The Party is Over

I’m learning Modo 701 still and I figured I’d play with materials today. I ended up making this weird tinsel thing.






And I was here

Cold landscapes explored with Artmatic Voyager. 4000×2500 px renders.

– – –

How to: Creating a Super Simple Procedural Wood Texture in Filter Forge

Somehow if you’re a 3D artist, you always end up looking for wood textures. Whether you are a student or a professional or a hobbyist, you just always run into a need or want for that wood texture. You may go on Google and search up some imagery, you can always go to some texture resource website and dig some textures up. Very cool. But what about making your own?

Important note: Now I’m going to be using a program called Filter Forge 3, this is a fantastic piece of node-based fiter/generator creation program you can use to make all sorts of stuff. In this case I’ll be using it to make the wood texture I’m talking about. Though let me tell you one thing: you don’t always need Filter Forge to do this tutorial. It kinda takes skill but you can essentially do almost the same thing in programs like Adobe Photoshop with a little bit of creativity and understanding. So it’s really not just for Filter Forge users. 🙂

Another Important Note: This is a very very simple tutorial. I didn’t include specific numbers because I think you… can really just find out those numbers yourself. 😉

The Idea

Here’s the resulting texture of the wood we’re making.

The generic wood texture. Nothing special, just procedurally generated.

Alright so it’s pretty generic but we have lots of fine details, and some patterning going on. So what’s happening here? The basic idea is this: I basically have this in 3 layers which produces the effect.

Lets Break it Down Further

Alright I want this whole thing to be as basic as possible, given that some people think this is hard. No, it’s easy. Actually very very easy. So let’s begin our journey through this texture.

The first layer is just a perlin noise pattern, the second is a perlin noise pattern with a zebra-like profile, the final layer adds the thin, noisy grains. That’s our basis for the texture. The point here is that we’re using perlin noise generators to create much of the basic look of it. And by layering them, we achieve the apperance. The rest of the process is coloring the combined noise textures in a way to convey the wood feel.

Here’s how the wood texture looks without its color.

Minus color = pretty grainy surface that looks like weird drapery and all sorts of other things.

This black and white image can become several things: it can be a bump map or a map for colorization. But we’ll skip that for now and take a look at the core construction of this texture.

The first base layer looks like this a general stretched perlin noise:

The bottom most layer looks like this.

Yup. That’s the basis. Now the second layer:


There’s a bit more going on with this layer. You can see the “zebra effect” I’m talking about here clearly. The last layer looks like this:

Tiny Grains!

Alright, so those are the 3 key layers and when combined they basically give you that black and white image map you saw earlier.

Because I’m using Filter Forge, generating these kinds of noise patterns isn’t that complicated. It does take a bit more using programs such as Photoshop though and I encourage you to experiment methods in creating those noise patterns you see above. I figure though, I’ll also make another experimental / tutorial post on how you can make those textures right in Photoshop without 3rd-party-plugins in the near future.

In Filter Forge the node structure would look like this:

Filter Forge components here...

Not that hard right? Alright, we can do a little bit of optimization here. Since I know that I can control the profile of the perlin noise patch, I can feed a curve to simulate the threshold node, hence removing 1 step of the process.

Minus one component.

It’s really up to you on if you want to do it either way. But of course, the more optimized the faster your filter will run. Pretty simple.

Coloring the texture is super simple. It it only takes 2 components: the profile gradient and elevation gradient.

Really really really simple.

And that’s really all there is to this texture! I tried to keep this tutorial as simple as possible giving you the really basic idea of how you’d go about producing the look you desire. Of course, if you want more details, you can add more grain, you can add more roughness via the perlin noise components, but ultimately what it comes down to is the layering and breaking it down into those core components. Once you define the basics, you can then move on to create elaborate, detailed textures you want.

Here’s what my wood generator looks like with all the rest of the components and controls.

Makes wood.

Sure it’s a little more involved but most of it is just a chain of alternative styles and looks just so I have a bit more control over my end result. You may be looking at this and going “that’s … complex” but really the basic idea hasn’t really changed and the additional chain of components you see get switched on or off by a switch component.

So there you go. A very elementary tutorial / introduction on how you can produce the wood texture from absolutely nothing. 🙂 By the way, because Filter Forge can make this texture seamless so this can become a nice tiling texture for your 3D scene or object.

If you have any questions or commentary just write as a reply. I’ll try to respond to them and also I may follow up with another post too.

And we’ve been done

So I thought I’d consolidate 2 posts into 1. I have more things to blog about later so I want to make this as a reflection.

First of all, matteland project, the project involving experiments into digitally painted / projection mapped environments for character animation.

Matteland project has been a big feature, even if I took the effort almost like my side-job (HAVOC was a bigger thing for me.) Either way the goal of Matteland was to bring a surreal 3D experience in 2D paintings, especially as an background for animated films. While the 3D part wasn’t THAT hard, what took longer was the 2D painting. This involved manipulating photographs using Photoshop to painting them in Studio Artist 4. It takes a bit long, since I did go about developing some techniques I never tried before, but ultimately it doesn’t look bad. Overall, I painted 5 backgrounds which 3 of them were used to create simple 3D meshes for projection purposes.

Of course, this project has 1 purpose. I’ve recently began planning my thesis project, where I do want some characters interacting in the environment. So that’s ultimately been tested out here.

Since this project began there has been several reactions one in particular was unexpected. John Dalton, the creator of Studio Artist 4 saw some potential in the senior thesis I’m headed to do. He ended up writing stuff about the whole thing. Take a look at the article here: Studio Artist News: Matteland and The Door to Tomorrow”. That’s pretty cool. I’ve been looking at Studio Artist since version 1.5 when it was first introduced to the Japanese Mac community via Macworld Japan (or something like that.) Either way, since then, I’ve always wanted the program personally. Either way, Studio Artist 4 has been the biggest part of the project and will continue to be one of the primary painting tools I’ll be using for my other projects. So stay tuned if you’re interested.

HAVOC part 1: Havoc part 1: What Your Dreams are Made of received much attention for being what it is. I’ve been wanting to do HAVOC for quite some time, and I’ve finally gotten my chance to do something about it.

HAVOC was too large though. It involved everything from recording voices (my voice), making sounds, timing things, animating, editing, making assets etc etc etc…. Being THAT huge, I think 10 weeks was simply not enough for the whole project. Somethings ended up sadly not done. I had to cheat a bit too, which isn’t always the best but it does give me a result.

Either way once I start blabing about Havoc, it never ends so here’s the final product.

So my overall on both projects. How about we’re done for now but not exactly a full stop. Of course! I’m still doing stuff to them! We’re moving on though, since if we just keep going on and on about the same thing, yea sure the thing gets better but I can’t work on my other things.

That’s it for now. The next project: The Door to Tomorrow. Keep your hopes up for that.

Production Pipeline: Getting Closer and Closer

In the last “Havoc post” I’ve shown you the assets of a particular scene in the film I promised that I would post how it would look. Well it took a while, but I did it and finished this scene off, now it just needs to be added into the film. I used Cinema4D for its super-easy-to-use clone tool and ultra fast render. Of course I can do this in Maya, I just didn’t for all sorts of reasons. Either way, The houses were modeled and UV mapped in Maya, painted using Photoshop and FilterForge. The fun stuff was in Cinema4D. By throwing the models into a Cloner Object, I can easily scatter the assets in various arrays and otherwise. I then applied a Mograph random which allows me to scatter the objects all over the place. I have control over the size and rotation as well giving me further randomness.

Rendering this is actually the cool part. Cinema 4D’s render engine is super robust. When I say robust, I really mean speed. I baked all the GI first per frame. This is mostly done automatically, though I enabled a couple settings to help the speed up the render. Further more, I optimized this render by baking some of the lights. It’s easy as Maya’s light baking, though at the same time there are several more interesting options that give Cinema4D’s light baking an further edge.

Either way here’s a sample of the render. You can click on it to see the large image.

The animation took around 3 hours to render, kinda long, but it’s with GI. I don’t think it’s not that bad. Anyway, I wonder if I should spoil the ending for this post as it is something I want to leave it quiet till the end of the animation. OR you can totally spoil it for your self by viewing it here:

The other thing I wanted to show was the compositions (layering) in After Effects. You can click on the image below to see the structure for yourself.

I also added a very quick and simple (and realistic) eye blinking within After Effects. It’s missing the eyelashes right now, and I have no idea when I can actually accomplish this within time. The hard part is the animation. We need to get that done first.

Havoc in Comps

That’s it for now. It’s almost there, it just needs to be done now.

EDW: Forcing Things to Work

I haven’t updated in several days! What’s happening with the perspective project you may be wondering? Let me explain what’s happening. So back several days ago, after the critique, I began playing around with the scenery again… which resulted in unusual renders. Here are some below.

The geometry
What the?!


I must be using the wrong settings!! That’s how I thought, so I just went back and changed some of the parameters around. I made sure everything was based on the tutorial. And here’s basically what happened….


Much like modern art. I'm selling this for $10,000.

… wow. But I see the problem. First of all, the image was not lined up correctly with the image itself. While I made sure that the settings in the image plane were the same in the projection node, I did not realize that if these two don’t mach, you obviously get a messed up result as you see in the two results above.

I decided to take a notch back. I’m not giving up just yet, no, NEVER giving up because this is what I wanted to do to begin with. So I thought I should find another image and give it a shot.


A simple image instead of the painterly one.

Here’s the new image I’ve been using since last week. This image is just easier to work with (I personally think.) So lets start with the basics. I first begin by drawing lines. Not just any line, a perspective line so I can tell where the horizon line is.


Some perspective lines were drawn into the image.

Great! Now, I want to note a couple interesting things I noticed about Japanese architecture. Unlike a grid-based approach to city planning, Japan takes a more organic approach to city planning. Meaning, that the city respects properties owned by people. Which results in a very complex system of roads and “blocks.” This makes home making incredibly weird since you want to use the maximum space possible while abiding all building laws. So, you end up building a house conforming to the roads, the given land space, and laws. This results in the unequal, shifty home design that breaks that clean grid look. Nothing in that image is a straight line. It’s somehow curved slightly.

So what does that have to do with anything? Basically this: determining perspective from squiggly lines from uneven building constructions and roads are hard. I had to really nail it but even with these perfect looking lines, the whole perspective is off. But whatever. It seems relatively ok, and I know I don’t have to go into so much depth.

Either way, I followed the same steps as above, I determined the sensor size, focal length, and finally the perspective on the camera. Then I began throwing some simple geometry down. And this is what I got.


Attempt 5

After five attempts over the course of 3 or 4 days, I got this to work. And it was ridiculously easy. I wondered why it was so easy that I wondered what the trouble was after all. But ok, lets get back on track. Now we want to cast some textures on these simple geometries.

Here we go!!

Next step: Render

IT WORKS!!!!!!!

All that trouble really paid off. The quality is a bit low, but that’s because the image quality to begin with wasn’t that high. We need to obviously fix a couple things, but overall, it works.

Lets try changing the angles a bit.

Awesome happens.

We have some limitations.

In the end we have limitations to this approach. You can see where I drew the arrows, the image is doubling. We also can see some significant blurring. This can probably be solved by using a larger image resolution at the cost of render times.

It’s been a very long post, but this is basically where I am now and what I’ve been hacking at since last week. Overall, it’s pretty easy BUT it gets hard after a while, I mean very tricky. Now I’ll have to edit the photograph so it won’t have any telephone poles and otherwise. I can add those in later as a separate layer.

Where next? Next? I’m planning to obviously get back to that painting somehow. I have no clue if it will work, but I know if I take it step by step it’ll work. Otherwise I’ll force it to work.

The other thing I was thinking of was extracting the textures from each face of the building for UV mapping. And I may go about doing that for this project. So next part: 1. Getting that painting working. 2. More photos to have fun with. 3. Trying a further defined approach (texture extraction from photographs.)


Production Pipeline: HAVOC is finally a Film

I’m finally up and running with HAVOC! It’s week 5 and I feel a bit rushy but I have to get going with some of the defined parts of this film since I only have 3 or 4 weeks left!! For your entertainment, however, I thought I’d just put the full length audio online. I’m probably going to cut several parts, change some of the sound effects, and if you have any suggestions / critique, now is the time! Otherwise I have to set everything down and really get going with the animation / animatic and otherwise. So I basically have 3 or 4 weeks to finish this… huh… now this is going to get very tricky. I’m scheduling my much of my time on this project, but of course I have other things to attend to. Balance… balance… balance….

Where’s the video? The link’s below this sentence.

Also some screenshots.