Fidget is pretty detached from HOPS and BC and is more of an experiment. However Hard Ops has an alt + V menu for viewport and Fidget pops up there was well if present.
FIDGET is a separate product that can be downloaded and installed similar to our other tools.
Fidget has many shift + w options in the node editor for mapping HOPS commands so give it a try!
Fidget like boxcutter can easily be closed with esc. Fidget will get documentations and its own blog post at a later time.
Edit Mode Booleans
When it comes to integration with new features I usually wait and experiment before integrating it in order to make sure it doesn’t disappear or change dramatically.
In edit mode you can select an object and press ctrl + alt + numpad minus or plus to union or subtract geometry.
This is less dynamic than object mode booleans but it offers exciting new possibilities as well.
Red / Green Boolean System
Previously Hard Ops had an immense amount of focus on setting up booleans then applying them. Over the course of recent work it has become needed to keep them dynamic for a little longer than previously.
To show in action. This is the classic behavior.
In the Q menu pending boolshapes will have an option for green / red.
Green will allow it to go on and be applied.
Red will stop it from being applied and allow for more adjustment.
Notice I changed it to red to stop it and keep it dynamic and live and back to green to then apply it and continue.
Sounds boring. Why is it last? Because it’s the best.
Previously Hard Ops used a combination of symmetry systems brought together but still was complicated.
Symmetrize which we modified to our needs.
Mirror Mirror a previous tool I was involved with. Now built in.
Automirror by Lampagne which was great however unification was the ideal method. So this tool is no longer needed.
The modifier helper is brought up with ctrl + ~.
The modifer helper lists the modifiers present on the selected model.
Materials and misc are the other 2 tabs. Lets look at the misc.
Expanding mirror options we can see there are now all options built into Hard Ops. And the best part is the fact that its listed in the helper means you can configure the behavior before the tool is used.
Mod – adds a mirror modier
Bisect – splits the mesh then adds the mirror modifier
Symmetry – similar to symmetrize and is a form of one and done destructive mirroring
Relink – relink will create a group instance mirrored on the negative axis of an object. This one is a form of mirroring which uses no modifier and is a group instance.
The mirroring rewrite was the biggest part of this latest update. I hope all the users come to enjoy it and without issue.
I must personally thank AR and Proxe among the many others who email me for their assistance. Its amazing this tool is still going and I hope to unveil many more ideas before we tie the bow on it!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cameras also have a Q menu. With handy options.
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.
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.
In preferences there are additional properties for the HUD and how long it displays. That way you can adjust this to your liking.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Clean mesh will dissolve all useless edges. This can be useful for simplifying meshes for boolean operations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The drawing is just a small part of the improvements we have in store.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The t-panel is worth looking into.
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.
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.
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)
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ngons exist too but they’re my least favorite at this time. And also are the most experimental.
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.
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.
So 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?
Now 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.
The hud was something I wanted for a while and based off of user feedback it seemed obvious visual feedback would make things so clear.
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.
The 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.
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.
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….
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this chapter I want to go over something that I was taught recently by a craftier modeller than myself. And that man is Adrian Rutkowski.
Vitalii “Fructdw” Vlasov recently pointed me at his gumroad collection of assorted kitbashing elements and after checking them out I was blown away. For that I thank them both for this knowledge keeps my gears moving and knowing that there is always a better way.
The alternate ways that artists manage to make the tools work for them versus my ways and habits is always a welcome thing to see. Concept artists in particular are what I call “dangerous”. They enter 3d with a multitude of skills and an artistic eye that can’t be beat with pure 3d studying (or at least for me). I see so many concept guys open the door walk in and immediately begin killing it. I must admit I was nervous when I first saw how finely crafted and modelled each piece was. My first thoughts was that cad software was used and that these parts were not possible to make with precision and care to the edges and normals in Blender.
Now before we continue I also want to add. Forget topology for a moment. I know you’re gonna say, “What about UVs?” “What about deformation?” “What about sub-d?”. Lets leave all that alone for a moment and focus on just the shape and the form. In the end that’s what viewers see. Only us 3d folk see the topology and mapping. So if you want to clean up non subdivision parts be my guest but a concepter would craftily figure out a way to make it through the project without the nuances of technical holdup.
This is a timelapse demonstrating the techniques discussed in Chapter 6 of “Hard Times and Even Harder Surfaces” which is a patreon exclusive during development. Subscribe for this chapter and upcoming ones over at Patreon!
In this blog post I wanted to go over custom normals for hard surface creation. I plan on keeping it short but still I find this essential nonetheless. Custom normals exist in most applications and is essential. Maya users are familiar with the process of hardening edges and softening them in addition to locking them down. For this quick post I wanted to discuss ways in Blender to get smooth shading without all the fuss of horrible looking edges or exact tweaking.
The first image above shows the mesh on flat shading without any smoothing. While it looks moderately acceptable, for the baking it will show unwanted faceting and make the normal/height show stair stepping that would be undesirable for the final result. When I click set smooth all my problems come to light and show the roughness of my workflow of booling insane amounts of shapes into a planar form.
Funny enough. Before custom normals were added I used to fight with this so much and would use the split edges modifier to make life easier. This also increased the vert count substantially and made the mesh denser than the process of making it which was also a bad thing.
In the object tab there is a normals tab where you can check auto smooth and set an angle as well as turn on double sided (which isn’t needed). The default angle is 180 which isn’t going to show any difference however once you lower it down to either 30 or 60 the normals begin to look much better.
The final mesh is now ready to be exported / baked or whatever I plan to. To set manual edges you can press ctrl + e >> mark sharp. This will sharpen the edge similar to how Maya has Normals >> harden edge. I use that as well for shapes I boolean into other shapes and the amazing part is the sharp edges translate well into the subsequent object along with vertex paint, materials and even UVs.
But that is all for this tutorial on custom normals. I hope this helps you in your hard surface endeavors. Also be sure to check out my latest tutorial about modelling sci-fi floor pieces using the mesh subtraction kit.
I’ll leave you with one more image showing the process on a basic cylinder to help drive the point home.
For being cool enough to read my blog I would like to also throw in a free floor! You can check it out and see the custom normal smoothing in action! Thanks again!
The hoodies, the iris and even the model and inserts! I hope you all enjoy. Deux coming soon!
Also I did a kiosk as a test of Blender/nDo and Substance Painter. Gave away all the files for that too, and for free might I add.
I did a unique type of UVing that worked around the materials that I set up during modelling. I found this to be slightly easier but we will know during the UVing and texturing phase. Also for UVing I have a tutorial that explains my workflow in depth.
I am going to be releasing the full course soon to gumroad which is a direct sequel to my last tutorial course for DPS on using Zbrush/Substance Painter/Blender. This course hopefully will expand on that knowledge and demonstrate my workflow in creating a character that in my opinion is superior to the first in both modelling and execution. I have also been honored to get advice from professionals on design aspect and how to effectively showcase the character even under all of that armor.
So recently I discovered this software called Paintstorm that is just amazing. The behavior of paint style behavior on each and every pixel that the brush touches is inspiring and intuitive. I am not a concept artist by any means but the acquisition of this fine program is just the kick I needed to move forward. I definitely recommend going to their site and picking it up!
In other news. I have been so lucky as to get mentoring from Anthony Jones on design and art in general. He has taught me so much in a limited time that its staggering so I’ve been hard at work on refining and pushing my style to the next level. At this same time I have also expanded my software collection even more and am even becoming more familiar with fusion 360. It’s definitely a learning adventure finding out how real parts are made. I did this helmet as a test to get better at overlap and making more unique designs. I plan to release the timelapse soon on YouTube after narration but I am already digging the look before refinement.
So while I’m yammering on I am also giving away stuff over at my Patreon if you’re interested in supporting me more closely on my journey as an artist. But for the people that are in support I am working night and day to give them inside access, materials, clothes, mech parts, models, etc. So also check that out if you’re interested.
I would like to thank everyone for their continued support. It’s the people that keep me going with this endeavor even as working day and night makes my body hurt haha. But seriously I’ve been hitting the PC extra hard this month so I’ve been quiet these last couple of days but I can’t wait to drop gold on my patrons and silver on my community.
I have also been doing some studies in Substance Designer to get more acquainted and fast but something I have been enjoying lately is Unreal Engine and sbar support.
By installing this plugin for substance support in Unreal you can import just sbars and deal with textures without linearzationi ssues or graph tomfoolery. I have just fallen in love with this since it just goes to show how important substance designer is in one’s pipeline. For another reason to use substance designer let this man explain it.
Really I think this is the future. Having 4-8 maps per asset and multiplied across characters can be a tedius thing to deal with and manage and this workflow is the future in my opinion and is worth a look. Allegorithmic is even having a sale right now for 40% off! So at least try the demo. Its complicated because its awesome.
Also for my patrons I am working on some sbars to throw up as well based off of stylized textures I have been admiring. One of my pastimes is taking classic textures and converting them to full PBR. So patrons, expect this little sbar soon to test in UE, Maya, Marmoset, and Unity! Still getting the grasp on making that epic mold that substance designer is known for making but that’s all for tonight!
Ugh… I’m still here. Hahah just kidding! The fabulous Skin Vibes has come up with the most marvelous of theme songs for “The Servant” (details coming soon) but I am always impressed with this man’s work. He’s also a Blender user so thats always a plus too!