Reader’s Bible

10 years ago, it was hard to find a single column / paragraph Bible (not sure if it even existed back then). Now, there are plenty! But finding the one that matches your criteria can be a challenge and pricey.

Best Translation for Starters?

When you’re first starting out, don’t be too dogmatic on things, but also don’t be quick to believe everything you read or hear. Keep an open mind, but guard it by praying and keeping your eyes fixated on the Gospel of His grace. Those starting out tend to have a lot of zeal and passion, and they see things in black and white, easy to be tossed to and fro.

There are people who will try to persuade you that the KJV is the best translation. Whether it is or it’s not, I’ll say this: It’s not the best translation for those just starting out and are coming to know Christ. I am speaking from experience here. An obsession with the KJV earlier on will stunt your spiritual growth and maturity, and make a legalist out of you.

Jesus says,

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, NKJV)

Display Tablet

A while back I wrote about [Pen or Display Tablet?]. I never got to it because of the chaos that is happening in our world. However, there’s an artist I know who had never used a display tablet before. He put the Cintiq 13HD to the test and my theory is confirmed. It is a lot easier to draw or trace outline when you actually look at both your hand and the screen at the same time. It requires less undo, and you have more chance of having the line or stroke where it needs to be.

Jesus Christ Is Risen

I don’t know when this lockdown will be over. When life will be back to normal. But in all this we have hope and know that He has risen. Death has been conquered, and because He lives we can face tomorrow and the life that is to come.

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf of springtime.” — Martin Luther [1483-1546]

The picture of death and resurrection is all around us. For example, leaves dying and rising again. If the seed is to give life, first it must die. Every night we sleep (death) and morning we wake up (resurrection). The Sun comes down and it comes up. It is sure, and certain, that one day we all will stand before the Creator. Our body will die, either of old age, cancer and sickness, or our time is up, but our spirit will rise, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2)

Acts 17:30-31 (ESV) The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

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.

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.

Recover Auto Save

Box modeling in Blender (WIP).

It’s late here and I had another window opened. I meant to close that window but accidentally closed Blender without saving the work I put on modeling the gums for the teeth. Luckily “File -> Recover -> Auto Save…” solved the problem. Make sure to always have “Auto Save Temporary Files” checked in the Preferences.

This is one of the reasons why I mute the CMD+Q (for quit) so that I don’t accidentally close Blender. Just this time I haven’t muted it since I had no plan to model anything in Blender yet. Right now just experimenting.

This head could be done much quicker with Sculpting, but I decided to go with Box. There’s something about pushing points around with the Mouse, the thrill you get… With Sculpting you use the tablet, with pushing points, you use the Mouse.

Keymap via Python

It’s too risky to manually customize your keys via the editor. I did that in the past and a newer version broke it. This time I’m doing it via scripting which is much easier and more readable! The way to go about this is create two functions, and then set/disable as many as you like. Once you’re satisfied with your customization, you put the *.py file into the scripts/startup folder.

Script: Crease Removal

This is a well known crease technique. With Blender, select a string of edges that you want to turn it into a crease, and do a Alt+V, position it, and then do a Loop Cut (Ctrl+R) in the center. Push it inward and you have a nice crease effect.

Recently I tried to reverse this via Python scripting in Blender. I knew what needed to be done but failed in my first attempt because the indices of edges get randomized after you deleted or removed any of them. It was chasing after the wind, so I thought of another way to go about it and today it finally dawned on me. This is my way of brute-forcing it, and it works, even on multiple creases at once.

This script only works effectively on a crease pattern. This can be turned into an addon and bind it to a hotkey easily. Let’s see if this can be appended to the delete menu.

Blender’s automation with Python

When I first got my own computer back in the late 90s, programming was one of the things I explored. BASIC, Pascal, Assembly etc… but I didn’t get very far with it. There was no YouTube that teach you programming at the time, and I was on my own with books at a young age. On top of this, my mind is wired for visual art and I pick things up in art a lot quicker than in programming.

Now here in 2020, there are tons of tutorials and courses on programming! What a fun time to explore programming if you’re just starting out. As for me, my passion is in visual art. The little knowledge that I have with coding are only used for automating tasks, which is the topic of this post.

Those on Windows have AutoHotkey, a free and open-source scripting language that allows users to easily create small to complex scripts for all kinds of tasks. For those on macOS and Linux, they’re out of luck because there isn’t a software like AutoHotkey for them (to my knowledge).

For Blender Artists, we have Python, built-in. I do a lot of things via shortcuts, and I have many times remapped keys for Krita and Blender. Last year when I installed a new version of Krita, it broke my keymap. The same happened with Blender. Recently I learned that if you’re going to make changes to Blender’s keymap, keep it to the minimum otherwise there’s a chance of it breaking in future version(s). They recommend Scripting and that got me looking into it.

I’m the kind of person that like my keys to be smart. I want to accomplish more tasks with less keys, which is not possible with Blender without Scripting. To give an example: The “J” in Blender is for “Connect Vertex Path.” I want the “J” to accomplish more than one tasks depending on the context. If two or more objects are selected, I want the “J” to combine (join) them into one object. If two or more vertices are selected, I want “J” to “Connect Vertex Path” but if two or more edges or faces, I want “J” to “Subdivide.” But if I’m in Sculpt mode, I want “J” to pick a “Snake Hook” brush (for example).

This setup is very powerful, and it’s how key customization should be done!