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Hard Ops 8: Polonium (P4 Update)

https://gumroad.com/l/hardops/

Hard Ops 0084 can only be used with Blender 2.78 and above.

There is also new WIP documentation.

I also made an art dump of all the stuff I made using Hops8.

Hard Ops 8 has been the longest release of the series and continues even now as we use this number to focus on enhancement and stability.

As Blender 2.78 gets closer we also try to refine this version for public consumption. With some internal changes glitches can be expected but we are working to resolve them. Currently it is still in testing stage and is the top file of the Gumroad at this moment.

As issues are being reported and resolved and 2.78 comes closer it will be on the BM as well but once 2.78 is out.

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Kudos To MACHINƎ for allowing his drone to be the ad for this version. He is also selling it as an asset. I recommend giving it a study if you’re interested.


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A series of additional menus and panels have been added. The center and foundation of Hard Ops has always been the Q menu. In time I am sure we will no longer need the shift + Q hotkey and the pie and menu will toggle from the Q hotkey.

Sculpt Mode now has a Q menu.

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In it’s current form it also has the view port menu attached which means if you choose matcaps as the option that matcaps will appear as an additional box.

In fact in the Q menu if you go into Settings >> Viewport the same functionality also exists.

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Alt + V also brings up a viewport menu in object mode. This was just an experimental feature that was added that grew on me as I used it more and more.

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Cameras also have a Q menu. With handy options.

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Lattices also have a Q menu. My favorite is simplify.I use it to reset lattices to their simplest points and start over with deforming.

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Alt + M brings up a menu of all the materials in your scene for fast assignment. This is for object mode of course since edit mode would merge geometry. This is also experimental but has proven useful recently.

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In preferences there are additional properties for the HUD and how long it displays. That way you can adjust this to your liking.

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Merge has also been updated a bit. While it is still being worked on we examined the naming and decided it was best the way it was.

When you select an AP and the mesh to merge with you have 2 options.

Soft Merge – merges with mesh while keeping it live. This allows for tweaking then for completion just select the main mesh and choose Q >> Csharpen.

Complex Merge – merge and is done. Places the OB. Deletes the BB and the AP. This is the option I would normally use.

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So it’s just Cmerge and Smerge. In addition to this the inserts are being expanded with new ones for users to have fun with.

Mirror Mirror now mirrors across any object not just meshes. This is similar to the original mirror mirror and was a mistake on my part.

This is useful because sometimes I mirror across an empty. As a recap mirror mirror has been internalized into HardOps so the plugin is no longer needed.

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Settings menu is a little cleaner. We discuss all the features often and what can be removed / enhanced / etc. All the remaining functions are near and dear to me even if the other teamsters don’t even use them.

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CSplit / CSlice now behaves better. If a mesh isn’t beveled you can slice and it will respect that. This has also carried over into box cutter and it’s behavior with unbevelled meshes.

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This can be handy for using the Cslice as a more utility function for alternate workflows. I like the fact that you can also use the status reset and then have cuts ignored by bevels.

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Q >> Meshtools >> Sstatus Reset is quite a useful option when used correctly. I am unable to explain all cases in which you would want to reset your mesh to dupe the system but it has come in handy on more than one occasion.

As this post has gone on I am keeping the best for the later part. Now that the boring stuff is out of the way we can go over some of the larger changes.

The T panel has underwent changes again. This was done for stability and ease of use. There is also a learning tab added for new users. On a technical level this has made things more stable and it has a connection with the other menu systems with make it easier on us internally.

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XUnwrap now behaves on multiple objects at once. I tend to manually unwrap hero items but for secondary stuff or quickies XUnwrap can be useful for quickly getting a mesh out to Substance Painter or a game engine.

Select your objects and press Q >> Meshtools >> Xunwrap

As you can see through the uv preview that both pieces are placed uniquely on the same UV space.

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2d Bevel was an idea based off of the mesh cleaner for bevelling 2d shapes. I must add… DO NOT USE ON 3d SHAPES . If you do that the results will be different. I must also stress the importance of modifier stack order as well with using this since it can have issues. I consider this an experimental feature.

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In this example I used 2d bevel then Tthick to add thickness on top of the bevelling of the 2d shape. All it does it round corners using a limited dissolved mesh with a bevel set to only verts.

CleanMesh(E) is also a new feature that has been added. This will do a limited dissolve / remove doubles operation on the mesh. I cannot stress that this is for planar-ish meshes and will not give good results where linework is specific.

Also make sure you check pro mode under preferences to enable it. Since it is an experimental option.

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Enabling Pro mode to see Clean Mesh in Q menu

Clean mesh will dissolve all useless edges. This can be useful for simplifying meshes for boolean operations.

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This is something I think it’s best to experiment with and try out. It can be useful having useless edges dissolved when it comes to simplification.

These two videos have portions where I am experimenting with the simplification of the CleanMesh(E). Sometimes this can also make booleans easier to perform due to there being less errors. If you are using guidance loops for control then you may not want to use this on the main mesh but like I said use it at your own peril.

So with that I conclude this post and have fun operatives! Big shoutout to AR. He’s been down since the beginning and continues to be a big part in the shadows. He also rendered the apartment ad for HardOps.

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Moth3r created the gun image which also was an Hard Ops ad.

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As always it’s the operatives that keep this tool alive and kicking. I cannot stress how important it is to experiment with the tool and find a unique way of your own for using the tool. I often find people using it in strange and unique ways that get results far beyond even my expectations. Alot of the features I feel extend past hard surface modelling and are just the way I wish some things behave. It’s a understandable impression that Hard Ops is primarily a hard surface toolkit but it’s also a workflow assistant.

The WIP manual is always being updated. I will begin making it the final documentation for hard ops so please check on it occasionally for additional information on how to use the tool.

Inspired by Machin3 and his tips on Hard Ops I was inspired to make some drones!

So get to work operatives! Box Cutter 4.5 coming soon!

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Boxcutter(2)

Box Cutter 4 Update Notes

I was determined to release this on the weekend.

Boxcutter has underwent many updates thanks to the efforts of AR, Dima, Edgard and myself. I am happy to report many of the previous glitches are resolved and more than likely new ones have appeared but lets hope not.

Box Cutter’s T Panel is right below Hard Ops. It also still has the hotkey Alt + w.

https://gumroad.com/l/BoxCutter#

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The t panel has been expanded to show new additional parameters which we will go into more later.

The Hard Ops connection has been made better so Boxcutter and Hard Ops will continue to be the ultimate combo. There is also a special q menu for Boolshapes which are made via Box cutter in mod mode that will allow array, bevels and solidification.

 

So in a nutshell here’s the latest features!

 

2d Snapping / Help Display (NOTE: NEVER LET SNAPPING BE AT 0…)

Activate snapping – shift + z.

Change Increments  – shift + mouse wheel or numpad + and –

As you can see it is capable of being precise in cutting things subsequently however an array would be better. This is a 2d plane snapping system so no snapping to verts / edges / faces also that would equal hot lining so that may be examined down the road.

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Angle Snapping – Only For NGON TOOL

 

Activate Angle Snapping – alt + z

Change Angle in the T Panel blender_2016-05-28_01-34-58.png

 

Angle Snapping Indication – Indicator Display

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At the last minute. Dima just had to add to the angle snapping. Now when you activate it with alt + w after initializing snapping with shift + w. You get an indicator line making it more visibly obvious where your snapping for angle is going to go. Now I can say the angle snapping is set for the moment.

Alt + z – must be pressed after the initial points were set in order to see the angle snapping indicator.

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Notice that it shows after alt + z is pressed after the first line is made. This may be improved in subsequent releases.

Advanced Ngon Behavior – Curve and Bevel Support

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The ngon tool initially implemented has gone through quite a few advancements that I am quite excited about.

To Start – Hold ctrl + click and draw a line

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And the best part. Pressing X toggles rebool and red cutter box. We plan to expand on this behavior much more in the future so this is just the start.

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Only the ngon is this advanced at the moment. The box and circle have a specific behavior that is still being fine tuned and one shape feature is yet to be added yet.

This tool’s behavior allow you to draw a shape and adjust it before committing it. We have more plans for it however its current state is leagues above the former and now I can consider the ngon an essential and usable tool.

(edit: this tool has been enhanced 3 times since this update secretly. So if you have the latest version your help might display additional/ differentinformation.)

 

Circle Tool – Limit Break

The circle has had its limit broken so now you can insert cylinders more than 32 spans. That was the first glitch resolved after the last release.

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We still have plans to consolidate circle and box into a new simple shape tool that will have a double behavior system of cut and run and also a hold in place type of thing.

 

Mod Mode Enhancements / Hard Ops Connection 2

Mod mode has been enhanced to impressive levels as well. Basically mod mode is similar to booltool in which all cuts are kept live and are available to be adjusted after the fact before committing. This allow hard ops to also get in the box cutting fun with bevels, arrays and solidification. Then at the very end. You can commit. It also treats unbeveled meshes differently and is more preferable to the older behavior.

alt + mouse wheel changes cutting mode.

This works in box, circle, and ngon mode.

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When I first got this going I was off like a rocket. The speed of it compared to inserting cubes over and over is just miraculous. But it gets better. When I go back and select the boolshape meshes and press Q the hard Ops menu from Hard Ops 8 is there to do additional functions that are a part of that plugin already. With the hard Ops integration of mirror mirror there is now a quicker way to mirror things across other things now positioned in a way for expansion.

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So I had to tweak alot of elements but this sort of experimentation is going to drive the next cstep system and its connection into box cutter. I have been able to make some pretty interesting shapes just messing around with it.

 

Shape Memory V1 (Circle and Box Only) (secret)

Shape memory is still in the works but basically it allows for repeating shapes.

Remember shape – ctrl + space

Recall shape – shift + space

Once you store the shape you will be in move mode.

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But after you press shift + space while in the drawing state you will call the shape back. We hope to also extend this quite far into a library of sorts but this is the initial framework of the idea.

I must remind you it is only for box and circle at this time. Ngon is important as well however in time I hope we will expand it there as well.

Color Prefs!

So the new defaults are blue because Adrian and Ivan made fun of my affinity for the warmer colors. cough red/orange.

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You are able to change your colors for the border and the logo indicator. Credit to AR for coding the Boxcutter logo as an indicator and the Hard Ops one for that matter.

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One particular glitch with pressing alt + w multiple times to start box cutter is resolved.

Also you can now use box cutter in any 3d view you want. But only 1 at a time. Thanks to Dima for the glitch resolution. The depth parameter has been refined along with the internal cutting calculation which now results in more predictable results.

Compared to the previous version there has been major upgrades.

Normally I press alt + F10 to maximize my 3d view. Then it works best.

As you may notice in the previous image there is now a help area when using box cutter. This will make it more clear you are in box cutter mode as well as provide information in an easier format. There is also a toggle to turn it off.

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Even as I’m writing this guide we’re still doing last second pushes. So I know it never stops around here. So this release has to go out now. Or we’ll turn this boxcutter into a plasmasword.

Dairin0d / Dima was absolutely amazing in this release and cannot be thanked enough. I call him the mathmagician. Ivan has been our trusty and dedicated tester and lead complainer not to mention UI consultant. Adrian of course is leading this project and is always overcoming some sort of impossible thing it seems. The magic of seeing these tools come together can only compare the the results I see you guys make!

I hope everyone enjoys this release and pray for less issues than before.

So with that I release. Boxcutter: 4 – Plasmacutter.

https://gumroad.com/l/BoxCutter#

I hope everyone enjoys this and the Hard Ops 8 Chromium release.

https://gumroad.com/l/hardops/

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Hard Ops 8 Release Notes

It is with great pleasure that I present to you all Hard Ops 8. This release was focused on refinement and cleanup. I’m sure by saying that, we have cursed ourselves with new bugs. In the rush to 0079 it became apparent that a moment to reflect and refine existing systems while cleaning out antiquated code was needed. This release is a multi-part where we will expand on the 8 release with additional features. I just wanted to get you guys on the same page so I can at least demo the software without being in the future.

https://gumroad.com/l/hardops/

DO NOT USE INSTALL FROM FILE. IT WILL NOT WORK! Also user defined directories have issues also!

I recommend putting the contents in the zip in the Blender Add-on directory of the system. Installing from file may have an issue.
My installation path is here on windows.

C:\Users\ME\AppData\Roaming\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.77\scripts\addons\HOps

On Mac : RMB on the blender.app and select show package contents

On Linux: ~/.config/blender/2.77/scripts/addons

Updates of 0079

So first things first. Hard Ops has a different drawing system. This differs from 007 and 0079. The initial system was designed by myself and JL, however for this release AR took a shot at redefining the Hard Ops drawing. This was something we were experimenting with in 0079 however now it a part of Hops 8. This is still something being refined and we have much more planned for the updated drawing system.

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Old System

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The newer system is a bar at the bottom of the screen and was just an idea to make it more appealing in full screen. Also to try and present it as a notification.

Pro users can turn it off if needed but we still want to add clickable behavior to the text itself so that might be a thing in the future. As I said this is just the start.

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Enable Tool Overlays in Drawing Tab

The drawing panel is a new addition to Hops 8.  This is where the features get interesting.

Hard Ops >> sets Hard Ops theme to my settings (I like color)

AR>>  sets Hard Ops to Adrian’s Settings (he is a plain grey guy)

ThemeGrabber>> sets theme to theme based off of current Theme.

The theme grabber is one my favorites because no matter the theme you have. We can make Hard Ops fit for you. So I would recommend the theme grabber to all. However two alternative preferences exist.

The themegrabber was quite important to me personally and I pestered AR alot in order to fine tune it to be the way it is now. For customization, the border color and secondary border color are the two main ones that you want to change if setting something manually.

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Themegrabber with multiple color sets based off themes

The drawing is just a small part of the improvements we have in store.

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The New System

 

So the dependency mirror mirror has also been integrated. This means you no longer need mirror mirror. This was done so that it would be integrated into the new drawing system as well as expand on it in the future through Hard Ops and begin connecting it with BoxCutter.

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Disable Mirror Mirror for Hard Ops 8

The hotkeys of alt + shift + x / y / z for mirroring across a specific axis is also still present and will resolve the hotkeys if you disable mirror mirror before activating Hops 8.

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MirrorMirror in Hard Ops 8

The new features added to the Hops system we’re about to go over aren’t the most glamorous but definitely have their uses.

The first is Demote. This is an experimental option that simple removes crease and bevel width while keeping sharp. This is part of a workflow I have been experimenting with called Demotion. Which is basically the idea of removing bevel weight and immediately beveling manually. I use this feature quite a bit so it has been added to the edit mode Q menu if pro mode is enabled in preferences.

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After demoting a selection I am able to bevel it manually. This is something I want to expand on further however at this time. It is a manual form of cstepping in my opinion.

Technically it is the clean ssharps without the clean sharps checked. Its just quicker than clicking that and pressing F6 then clicking twice.

So the next essential but less exciting idea is sstatus reset. When you take a mesh and csharpen it. It’s sstatus changes and therefore so does the Q menu that comes up. When you want to reset it back to the start without affecting the mesh or modifiers, you now have status reset. It is like status override except the only state you can return the mesh to is undefined meaning it is handy for starting over the Q menu process. I may do a video or blog post explaining this down the road. But the idea is that the menus will realign due to workflow and be adjustable for particular workflows and adjust dynamically.

This is all theoretical at this moment but expect it to be fleshed out by project’s end.

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In the above image, I went from  undefined, to csharp to cstep and back to undefined in order to keep the menu showing the items I want.

This is aimed more for those who are quite familiar with the ideas behind Hard Ops and are utilizing the sstatus system.

Additionally there were many glitches that were nuances that  have been resolved.

Csharpen / Cslice / Rebool – now keeps your bevel information without modifying it at all.2016-05-27_22-43-09.gif

This was a glitch since the start and was something I was used to. Over the course of Hard Ops it was harder to find but come version 8 it was resolved as soon as it was pointed out.

There was also quite a bit of code cleanup so I expect a few bug reports. The benefit is its lighter to load and isn’t wasting your memory with antiquated operators that have been remade many times over.

Boxcutter integration was also a large focus for Hard Ops 8.

https://gumroad.com/l/BoxCutter#

While Boxcutter is a separate project with a separate team the leader is our own AR. We have been working on both Hops 8 and Boxcutter at the same time and there have been many small improvements made to empower both tools.

This part is about Boxcutter integration.

When you draw a mod shape now the mesh is given a status that gives it a special menu. This menu allows for Hard Ops functions to be used quickly for box cutter mod meshes.

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BoxCutter 4 Coming Soon

This was something I discussed quite a bit. The ideology of box cutter is no menus and panels. So the connection with Hard Ops was a no brainer. Now boolshape meshes will have a menu with bwidth (which applies no sharpening), array and tthick (which allows you to panel a boolshape instead of cutting).

If you want to make the object real. That is what the sstatus override is for. To reset the status and start over.

The integration go a little deeper however on the surface this is what is most noticeable. You are also able to use mirror mirror with modshapes in order to boolean with symmetry.

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Mirroring Boolshapes

This is something we may expand on even further in the upcoming updates however this covers most of what is new in Hard Ops 8!

Also 2 new inserts! I meant to add about 20 more but that may come later when the new system is in.

Box cutter logo and copy machine button panel. Just in case you need some buttons.

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In closing Hard Ops 8 is a release that we plan to expand on within the 8 series with a few more special features that aren’t ready just yet. We have significant changes planned and can’t wait to show you what that is. So you won’t be hearing about Hard Ops 9 just yet. This update still is in development. So like the 0079 release I try to release it earlier to allow more time to refine and bug fix after reports come in.

I thank everyone who has been a part of Hard Ops and it’s path. I am eternally proud of the works the users put out and it is always inspiring to the team as well.

Boxcutter’s latest update is out and is a massive update.

AR-Cube1

Box Cutter Guide V1

Box Cutter is released! https://gumroad.com/l/BoxCutter#

https://gumroad.com/js/gumroad-embed.js

Legacy Hard Ops users will of course receive a discount.

Box Cutter is a brother of Hard Ops and a standalone product.

IF YOU HAVE THE RED BOX DEMO ONLY THE RED BOX IS AVAILABLE.

To start it press alt + w. To draw a sub box press ctrl + left click and drag. It requires a selection otherwise it uses the selection lasso.

BoxCutter is a secondary project focusing on cutting with a different perspective than the toolset we all know as Hard Ops. They are intended to be used together however separately they still work albeit behave differently.

Starting box cutter after enabling the add on is under the hard ops T panel.

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The t-panel is worth looking  into.

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This step is important since it allows the sharpening to happen after cutting. The beveling and sharping helps in differentiating the shapes easier when they are the same color.

Also Hard Ops received a last minute update to support box cutter in the Q menu under mesh tools in object mode.

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The last one isn’t necessary however it’s there for additional functionality. The hotkey at the moment is Alt + W.

In total theres 3 ways to start box cutting.

Alt  + W

T panel >> hard ops

Q >> Mesh Tools >> Box Cutter 

That is as easy as we can make it.

Now for the complicated stuff but very fun stuff.

Firstly when you are in box cutter the screen has indicators. This is important. Very very important.

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The box on the right is AR’s idea of indicating Box Cutter mode. I wanted it red but haha its grey. On the left is the Cutter indicator.

This is something you want to be aware of.

D – changes mode (Box , Circle, Ngon) for now (while in box cutter state)

Esc cancels

So basically in Object mode you can use D to change cutter mode. And cancel with escape. You want to cancel when you aren’t using it since we currently are still dealing with it. You can open multiple box cutters on top of each other by accident. Which is unexpected and unwanted behavior.

So now lets get cutting!

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Holding down ctrl allows for you do cut out a shape in a box that you draw.

However this has a modifier to it as well. Holding alt while drawing makes it cut to the depth level of the 3d cursor!

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This is quite an interesting behavior when you want to control depth however we are still examining other options. But there is more to it than even that.

If nothing is selected you can draw a white box. This is just for creating a quick box.

 

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With nothing selected it draws white boxes and with a selection it draws a sub box. If you hold ctrl + shift when drawing with nothing selected you will draw a box from the 3d cursor’s position.

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This behavior is intended for speed so pressing things without being aware can make for a crazy experience. Kinda like opening Zbrush for the first time.

While the sub and additive brushes seem awesome the real favorite for me is the slicer. This brush will slice out the mesh into a new section similar to the rebool but with a whole different perspective.

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Holding ctrl + shift will bring up the slice/rebool box. The same modifier of shifting to alt during still applies for cutting with depth. The way Box Cutter is setup is that you can make quick cuts in quick succession then go in for the kill with finer detail and Hard Ops based workflow.

Admittedly this will take some practice but hey this is version 1. As with Hard Ops we plan to make large improvements over time and refine it the level of what we consider “finished”.

When it comes to the art of cutting in Blender it goes without saying that guidance edges are as important as ever when it comes to performing booleans successfully. So additionally the option to fast bisect has been mapped to ctrl + D. Pressing it will take you into an edit mode setup where you can quickly click drag and bisect.

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For this basic example it is overkill but in the thick of things this is a very useful tool to ensure your bevels and booleans are working together. Otherwise this method of creation can become a game of luck when eventually you hotline and have to undo.

Additional shapes exist with the same behaviors like ngons and circles however they are more experimental at this time.

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Ngons exist too but they’re my least favorite at this time. And also are the most experimental.

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You have to click to start which provides no feedback until the 3rd point or so. This behavior I feel will be the hardest to get used to however it is available for those who want to use ngon shapes.

We still have much more planned on expansions for this in the future so stay tuned for more information. This wiki is a bit short at this time however a more detailed one will follow.

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Notes. Esc ends box cutter. End box cutter before closing your scene or opening files. The red border is to let you be aware of box cutter mode. So you don’t accidentally press alt + W twice.

ToyDeuxExplosionHi

Hard Ops 0079 Update

 

It is with great pleasure that I announce the release of Hard Ops 0079. The intermediate release on the road to Hard Ops 8 and the last of the 007 series.

https://gumroad.com/l/hardops/

It was intended to be a small bugfix but has become a very nice release.

I’ll start off talking about the most exciting part added.

UV Preview!

I even made a whole video about it.

2016-04-17_09-33-14This was a feature I had dreamed about for the longest and it was made possible via your friendly neighborhood Python.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5ABAuGEvBMmau-1xJsNw6w

Plus he recently updated Animation Nodes!

In case you weren’t familiar, there was a UV unwrapping script made by PLyczkowski that was being used in Hard Ops.

https://twitter.com/PLyczkowski

Previously there was Punwrap and Cunwrap. However that might have been overkill and not clear so they have been combined into a new unwrapper called the X-Unwrap.

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It does the functions on both of them however its just a quick and dirty unwrapper for hard surface meshes. We have also made some additional improvements for ngons and cstepped meshes. Which is where this thing really shines. Sometimes you just want to unwrap and move on. Especially with pieces that aren’t the forefront. It really exists just to make it easier for people using texturing suites like Quixel or Allegorithmic.

In other news there is also a Pro mode for Hard Ops now. It can be enabled in preferences and is disabled by default. This isn’t a pro mode as much as it is a way to keep Hard Ops under control.

I personally tend to take clicks, double clicks and repeated clicks into consideration. So some of the parameters exposed are my way of testing alternative ways of doing things however they may not be best for new users and users not familiar with my way of working. To new users coming to Hard Ops it might be overwhelming and confusing especially since most of the things done are under the hood.

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Hard Ops Without Pro

Hard Ops without pro options is pretty straighforward. It is as direct as I can simplify the menus at this time however I am looking into ways to having the operators act differently as well.

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Hard Ops Pro mode with and without

So you can see all the additional options that are enabled. These aren’t used by most people however now it can be a choice and we can make a cleaner Hard Ops. I might begin polling to see how people are handling functions and which ones they like and maybe a vote for revamps or something.

Speaking of revamps. AR in the shadows always improving things, has improved the Tthick to an amazing level. Previously the Tthick was adding a solidify however I wanted to use this as a tool for robot workflows by being able to shift the thickness offset and rim primarily to get a very specific and interactive solidify.

During Tthick you can press 1,2,3 to toggle -1,0,1 offsets on the solidify. This was a very exciting feature and I did a whole series of robots as a result.

Image series: H6

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Super Saiyan Bankai Tthick

So did everyone like the modifier helper? I hope so. It’s one of my favorite additions to Hard Ops. Thanks to MKB, AR, and everyone else it has been expanded! Now in additions to modifiers you can also adjust materials on a basic level. It’s still a work in progress but I didn’t want to hold up the release on a material panel.

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Material Helper V1

The material helper is part of my lifelong dream to use blender with no UI until I need it. The power of python astounds me repeatedly when I keep telling myself I’ve seen it all. Blender and its expand ability and customization is top notch compared to other software and I hope the spirit of 2.8 is still that same power in the hands of the users. Everyone should code something in some way. It’s the best way to understand this dragon called Blender.

Radial array is also added in the preliminary stages. I want to have it be less destructive on the meshes being rotated but it’s a nice start. Jyri wrote it a version ago and I forgot to enable it! It might be added the the Q Array as an additional functionality but that’s for the future. Atwist 360 is also still available. However this might replace it once it comes to fruition.

http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?390354-Blender-Astromonkey

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Radial Array

 

 

 

Some of the additional options are status override and status reset. These two are under pro options but are a fun time when you get to using them.

The 3 options at the top of the Q menu change according to mesh context. There is also a panel to change the context of the mesh manually basically allowing you to override your workflow with Hard Ops. This sounds boring in context but in usage is quite exciting since you can force the mesh into different workflows.

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So being able to work like this opens up new possibilities for me however when going from cstep to csharp you will want to use a larger angle than 30 degrees for recalculating bevels in order to prevent ruining your mesh.

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Meshtools Extended

Inside of meshtools is the status override we discussed previously. However there is also the status reset. This is the most used part of status overide. Just reset it back to undefined. By doing this I can start over at any point on the mesh and use the basic options to work.

If you need help spacebar >> learning >>

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The tools are just as important as being able to teach people how to use it effectively. I read a review where they said there wasn’t enough training. So I took it to heart and tried to fix it for new users or those who could use a helping hand. Same goes with criticism and comments. I take it all into consideration. Negative or not and try to find what information can be used to improve the user experience. People get passionate about their buttons… I understand.

There’s many more improvements and resolutions for previous glitches not to mention new ones added. I’m sure I am also missing more new features but I’ll leave that for the users to discover.

So I hope everyone enjoys this latest update from TeamC and thank everyone for reading this and your support. It keeps this product alive.

Also if youre making awesome stuff with Hard Ops let me know! I’m always looking for more operatives to add to the gallery!

Substance Painter_2016-03-27_08-05-49

Setting Up Blender For Success

When it comes to using Blender I feel that the user experience presented is as important as the tools when it comes to working in 3d for extended periods of time. I always talk about what I call setting yourself up for success, or starting Blender in a way that doesn’t hurt the eyes.

While I personally try to keep Blender as vanilla as possible I felt it would be good to make a post discussing my default scene and workflow.

When it comes to storing your default scene. Its as simple as ctrl + U in the 3d View. You will get a box confirming the save which will ensure the next time you open Blender it will be exactly like that. This is important since you don’t want to have to deal with mapping every time.

Ctrl + U – saves user pref

Ctrl + Alt + U – open user preferences

The first SFQ to take care of is my theme. I don’t download themes from other places because then I’d have to link them but the defaults that come with Blender suffice. I am also using the one from Steam so your themes may differ. Just go in user preferences and change it. Its refreshing to change it from time to time to something that matches your mood or project. It helps me get into the zone.

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While you’re in preferences I also enable the plugins I need and set up Cycles to use my GPU under cycles but thats beyond the scope of this post. However I do want to point out some useful things that might be worth pointing out.

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In the 3d view of user prefs there is an area where you can adjust the size of vertices and outlines. In certain cases where the geo isn’t very dense I like the larger verts. Just something worth checking out sometime if you haven’t.

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Enabling region overlap allows the T and N panels to be transparent. This is also handy for being able to close and open the panels without interrupting view-port renders plus it looks futuristic!

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Strangely enough. I also like setting my smooth view up high like 800 so the transitions from the numpad keys are gradual. Also the numpad period focus (.) is also more graceful. These things are cosmetic but it makes Blender feel more tactile to use.

Now at this point I also want to discuss quick prefs. This is an add on that you can get here.

https://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts/3D_interaction/QuickPrefs

Once installed and enabled you can use this to change the default viewport shading. Personally I find this to be one of the most essential cosmetic changes I do to Blender.

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Between the default and the Dark Grey the way the forms are being presented are much different. As strange as it sounds, I feel this improved the quality of my modelling immensely just due to the fact the initial presentation of default shaded meshes might not be the most efficient for someone like me.

If your thought is, “Why not matcaps?” Well. Do that. But I prefer the feeling of the Dark Grey. So this is turned on by default and set as my default scene so now we are almost set.

The next changes are strictly for those who model with this sort of workflow and may not be efficient or handy for everyone.

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Select boundary loop is remapped to shift + ` in edit mode. This allows me to make quick selections and then get the border only. Its very quick for panel related things.

The other is mapping the mark sharp and clear sharp to alt + and shift + alt +.

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This is more of a preference however I find it useful in some situations not as many now that Hard Ops exists.

I try not to stray from the defaults too bad in case I have to use another PC or my settings are lost. So theres also pie menus you can enable to make life easier but so much additional workflow changes at once can make Blender feel alien.

Another thing is on layer 0 of my default scene is a material sphere.

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It contains materials for the blocking in phases of modelling you often see in my videos. When it comes to texturing I lean more towards PBR in my current work however having some basic materials can make quick modelling session alot easier. I gathered my materials from various sites like Blendswap and the B-wide Node collection.

http://www.blendswap.com/blends/search?keywords=materials&is_fan_art=1&blend_license=&render_engine=&sort=downloads&direction=desc

https://bwide.wordpress.com/node-groups/bwide-nodepack-for-blender/

I must also stress that having too much clutter in your default scene will make life harder so don’t go bananas gathering materials and building the hugest set of unusable materials on earth. Find those that work for you. Fine tune them tweak them and make them work for you. Alot of the materials I have I customize a small amount but collecting them is part of the fun. I’m sure everyone has better solutions for this as well however on my end speed is the game so I try to keep  it all flowing.

For PBR folks.

https://matthieubarbie.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/pbr_shader-1-75-for-blender-2-73-documentation/

http://www.quixel.se/content/blender/QuixelShader.zip

 

I hope this clears up some things about my default scene and helps you to use Blender more efficiently to your needs.

If you need more help with fundamentals or getting started, I did a free course! Blending away the pain!

https://gumroad.com/l/blendingawaythepain#

In that I go over everything I can from basic modelling / rigging to compositing. It’s just a fun trip around the program!

Also the beloved. Blender Basics Recap!

In my personal work I am moving into mocap with the Kinnect One and Pro Body 2!

Pro Body 2 – Download Trial / Buy

If you try it get the Xbox One Kinnect and an adapter not the one for Windows!

Substance Painter_2016-03-20_02-46-23

Blender/Substance Multi-Mesh Baking

Deux was modelled using Hard Ops 007 (https://gumroad.com/l/hardops/)

Also shoutout to JayM for helping me out with this even though I was quite upset at the amount of work it was taking.

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/0ErDe

So lets begin! I would recommend reading those two links.

http://polycount.com/discussion/81154/understanding-averaged-normals-and-ray-projection-who-put-waviness-in-my-normal-map/p2

http://polycount.com/discussion/147227/skew-you-buddy-making-sense-of-skewed-normal-map-details

These are a couple of good reads about normals. Earthquake is my hero haha.

I recently got Substance Painter 2 and it was a blast! However I felt the need to do some rebaking to get a better quality product. It was fine for a demo but lets face it. These bake errors are unacceptable in normal situations. So let’s get baking.

Substance Painter_2016-03-17_00-39-45So in the above image you see the test bake or the initial bake.

The iris area especially took the baking hard. Details are in the wrong areas. Without the color it would be more apparent.

Substance Painter_2016-03-19_15-29-02

Here you can see the bake in all of its glory. Now for the record. I exported the high. Exported the low. And then just baked from one to another. It’s the easiest way but its not recommended or practical unless you like cleanup. So let’s talk about fixing this.

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This is the high mesh. I made it using Hard Ops. After the process you see in the video I retopoed it and uv unwrapped it.

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I must admit in the earlier version of Hard Ops I was using unwrapping the highs and texturing them because real geo doesn’t need a normal map. However all the useless interior faces inside aren’t optimal for UV layouts. So instead just retopo.

If you don’t know what to do for retopo you have several choices. Icetools, Retopoflow, RetopoMT the list goes on. However you retopo it doesn’t matter. At the end we have both a high of 404k and a low of 3.5k. So now lets get exported.

The export process is important to how the meshes will behave in Substance Designer / Painter. Usually I’d join the low and send that out and do the same for the high. However to get this to work you must work a little differently.

blender-app_2016-03-19_15-44-43

Instead of keeping all the meshes together. I named them all correct names with the suffix  of _low. We will be able to export it all as one at the end but in Blender the naming is important.

So now I export the mesh.

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So I selected all the pieces and exported it. And that is how I got the low out. Sometimes I forget to resolve all ngons so then I use triangulate to just move on and deal with that later.

Now the high is a little more complicated. There might be an alternate way to this but the way I was able to get it to work after many frustrating hours is exporting each high piece with a suffixed name or _high.

As a note you dont have to do it this way. You can also export it as separate pieces but one OBJ and it will work as well. At the time of doing this I wasn’t aware yet.

2016-03-19_15-51-06

So the high as you can see is different components with naming. I just hovered over the text field and ctrl + c and ctrl + v to get the name and export. I exported each piece with the idea of what would bake well individually. So its the same as the low breakup.

So Substance Desginer compared to Substance Painter is a little more flexible with the baking since it’s node based and all. You can do it in SP the same way but I like the additional control for baking and with subsequent rebaking.

None_Normal_DirectX

So this was the initial bake. So many errors. It looked fine-ish on the mesh but this is just unacceptable.

After loading up the low mesh I right clicked it and chose bake model information. And set the following settings.

designer_2016-03-19_15-59-49

Because of the way it exported you can see all the groups on the left. You can also see I loaded up a high mesh for every group that is here. I also chose by mesh name under Match and set the AA to 8×8. This could explain why the bake took 15 forevers.

None_Normal_DirectX(cleaned)

The results are much better. Still some issues but this is much better And at least now I can proceed.

With a bake like this the model is looking better than ever and now I can begin texturing this puppy! Now while the bake isn’t absolutely perfect. The amount of cleanup at this point is almost laughable compared to the previous situation.

Substance Painter_2016-03-20_02-08-22

I hope this guide was useful and clears up some things that originally drove me crazy. Before I go one last thing.

In SP5 I can’t bake color infomation from the mesh like I can in Substance Painter. The map is just black and I try it every darn time haha. This is the only facet of this workflow that irks me. You can bake color (ID) maps multiple ways for example.

Set highpoly to Blender Internal materials and set to shadeless and different colors. Select the high and then the low and do a full render bake to in blender internal or bake a diffuse pass.

Personally I like using Substance Painter for this. I exported the high with color information in the form of material IDs when I exported it so having that on the low makes initial material allocation much much easier.

Substance Painter_2016-03-20_02-14-58

Substance Painter_2016-03-20_02-34-19

Also by isolating the highs in SP we were able to get a nice ID bake too.

Substance Painter_2016-03-20_02-36-16

Here you can see my starting ID map. This will make blocking out the materials much easier. Hope this was informative!

For the next version of Hard Ops ( https://gumroad.com/l/hardops/ )the goal is to make it more game friendly. I generally do make to’s instead of exporting the high polys since it allows for better uv control and is more efficient. I plan to add more to the playlist about it however hopefully this gives some insight on how I use Hard Ops with Allegorithmic products.

I’ll be adding some videos to the playlist about this in detail however this guide should be a good enough jumping off point.

 

Ha I can’t stop talking! This plugin was just what I needed and it was made by Pawel Lyczkowski who also made the PUnwrap in HardOps and is a fellow Substance fan!

https://gumroad.com/l/yvadI

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Get the plugin. It helps name the high and lows accordingly. It made the export process a dream. Also I remapped export to ctrl + ` for this adventure.

 

Also….

My sensei and good friend Tony Leonard is hosting a kickstarter for his book! I am lucky enough to even have a page in it! Please support his work.

Anyways thats it!

 

 

007(f)Box2(1)compSM

Hard Ops 007 Intro Guide

 

2016-02-23_09-31-55Gumroad customers… the file is in the gumroad. At the top. The latest files are always at the top.

If you have issues enabling it. Reboot your PC.

current install location:C:\Users\<USER>\AppData\Roaming\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.76\scripts\addons\

I tend to install by copying it to the folder. Not using the install from file in Blender. But whatever works I suppose.

 

________________________________________________________________ 

Hard Ops has experienced many changes underneath while attempting to retain the same philosophies that have been used over the course of it’s development.

The menus have been revamped with many new options and new icons thanks to Adam Krol or AK.

blender-app_2016-02-23_02-06-17blender-app_2016-02-23_01-59-39So the menus have remained the same on the main level for the most part however the options inside are where the real changes can be found.

Its important to remember in Hard Ops.

The first 3 options are the recommended options. You should use those however if not you also have operations where you can use options that aren’t in the top 3.

Meshtools, Inserts, and Settings are used less often so they are the bottom. Usually the first 3 do the recommended job in most cases so it also can be an indication of the mesh status. But that is a bit of work. How about we do you one better?

2016-02-23_02-10-51blender-app_2016-02-23_02-11-47Now the 3d view has an indicator in the corner for showing the status of the hard surface mesh.

In Hard Ops as far as the functions are concerned there are 3 mesh types.

-meshes that hard ops hasn’t touched intimately. Undefined meshes.

-meshes that have been Csharpened (thus beveled)

-meshes that have been Cstepped (bevels are baked but re-added)

Understanding these 3 mesh types will ensure your success with Hard Ops. One day the process will be made easier but it’s quite easier than it was in previous versions so progress is made with every release.

Also new to Hard Ops 007 is the on screen hud. This was added by the animation nodes master Jacques himself! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5ABAuGEvBMmau-1xJsNw6w There are quite a few superstars involved in this version and code wise its more solid than it has ever been. But of course expect bugs haha.

2016-02-23_02-18-38The hud was something I wanted for a while and based off of user feedback it seemed obvious visual feedback would make things so clear.

B-Width now has an onscreen indicator thanks to Jyri http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?390354-Blender-Astromonkey in fact his postings were the reason I felt everything needed on screen indicators. He has been an important part of Hard Ops as well and was a major factor in this release.

Q-Array was added as the result of Jyri and further perfected by Jacque who I gave the code name Python because he’s a fierce coder. AR added the ability to set up 2 arrays at once on it then we realized we were making features we’d never use.

T-Thick is now T-thick2 and has an on screen hud now as well. All the visual feedback is making my goals of fullscreen working closer to a reality.

This is just the beginning. The features list was beginning to get so long that it was hard to keep up with all the changes. So lets continue with the features!

It’s not uncommon that I request a feature that is met with “that can’t be done” or “python doesn’t go that way”. However the modifier helper is one such thing. This was first implemented by my good friend, product visualizer and fellow coder Claas Kuhn https://www.youtube.com/user/cekuhnen/videos

By pressing Ctrl + (`) you can bring it up in the 3d view and edit modifiers on the fly. It was further perfected by the Python to fix glitches and now it works perfectly.

2016-02-23_02-32-39The goal is to someday open blender and press alt + F11 for full screen mode and then alt + F10 for full screen 3dview. With this addition, the goal is even closer and I plan to expand on it even more to make the menu more useful. Many who are using the preview found this little Easter egg already by it is one of my favorite.

blender-app_2016-02-23_02-36-29

 

 

You may have also noticed the preferences section with recommended add-ons. I have always recommended particular add-ons for the utility and functions that they offer that expands on the original behaviors.

If you are missing an add on it will simply show you where to get it. No errors. However some options may be missing that are special experiments with functions for Hard Ops to play off of. I am a big fan of the Mira Tool for example so in edit mode there’s a quick option in the Q for using the curve stretch when present. However this is just an extension for convenience and experimentation so it’s all unsupported. If it works for you just have fun and enjoy the ride.

Auto-Mirror is another plug I am quite a large fan of. As a left handed artist. I made a small adjustment to make it accommodate. When present in Blender with Hard Ops additional options are unlocked.

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Symmetrize Upgrade
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Auto Mirror Menus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is both a Mirror Helper popup window and an experimental option panel as well. Both of them function primarily the same however the open menu is a little quicker. It’s just something worth experimenting with as well. I enjoy the bisect and mirror behavior of the auto mirror so it’s utility in hard surface application was fairly self obvious. I do love the way it behaves.

That doesn’t mean the regular symmetrize hasn’t been left out. It has been updated with an on screen display and is now interconnected and rewritten from scratch. It also supports Cstep and Cshapen behavior so it can symmetrize and setup the mesh for cstep without messing up the bevels that were previously baked. This was something that annoyed me personally so I was glad to see it fixed.

There have been many overall fixes to the behavior and the psychology that was brought about with the introduction of the status mesh system.

What I mean by this is….

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No
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Clear Sharps HUD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When working in Hard Ops I assume by now you understand sharpening and stepping. You sharpen the mesh to perfect and set up the surfaces but once it’s detailing time you cstep it. You don’t go back to csharpen and ssharpnen then. Because the default settings will bevel your bevels. Which will never look good and can cause artifacting.

So now if the mesh is in cstep you can no longer use the sharpeners which is much better for the geometry and the psychology of the user. This update was added as the result of me watching one particular user. Who will remain nameless.

If you wanted to really reset the mesh to use the sharpeners you could always clear ssharps under operations. Which resets the mesh status.

In fact. Clear Ssharps has a hud now too. Everyone gets a hud this release. Sometimes I look over the plugin and ask. Who else needs a hud?

The addition of subsets was in the 0065 release.

These inserts are different than the regular inserts in both behavior and usage. Subsets are basically inserts that are built to be inserted within a surface and then csharpened or sstepped to integrate it into the surface. Personally I like to use cstep for this since it allows for individual bevel configuration in between bakes. However this is a finalization workflow. There is no going back. At least without a little pain.

blender-app_2016-02-23_03-03-33
Anatomy Of Subset

 

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Merge In Action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subsets are made up out of 3 meshes. Subsets also insert always to the 0,0,0 of the scene and not on faces and at the 3d cursor like regular inserts.

AP which is what you use to set it on the surface and the merge. It is an X-ray mesh.

BB which is the mesh that is being cut out to make room for the…

OB which is the mesh that is being inserted into the surface.

This is a system I have been working on so I can expand its usage even further. However in its current state when you insert a subset. It selects the AP automatically so you have to do nothing.

Except hold ctrl and snap it to the surface. After pressing G to grab.

Then shift select the underlying surface and choose merge to finish the job.

The subsets are not built to be customized but are just me experimenting with different mesh systems so for those who long to add their own assets…

https://gumroad.com/l/kANV/#

firefox_2016-02-23_03-17-10

Wazou has played a major role in the initial insert system implementation however the idea of user added inserts have been taken to another level with Asset Manager or AM for short.

Users of AM will be pleasanly surprised to see that Hard Ops utilizes the AM plugin in its menus when present. You also have an option to turn if off if you wish to keep them separate. The support of AM was an important thing to me personally and even if it’s not present you still have inserts to play with. Consider our insert system a demo of what AM is capable of.

AM would be it’s own post and they already have documentations so check it out.

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Full AM Support

While we’re still discussing inserts. The classic insert system has been upgraded immensely and is using an entirely different system. When you insert meshes to faces they are already sharpened and have material groups for quick mat layouts. They also insert in a modal scale mode so you can perfect the size before applying.

The internal process of inserts was rethought and re-coded with an entirely different approach than before. Thanks to the python the inserts are more stable and better than ever. Not to mention the on screen messages and the auto grouping upon insert.

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Revamped Inserts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The insert system of Hard Ops is quite different than previous versions and also has a tear away version so you can have it on the screen for a moment. And thats not all!

There’s now an asset scroller for cycling through them without the big window. Just in case you’d like to try it.

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Asset Scroller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Python” implemented quite a few features this release and also rewrote many of the sharpeners to increase their stability and to get them to interconnect. So Csharpen calls on Ssharpen while Csharpening.

Rebool also has support for Cstep/Sstep mode where it will keep the mesh status.

Theres many small glitches that have been fixed for example the menu not showing when nothing was selected. Or the menu not showing when there were no objects. “The Python” fixed that.

The settings area has also had some additional parameters added for convenience. For example there is an option to rename an object. Or make the name display in 3d view.

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Settings Upgrade

These were more options that were an inconvenience to locate manually. However if you think that’s it, we’re only getting started.

 

In addition to renderSet improvements I also added a parameter for the cycles samples for times when I just want to boost it a little. If you select a camera the options are a little different. This was also something that I felt needed to be done since sometimes the N panel can be a visual mess to sort and find things in.

Under Operations there is a panel you can use to set the bevel segments on an object to something else. It has been surpassed in usage by B-Width but is still available.

Some of these options may seem excessive however they are just ideas to see how well they work. I might do a poll on how some of the features are working and see about removing some but that’s for later. I like the usage at this time.

The goal is to have some smart context menus that come up with Q for particular options with parameters that are useful to the users.

 

 

 

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Camera Q Options

 

The next topic is sure to cause some disputes.

The Pie Menus have been upgraded. As have the Menus. As have the Panels. In fact completely rewritten.

Since version 006 the pies have fallen into disrepair and behind on the latest tool enhancements. So we took the opportunity to rewrite their logic and make them behave like the menus themselves.

The menus are 3 options / Operations / More Options

So that same thought process was taken to the pie menus.

While the arrangement may seem odd this is AR’s take on it for the 007 version. It contains the same psychology of the menu with the arrangement being optimal for preventing the 3 main options from being the spotlight. There are also boolean options when multiple meshes are selected thus reducing the need for the 2nd pie menu. Also inserts show when nothing is selected.

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Pie Menus In Action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pie menus had been ignored for a bit previous to this so it’s good to have them usable again. There’s even more feature and glitches to go over however this should suffice for an introduction to Hard Ops 007.

I hope everyone has been enjoying it as much as I have and I thank everyone for their support. Without the immense team you see in the credits and author list this plugin would never be what it is now. I hope that the future holds many more enhancements and improvements.

DeuxOctane12comp

Also demos galore!

So cubes are how I have come used to testing Hard Ops quickly. Over the course of this adventure I am proud to see these cubes looking more and more serious. I implore everyone to try on one before diving in just to make sure the tools are working as predicted. Its a hoot.

untitled.23

Blender: Boolean / Bevel Tip #1

Did you know you can use the knife to guide your booleans to get them to solve better for better behavior with bevelling?

2015-12-02_20-26-15

In this example I used the bool tool to cut into a cube and just used the default solution to just proceed. As you can see the corner edges provide poor guidance for the bevel that was used afterward. The narrow triangles that converge on a single point will guide the bevel in that direction causing issues. This is something best realized by experimentation but it can definitely cause some issues.

Now for my solution. Guidance edges.

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On this 2nd example you can see me go in edit mode and use the knife with (K) and also (Z) to cut through and (C) to constrain and cut a line through before applying. The result was a support edge that isnt connected to the poles that are in the corners. Allowing me to get more versatility with the bevel modifier and the subsequent bevels.

So what happened here? Well the boolean has to solve and place connecting edges somewhere and the place it puts them isn’t always the best. In fact lacking these sorts of adjustments will make subsequent bevels more difficult due to trouble exponentially increasing with each poor solve. I feel this is part of why people don’t care for booleans and bevels but there is a system that gives control back to the user.

This is a behavior I take advantage of frequently to basically boolean to my advantage and get away with doing less cleanup.

I hope this tip helps and happy blending!

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Hard Ops has been released on Gumroad and is going beta very soon! Be sure to get it while the price is low! Guaranteed awesomeness and definitely worth the cost.

 

https://gumroad.com/l/hardops/