Idle Musings: Suffer For My Art (March 5, 2018)

Behold, reader:

This strange, plasticky mass of grey angles is the larval form of my next weapon design. All I have to do now is texture it. Simple, yes? Haha. Hahahahaha.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA-AHA-HAHA

Texturing means this:

What you’re looking at right now is a 2-D projection of the blade from the sword above, open in GIMP because if I had the money for Photoshop I’d spend it on swords and/or PC upgrades anyway. Today, I will be messing with patterns, coloring in various parts of this thing in snazzy ways, and generally tearing my hair out over how long it takes.

Ideally, the end result will be of similar quality to, but visually distinct from, this:

That is one small segment of the longsword blade from the right hand side of the screen. Every single one of the white “tendrils” you see, as well as all the dots and engravings, had to be added by hand. The whole thing took me about ten hours (or was it 15?) “Wait,” I hear you saying, “What about the other parts of the sword?”

Yeah, those are separate image files. And once I’m done with all of this, I have to go back into Blender and link each individual one of these textures to material nodes which, themselves, are mapped to individual groups of polygons thereon! Fffffff-un. Oh, did I mention that because of how digital renders work, this texture, the “diffuse” map, will only add colors to the blade without any sense of depth or difference in brightness? The depth of the engravings has to come from a separate image, called the “Normal” map, which for the longsword looks like this:

Don’t ask me how the computer reads this and turns it into the illusion of physical hollowing and engraving. I don’t understand it either. And lest we forget, there’s the specular map:

This is what tells Blender how shiny individual parts of the texture are actually supposed to be. Without this, diamond, steel and muddy wool will all have the same sheen, and scratches will just be spots of color that don’t reflect light any differently from the rest of a blade.

I’m to a point where I need to go through this process a minimum three times (blade, fittings, scabbard) for all swords. As I said in yesterday’s musing, 30 hours is my normal now.

Stick to sketching, kids. It’s better for your sanity.

Say something, darn it!

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