Image Format: WebP / BPG

Good references is one of the keys to good art, but images can take up a lot of disk spaces and eventually you’ll want to look for ways to reduce them. In my search, I came across two formats: WebP and BPG.

As of this writing, BPG is the best overall, but it’s not widely used / supported because of its issue with licensing. digiKam can’t view BPG file(s), and there’s no easy way to convert images to BPG format for those on Mac and Linux. WebP on the other hand has good support and digiKam is able to view it, but can’t convert to it. For batch conversion, XnConvert can get the job done.

Come, my people, into your chambers

Whether you’re a believer or not, this is a good Message for such a time as this: https://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=329208320

“Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by.
For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.”
— Isaiah 26:20-21 (ESV)

During this lockdown, the wisest thing to do is “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;” (Isaiah 55:6)

Extrude, Spin, Tweak

While cleaning up my system I came across this old video by another modeler. There are many ways to introduce new flow and geometry into your mesh. Most likely, Triangles and nGons will be introduced when you use Knife, Loop Cut, and many other tools. However, if you start with a Cube and plan out your extrude(s) and spin edge carefully you can have a mesh that is all quads. This three operations: Extrude, Spin and Tweak seems to be sufficient in most cases. This type of mirror editing seems to work flawlessly in LightWave, but Blender? Nope. It doesn’t work perfectly and strange things do occur. As of this writing, Blender doesn’t do well with this Combo operation in a single-mirror editing mesh.

Digital Modeling

There are a lot to talk about down the road, but in the meantime, I want to showcase one of Xuan’s models. Visit the other post for some background.

Modeling what you see is what I called “Observational Modeling.” I call it such because I happen to do 2d and I see a correlation. Drawing what you see is “Observational Drawing.” From this, it’s not hard to see that there’s also Observational Sculpting. The key word is “observational.”

There are many ways to approach observational modeling. It’s mostly done in ZBrush sculpting (for characters/figures), and if in traditional software such as Blender, it’s done with the help of mirror and basic rig setup. But in Wings3D, it forces you to think creatively, and in this example, Xuan thought outside the box to accomplish this piece.

Getting Things Done

Don’t forget to check the APPS section. I’m always on a look out for free and open source apps to help get things done for visual artists. Obviously, apps such as Guitar and Piano won’t be listed since that isn’t something visual artists use regularly.

It’ll take a while before I really sit down to do any serious 3d studies or works because there are a lot to organize and sort through. Speaking of organizing and backing up, two great softwares have helped me greatly: XnConvert and HandBrake. Both of these apps allow you to batch convert (images and videos respectively). I have turned 73GB into 15GB!

Xuan’s Observational Modeling

When Xuan sent me these shots and said that it’s done in Wings3D, and that what I’m seeing is only 95% completed, I had a hard time believing it. If it was ZBrush or sculpting then I can understand, but 100% Wings3D? No bones, no mirror, no blueprint, and just that toy as a reference? I was speechless. My first thought was “3D scan” but I can reassure you that it’s none of that. Of course, anything is possible if you put your mind to it, but if you’re going to do observational modeling (modeling what you see) of this level and details when it comes to figure/character, then there got to be a trick. And yes, there is. Xuan will share that later on.

How do you think he did it? I’ll show more shots once I have access to the 3d file.

Xuan is a self-taught artist, specialized in 3d modeling.

[OM-REF] Black Boot

Free references for your 3d modeling practice/project. Click on the image to download. Initially, my plan was to host these files here on this site but I realized that it will eat up the bandwidth! So I decided to host it on gumroad.

There will be more of this kind of references in the future when I find the time for it. It will also be in better quality.

digiKam, the best DAM

I have searched high and low for a DAM (Digital Asset Management) software to organize my photos/reference collections for Linux, since that’s the OS I’ll be migrating to in the future. This whole time digiKam was out there, but only last night did I took the time to actually explore the app, and in my opinion it’s the BEST open source, cross-platform photo management for artists. The light/bright theme isn’t that appealing. I switched to a dark theme, and changed the font to “Roboto Condensed” and voila! Its tagging system and searching is powerful. You have to try it out and see it for yourself. And did I say it’s free?

Having a huge collection of references is one thing, being able to manage and quickly/easily look for a photo is another. That’s where’s digiKam comes in! And if you take the time to tag your photos, you’ll be able to look for whatever it is you’re after. As of this writing, PureRef can only accept one photo per drag-drop from digiKam. That mean you can select more than one photo from digiKam and drop it into PureRef and it only accept one photo out of all the selected. :(

Viewport Render Image

Left: What I see in the Viewport while modeling, and it’s what I want. Right: What I get when ‘Viewport Render Image’ and it’s not what I want.

On and off, I have been trying to solve this strange anomaly, and haven’t found a solution yet. When writing tutorials, I want to have things look consistent throughout, so this is a preparation for future modeling tutorials. I’m really scratching my head with this one. I played with all the options and can never get the Right image to look exactly like the one on the Left. Now, of course I can just take a screenshot of the Left, but that is inconvenient and has a few limitations.