O4D - thinking out loud

Lights, camera, render

10 October 2014 - Comments

This week has been all about projects and mastering techniques that I've been studying over the past six months. It's been a week of ups and downs, but I've finished it on a high.

Projects and practice

Due to the sheer amount of material I have covered this year, I'm having to refresh my understanding of some details whilst working on projects. At times, this has felt like a slow process, but I keep reminding myself that I will only need to master these techniques once.

On reflection, I'm really pleased with the progress I've made this week. I have completely bottomed out my multi-pass rendering and compositing workflow. I've also made a lot of progress in lighting, IBL, and faking GI; although I have a little more leg-work to do on the latter.

Image-based lighting test render for a potential project

3D modeling: bevelling vs smoothing

Reflecting on my initial experiences of project modeling, I've been pondering the advantages of bevelling and smoothing in different scenarios. On a recent model I went straight in, added supporting edges and smoothed it, only to find that the supporting edges complicated later modeling operations.

It's definitely made me rethink my approach. I would be interested to hear other people's perspectives on the subject.

Bevelling vs smoothing experimentation


I've managed to find some time to explore Houdini during the last couple of weeks, on the side. I previously spent time with Modo, and was disappointed not to find a killer edge (maybe I just needed more time?). However, with Houdini the strengths of its node and procedural workflow leapt right out at me.

It's really interesting, in that Maya has nodes, and a node editor, it's just that the usability is poor and what functionality that does exist is partially hidden away. For instance, you can traverse back through the edit history and turn an edit operation/node off; it's just not very intuitive. Whereas in Houdini the node tree is a first-class citizen of the UI, meaning that it's super intuitive to switch a node on or off, copy part of a node hierarchy, etc, opening up a whole new exploratory approach to your workflow.


Houdini Indie could be a great commercial move, by Side Effects Software, and it seems likely that it will significantly increase the Houdini user-base.

Like any 3D application, it's got its strengths and weaknesses. But overall, I was very impressed. If I can find the time, I'd like to explore it more.

What's next?

Next week I'm going to invest some time in mastering a light rig for faking GI and possibly practice a few other lighting techniques on the side.

Then it's on with the projects!

Tags: Journal Houdini

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