Cedeon Design

Blender - Sphere Map to Cube Map : Successful

Blender: How to Convert (bake) a Sphere Map into a Cube Map

Posted by Cedeon Design. Categories: Blog.

Hi There…

So I’m guessing if you’ve tried this you probably ended up somewhere like this…

Blender - Sphere Map to Cube Map : Fail

Blender – Sphere Map to Cube Map : Fail

That’s where I ended up first and it was frustrating.  I knew what i wanted to do but after much googling around I didn’t see a workable solution..


The Cube of Fail:

Blender - Sphere Map to Cube Map : Cube of Fail

Blender – Sphere Map to Cube Map : Cube of Fail

The above image shows my first attempt.  I had a UV unwrapped unit sphere with my blender hemispherical 360 degree render, correctly mapped.  I wanted to project this onto a cube map.

After a while thinking about this problem, It occured to me that if we were to have a bunch of normals all pointing to a singular point, in this case world origin.. a bake could still work.

Normal Edit Modifier to the rescue!

The solution was to first subdivide the cube, in my case i made 64×64 faces on each cube face.  I then made an empty at the world origin and set a ‘Normal Edit’ modifier on the cube in directional mode with the empty set as the target object.  If you do this make sure you set your faces to smooth shading, that was a bit of a Gotcha for me.


The Cube of Normal Goodness +1:

Blender - Sphere Map to Cube Map : Correct Normals

Blender – Sphere Map to Cube Map : Correct Normals

As you can see above, the normals are now all facing that singularity point and a bake from the sphere to the cube should now work- and it did!.. There was a tiny seam at the edges, if any of you try this and are able to resolve that issue let me know!  Im thinking its a rendering antialiasing issue.. maybe tweak the settings or make the cube faces overlap a smidge?  Thoughts? – Twitter: @cedeon.


The Cube of Success:

Blender - Sphere Map to Cube Map : Cube of Successful

Blender – Sphere Map to Cube Map : Cube of Successful

 

Anyway it solved a problem for me – onwards to Unreal Engine!

 

 

 

Essential Tweaks for Sketchup

Posted by Cedeon Design. Categories: Blog.

Whenever I sit in front of a fresh install of a program that I use regularly and have tweaked to the way I want, I always get a sense of frustration.  Following that is a compelling urge to spend the next 30 minutes vigorously trying to remember all the settings I had changed followed by the next few days of stumbling into things I had forgotten.

Still, once you have it set up perfectly the way you want it your productivity returns to normal and as you blast away work with speed and ease you’re left with glee and wonder that these settings are not stock. ‘Did the developers even use this software on a day to day basis!?’ becomes the staple thought as you hammer those custom hotkeys.

Anyway.. I just finished a re-install of my computer and so I had to do this for the umpteenth time – so i thought i would document my tweaks this time around and distill them into the minimal set of changes necessary to perform on stock SketchUp.

TL;DR : Minimal Changes to stock SketchUp for functionality

  1. Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > View/Component/Hide Rest Of Model/ > Assigned > Shift + H
  2. Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > Tools/Axes/ > Assigned > Shift + X
  3. Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > Camera/Zoom Extents > Assigned > Shift + Z
  4. Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > Edit/Paste In Place > Assigned > Ctrl + Shift + V
  5. Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > Edit/Delete Guides > Assigned > Shift + D
  6. Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > Edit/Make Group > Assigned > Ctrl + G

Extras

Model Info > Scene Transitions > Uncheck  (why is this default!, plain annoying)

 

Rationale

Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > View/Component/Hide Rest Of Model/ > Assigned > Shift + H

Sketchup Mantra #1 : ‘Group early and often’ – William Culver

I’m sure you are grouping like a mad person keeping semantic elements separate (Walls, doors, windows etc).  If not, you should be.  Double clicking into groups, clicking out of groups becomes the way you manage cluttered scenes and Shift + H becomes your best friend.  Often times you’ll want to go into a group and have the rest of the scene disapear so you can focus on that one element, then you’ll start to push/pull and realise that you need to snap to something higher up in the heirarchy or in the root scene (hey your root scene has no ungrouped stuff right!? :P).  Well hitting Shift+H mid push/pull is not only awesome, its sanity-necessary!

Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > Tools/Axes/ > Assigned > Shift + X

With all that grouping you’re (now) doing you’ll run into times where the axes is still aligned to the world but not necessarily right for the element you just grouped (diagonal rafters as an example).  Why is there no stock hotkey for moving the coordinate space?  Now there is :).

Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > Camera/Zoom Extents > Assigned > Shift + Z

For that time you are orbiting around a hollow object and your camera goes nuts because you clicked in empty space and you’re orbiting around an arbitrary point in space.. Annoying isn’t it?.. A hotkey for Zoom extents becomes paramount because now you can ‘blind orbit’ and then re-center afterwards for maxo-joy!

Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > Edit/Paste In Place > Assigned > Ctrl + Shift + V

Another grouping workflow lifesaver.  Often Some times I find myself regretting my overzealous grouping and want to move something into another group or out of a group- Basically refactoring the hierarchy. Here an Edit/Cut, click out the group, and  Edit/Paste In Place combo is in order so a hotkey here is absolutely a time saver.

Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > Edit/Delete Guides > Assigned > Shift + D

Necessary clean up.  If you’ve ever clicked into a group or component to remove a guide then please stop.  Delete guides is your friend.  It only deletes downwards in the hierarchy too so this is awesome 🙂

Windows > Preferences > Shortcut > Edit/Make Group > Assigned > Ctrl + G

Is this even stock?  It might be. It has to be right?!.  Well I’m putting this here because as you know by now this is probably my most used hotkey in SketchUp.  Absolutely essential.

 

Angry Veter Rant: Components.

I used to be big on Components – now not so much – here’s why.

In my early days I had a mission to make the most intensely useful, multipurpose, dynamic components possible.  I tried my best to make ‘The One Ring Window’, one window to rule them all.  3 years later and I had built up a MASSIVE library of components.  I had 12 ‘One Ring windows for clients that had edge cases that i just couldn’t add on my ‘One Ring’ window so guess what.. the elves got three windows and then the dwarfs got 7 windows.. and blah blah blah.  A new job would come in and I would go to my component library to select the closest components, but yanno what.. they were never perfect to the job at hand.  At one point I had such a library of components that searching through them to select something that was 90% perfect and tweaking it saved me no more time than doing it from scratch.

The bottom line is, I ENJOY my job.. I enjoy modelling windows!  I’ve distilled it down to a repetitive but awe inspiringly speedy process so these days i just make bespoke windows for almost every project, unless its clear that they are exactly the same as ones I’ve used in the past, which is hardly ever.

When do i use components

I use components in a model when there is an  element that is repeated more than once.  Most of the time it starts life as a group and gets promoted to a component if it’s repeated and i think i’ll need to edit it, ever.

I only get serious with components if i know there is something cross project, repetitive and boring.. for example gutters.  I happen to hate doing guttering so I made some helper components that are fully dynamic and help me with my day.  They tend to get exploded down to groups eventually if i need to treat them uniquely.

 

 

 

 

Virtual Reality for Architecture can be cheaper than you think

Posted by Cedeon Design. Categories: Blog.

You would think, judging by the number of buzz words in ‘Real time virtual reality architectural visualisation’ that as soon as you uttered the words aloud your wallet would vaporize all cash within, but surprisingly generating such content does not have to involve emptying the safe or dancing with overpriced 3D software thanks to some cool forward thinking business models.

Technological Convergence

It’s fantastic when technologies converge in general, let alone when its two pillars of awesomeness – Real time Architectural Visualisation & Virtual Reality.  Thanks to great companies like Epic Games Inc. who are helping to bring game engine driven architectural visualisation to the mainstream with their awesome Unreal Engine 4, pioneering visualisers (such as *I* :p) get V.R. tacked on at practically no extra effort.

And with Unreal Engine 4.12 bringing V.R. editing into the fold – I can now prance around my room acting like a virtual architectural god, building worlds.  It’s really an amazing time to be a visualizer.

A surprisingly low barrier to entry

A little while ago Epic Games reduced the barrier to entry for Architectural Visualisation in general with their, (i think great )’we succeed when you succeed’ payment model which effectively gets you up and running with their engine for free.  Combine that with the growing competitiveness of Free software like Blender, which we’ve been able ( & glad ) to use in production since 2012 since to the introduction of their Cycles renderer, and you have a recipe for low cost V.R. imagery.

It seems only yesterday we were cowering, daunted by the oligopolistic shadow of companies like Autodesk.  Ahh what a joy it is to be free again to compete as a small company!  We <3 you.

2016- the HMD Headset wars begin

Consumer version H.M.D (Head Mounted Displays) such as the Oculus Rift & HTC Vive were launched this year with healthy competition from the start, which is good news for us.  The hardware is still fairly pricey  but thats not where I’m going with this post – It’s the software that entices me.

Almost 1 year after I got my hands on a developer Oculus Rift DK2 I gleefully received my HTC Vive.  Not long after that I got to work extending Dalai Felinto’s Blender Add-on to add support for the Headset, and a week later I had succeeded.

We didn’t hang around introducing V.R. into our work-flow and I personally learned a lot about V.R. during the programming process – skills that have since translated into improvement in my general work as a visualizer.

Putting it together.

With the transition to game engines for Architectural Visualisation you get the benefit of realtime rendering which means your whole virtual environment is instantly interactive (walking around) rather than having to render still images from a bad looking model sitting in a 3d design application.  Effectively you’re then one step away (strapping on a HMD) from V.R.  Think where we would be if we still had to use Vray to render a stereo panoramic image on the CPU and the headache of re-renders or trying to do post production in 2D imagery software on a  stereo panoramic.  I’m sure glad game engines became a viable option for Architectural Visualisation just before V.R… its a match made in heaven.

 

 

 

Free V.R. software and how Cedeon brought V.R. Architecture a step closer to mainstream adoption.

Posted by Cedeon Design. Categories: Blog.

Being a big blender advocate I just had to have my shiney new HTC Vive working on it.  I recently took a week hiatus from work to program C++ – something I hadn’t done for so long I was worried i had forgotten!.  A week later and I had achieved the goal.  It’s currently available for anyone to download here.

We’ll be using this in our own pipeline 🙂

image showing a map of cambridgeshire.

Special Offers and Discounts

Posted by Cedeon Design. Categories: Blog.

SPECIAL OFFERS


 

From time to time we drastically reduce our price in order to fill our schedule with work when we are less busy. The following conditions apply.

1. The first client to provide a successful work order, following agreement of our quotation qualifies for this low price. We then reserve the right to remove this offer.

2. If we get multiple enquiries at the same time we reserve the right to choose the jobs that are of interest to us.

3. By accepting this special offer you agree to allow us to showcase parts of this project on our website portfolio. We would be prepared to make redactions or delay this for a time should you have reason to not want your project public for an amount of time.

*Please apply by clicking on the mobile phone icon on the top right corner of this page or calling us on 07846 069979*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our ongoing commercial BIM to Visual bridging work – early 2015

Posted by Cedeon Design. Categories: Blog.

It’s an exciting start to the year so far – we have pioneered a unique workflow and have been working on joining the dots from CAD to BIM to ArchViz while maintaining rapid iteration capabilities throughout the pipeline.  Below is a sample of what we have been able to achieve at speeds we believe some practices churn out simple schemes.

A key to our success has been to create a closely knitted set of

2D -> 3D mechanical -> 3D low poly visual -> 3D high poly visual

re-usable digital assets.

Our client is on a tight budget so we’re currently creating this set of digital assets in parallel with site specific jobs and its currently sustainable due to having multiple sites to work on.

We would love to hear from potential clients that would like a bespoke set made from the ground up to suit

‘Sainsbury’s Local’ Convenience Store

On the back end we are working with our Client to produce a full BIM of this proposal and coordinating M&E, Structural and Architectural Elements together.  Using spot level data we re-created the existing topography and surrounding buildings to create the context for this new build project.

Sainsbury's Local Convenience Store London SW

A feasibility stage  architectural visual of we took out of our BIM workflow for a site meeting.  No photo manipulation tools were used as we had to keep a bi-directional workflow for rapid iteration.

Ongoing Sainsbury’s Petrol Forecourt Station Work

We have developed a bespoke 2D to 3D workflow bridging the transition between an existing set of 2D drawings and the new desire for BIM.  We believe we’ve found a way to do this as cheaply as possible by using Grade 1 BIM assets but presenting them with our Visualisation assets to create visually appealing conceptual imagery early on in the pipeline.

Sainsburys_Petrol_Filling_Station_Concept_Feasibility_Visual_1

Another example of our fast feasibility stage BIM to ArchViz workflow

Sainsburys_Petrol_Filling_Station_Concept_Feasibility_Visual_2

Another example of our fast feasibility stage BIM to ArchViz workflow

 

A couple of web design projects

Posted by Cedeon Design. Categories: Blog, Webdev.

A couple of people noticed that I had some web design skills after I finished the redesign of One Byte Too Many’s website so I was given the oportunity to do a few more.  Here they are:-

Phelps Communications -http://www.phelpscommunications.co.uk.

Fully responsive web site design, hand crafted css, zurb foundation and jekyll were used to make it

Fully responsive web site design, hand crafted css, zurb foundation and jekyll were used to make it

 

Phelps Communications is a rebrand of Accelerate Aerials and like the name suggests is an Aerial Installation, Satellite & CCTV installer specialist here in Burwell.   I was given a logo to work from but the rest was up to me.  It seems like everyone these days just slaps together a wordpress theme and pushes up a site but I wanted something a bit more bespoke.  I had great experiences with static site generators (I used pelican for One Byte Too Many

I had previous run-ins with Twitter’s Bootstrap in the past but I had never done a fully responsive site from scratch with a front end frame work.  I settled for Zurb Foundation in the end and I was glad I did.  For me it’s got a real intuitive class layout and I found it a joy to work with.   I also switched static site generator frameworks from Pelican to Jekyll despite my distaste of Ruby.  I’m hoping for a decent Javascript framework as something always grinds me about ruby’s syntax.

The New Europe Society Website – http://www.neweurope.org.uk

neweurope

I used a similar process here, again utilizing Zurb Foundation 5 and Jekyll.  I relied upon Grunt to do all the site generation and it was the first time I had used it to generate a fully minified site.

These sites rock with responsiveness and load in no time at all.  I will definitely be taking the lessons I learned making these sites and using them again for future projects.

If you like them too and want to give me some SEO love (linking to these sites) in return for a huge discount in web-design then please get in contact with me at bill@cedeon.co.uk or 07846 069979.  Thanks.