Cycles Renderer: how to correctly setup bump maps

As you might know, there we are using Blender’s new render engine Cycles for ManICan. Since all of this is so new I think it’s better if we start from the basics. So for starters here’s what I know about correctly setting up bump maps. I’ll assume you have a basic knowledge of Blender and the Cycles render engine. Also, this Cycles allows to setup basic materials using a property interface, however I’ll be using only the node tree for clarity

First step is to create an Image Texture node and connect it to the displacement socket in your material output. This will inmediatly show some result acording to the image and the mapping coordinate you pick. In my case I’m using UVs



A word about Gamma:

Your monitor does not display colors how they really are stored in the image files. It actually distorts the image’s gamma with a curve. It is important to input images in the correct gamma mode to cycles. For example an image you use for coloring your model would probably be brought in as sRGB space, which means you want Cycles to render it just as you see it in your monitor, distortion and all. Why? because you created it that way, if the image looks good to you in your monitor you want to keep that result. How ever in the case of a bump map cycles should import the image just as it is in the file, ignoring all the correction workflow designed to compensate for your monitor. Confusing? lets get back to this in a later post, I’m really oversimplifying here 🙂

So anyway, in practice changing the color space is really easy. Open the N panel, set the image to Linear and see how the resulting bump effect changes!


I noticed a little glitch in the circles caused by the automatic subdivision of the UVs by the SubSurf modifier. Let’s turn that off


Now, as you can see, the Displacement socket of the output node is colored gray, this means it should receive Value lines. It’s a good idea to listen to that and convert our Color line (Yellow) to Value with a convertor node. This can prevent problems in more complex shaders (mixed closures). Just drag and drop a new RGB to BW node into the existing line and it will connect itself in between!


Controlling the strength of the bump effect is as easy as multiplying that value to the amount you want, let’s reduce it to only 10%


Much better. A Final touch can be grouping this bump map’s “treatment” nodes since we’ll likely be using them a lot all over the scene. This way reusing the same setup over and over becomes really easy!



Edit: someone asked how to tile textures in cycles! It’s very simple, just add a Mapping node and set scale higher than 1

That’s it for now, I hope that helped. Don’t forget to follow us in Twitter and in Facebook. Cool stuff happens there!

keep blending-in!


Character Renders!

I’ve been posting progress pics of the 3D character development on the forums and twitter! Since I’m happy with the current stage (unfinished but pretty much defined) of the models I’ll show it here and continue with environment design! Again, dosage this is not finished, viagra buy textures are quicly mapped using projections and procedural textures  and a lot of “ageing and wearing out” has to be done still 😀 What do you think? (click on the image to advance slideshow)

Character Design! (and introducing Luis)

It came the time for character design. With a couple of ideas in mind I contacted my friend Luis Gadea. He’s a very talented designer from Costa Rica who is currently specializing in traditional animation at Vancouver Film School.

check out hes blog

and vimeo channel

We started with a proportion study. I was looking for a big head but without making them look like kids. Marvin from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy came to mind. He’s able to express complex emotions with hes minimalist design and also, buy even with hes ridiculous proportions, discount you can take him seriously.

After an mail with a wordy explanation and a couple pictures Luis came up with this

Perfect! This doesn’t usually happen but he nailed it at the first try. Very happy with the proportions we had enough to start with MIC’s modeling. Now if you’re familiar with the story, viagra 60mg the girl is actually made from pieces of office supplies! so the proportion study wasn’t enough reference for modeling.

This one took a bit more tries. First sketch by Luis (oops! Spanish quotations, final sketch is in English for you guys)

Humnn not very feminine, specially the torso area and the hips needed to be more curvy. Also pony tail was missing and I wanted some asymmetry!

Second sketch

Much better, the curvy volumes in the torso and the ponytail made out of a paint brush where working. But the asymmetry attempt was too much, she isn’t a pirate!

Here Luis came out with the idea of using a broken grease pencil as one of the arms for articulation, nice! but the pirate hand problem was worse

Now we’re talking! we decided to keep a rather asymmetric length on the arms, nice touch 🙂 and leave the hands made out of paperclips. Now a final version in english!

Hope you like it. Now to design the environment!



Quick Tip: How to set reference images in 3D view, the new way!

After choosing a design style (more on that later) I have started modeling the main character.

In Blender 2.58 there’s a great way to set reference images with the new empty display type “Image”

What this feature added by coder Campbell Barton does is enabling you to display images directly on empties.

Now it has a couple of secrets in it! Let’s look at the setup.

First a full opacity image empty:

Turn down the Opacity:

The problem with this is that when I start modeling, discount the model will block the image completely so it will get hard to match the design. So I made a duplicate of the empty in the same place (I have moved it forward slightly in the pic for clarity) and turned down the opacity.


Now to make this lower opacity version stand in front of any model just set the x-ray option on!

Can you say Sweet:

That’s it! see how you can now see a hint of the drawing even over your mesh object

Hope that helps you modelers. Keep tuned for design news!

Oh I forgot! to make textures in OGL look as crispy as this ones make sure to enable Anisotropic Filtering in the System preferences. It really makes a difference!

Animatic! First Stage

First post here! I’m very happy to be on the team. It is already a lot of fun! I also have the pleasure to work with some great people, see some of them new to the Blender community but you’ll meet them around here soon. Your strength is in your team!

This is how the storyboard (drawn by Sarah) is looking inside Blender. I used my Gimp import addon to quickly load all the layers into textured planes. Then I’m using an animated ortho camera to follow the storyboard’s timing and basic camera pans. Just the first step of setting up the animatic. Now back to work!


More Reseach

    The Year is 1890:

    Setting the setting:

    In the opening shot of this animation we need to fly down through some clouds at night to the artist studio window. I am looking for some inspirational shots to use as reference.


Follow us!

This sounds a bit lame but so true. ..

This project has just begun but we have already got the storyboard on line and the script is there. Today I set up the last links to FaceBook and Twitter. 

The main focus of this project will be to Blog about everything that we come across, buy information pills
problems, capsule triumphs, remedy failures, bugs and everything else. We are hoping this can be a learning experience for others that have the desire to make their own short 3D animation or movie.

We will keep this project as transparent as we can so you can watch the how to as it gets done. You will find video clips, meetings, test clips (and not just the ones that look good) and much more.
We will answer questions and be offering all the assets too.

You can help us by following us and telling others to do so also.

You can read the script on the script page, and see some of the images that inspire this production over on the Inspiration page.

Thank you all,
David Hickson