Tachikoma arms

Arm comparison. Is Smooth or Flat shading better?

More work on the Tachikoma.

Mine is on the left, and has been selectively Smooth Shaded.

The finger parts were the toughest parts of this batch, though they might not look it.

Furthermore, the fingers are really very simplified compared to the opening sequence of the series.

Tachikoma Hand Reference

Also, the original model had a cylindrical drum-magazine that look weird and out of place – so I deleted it. I now see that there is in fact a magazine attached to the arm (though not much like that in the source model). That definitely has to be added. Total redo of the fingers will just have to wait till its time to start a second, much more detailed version.

Looks like the flat light grey texture will need to be upgraded to a shiny metal at some point as well.

Tachikoma progress

So far so good, I suppose:
I’ve been able to reduce the vertex-count by roughly half without sacrificing detail.
Biggest Problem so far:

  • Boolean modifiers. Cutting a cylindrical hole into a mesh produces really nasty streaky junk around the edge of the boolean-cut, where blender makes many small faces.With Shading set to smooth, it looks uneven and puckered. (click the images for larger version, to see the problem more clearly.)
  • Looks organically wrong. Or wrongly organic. Flat shading. Totally angular, dude! Smooth, with flat shading on the faces surrounding the cut-outs. Best I can get 😦

A Good Tachikoma is Hard to Find…

Best I can find (for free) is on the Google 3d Warehouse site. It’s by ALM Modelling, and is absolutely beautiful. Really nicely detailed. Getting it into Blender was a pain – the Collada formatted file imported as a billion emptys and no geometry data at all. Had to use the online sketchup convertor to get it into 3ds. Importing it into Blender results in a scary list of errors, but the model itself imports okay. Except for:

  • It’s huge! It comes in as a zillion individual meshes all named “node####” and bogs down both machines I’ve put it on (neither of which are powerhouses, but should be able to handle a model of this caliber better)
  • Many more mesh/parts than are needed. Many should be consolidated. This is probably a result of the conversion from sketchup -> 3ds -> blender conversion
  • Triangles. ‘Cause triangles are _bad_, mmmkay?
  • Some things are a bit misaligned. Not much, but enough to be asymmetric. Needs fixin’.
  • Nothing is parented to anything.
  • It renders just horribly, due to (I think) a desperate need of retopo.

    .3ds version renders like this. ewww

  • Not rigged. Sure, I knew it wouldn’t be, but I want a rigged tachikoma.

So let the conversion begin!

  1. name the blenderfile I imported the .3ds into something like tachikomaRetopoAttempt01.blend.
  2. create a new .blend called tachikomaRetopoDest01.blend.
  3. (in the “source” file)
    • a – create a new scene Scene02
    • b – in main scene, select one part to be converted, and move it from layer1 to layer3, and also Object/make links to Scene02
    • c – save source .blendfile
  4. (in “destination” file)
    • a – File/Append sourcefile’s Scene02 into destination file
    • b – in scene02, Object/make links to scene01
    • c – remake/retop/remodel the part. When finished, move new version to layer2 and delete original from layer1. Also delete scene02.
    • d – save
  5. 4 – open “source file” and
    • a – move from (in main scene) layer3 to layer2
    • b – delete object from scene02
    • c – go to main scene, pick another part and repeat the procedure.

As I’m not a terrifically good or fast modeller, this is going to take me a while. My plan is to do a few pieces each night, and hopefully I’ll end up with a good, blender-native tachikoma which I will then upload to blendswap.com.

Really good blender tutorials and tips

(none by me)
Blender resources:
-tutorial sites
http://www.blendercookie.com – (recently renamed to cgcookie.com) Oodles of good tutorials ranging from beginner to advanced. David Ward’s are my personal favorites, though Jonathan Williamson’s aren’t bad either. My “goto” site for tutorials.
http://www.blendtuts.com – Best overall intro to the blender interface I’ve seen. I’m not sure what sort of accent Oliver has, but it isn’t too difficult once you get used to it.
http://www.blendernerd.com – These are both by Aussies, FWIW. Good tutorials for specific topics.
http://www.youtube.com/user/ward7299 – David Ward’s Youtube channel – his Johnny Blender 2 and 3 series are pretty great stuff – complete projects from beginning to end without assuming _too_ much knowledge on the part of the viewer. Each series totals in the neighborhood of 10 hours all told.

wiki.blender.org – the most “official” documentation that exists. caveat: Not all docs have been converted to cover the 2.5 interface. 2.4 methodology is _mostly_ the same, but not always, and the interface layout differences can be confounding at times. (and many hotkey sequences aren’t the same)
It’s a vital resource, but more of a reference than a tutorial site, though there _are_ some tutorials there.

oh yeah, there is a decent blender 2.5 hotkey cheatsheet at http://www.blenderguru.com/blender-2-5-cheat-sheet

http://www.blenderartists.org – biggest blender-community I know of. Good place to search around on. Plus: lots of inspiring/humbling stuff in the artwork galleries.

-texture sites
http://www.cgtextures.com – this is my “goto” site when I need to find a texture for something. Some are really great, some are less so. The site wants you to register in order to download the hi-res versions. They’ve never spammed me, FWIW, and the preview-versions are useable for most purposes anyway, so right-click/save-image is our friend :^) .

-materials sites
http://matrep.parastudios.de/ – this is the Open Material Repository. Not something I use often, but it’s handy when looking for something sort of specific and can’t get the settings right yourself. Materials download as .blend files. “File/Append” into your own file and enjoy.

-reference images (gimp is _totally_ your friend for prepping [aligning, scaling, etc] references before using in blender)
http://www.the-blueprints.com – not bad, not great, but useful. Sorta heavy on cars.
http://www.3dreference.org – useful sometimes

-model sites
There are very many free model sites out there. When I’m looking for something I usually start with google ex:(helicopter model free 3d) and see where it takes me.
various formats:
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/ – I don’t generally care for the models here, but they _do_ have a lot. Sketchup native format is not useful to blender, but (most?) can be downloaded in a blender-importable format.
blender format only:
http://www.blendswap.com/ – Everything is already in blender format, and has many pre-rigged characters. Some really nice stuff that’s ready to use.

other programs:
Gimp, of course
Makehuman http://makehuman.blogspot.com/ – really great program, but it is currently in alpha and _very_ fluid. May require some tweaking for Blender-native export to work right.

How to Rig a Spider Leg in Blender 2.5