Umbrellas and Artworks

Obviously I’m Pretty Close. Or Extremely Far Away…

1 As you can see from this render (on the left), I’m pretty close to being able to do the Hearts Girls picture (on the right) in 3D. And the umbrellas are looking pretty spiff, ready for a new better, much-improved Umbrella Girls render, no?

Except… Hair.

Man. Hair is a m-fckn bitch.

How do you do proper well-done hair in Blender? I’ve tried the hair particles. They cannot be tamed with my skillset.

I’ve tried hair cards. Eeeeyeah. No.

I’ve tried Pancake Manicure™ hair curves. For a short, simple style, I can do it, but for anything longer, the control gets completely lost.

I tried Hair Net plugin. CRAASH. Fails harder than LuxCoreRender.

1 I stared at the $40 Hair Tool. I watched the videos. I stared again. I dunno. Maybe it would work? Maybe it wouldn’t. It looks like it would work. But then, so did Hair Net plugin. And the other million things I’ve tried.

I’m… just… in a bad way.

Give me a week. Or thirty of them. I’ll figure it out.

Until then… a tantalizing peek at the not-really-finished works.

So Close, and Yet So Far Away

1 1

While I Have You Here…

1

It’s amazing how much mileage I am able to get out of a simple ring rig widget. Pretty much everything I want, 95% of the time. And the other 5%, the plain old b-bone seems fine.

~~~

Umbrella Girls Again… but With a Difference!

1 Finally the belt attaches to her hips in a pleasing way, follows her wherever and however she might deform.

How?

Turns out to be surprisingly simple.

  1. Get rid of the armature and all that BS.
  2. Create a cylinder, make it not appear in any renders, align it with the belt very closely.
  3. Parent the belt to the cylinder.
  4. Create a surface deform modifier on the belt to the cylinder.
  5. Put the cylinder near the girl, where/how you want it.
  6. Parent the cylinder to her hip bone.
  7. Add a shrink-wrap modifier on the cylinder to her.

Easy!

And now the belt does what it should, doesn’t fly off into space randomly, and follows her hips.

Disadvantage: doesn’t appear affected the slightest by gravity. You can’t have it all.

But Wait! There’s More…

1 I also did some magic with the world background and the Umbrella Girls set. All sorts of drivers based on the camera position manipulating them to make it more dynamic, yet still pleasing.

I also re-did the textures on the umbrellas. Or, maybe more correctly, I added textures to the umbrellas. They look pretty nice now.

I also re-did the girls’ tights. Not much to say there, except it appears that whole “vertex group” input for a shrink wrap modifier doesn’t work in Blender 2.82. Meh. Hopefully that’ll be fixed one day, along with all the other wierd quircks and borkennesses.

I also entirely re-did the blue jewels for Verachantesse and Annya-Leona. And learned how to affix them to the actual mesh of the girls rather than to bones. Turns out the trick there is to highlight 3x (or more) vertexes to parent them to, so that rotation is captured.

So… Let’s Take a Look

1 1 1 1 1

Umbrella Girls redux!

~~~

Drawn Girls

1 1 1 1 1 1 I decided to start poking around the drawn look. Lines outlining the form. Simple colours and light setup. Just checking out how it looks.

There are things I like about this style, but others I don’t. Simple colours and shadows are interesting. Weird geometry of hair and other things that are supposed to have textures and transparency… not so interesting.

I decided to try the Workbench renderer, but it seems very unstable.

First, I tried 2.83-beta.

In 2.83-beta, it simply crashes Blender every time.

No question about the 2.83-beta instability of Workstation render mode.

Then, back to 2.82. I set it to rendering and went off to do something. When I came back, Finder had crashed, and my computer thought Firefox and Blender were not running, but new renders were appearing in my render dir, and Firefox wouldn’t start, complaining it was already running.

I know what all that means, in theory, but there probably were other things in an unstable state, so I rebooted the computer.

The good news is, the Workbench renderer and this scene are lightweight enough for my Linux box to render, so I might just use Mac to model, Linux to render. Maybe Workbench render is more stable on Linux?

On the other hand, I probably need to setup my materials and everything to render in Eevee again. I miss some of the textures and their layered complexity. No freckles. No skin bumps. These things. I miss them.

Shrinkwrap - You Kill Me!

1 1 The shrinkwrap modifier is way less handy than I was hoping it would be.

First, look left. This is how it’s supposed to work.

Now, look right. The legging just flies through to the front side of her knee, and goes missing on the back side of her thigh.

Not a very useful modifier if she can never put her legs together or bend her knees more than 100 degrees.


1 That one doesn’t look too bad, if you don’t pay attention to the details… but then there are renders like this one, to the right…

That just looks awful.

Let’s Not Dwell on the Negative

Here are some more nice-looking ones. 1 1 1 1 1 1

Actually, let’s dwell on the negative just a little longer. Their jeweled belts are also solved with a shrink wrap modifier, which also suffers picking the wrong surface to stick to. This pose has problems with both girls’ belts at the same time. 1

I was excited when I noticed the “vertex groups” option for shrinkwrap.

But it never seemed to do anything. Turns out that’s because it’s for choosing vertexes of the shrinking object to move, not vertexes of the destination object to which it will shrink.

~~~

Clothes

1 1 I spent a bit of time modeling shirts and pants for the girls. Turned out really well. I also changed up their hair colour and shoe colours.

A closeup on the left. A shot of full bodies on the right.

But that wasn’t enough for me. No.

1

I needed skirts, too.

Let’s talk about skirts. You have to model them first, Not hard. Maybe 30-60 minutes including UV unwrapping and texturing.

Then rig them to her body. Oh my. This is where the time balloons out. It took me maybe 2-3hr per skirt to figure all that out. One trick, I use a shrink-wrap for the top parts of the skirts, where they hug her body.

But then, anytime their arm or another part of their body gets close to the skirt, it jumps off and flies around randomly. So I have to model the skirt so that it goes inside her body, so that the problems only manifest if her arms intersect her body geometry. Really need shrinkwrap to include vertex group of destination object, too.

I also needed to weight paint the shrinkwrap vertex group to make the transition between body-hugging to loose be natural-looking.

The yellow/blue skirt on Annya-Leona is further rigged with an armature, which took a long while and some creative thinking. It has its own armature, four bones are children of various bones of her parent rig, and then there are a number of stretch-to bones that attempt to keep it looking natural.

Verachantesse’ skirt I actually am able to get away with parenting only to her armature and doing some tricksy weight-painting to get a reasonable effect, but it really does limit her leg movements.


1 1 Nice closeups of their heels. A lot of work went into colouring, UV unwrapping, texturing.

Lighting

1 Similar to above, I am toying with world texturing and HDRI lighting. This is a nice pink/lavendar world. To keep them from being too pink themselves, I light them with some nice blue lights.


1 Here’s what happens if I take down the world lighting a lot. You get some nice contrast, albeit on a darker, more forboding world.


1 Then, going with more of a 3-light setup, with key/rim/fill (but not exactly). The light on the umbrellas is kind of cool, although probably a bit much.


1 Taking it all the way down. Almost night-time.

Colour

1 1 Changing up the background to green. Now to keep them from being too sickly green, I needed to throw a very reddish/purple set of lights onto them.

You can see how the ground/floor has been lit very green from the world HDRI.

This gives a very different mood from the previous renders.

The Workspace

1 Here’s what this all looks like in Blender right now.

I break out each girl into her own collection, with all her clothes, jewelry, etc collected together. If I want to turn on her pants, for example, I highlight them, and there’s a custom property that makes the pants visible, and her legs underneath invisible.

Same with shirts.

Skirts just appear or disappear, there is no hidden geometry underneath.

~~~