be done in Photoshop itself.
    If you are making models for other programs or games that use PBR engines, I'd highly suggest looking into either Quixel or Substance Painter as texturing programs. They cost, but they are very cheap compared to a lot of the stuff in the 3D art industry. 
    • 1
  7. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Excellent work so far! In regards to the top image, geometry wise, because these are common, smaller models, a couple of the interior edge loops could be removed, I've marked them in the below image in red:

    By the looks of it there's also some edge loops around the bottom that could be removed (marked inside the blue loop). A lot of the fine details on models such as these can be in the normal maps, and once you have smooth shading applied to the mesh it'll be harder to notice missing edge loops.
    Now, regarding texturing; ideally we're going to be creating the textures ourselves in either a texturing program or Photoshop (do you have a preference? If you wanted to use a 3D texturing program such as Quixel or Substance Painter then our workflow changes quite a bit, depends on what you're up to learning).
    For the purpose of hand painting our textures I'd suggest trying to get an unwrap of the entire bowl instead of one part of it and repeating it. Although what you have currently UV'd is more efficient when it comes to texturing, when we add details such as ware and cracks in it, they will be repeating across the entire bowl. This generally comes down to an artists decision as to how much detail they want to compromise for efficiency.
    If you wanted to take the manual photoshop route, I'd suggest adding some seams in (Left toolbar in edit mode, in the Shading/UVs tab). Just select the edges you want to be the bounds of your separate UV islands and click 'Mark Seam'. Once that's done, you can jump in the UV editor and mess around a bit. Below is an image of my unwrapped side of the bowl:

    Now, to make texturing easier, I suggest editing the UVs to make them easier to work with and paint on. You can do this by selecting the edge loops and pressing W in the UV editor and selecting 'Align X' or 'Align Y' (Ignore the highlighted 'Straighten' button in my screenshot). Do this to your UVs until you have simpler shapes that would be easier to play with in Photoshop.

    The above UV layout will be a lot friendlier in Photoshop than before. Once we've done this to the entire bowl, we can export our UV layout. In the UV panel, click on UVs and up the top will be 'Export UV Layout'. You'll then have a menu where you can select your export destination as well as the export size. I'd suggest 2048x2048 so we can scale it down later. We can then take the UV layout into Photoshop for texturing.

    Just to let you know, the above model I have shown is just for example purposes, and does not represent how an actual in-game bowl should look like. Your's is very much spot on.
    • 1
  8. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    Alright excellent! BS has a little bit of wiggle room in terms of polycount so we can go a little bit over what they did for the vanilla meshes. If you're confident in your modelling you can go ahead and start it whenever you like, but if you'd like me to walk you through the modelling process too just let me know and I can post up a tutorial covering it.
    • 1
  9. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    No big deal if you can't get the Texture Works plugin working, the nVidia plugin for CS5/CS6 can export .dds files as DXT5 in the old Skyrim format which is also compatible with SSE, there's only a little bit of detail loss.
    • 1
  10. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden   

    I believe the nVidia .dds plugin will also do what you need it to for now (I'm assuming that's the one you're using). The only possible problem that might pop up is the .dds format we save as. The nVidia .dds plugin was the default plugin used for saving out texture files for the old Skyrim engine (using DXT5 compression) until the release of the Special Edition, this is when Skyrim was able to use newer and better .dds compression methods that are only available through the Intel Texture Works plugin (BC7 I think the new compression method is called). You can check out this Reddit thread if you wanted to go into finer details about how and why, as well as see some examples.
    I should've asked this earlier, do you have the original Skyrim and/or SSE?
    That being said, a lot of teams are still using the original Skyrim to mod and have not jumped over yet to the Special Edition, although I think a lot of them plan to do so at some point. It's not a problem if you're unable to get your hands on the Intel plugin, but just to be safe, I'd keep a backup of all your texture files in the highest resolution you can in a lossless format such as .tga, that way you'll always have the original files in the case someone needs to create SSE versions of your texture maps.
    Regarding BSAOpt, it hasn't been updated in quite a long time, so I think that's the correct version. If in doubt, you can always try to extract a Skyrim.bsa to see if it throws up any errors.
    Your Claim
    Now, regarding your claim, we've got a clutter claim that's only been partially completed that will be used throughout Hammerfell (keep in mind that clutter sets like this can also be used all throughout Beyond Skyrim wherever it might be appropriate, so the chances of your models appearing in other provinces all over Tamriel are quite high!). Here's a link to the Beyond Skyrim: Iliac Bay Trello board post. Most provinces use Trello as their planning and organisational website for a lot of art related stuff. This is where we post concepts and screenshots of some of our claims. 
    The board should be public, but in the case that it is not; here is the concept we have for the clutter set:

    At the moment, everything along the bottom row has not been started or claimed except for the blue plate on the left. I'll have to see if anything is still available along the top row as well, but for now, the bottom row can be our starting point. 
    If you like the look of the style and this claim, let me know which one you would like to start with (I'd suggest the vases or bowls just to start). I'll pick a similar object in the claim, that way you can follow along and we can focus on getting the workflow down, and getting the model in-game. If you're not a fan of the style or anything, feel free to have a look over the board and find something that grabs your eye. The left hand side board shows all the current members who have claimed what on the board so you can see what's avaliable, so once we've confirmed your claim I'll add you in there.

    Also, no rush if you're away for a weekend or a couple days here and there, I've also got studies to attend between as well so it can be a little bit of time between when I can get tutorials out, although I'll always be able to jump in and keep you updated/give you feedback on your work.
    • 1
  11. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic Student Application Thread (3D Assets.)   

    Your thread is up.
    • 1
  12. Lord Hayden added a topic in 3D and 2D Art   

    [Student Thread] Velocirascal - Lord Hayden
    Hey there! So, to get started, it's best to get all the programs we will need set up for the workflow. Depending on what you have access to and what kind of workflow you have, the texturing process can vary, so I'll cover it when we get to it. 
    Your Blender version is 2.77/2.78, so it's compatible with the Blender exporter in my tutorial thread about exporting statics from Blender. Just open up Blender and go File -> User Preferences and select Add-ons from the top bar. You can then click on 'Install From File' at the bottom of the window and browse to the .zip of the .nif exporter. I believe you can also go into your Blender directory and unzip the files there manually, but I find the first method easiest. Now you should have a 'NetImmerse/Gamebryo (.nif)' option in your Import and Export options.
    The programs in the tutorial thread cover just about everything you will need to go from Blender to Skyrim, although one extra tool you will find useful (and will most likely need) is BSAOpt, a program that can decompress .bsa files. A .bsa is a Bethesda Softworks Archive, pretty much a compressed file that contains scripts, models, textures, etc. Kind of like a .zip file, except you need a special program to open it. You won't have to worry about creating .bsa files as we just use loose files most of the time for modding. The only times .bsa files are distributed would be for full releases to the public, and even then that would be handled by the team leads. What you will want to do is use BSAOpt to extract some of your vanilla Skyrim files into a working directory (this can be anywhere, My Documents for example) where you can find them. The .bsa files you will want to extract from your Skyrim Data directory (.../Steam/steamapps/common/Skyrim/Data) are Skyrim - Meshes.bsa and Skyrim - Textures.bsa. These are both the meshes (.nif files) and the textures (.dds files) used in Skyrim. These are useful for not only looking at the models and getting ideas on how Bethesda got around the geometry and texture use, but also for opening up in NifSkope and figuring out how the file structure works and what everything means (I will go into detail about this when we finally export our own model)
    For texturing, we will most likely be using Adobe Photoshop to save out our textures to a .dds (DirectDraw Surface) file format, although this isn't included in the default Photoshop install. The best .dds plugin around at the moment I believe is the Intel Texture Works plugin, so get that installed and ready.
    To sum up the main programs and plugins you will be needing:
    Blender 2.77+ and the .nif ExporterBSAOptNifSkopeNifUtilSuiteAdobe Photoshop and the Intel Texture Works PluginIt might sound like a bit of work, but all this stuff only needs to be done once, and sets you up perfectly for the rest of your workflow. If you wanted to test out if you installed everything correctly, you can try importing one of the vanilla .nif files you extracted into Blender, and open up a .dds texture file in Photoshop.
    Once you've got all this done, let me know and we can move on to your Iliac Bay claim  Or, if you're running into any troubles, just either post here or send me a message and I can help you through it.
    • 19 replies
  13. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic Student Application Thread (3D Assets.)   

    Excellent! I'll have a look around Iliac Bay and see if I can find a good entry level claim to get started on together, your thread will be up within the next 24 hours.
    • 1
  14. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic Student Application Thread (3D Assets.)   

    Excellent work! I'm sure we can get you up to speed on what's required. I'm more than happy to take you up as a student if you're happy with that. 
    Did you have a preference as to which province you would like to work for? We've currently got a few province teams going and I'm sure they all have some open work available. Ideally, what I'd like to do, is pick up a smaller claim, such as a clutter set (bowls, spoons, etc.) and then walk you through creating one or two assets together and getting them in-game. After that, depending on how you like it and how comfortable you are with it, you would be free to continue on the claim by yourself.
    I'm currently using Blender 2.78, and I have a intermediate tutorial that can be found here. Don't be intimidated by any of the stuff in there as I'll be walking you through it all when we get to it, the most important stuff you will need is the links to all the required files in the first post under 'Getting Started'. If you're happy for me to be your teacher I'll make up a student thread tomorrow (got a big day ahead today so might not have time later today). I'll also send off a message to whichever province you're most interested in (or any province at all) and try and get a claim set up that will cover all the basics.
    • 0
  15. Lord Hayden added a post in a topic Student Application Thread (3D Assets.)   

    You've piqued the interests of some people already.  Although I do have some questions, just to get a better idea of where you're at in terms of skillset and tools. By the looks of it you've got a pretty good grasp of making a model that resembles the concept art, which is the best place to start. From there is how well you know/manage edge flow and topology, but that's more on the technical side of things and can be taught along the way. If you've got a past model that you can post in a wireframe of a previous model showing the topology that'd be a great help in determining where to start. And last question on the modelling side of things: do you know how to UV unwrap/map?

    Secondly, you're interested in both architecture and clutter, which is good as the current Blender exporter can export those very smoothly. What version of Blender are you using, and do you have any experience with the .nif format? No problem if you don't, it's very easy to pick up, especially since you've got past experience getting models in-game.
    • 0