Rendering EVE Models 101

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This is a syllabus for a class, intended primarily for the teaching staff.

Teachers should review all information for accuracy before preparing or presenting a class.
This syllabus should only be used as a guide -- ensure there is added value for students rather than simply reading this document.


Contents

Class Information

This chapter contains the standard information of this class pertaining to scheduling and class contents. The General Information should be sufficient to create a proper class topic for scheduling on the Eve University forum. Additional information relevant to the teacher is listed under Notes for the Teacher.

General Information

Illustration link for class description on the Eve University forum: http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/w/images/2/27/Punisher_pochacco.png

This class describes the basic steps required to convert an EVE Online model to allow rendering within the free Blender software, using all free tools: TriExporter, GiMP, and of course Blender.

This class is not intended to teach students how to use the tools, and so at least a basic understanding of the tools themselves will be helpful. Those of you who are brand new to the tools are more than welcome to attend. We will only be using the most basic functionality, and so even beginners might be able to follow the lecture. This is not a hands-on interactive class, and so students do not need to have the tools already installed.

  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Location: Lecture only

Class contents:

  • List of Tools and Plugins Needed
  • Exporting the Data: TriExporter
  • Translating the Maps and Textures: GiMP
  • Compositing and Rendering: Blender
  • Q&A

Student requirements:

  • Mumble registration and access - make sure you have Mumble sorted out and operational well before the class begins. Use this guide for set-up: http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Mumble
  • Access to the Class.E-UNI in-game chat channel

Additional information: This class is primarily lecture followed by Q&A.

Notes for the Teacher

IMPORTANT: Although the class is designed such that the students may not need any experience with TriExporter/GIMP/Blender, the instructor must be at least somewhat familiar with these tools. This syllabus does not list step-by-step instructions. It assumes that the instructor knows at least how to perform each step, which is reasonable because the students are certainly going to ask questions beyond the exact steps covered. It is not required that the instructor be a "Blender professional", et. al., but s/he should at least have a general idea about what each step is accomplishing and why.

IMPORTANT: It is extremely difficult to simply describe how to use all of these tools and the steps that need to be done. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that this class be taught using a live streaming resource. (The first iteration will be taught using Justin.tv/Twitch.tv.) However, not all instructors will have the access and know-how to do this.

Class Contents

Introduction

Welcome to this class on Rendering EVE Models!

This course is designed primarily for those who have at least a basic familiarity with the tools involved: TriExporter, GiMP, and Blender. Beginners to the tools will probably be able to follow, because we won't be doing anything fancy. Students who have never even seen the tools at all before and who don't know anything about them, they may have a tougher time following along but they are still welcome to attend just to see what it's like and what is involved. However, we don't want to turn the class into a beginner's guide to all the tools, because it will end up taking all day.

Over the 90 minutes or so, we shall cover:

  • List of Tools and Plugins Needed
  • Exporting the Data: TriExporter
  • Translating the Maps and Textures: GiMP
  • Compositing and Rendering: Blender

(Instructor should then introduce himself or herself - covering relevant experience level and background.)

We have a few ground rules for this class:

  • Please put your Mumble settings on "Push to Talk" if you have not already done so.
  • Feel free to type any questions in the Class.E-UNI chat channel as we proceed - I will try to answer your questions as they come during the class. [At the end of my lecture, we'll open Mumble for any further questions or general discussion.]
  • You should be [docked up safely in a station, or located....]
  • INSTRUCTOR: If also using a streaming service, remember to discuss the related stream rules. Typically, you will also want to cover questions fielded over the stream's chat channel, and also remind students that the stream will lag behind the Mumble lecture by 5-10 seconds.

Everyone ready? OK, then - let's begin....

The Tools

Exporting the Model and Textures: TriExporter

  • Setting up Triexporter
    • Launch Triexporter
      • From 'File' select 'Set Folder'
      • Navigate to your Eve folder. (Typicaly X:/Program Files (x86)/CCP/Eve) Select 'OK'.
  • Locate the models in Triexporter
    • /res/dx9/model/ship/'faction'/'ship type'/'ship'/...
    • The ships are not named as you see them in game. For example the Amarr battlecruisers are named abc1, abc2, and abc3.
    • Open the ship of choice (abc1 for this class)
    • Notice there are multiple files with the .gr2 extension. These correspond to the different resolutions.
    • Double-click the abc1_t1.gr2 file to preview the model.
      • NOTE: For some reason some models will not work, and some will even crash TriExporter!
  • Exporting steps
    • While viewing the model
      • From 'File' select 'Export Model...'
      • Export to 3D Studio format (.3ds)
    • Export the textures as a full directory because we need them all
      • Select the directory that holds the *_d.dds, *_ngs.dds, and *_p.dds files (abc1 in this class)
      • From 'File' select 'Unstuff...'

Converting the Maps and Textures: GIMP

  • Our guideline for extracting and converting all of the textures and maps
    • data from a February 2010 devblog about the new Scorpion

TexturePack large.jpg

  • The "Current Anatomy" is no longer in use
    • we will save all textures/maps to a .png format
      • standard, compressed, and lossless
  • Open all 3 of the DDS files
    • should be named *_d.dds, *_n.dds, *_pgs.dds
    • do not load mipmaps
  • Bring forward the Diffuse Map, *_d.dds
    • From "Image" mouse to "Transform" and select "Flip Vertically"
    • From 'File' select 'Export As' *_diffuse.png
  • Bring forward the Normal Map, *_n.dds
    • From "Image" mouse to "Transform" and select "Flip Vertically"
    • Decompose to RGBA
      • From 'Colors' -> 'Components' -> Select 'Decompose'
    • Exporting the Normal Map
      • Recompose to RGB
      • From 'Colors' -> 'Components' -> Select 'Compose'
      • Map Green Channel -> Red Channel, Map Alpha Channel -> Blue Channel, Set Blue Channel to Mask value of 255
      • From 'File' select 'Export As' *_normal.png
  • Bring forward the PGS Map, *_pgs.dds
    • From "Image" mouse to "Transform" and select "Flip Vertically"
    • Exporting the Specular Map
      • Hide all layers except for the Green Channel
      • From 'File' select 'Export As' *_specular.png, merge visible layers
      • Hide all layers except for the Blue Channel
      • From 'File' select 'Export As' *_mask.png, merge visible layers
      • Hide all layers except for the Red Channel
      • From 'File' select 'Export As' *_sub-mask.png, merge visible layers
      • Hide all layers except for the Alpha Channel
      • From 'File' select 'Export As' *_glow.png, merge visible layers

Importing and Rendering: Blender

  • Import the .3ds model
    • transform and set up the scene basics as you wish
    • set up some lights so you can see the model
  • Attach a global material
    • select the entire model then go to Edit Mode
    • go to the Materials tab
      • + to add a new slot
      • + New to add a new material
      • Assign to assign it to the selected model
      • exit from Edit Mode, recommended set to GLSL rendering, Texture shading
        • maybe also Smooth shading depending upon the model
  • Apply textures
    • with the global material selected, go to Textures
    • add Diffuse Texture
      • select first slot and + New, rename to "diffuse"
      • change type to Image or Movie, Image -> Open, open the *_diffuse.png file
      • set mapping coordinates to UV, map to UVMap
      • set influence to Diffuse Color 1
    • add Normal Map
      • select second slot and + New, rename to "normal"
      • again, set to Image, *_normal.png, UV mapping
      • set image sampling to Normal Map, geometry to Normal 1
    • add Specular Map
      • select third slot and + New, rename to "specular"
      • again, set to Image, *_specular.png, UV mapping
      • set influence to Specular Intensity 1, Specular Hardness 1, Blend Multiply
        • some suggest RGB to Intensity white, but base it on how good it looks
    • add Light Map
      • select fourth slot and + New, rename to "lights"
      • again, set to Image, *_glow.png, UV mapping
      • set influence to Diffuse Color 1, Shading Emit 1 to 10
      • Blend Add, RGB to Intensity Yellowish-White
    • add Paint Map
      • select fifth slot and + New, rename to "paint1"
        • again, set to Image, *_mask.png, UV mapping
        • set influence to Diffuse Color 1, Ray Mirror 1, Blend Multiply, RGB to Intensity Color of choice
      • select sixth slot and + New, rename to "paint2"
        • again, set to Image, *_sub-mask.png, UV mapping
        • set influence to Ray Mirror 1, Blend Multiply, RGB to Intensity white
  • Finalize setup, environment, etc.
    • adjust above settings as you wish
    • "the correct settings are the ones that look the best"
  • Render!

Extra: Decaling

  • INSTRUCTOR: The main portions of this class can already occupy the entire class schedule. However, if you have the extra time and the students are interested, then you may take a short break and then demo some decaling techniques. The students will probably love you for it. Note that a detailed decaling session can easily require just as much time as the original class itself, or more! (But a brief simple demo may only last perhaps a half hour.)
  • Export the unwrapped map
    • show both 3D View and UV Editor
    • in 3D View, select the model and go to Edit Mode
    • in UV Editor, UVs -> Export UV Layout, save as *-layout.png
    • open in GIMP and use as a guide layer for paint and decal layers

Class Wrap-up

  • Thanks for attending this class!
    • I would appreciate any feedback from people on how to improve the class
  • Questions ?
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