Recent Synfig Animations


My most recent two animations here were fully livestreamed on 4 sites at once using Restream service which I highly recommend if you’re trying to increase your visibility as an artist.

Anyway I felt like enough time had passed and that I might give Synfig another chance. I’m glad I did. I like it but it still lags sooooo baaaaaaad! And for a stable release, it crashed an awful lot. In the first image I did use Blender to make the background. I used Blender 2.8 alpha and rendered it in EEVEE.

The first one was just vector point animation. I don’t know what else to call it. It’s also technically morphing. I would have edited the motion had it not crashed at every attempt. So I left it as is. I really would have liked a smoother steam movement though.

Still, it’s better than nothing.

The main point was to make quality animation with freeware. It’s possible but it takes time and patience and the acceptance that the software isn’t always perfect. Synfig is a great alternative to Moho. Krita makes an excellent traditional frame by frame animation program and OpenToonz has a little bit of almost everything. But if you’re looking for a really good Moho alternative, try out Synfig.

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Blender Cycles And My Troubles


In the past I was never truly able to use it. With the exception of very basic scenes. The worst part about cycles is how slow it is to render something high quality.

This was why I started to get into external rendering. I tried all the freeware of course. I even tried trials and demos of paid software. I liked Keyshot the most. I was told to try VRay but when I saw the price, I avoided it completely.

In the end I never bought Keyshot because well, it’s out of my price range and at the time, Blackmagic Fusion didn’t have as many tutorials as it does now. And now that I’ve discovered NATRON (free) I have a lot more options for compositing and rendering.

However last year I got a new PC and it made the biggest impact on my Blender Cycles renders. Of course I can’t render any of my animations but hey, at least I can render my art now to the level I like. So here’s a few cycles renders I’ve done recently.

The last picture is a closeup of the toys. As you can see the first few are a bit noisy with some fireflies. The last three are clean and smooth as I upped resolution. It took quite some time to render. This makes me look forward to Blender EEVEE even more!

I like using cycles for toon related scenery but the render time takes so long! Currently I am researching the current freeware and opensource external rendering engines to see what I can do until the new version of Blender comes out.

Experimenting With Blender Grease Pencil


Once I saw the updates and changes in the current stable release of Blender (which is 2.7b at the time of writing this), I started looking up how to use it. It didn’t take me long to find the recent videos of what’s to come in Blender 2.8 and I am super excited! This is something I have wanted for so long in any program actually. The ability to combine and effect 2D drawings and edit them like 3D objects and light them with 3D lighting and volumetric lighting!

The Blender team have really upped their game. I am using one of the experimental builds at the moment just to check it out. I would love to post examples but it’s so unstable that it crashes anytime I attempt to render out my work. I did however manage to render this. It’s a basic toon interior bedroom model with a simple area light. Notice the lighting has effected my sketch.

untitled

This honestly reminds me of a much brighter version of a claymation set. I really like it and I can already tell that EEVEE is going to be my most favourite rendering engine yet.

From what I’ve seen where the lighting can effect the grease pencil drawings, I am just blown away. It’s something I have wanted in an application like Blender or any other 3D program. I tried doing it in After Effects but the program lags horrifically and leaves enormous files after use that it’s just simply not worth it. This is a huge game changer for me when it gets released. I am hoping they can succeed in getting it done because that will mean one more Adobe app I can ditch.

Switching To Modo


 

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My switch to Modo already looks far more attractive. I have ALL THE TOOLS I HAVE EVER WANTED IN ONE PROGRAM!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

I’m subbing and for as long as I can. Sad part is trying to DL the content is incredibly difficult. It keeps throwing a network error and I have to restart the whole process.

The transition has been quiet easy really. The only things I am finding hard is flipping normals and aligning them but I am slowly getting used to it and finding out where they are. UVing is SO easy that I found it hard because I over complicated it. And I find that funny. It used to be such a hassle before.

 

All round I am loving it! I also can’t get over the retopology tools. I like them more than 3D Coat’s retopo tools!

 

Modo is also so fast. Even rendering is quite fast. Especially when compared to others *cough*Blender*coughcough*

 

I think the biggest thing I hated about Blender was the “Holier than thou” attitude for using freeware and then do nothing to help you or mock you for not knowing. The Modo community seems far nicer so far and most of the questions you need to know are already thoroughly answered and still relevant to the current version (Current version being 11.03).

 

Anyway, bottom line is I am much happier. And I’ve been working on this since I downloaded the trial. I’m soon working on some 3D assets for Clip Studio Paint.

Where Have I Been? What Am I Up To?


This is getting asked a bit. Some may have noticed my disappearance on DA. Some are asking where am I posting art. Short answer, I’m not posting art. What I do post goes on Pixiv or tumblr. I will go back to DA eventually but I really need a break from there. Currently I’m in the process of writing two enormous tutorials and making 3D Assets for Clip Studio Paint. It’s going well so far. Here’s a few snapshots of my current works in progress.

The 3D pencil is a work in progress and very much needs to be textured on a flat material but all in all it went well. The table with cloth was more of an experiment. I’m glad it worked though because it’s opened up a lot more opportunities for me as far as background art and assets go in my drawings for things I still after all these years, can not draw in perspective.

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3D Fan Art WIP


I’m working on 2 fan arts. Both started in zbrush and only one has been moved to blender. I am a better sculptor when it comes to 3D. I can see to do everything but the face in Blender. Yesterday I took my model to topogun for retopology but it didn’t export correctly and the work I’d spent a few hours on was lost. Fortunately I found a video on how to do retopo inside blender and it worked great. Better than it use to so I managed to recover most of what I had done fairly quickly. At first I had the intentions of animating but now my only interest is posing for artistic rendering.

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The only parts I’m not looking forward to is the hair and clothing and even the eyes. I’ve always found anime eyes in 3D to be quite difficult. I won’t say who the fan art is of yet but I will be posting WIP’s along the way. Stay tuned!

Frustrated Plus Some Blender Hotkeys


[UPDATED Hotkeys added]

[Warning: Frustrated rambling. Skip to the pink heading to find the helpful info below]

It’s love hate with Blender for me. I really want max but it’s literally impossible. With how much it costs AUD, it’s never going to happen. I’ve been doing 3D solo with no schooling on and off for a couple of years, seriously in the last 2yrs. If I had to sum up all the time I’ve spent and read, I have about a year of work under my belt and that makes me sad because well imagine if I had the opportunity to go to school right. But I learned a lot. Most of it the hard way.

However before the last version came out, I was using a version of Blender that was before tabs were introduced. I personally hate the tabs and I wish there was a revert to old UI (if there is please tell me), but what annoys me most is some subtle changes in hotkeys that I use frequently and no real warning about these changes until about a week later, however some people close with development have been releasing detailed info on the changes but sometimes it would be nice if there was a constantly updated newsletter to subscribe to about such changes in stead of blog after blog that usually gives up on posting (sorry for the random rant).

To anyone knew to Blender, a new version pops up literally every year sometimes 2-3 times a year. The development team are always working hard so if you find a version you like, don’t worry because that version is always available to download despite it’s age if you upgrade and change your mind and want to go back. That’s one of the real beauties of blender. Also, I highly recommend going on youtube and searching “What’s new in Blender “whatever version you’re using” to find out the latest changes and new features. Main reason I recommend it is because not only are the videos short and sweet but they usually mention in them any major features that were dropped or added.

This is what I mean by love hate. It’s powerful, fast and relatively easy to learn, especially in comparison to certain Autodesk products. As far as performance, Max use to lag for me even on min specs doing low poly but Blender rarely lags even for some pretty high poly and intense work, and I can push my work to levels I can’t in other professional apps. But at the same time, trying to find the updated hotkeys list and other such info on the latest version can sometimes be like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. But what really kills it is the high and mighty attitude of the community towards newcomers. I do not recommend going to forums for Blender help if you are new, they can be quite rude and all things opposite of helpful. I do however recommend going to youtube before anywhere else. Don’t even bother with a Google search, just go to youtube first and you’ll likely find your answers there.

I highly, highly recommend anything by Johnathan Williamson. And I also recommend joining Blender Cookie. There’s some incredible tutorials on there.

It’s like I said though, sometimes I love Blender and everything about it and other times it just frustrated the heck out of me. But that’s enough complaining. I decided for my own personal use and to help out others that I’d list some Blender Hotkeys that I know for certain work. A lot of these I found by mistake.

Hotkeys!!

So below are some of the hotkeys and tools I frequently use in Blender and how to use them:

All of these are in Edit Mode with the exception on Spacebar and alt+C

ctrl + R and hover the area. A pink line will appear looping the area. This is good to if you screw up your edge loops and you want to check it. Left click to OK it, then move and position it and left click again. If you want it in the centre instead of positioning it, right click and it will insert in the centre.

Screenshot 2015-02-09 21.15.13

ctrl + E to bring up a pop up menu for other various things to do with edgesScreenshot 2015-02-09 21.15.48

Hold SHIFT while selecting which mode to select multiple modes. Example: Face select mode and vertex mode are both enabled in the lower picture after holding select and clicking both icons. I can now edit my model by each vertex or face instead of changing modes one at a time. (Love this feature)

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E to Extrude (no picture for this one)

Shift + E to make an edge crease. This one took me forever to find because I could only find the hotkey for old blender not new and I found this one by mistake while I was using ctrl + R.

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Spacebar for quick search. You can find almost all the commands you need if you can’t find them in the menus.

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A select all and A again to deselect all. C for brush select, right click to get out of selection brush mode and keep selection or enter. B for Marquee select. Lastly L. L selects a whole object. Say for example you have a sphere inside an eye socket and for whatever reason you want to remove it or move it from your joined mesh. Selecting a vert and then pressing L should select the sphere. You can then use P to separate by selection.

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W for some of the most used and important features. Most people only use it for sub D and Smooth (also known as Relax in other programs).

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crtl + B + drag I’m not sure what it’s called but it’s useful especially when making eyes.

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S to scale, R to rotate, G to grab/move. It’s sometimes ideal to turn on proportional editing when using grab while SubD is on. If you enable proportional editing, use the mouse wheel to expand the area of effect. Below is where to find proportional editing and when it’s turned on. Also, when using any of these if you follow straight after with X, Y or Z before you move your mouse you can snap it to the specified axis. For example press G then Z to move along on the Z axis only.

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H too hide and Alt+ H to unhide. The number of times I have hidden something and didn’t know as a newbie, is astonishing. Finding out about alt H was a life saver. (No image for this one. No point because it would be invisible.)

K to cut and Enter when you are satisfied with your cuts otherwise, right click to cancel. Now this one is tricky as well to describe. The knife tool goes in an un-breaking line much like the slice tool in Max, except you can break the knife path by pressing E. Below are to examples of using knife and then using knife after pressing E.

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P to separate by selection. I use this one a lot. Usually I make the head whole then I select the scalp area and separate it. It turns it into a separate object which I usually use for a base for hair and then later delete it to keep it low poly. It’s really useful to use.

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If you’re constantly setting the pivot in weird places press Shift+ C to recenter the pivot. For anything else such as placing the cursor yourself and snapping the object to it, the easiest way is just to hit Spacebar and type the word “cursor” and navigate from there. But if you’re new to Blender you will be constantly misplacing the 3D cursor or pivot. (no image for this one)

Alt+C to convert too. Very useful if you use grease pencil a lot or nurbs. (no image for this shortcut)

Alt + M to merge selection.

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F to fill face. If you’re super new, you need to have at least 2 verts selected. You can make an edge, a tri or a quad with this shortcut. (No image for this one.)

Click middle mouse button to rotate object view. (No image for this one.)

Shift+ clicking middle mouse button to pan view. (No image for this one.)

Middle mouse button scroll to zoom. (No image for this one.)

ctrl+ G to assign Vertex groups.

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USEFUL ADDONS! MUST have for saving time:

LoopTools: Go to file>> User Preferences>> Addons and type in the word “Loop” in the quick search bar. As shown below. Make sure to hit Save user settings then close and enjoy this amazing addon.

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Now press W in edit mode and there will be the new LoopTools at the top of the menu. This is excellent for neatening up topology among many other uses. Below shows the new menu and the use of make circle in use. Great tools, I highly recommend using them. Of course it’s not perfect but it can be an incredible time saver.

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I also recommend, but only if you have the specs to run them  becuase having too many addons can slow down Blender’s performance, IvyGen, Sapling, Simplify Curves, Bsurfaces (if you can figure out how to use it), F2, Import image as plane, Mesh Relax and Freestyle SVG exporter.

But that’s all I know so far as far as hotkeys that work in current Blender. Which, as of writing this is 2.73

If you have any hotkeys that you think I’ve missed and would like added please do leave them in a comment below for others to find and use.