VR envinroment using photogrammetry dev log part. 2-8

"Art", 3d, VR

A part II of my game (sort of) dev log.

Planing part II using mobile so only vertical view for now. Restrictions I have to work with with limited set of models. Flow chat drawing on mobile for puzzles in games. All in all this is a dev log that might be interesting for people working with 3d graphics and planing to step in to real time engines as well as doing some photogrammetry and all of that in Virtual Reality. So its still planing part, and here also show some snippets from my previous VR environment and some workflows very briefly, just to give you a taste of whats coming.
here is a video from my first environment – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7SRu…
and the environment itself – https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfile…
and joggling in vr with carrots and skulls just like in hl alyx!

So in the third part I am doing retopo of a scanned model in 3D coat. then splitting the result for better uv shall / island distribution to maximize texture space. And last thing – sins steamVR / hammer / source 2 (?) doesn’t support tessellation / subdivision, I am “baking tessellation” to the mesh using height map that i have from baking my original model.

In the forth part I am testing if it is worth to split lower part of tower to 5 separate models each with 4k texture and sort of a displacement map baked directly in to the mesh sins there is no tessellation in hammer editor. (At least steam VR version of it). Also accidentally recorded a hammer crash, that just happens each ten mouse clicks. Well to be honest might be each 20 mouse clicks :) so save regularly and pray..

Strange problems with hammer editor
normal maps or smoothing groups (max terminology) soft edges (maya terminology) phong breaks ? (in cinema 4d) shade smooth ? (blender)

so for some reason importing obj file to hammer brakes smoothing groups and only way to fix it i found is selecting all edges on object in hammer and setting normals to smooth. in general more detailed walls do look better then just flat ones, so i will use quite a dense mesh for my tower. its around 15 k – 20 k for ground, and all 4 walls and a dome as one model.

One small update on normal maps. Sometimes you might end up in a situation where normal maps are not as punchy not as strong as you might want them to be. But you do not want to spend time doing things again. so i found this sort of cheating method. it kind of works. Basically it makes your existing normal map to have more effect. sort of. all you need to do is duplicate the image in 2d image editing software and modify its “levels” to be specific only blue channel of an image. And you use this as overlay blending mode on top of original image, save it and here you go. I should do more A B tests to see is it worth it, but at least it doesn’t make it worst or it seems so :) go ahead try it out and report me back if it works for you as well.

Continuing my development of photo realistic 3d scanned VR environment for steam vr in 3d studio max. Sins I have spitted upper and lower part of my tower walls to have better texture density i end up having unwanted seams that i plan to hide by making beams (big wooden things that you find in ld architecture). Here I only make a box, add some edges, some noise some chamfer and make uv’s.
Main take away – dont model too much detail, and see at what point its best to do uv unfolding. You make it later in process its harder to unfold. You make it too early and you might destroy something. Adding some chamfers, noise’s and stuff could be done after unfold is done and uv’s are done.

In this episode we will continue with VR environment (with photogrammetry assets) devlog. In last part we created beams (jolts?) and made their uv’s. Now lets draw textures using texture projection. I found that 3D coat lets us use one texture to be simultaneously painted in normal map and color textures – that is super neat! So i decided to draw some burned wood textures that i have prepared in photoshop by mixing up some reference photos. Drawn two versions of wood texture – regular and burned. Made a mask in photoshop to mix up these textures. And load it up to engine.

devlog part 1 for VR environment with 3D scanned models

"Art", 3d, VR
An intro to my game (sort of) dev log. planing part using mobile so only vertical view for now. discussing game engine choice in 3 sentences. Also flow chat drawing on mobile for puzzles in games. All in all this is a dev log that might be interesting for people working with 3d graphics and planing to step in to real time engines as well as doing some photogrammetry and all of that in Virtual Reality. well just the end result in VR not the whole process :) more on game engines to present your 3D scanning stuff in VR: easiest – publish on sketchfab. easy to do, but very limited in interaction. though u can still walk around (teleport) around your objects in VR. You can add sound. here is an example – https://skfb.ly/6zAvR all models created using photogrammetry. then there is hardcore option – unity and unreal. Here you can do probably anything, make any move movement style, or anything really, but you will probably need to learn programming. At best use visual “programming” using node system like blueprints in unreal. Here I am taking a “middle path” less complicated then unity / unreal, but more then sketchfab – iam doing VR environment for steam VR. Its is created using source 2 engine (?) and has quite a bit of interactivity. Basically you are modding valve game here in their level editor called hammer! that’s what i will be doing in this dev log.

From my other blog III


So i decided to kill my other blog. ill post some of my old images ant texts here… (dec, feb 2013)


Something i have been working for way too long… new drawn panorama is slowly coming

After making my last drawn panorama I started a new one. actually i stared this one even before that, but at the time it was just a regular drawing that i decided to make as a panorama. That proved to be a mistake – I ended up needing to cover quite an area with doodles :) so its actually longer then a year that i am making this one pano. Obviously i don’t draw daily, its more like … monthly.. i got bored of it quite some time ago :) But only 2/6 of and area remains to be covered. so there is a light at the end of a tunnel … i think. Here Ill share 3 images.  it’ll be general view an a close up.

drawn panorama I / work in progress. general view

drawn panorama I / work in progress. general view

drawn panorama II / work in progress. general view

drawn panorama II / work in progress. general view


drawn panorama III / Work in progress. close up.

Finally I am done with this drawn panorama – all little things

So here it is, finally done. Its much bigger compared to my older attempts in making panoramas, so don’t forget to scroll for zooming in :) I started this illustration not thinking of panoramas, it was meant for something entirely else. Later on while drawing i thought why not to turn it in to panorama. I calculated the required size of an image way too late in a process, so i ended up with a huge image to fill up. one year later it was done. (naturally i didn’t draw it daily – i was bored of it quite a bit, so there where months of not drawing) for a bottom i used a collection of other small drawings and for a top i used one image that again was made for something entirely different. but here it is all stitched up.. So below you will find 3 fragments of panorama and clicking this link will actually take you to an interactive version.


making of “all little things” drawn panorama

And this is a little making of “all little things”.. while drawing this panorama from time to time i would set up my camera and would make some shots, here they are combined together for a little time laps “video”


sadly i didn’t continued shooting all the time, and didn’t maintained composition.


some more shots:


work in progress:


From my other blog II


So i decided to kill my other blog. ill post some of my old images ant texts here… (feb 2013)


hand made

For now its just loads of hands on a plane surface, but at the end that suppose to be a spherical panorama, that is if i manage to make it.


as you can see there are 3 peaces of paper in a picture, while in reality there are only two. the one on a left and right is the same picture moved and shot again, stitched in photoshop.

Here is a small update. more stitching and gluing done and we have another step towards all surrounding picture:


My second drawn panorama, this time lots of hands..

So, finally I am done. Done with the hands. for good. I hope…. :) I must admit I learned one or two things working on this piece, especially regarding anatomy of left hand. If you look hard you can find couple of right hands too but it was harder to draw sins I couldn’t just look at my hand for a reference and draw it at a same time :))) Actually you can find also one feet here and well two other things which will remain unnamed here :)


madness of hands

In general I can conclude that I am able to make spherical image. And this format is quite suited for such “mad” subjects as this one. The hard past is composition. Does it exist in interactive piece? how do you deal with it? These are the questions that are to be explored in next work. So we see how that goes :)

To see the interactive version just click on an image. After you are redirected to 360 cities website u click and drag (anywhere on a picture). To unleash the full madness left click and choose “little planet view” from a menu. then click and drag. have fun!
And it seems word press finally supports 360 images so lets have it here without embeds:

From my other blog I


So i decided to kill my other blog. ill post some of my old images ant texts here…


Drawn Panorama

So here it is, my first test of drawn pano. It wasn’t easy, but now I understand how things work. Next one will be much better :)
Sorry I have no ability to make it function directly in this blog post, so pardon me u have to click on image to actually see it.

Spherical panoramas are used by photographers to provide the viewers with the ability to move around the photograph rather than to view it from a fixed position. I used this technique for my drawings. drawn pano

Drawing animation for VR in 360

"Art", 3d, ideas for thesis, research

Long time no post – must be the number one starting sentence in blogs :)

Small animation test I did:

If you cannot see video directly (not logged in Facebook?) try looking here: http://littlstar.com/videos/3c44d6ae
So here I will share my techniques and mistakes – what i would do differently next time.


So I decided to try if it is possible to draw animation for VR. That means in equirectangular projection. Probably that’s incorrect statement – one could draw images on cube faces or other projections…

Still we are most familiar with equirectangular projection and cube faces would require to mach images in 6 separate pictures. Though this could be an approach if there are small objects to be drawn and they would remain quite stationary in frame. In this case we would get less distortion and it would be probably easier to draw.


First its always nice to have at least some sort of scenario, something for audience to care about. And that’s a first thing i will make sure i have for my next “film”. There was a plan in a beginning to add forth scene – the abstract one… but that was before i learned about problems of camera movement and other things about confusing people and making them vomit…

So the plan was, after our “viewer” drops “dead” in water he starts “hallucinating” and animation is shown in this manner:


deleted scene…

This gif file turned out not very representative of idea and of how i did it,… oh well .. still want to experiment with more “hardcore” / abstract imagery but .. well.. might be some other time. Mind you I have never seen my work on dk2 or even cardboard….


So I made most of my animation in 3D and rendered sort of a flat looking image that i afterwards processed a bit to make it look less “3D” like. Also I used cell shader to render outlines of my animated models and printed these that they would be hardly visible. That was for rotoscoping.

hardly visible for print

hardly visible for print

flat shading

flat shading


So in planing stage i have counted that i ll need to draw close to 1000 frames. And then there was a question how to scan it all? So i asked around in print shops and it was around 100 EU just for scanning. So i decided to try and buy a scanner for myself. There where not many options that i found in close by shops. Ebay was out of question cos sending costs would be prohibiting to me. So i found this weird brand i have never heard of – BROTHER. There was also a cheep RICO option and i don’t remember why i went for brother instead… might be cos it was A3 instead of A4.. BROTHER MFC – j6520DW has a automatic page feeder (around 30 pg) and can scan or print A3 pages. The scanner / printer is definitely a “budget” thing but it did the job. If you google this model you will find quite mixed comments about it. One has to be careful loading pages they turn out not as straight as i would like them to be, some seem to rotate couple of degrees and basically its impossible to use scanned images unless you stabilize the motion..


Ok so i am using automatic feeder which means each page is positioned not perfectly while scanning and i do get quite a bit of wobbling. First images I printed for drawing where a4 and covered most of pages width like this:

placement for print

placement for print

So not only that each frame was in slightly different position of previous page but in some cases i would lose parts of scanned image. So next time I will not print so close to borders. Even if pages will be rotating and moving I will not lose image. The green lines show point placement for image stabilization in After Effects.

Parts of image gone...

Parts of image gone…


For all or most of background images I drew around 7 frames only. Then I used script or expression in After Effects that would randomly load these 7 frames for required duration.

fr = 12; // frame rate;

numFrames = 8;


seg = Math.floor(time*fr);

f = Math.floor(random(numFrames));

for (i = 0; i < seg; i++)

f = (f + Math.floor(random(1,numFrames)))%numFrames;



The sound was another problem. I wanted to experiment with binaural sound… but i got so fed up with this animation that in the end i just added some sound effects from free sound library.. just not to be a silent film. So again sound changes your experience so much.. if there is a chance ill get a professional sound person next time…

What did I miss?



3d multicellular vs Hand drawing in ink :)

"Art", 3d, 3dmax

So as usual it was quite a long time sins I posted something here. Unfortunately, even though I have some drafts, I just cant sit down and finish them. Therefore I decided to go for an easy post. Well its like writing an software review or movie review. (meaning a reflection of something rather then a creation, and here I am simplifying things a bit, there is surely complicated and “heavy”movie reviews as well as shallow “creation” stories.) Anyways this is gonna be a rather shallow story. But oh well..

So as all of us, weak human beings, from time too time we do stuff which we are not supposed to be doing. Sometimes its something very wrong, but more then often its just something that we are not suppose to be doing cos we are suppose to be doing something else. And most of the time we are watching movies, TV reading a stupid book, or don’t know.. Hundreds of things to do, in order to avoid something you actually must do. It could be anything. So as a member of this human race, I am too doing stupid things. But lucky us (humans) from time to time, on rear occasions, these stupid things lead to something. And be it not something great, or of huge value, its still sort of positive. Well the judgment here can be varying. Still.  As it happens, one of these times I was procrastinating I happen to be inspired by my own drawing in ink, and tried to do something of that sort in 3d. Ah finally you will say, he talks about 3d, its about time. So here it is a small rather dumb project. Who knows, when ‘the stars are right’ :) , one day I might actually do something good out of this. But for now we have:

A. A hand drawing of a… don’t know plankton, bug, molecule, microscopical being, alien, virus of a sorts?

ink version of a bug

ink version of a bug

B. We have a wireframe of recreation of itt in 3d. And then, we use some materials with falloff in opacity Chanel, we add some depth of field in our mental ray rendering engine, we invert an image, and here is what we have:

wireframe of a bug

wireframe of a bug

C. a final output:

final render of a bugg

final render of a bugg

Modeling clouds. or shuld i say rendering clouds?

"Art", 3d, 3dmax

So i had this idea about how to make clouds in 3d.

I think it works quite well, but as all things in life have draw backs. First – the image:



And here is how i did this.

The foreground clouds are done using a blob mesh rendered in mental ray using a depth of field. The background clouds are simple 3d Max volume fogs.

My goal  here was to create clouds that could be quickly rendered and quite easy to do. I used a standard volume fog in the background which was computationally effective, and in the foreground ablob mesh (also known as implicit surfaces) was used to create foreground clouds. The foreground clouds were rendered in mental ray, with a depth of field.

Depth of field adds this cloud like apearence.  Softness, which is quite tricky to do with simplle material, and fallofs in opacity chanal.

So even though i like results of this experiment, unfortunately its not the fastest, i meen rendering time. but oh well :)

and a screenshot:

clouds1one other good thing .  your mech topology can be as ugly as it gets, depth of field hids it :)

so its one way of using inplicit surfaces practicaly.


further readings at veterrain.org

(look at section research)

Christmas magic :) in 3d max

"Art", 3d, 3dmax

So I was rendering other day and a strange thing happened.

Suddenly mental ray decided thats its not enough to calculate 100 % of photon emission before starting rendering.  And it reads “rendering” instead of “photon emission”…

oh well, must be one of these Christmas miracles i guess.


So and then I remembered once I had my video card setup wrong in max, and it produced very nice results.  I would like to investigate visual qualities of this error. Not sure though what to do with them exactly.

You can still somehow see the 3d scene (with assistance of strong imagination).
So here are fiew screan grabs I did:


and some real life trees from flickr users

"Art", 3d Vegetation

Ok so I was looking around in flickr for some examples of a situations where automatrick tree generator is not suficient, and i fund lots of good pictures. Some depict tree holes, while others depict tree roots or other parts. The funny thing is that I contacted flicker users who uploaded pictures, and asked theyr permision to use images in this blog,. … guess what 100% of people who replyed to me sead ok… that was a nice surprice actualy. So here we go: flickr-trees

please click on it to enelarge… (i increased contrast in moust of images, i hope authors will not get too angry, its all about showing tree details, not art… well who knows about that :) and if there are any erors wiyh titles names or links, write me, it will be corrected.)


1. Tree with hole through it, Martin LaBar / Martin LaBar, http://www.flickr.com/people/martinlabar/

2. Tree Hole, Cryodigital, http://www.flickr.com/people/cryodigital/

3. Tree Hole Entry, Minnie Wong, http://www.flickr.com/people/26133907@N00/

4. Tree and hole ,Adventurer Dustin Holmes / Dustin Holmes, http://www.flickr.com/people/dustinholmes/

5. Tree holes, Opa Schoch / Shok the German, http://www.flickr.com/people/opaschoch/

6. Hole in the Tree, Kent Sandvik, http://www.flickr.com/people/kentsandvik/

7. Tree with Hole, brents pix’s, http://www.flickr.com/people/brentspix/

8. Baobab tree with a hole through its trunk, tommyimages_com’s, http://www.flickr.com/people/cuba_photos/

9. Hole-y Tree, Kuzeyli48’s, http://www.flickr.com/people/21915247@N07/

and, not saying that its best or anything like that, my manualy hand modeled tree…

medis / tree

and a wiki entry on a matter here :


and some copy paste from this article: (aka interesting fackts (if we trust wiki :) ) )

A tree hollow or tree hole is a semi-enclosed cavity which has naturally formed in the trunk or branch of a tree.

Hollows may form as the result of physiological stress from natural forces causing the excavating and exposure of the heartwood. Forces including wind, fire, heat, lightning, rain, attack from insects (such as termites or beetles), bacteria, or fungi. Also, trees may self-prune, dropping lower branches as they reach maturity, exposing the area where the branch was attached. Many animals further develop the hollows using using instruments such as their beak, teeth or claws.

In Australia, 304 vertebrate species are known to use tree hollows in Australia: 29 amphibians, 78 reptiles, 111 birds, 86 mammals.[2] Approximately 100 of these are now rare, threatened or near-threatened on Australian State or Commonwealth legislation, in part because of the removal of hollow-bearing trees[8][1].


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