My first foray into normal maps. Trek frequently uses this particular texture — often on pillars or support structures. It’s simple enough, but the extra detail would add a lot of geometry to a model.
Thus normal maps. Normal maps say, “pretend that this flat surface has extra detail on it, and use that pretend detail when you calculate light interaction.” It’s all pretend, but it’s a special form of pretend that can be hardware-accelerated.
Basically, to make this work I have to create a model of complex geometry and use a Blender tool to create (“bake”) a normal map by projecting onto a much simpler shape. The end result is a very blue-coloured image that I can use in other models.
Net result: the surface is flat. It just doesn’t look flat. And if you look at the bounce light from the floor, that bounce light is emphasizing the texture shape.
Like I say: first foray. I barely know what I’m doing.
I think I’ve managed to restore cross-posting to Dreamwidth functionality. Dreamwidth recently changed the way it handles authentication, and my WordPress plugin broke. (Dreamwidth’s post includes the words “breaking changes to older clients” and, hey, it broke my older client. (Are there any newer clients, though?)
I’ve been trying to grow my skill with Blender, and a big part of my approach has been to re-model some stuff that I’d previously modelled in SketchUp.
And, yes, there’s more Star Trek stuff, ’cause that’s what I was mostly toying with when I was playing with SketchUp.
An early re-model was this wire-framed chair that shows up in some of the later TNG movies.
Blender has some different approaches to particular modelling tasks. In this case, I was using curves to get the frame of the chair. Basically, I draw out the lines that the frame follows, and then give those lines some substance, making it seem like it’s made of metal tubing.
I decided I wanted to refresh my Twitter banner, and I decided on a “TO Comix and me” theme.
So the new banner includes a bunch of characters I created and/or co-created while working on various TO Comix books.
Some of my co-creators include Xan Grey, Brenna Baines, Dee Williams and Meaghan Carter, and Alex Moore.
I wrote all of these characters, and it’s pretty seductive to think “before I came along, nothing about these characters existed, but then I put them in the story, and now they exist, and therefore I created them.” But the artist contribution to characters is pretty important and writers need to acknowledge their contribution.
I remember the early eighties, when “creator owned content” was a huge deal. Marvel and DC resisted the idea, because they wanted to claim ownership of all the characters created for them. (DC finally partially relented and credits creators of individual characters according to some byzantine rules). Marvel has little interest in acknowledging individual creators other than Stan Lee (and now, thanks to a lawsuit settlement that avoided a supreme court hearing, Jack Kirby). And they’re the big two. Most of the 80s-era creator-owned content publishers died out (although some of the stuff created in that era, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, continues to be thriving properties.
It’s that time: time to talk about my faves in TV and movies. Once again, this year, I’m gonna start with TV, because my favourite shows frankly stand head and shoulders above my favourite movies.
Number 5: Watchmen. When I first heard that they were planning a show based on the Watchmen comic series, I was pretty skeptical. Even more so when I heard that it was going to be a sequel/continuation of the original story. This show ended up being surprisingly good. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to see the show without knowing the original comic series, but I didn’t really see anyone expressing confusion on the Twitters. The show has some weaknesses: I mostly didn’t think that the storyline involving the “Lord of a Country Estate” was particularly compelling. And while the show seemed to want me to like the various cop characters like Red Scare and Pirate Jenny, they never really overcame the stank of ACAB.
I feel like the story is done, now, and that there shouldn’t be more seasons, but if they do more seasons and keep the quality, I’ll be right there. Importantly, a second season could help us resolve a key storyline that needs to be completed: we need to know what’s going on with Lube Man.
I think I want to post more of my art. Both because it gives me a firm reason to get more stuff into a state that feels approximately finished, and because I believe that putting art into the world is a good thing. I just need to get over the fact that sometimes I spend time on art that’s nerdy and fanfiction-y.
Here’s a piece that I finished recently. I drew it as part of a Star Trek table-top RPG that I’m currently playing in. Four of our characters went off in a shuttle to investigate stuff in a nearby planetary system.
I tend to nerd hard on some of the details. Our heroes are flying off in an Argo-type shuttle (seen in Star Trek: Nemesis, possibly the least-loved TNG film). We’ve never seen the inside of the Argo, but I speculated that it looked a lot like the Danube-class runabout (the runabout set was redressed as the Type-11 shuttle for Star Trek: Insurrection).