The Hess Report






The shingles needed to be mapped in a perfectly uniform manner, so I used Blender's UV tools. LCSM mapping did it perfectly the first time, without any additional work on my part. Woohoo LCSM! For the bump map (unfortunately normal maps only work on a flat plane in Blender 2.36 - it would have been great to use them everywhere), I jumped into Photoshop and created a tileable pattern. I then created and image that encompassed the entire roof, and hit it with my pattern. I'm not going to go in detail with the Photoshop techniques, as I'm a very good PS'er and that truly would be a whole other full-length feature. Suffice it to say that I created some custom brushes, then painted the dirt/bleaching/rust on the roof texture in various layers, using a screen shot of the roof's profile for positioning. Afterward, I added some noise and blurred it a bit to simulate the speckling of the shingles. From pictures I have seen, it does not appear that the actual shingles on this type of barn were speckled, but that's what people are used to seeing these days. To not include it would have been more historically accurate, but it wouldn't have looked as realistic.

Click the thumbnails for larger versions.

One thing to be careful of is to not go overboard with the height settings in Blender when bump mapping. On the foor, you can barely see the bumping. It's subtle, but there. Sometimes I see artists who need to make sure that every little bit they've worked on shows up, but it is at the cost of the quality in their finished work.

Barn Face

The detail on the front face of the barn is all texturing. I started with a screen shot of the wireframe of the barn. After deciding on a base color, I began to paint in details, like the paint runs, the rust under the electrical connections and the dirt stains under the cross piece and the center door. For the finer details, like the planks, I began in Illustrator. Illustrator lets you make arrays of objects, and in this case, I made an array of 60 vertical lines, evenly spaced. I brought those lines into Photoshop, and they became the base of my bump map. I ticked in the horizontal lines that represented plank joints by hand with a special brush, once again random enough that it looked good, but keeping in mind that someone putting together a real barn isn't striving for truly mathematical randomness. They just want to efficiently use the wood that they were provided.

Click the thumbnail for a larger version.

And here is another place where I deviated from the actual barn structure. I think that each facing strip in the real barn kit ran from bottom to top without a break. In my image, the verticals are assembled from multiple planks. The reason? The single strip method, although historically accurate, looked fake in 3D. You see it and you BS detector says "Duh. No one built barns that way." Of course, they did, but it's not a convincing visual.

I will share one specific Photoshop trick with you, as I just came up with it and it was useful twice in this image, and no doubt will be in the future as well. If you need to create variations within discrete cells, say each plank in a wood texture or each square in a silo texture, noise and nearest neighbor scaling are your best friends. Count the number of cells you want to have. In the case of the barn face, I think it was 60. Create a new image that is 60 pixels by 1 pixel. Apply noise to it - start at 40% or so - then scale it up to your full texture size, using the Nearest Neighbor method (NOT bicubic/bilinear/etc.). You will have, in this case, a nice full sized image with 60 vertical strips of varying intensities. You can use this image as a mask for colorization, adjusting levels, or anything else you would like to do to your base color map. For the silo, I made an original image that was 50 wide by 20 high, then noised and scaled, giving me a grid of 50x20 distinct cells on which to run embossing/color/blurring/noise filters in order to achieve my desired color and bump maps.


Once again, hand-painted in Photoshop, using the cell technique discussed above for the patterning on the main body of the silo. I don't usually do this, but here I layered to color maps within Blender. Normally, I do it in PS, but I already had things as I liked them with the first and did not want to mess with it.

Click the thumbnails for larger versions.

Other Wood

I was feeling lazy, so I cribbed the board textures from my dutch sheep barn image and fooled around with their contrast so the bumping was more prominent. Once again, four different boards sufficed for duplication, although each texture was scaled and moved around a bit by hand.

One of the textures used for wood. Painted in PS.

More Randomness and Complexity

The grass and trees were both too uniform color for my tastes, the trees in particular. So, to the tree and grass textures, I added two new channels that were set to World coordinates, and that added some color variation on a large scale. To test it, I applied the material to the ground object and rendered, giving a nice marbled texture of tans and greens. Once I had it subtle enough that it didn't stick out, yet was still noticeable, I added it to the materials of the trees and grass. It varied their coloring just enough to give them the last bit of realism they needed.

Also, to add one last piece of visual complexity at low rendering cost, I rendered the most dense portion of the grass from above, with an Ortho camera, using the final render's lighting setup. I took this image into Photoshop and played around with it until I was happy. Once done, I used this rendered image of grass as the new ground texture, tiled. Normally I avoid tiling. It looks like crap. But in this case, I knew that it was only to provide some complexity and the tiles would not be seen beneath the modeled grass.

Render of grass from above, used as the ground's texture map.

Galvanzied Steel

I made a nice procedural galvanized steel material for the roof vents. It might be useful to someone, so I thought I'd share it.

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