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ShaderFrog Shader Editor

If you are looking for a tool to quickly create complex shaders by mixing and matching existing shaders, ShaderFrog might be the perfect tool for you!  Running entirely in your browser, ShaderFrog can be used to create WebGL shaders in two ways.  First you can create a shader by connecting together existing shaders, to create a new composite shader.  Shaders can even be imported from ShaderToy or the GLSL Sandbox.

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In addition to the composition based approach, there is also a full blown GLSL text editor with automatic compilation/error reporting, syntax highlighting and more.  Once you are happy with your created shader, you can save it, share it, or export it to iOS, Unity or Three.js.

Check out ShaderFrog in action in the video below.

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Exporting Rigged Textured and Animated Models From Blender to Godot Tutorial

One of the most requested Godot tutorials I get is to cover how to export models from Blender to Godot and retain textures, animations and more.  Therefore I have created exactly that tutorial in both video and text formats, hosted on our sister site devga.me.  This tutorial is mostly in Blender, showing how to properly configure textures, an armature and create NLA strips so when exported “it just works” in Godot.  This example uses Blender 2.79 and Godot 3.1.

Don’t forget, if you want to learn Godot we have a complete Godot 3.x tutorial series available here, a step by step creating a full 2D game tutorial available here.  We also have Blender tutorials available in our tutorial section that should get you up to speed using the popular open source 3D application.

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Blender Cloud Free Month Trial And Hands On Preview

The Blender Foundation recently released their new animated short Spring, a completely open film that is used to push development of Blender forward.  Along side the Spring release, they are also offering a free month when you sign up for the Blender Cloud service.  The Blender Cloud is a subscription service that helps support the development of Blender, while offering you several nice features including:

  • All of the assets used in their open films
  • Sample blend file to download and learn from
  • 1,500+ textures and dozens of HDR environment maps
  • Plugin to access the above resources
  • Dozens of high quality multi-part tutorials
  • Tools to share and collaborate with others on Blender Cloud

You can sign up here for €9.90 a month.  The first month will be free and you will not be billed until the 2nd month begins enabling you to try Blender Cloud for free.  To see inside the Blender Cloud service, check out the video below.

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NormalMap & Texture Generator Online

Instead of reporting the April 1st “news”, today we are instead going to look at a pair of excellent free texturing tools that run entirely in your browser, Normal Map Online and Texture Generator Online.  Normal Map online can be sued to create normal, displacement, ambient occlusion and specular maps from a simple height map image.  Texture Generator Online is used for creating simple procedural textures like patterns, noises, terrain and more.

While both tools are easy to use, you can see both of them in action in the video below.  You can also learn more by clicking the question mark icons found within the website.  Chrome is the developers recommended browser, although I ran it without issues in the Firefox browser.   Both services are also available from this homepage.

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VRoid Studio Revisited

Last year we took our first look at VRoid Studio, a 3D anime style character creator that had recently been translated to English.  It works very similarly to Daz3D, Poser and MakeHuman, but is entirely dedicated to creating characters in the anime style.  Using a simple set of sliders, you can quickly customize a character to your liking, much like defining your character in a video game.  However you can also go much deeper, with integrated texture editing tools, hair creation tools, multiple animations and much more. 

Previously however, VRoid had one major limitation… it could only produce female characters.  This has now changed and male characters can be created as well, with their own set of gender specific animations defined.  In the video below we go hands-on with the updated and more capable VRoid Studio.

You can download VRoid Studio here.  The page is Japanese, so look for the following buttons and pick the appropriate operating system:

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The download is a 0.5GB zip file, simply extract and run the executable within.

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New Godot 3.1 Tutorial Series! Creating a Complete 2D Game Step by Step

We just published a brand new 18 part text tutorial series over on DevGa.me, Getting Started with Godot Step by Step Tutorial Series.  This tutorial walks you through theEBookCoverA4Format entire game creation process using Godot 3.1, from creating your initial project, to publishing your game with details step by step instructions and screen shots.  Even better it’s got professional quality art assets from Game Developer Studios and is completely open source!

The tutorial consist of:

Getting Started with Godot

Setup and Project Creation

Creating your Title Screen

Playing Background Music

Global Data via Autorun

Creating a Simple UI

Creating the Main Game Scene

Creating Parallax Clouds

Creating the Player

Handling Input

Add a Scene Animation

Creating Bullets

Creating the Enemies

Configuring the Collisions

Populating the Game World

Adding Shooting to the Game

Making Things Explode

The Final Code

Building your Game for Windows

If you need more detailed information on any subject we cover, be sure to check our existing Godot 3 Tutorial series, that goes into much more technical detail.  There will be a step by step video version available shortly.  There is also a 70pg PDF version of this tutorial available for Patreons.

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Substance Painter Fall Update

Substance Painter, the popular PBR based texturing application, just received a major update.  The fall update comes with a completely new rendering engine resulting in better performance with lower hardware demands by incorporating Sparse Virtual Textures, which simulate large textures using less memory.  The new engine also supports up to 300 UV Tiles at once enabling support for massive scenes.  There are also several new tools aimed at mobile users including a new 2D viewport exporter with the ability to bake into a single high resolution texture and more.

Complete details on new features from the release notes:

Added:

  • Summary: a huge boost in performance, viewport upgrades, proper 2D view export, new UI helpers, an enhanced symmetry tool and new content
  • [SVT][Engine] Sparse Virtual Textures (SVT)
  • [SVT][Preferences][UI] SVT hardware support acceleration option
  • [SVT][Log] Additional information for Sparse Virtual Texturing feature (e.g. size disk)
  • [SVT][UI] Message window at start if size on disk too low for the cache
  • [SVT][Preferences][UI] Substance Painter global cache location
  • [SVT] New environment variable to specify the path of the cache of Substance Painter
  • [SVT] New environment variable to activate the SVT hardware support acceleration
  • [SVT] Detect sparse support by hardware
  • [SVT][Hardware Sparse] Raise minimum driver version for Nvidia GPU
  • [SVT][Shader][[Viewport][UI] Warn user if artefacts present with Sparse Virtual Texturing at project opening
  • [Anti-aliasing][Viewport] New temporal anti-aliasing filtering for 3D viewport (via Display Settings)
  • [Export] Export the content of the 2D viewport as a single texture
  • [Export][Dithering] Expose dithering at export
  • [Layer stack] Colors on layers and folders
  • [Layer stack] Quick activation and deactivation of multiple layers and effects
  • [Layer stack] Easier navigation for blending modes with up down keys and mouse scroll
  • [Proj][UI] Additional rotation manipulator on all three axis for triplanar
  • [Proj][Shorcuts] – and + to change the UV projection manipulator size
  • [Shader] Control coated layer parameters with channels in the PBR-coated shader
  • [Substance] Expose new mesh-based texture inputs for filters and generators
  • [Symmetry][Viewport][UI] Control symmetry offset with manipulators
  • [Symmetry][Contextual toolbar][UI] New symmetry panel with options
  • [Symmetry] New symmetry line intersection mode
  • [Symmetry] New symmetry clone cursor
  • [Symmetry][Shortcuts] Q to hide and -, + to change size and shift to snap
  • [Log] Improve error messages when unable to export textures
  • [Scripting] Allow to change or update the resources in Display Settings
  • [Scripting] Allow to create or remove channels in Texture Sets
  • [Content][Shaders] Add support for anisotropy with a dedicated shader (pbr-metal-rough-anisotropy-angle)
  • [Content] Update of the preview sphere with anisotropy and modified angle
  • [Content] Updated matFx shutline
  • [Content] New Texturing.XYZ seamless face scan
  • [Content] New anisotropic procedurals
  • [Content] New filter: baked lighting stylized
  • [Content] New environment map: studio automotive neutral
  • [Content] New project template: PBR – metallic roughness Anisotropy angle (with anisotropy channels)
  • [Content] New project template: PBR – metallic roughness Coated

Fixed:

  • [Color Picker] Painting cursor appearing when trying to pick a color
  • Crash by Selecting or Unselecting layers in a specific order can lead to crash
  • Crash when pasting as an instance a layer with a mask
  • [User Channel][Regression] Crash when renaming user channel
  • [User Channel] Grayed brush preview
  • [Alembic] Only one texture set from several materials after import
  • [Engine] Exported texture differs from viewport for brush stamps
  • [Engine] Invert with a level effect does not fully affect a texture
  • [Material picker is applying a brush stroke while picking
  • Switching resolution to 128x128px leads to a crash
  • Mesh map links are not updated properly when rebaking or instancing layers
  • [Substance] UserData ColorSpace does not work on Baked Mesh Normal requested as input
  • MDL association mismatch when using multiple shaders instances
  • [Symmetry][Fill Layer] Symmetry plane and its manipulator active in Fill Layer
  • [Viewport] Pivot point for translation not always updated after clicking
  • [UI] Fixed icons and removal of placeholders for HDPI monitors

Known Issues:

  • Computation freeze on AMD VEGA GPUs
  • Huion tablet issue with shortcuts on Windows OS
  • Anti-aliasing and shadows when active together may give unexpected results

You can learn a great deal more about this release in this blog post.

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Humble RPG Game Dev Bundle

The folks over at Humble Bundle are running another bundle of interest to game developers, the Humble RPG Game Dev Bundle.  It’s a large collection of RPG Maker (don’t worry, they can be used outside of RPGMaker in your engine of choice) assets including sprites, tiles, sound fx, icons and more.  Humble Bundles are collections with different priced tiers, with a portion of the proceeds going to the content maker, a charity of choice (Child’s Play in this case) as well as to Humble Bundle themselves.  I normally full heartedly recommend Humble Bundles to people, but this time I must give a bit of a warning due to the attached license.

From the license:

4.1. A “Licence” means that the Seller grants to GDN (purely for the purpose of sub-licensing to the Purchaser) and GDN grants (by way of sub-licence thereof) to the Purchaser a non-exclusive perpetual licence to;

(a) use the Licensed Asset to create Derivative Works; and

(b) use the Licensed Asset and any Derivative Works as part of either one (1) Non-Monetized Media Product or one (1) Monetized Media Product which, in either case, is:

i) used for the Purchaser’s own personal use; and/or

ii) used for the Purchaser’s commercial use in which case it may be distributed, sold and supplied by the Purchaser for any fee that the Purchaser may determine.

That 4.1 b is going to be a huge deal breaker for many people.  If you are intending to use these assets for personal use, the license wont matter.  If you are looking to distribute your works however, do be sure to go over the license with a fine tooth comb, as that clause seems to limit you to a single product, commercial or otherwise!  There is a discussion of the bundle going on over on /r/gamedev if you are interested in learning more.

EDIT – An update on the licensing terms.  The publisher of the assets have reached out to me on Twitter to announce they’ve heard the complaints regarding the license and are updating it to be more developer friendly.  Additionally I signed up for the Humble Bundle partner program, meaning purchasing through the above link will help support the channel.

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Creating 3D Models From Photos Using Meshroom

Meshroom is a new, free and open source photogrammetry software from AliceVision.  Photogrammetry software enable you to create a 3D scene using a series of photographs, generally the more the merrier.  Currently documentation is a bit lacking, so I’ve decided to create this quick tutorial.  In this tutorial we are going to quickly walk through the process of using Meshroom using a photoset available here.  That post links to a zip file containing 50 images that are confirmed to work with Meshroom.  Simply extract them somewhere on your drive.  Of course you need to download Meshroom, which is available for download right here.  Simply download the archive, extract then execute the Meshroom application.  Note Meshroom requires a CUDA GPU and works on Windows and Linux!  So this process will only work on nVidia GPUs, at least as of time of writing.

Once you’ve got Meshroom loaded, follow the following simple steps.

Drag extracted images into the Images pane on the left.

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Save your project somewhere

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Click the green Start button.

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As it’s running, you will see the progress across the top:

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This bar indicates a problem occurred.  You can divine more details by locating the current task in the Graph, like so:

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With the node selected, check the Log (bottom right corner) for details.  This is the error message you receive if you run the process on a non-CUDA (nVidia) GPU.  Keep in mind, it can also be caused by the process running on a laptop with Optimus, not automatically selecting the right GPU.

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Hopefully however you encounter no such errors and the process is entirely green.  On the bright side, it should pick right up where the error occured if you run the project again in the same directory, as Meshroom caches the results of each step as it goes.  You will find the vast majority of time is spent on the DepthMap section,  this is normal.  As the process continues, you should start seeing results in the 3D viewer.

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You can pan, zoom and orbit the mouse using the LMB, scroll wheel and MMB respectively.  More detail in the point cloud will fill in as the process runs.  Once it completes successfully, you will see a button Load Model.

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You can now preview the results of your effort!

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A few steps in, it will have evaluated all of your photos, acceptable/usable photos will be marked with a green checkmark.

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Review the remaining photos for flaws and inconsistency if you run it again.

Go make some tea… it’s going to be between 10 minutes and an hour depend on the speed of your machine.  Once the process is complete, there will be a folder called MeshroomCache, with the following contents:

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This is a folder with all of the output files from each step in the process.  Generally what you are going to be interested in is the obj, mtl and texture file in the Texturing folder.  This can be imported into your 3D modelling application of choice, the obj format is fairly universal.  The resulting mesh is extremely dense and you may consider checking out Instant Meshes for optimizing the results.

Now that you know it works, it’s time to start refining the process or providing your own picture set.  I would recommend the following tips from my own experience:

  • use an actual camera, not a phone.  I got terrible results from my Pixel phone, but my Canon DLSR gave much better results.  YMMV
  • DO NOT green/white screen your background.  Unique markers in the background help Meshroom position each virtual camera
  • try to get the entire object in frame on each shot
  • get rid of any image with any blurring

So far we just default settings in the Graph Editor.  This graph represents a graph of nodes in the process, one for each directory shown in the screenshot above.  Note when you select a node, there are a number of properties you can edit:

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You can also connect pins to multiple nodes to create multiple results.  For example, if you wanted to create a set of TFF and lower resolution PNG textures, you can do the following.  Right click the graph editor and select Texturing:

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This will create a new node in the graph.  Now drag the output node from MeshFiltering and connect it to ini and inputMesh.

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Select the new Texturing node and have it create a lower detail texture set:

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Now when it runs, it will create two sets of textures for you.  Note there are other nodes such as Decimation that aren’t in the process by default.  You can see the entire thing in process in the video attached below:

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