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Man I Can (MIC) » 2/2 » 3D Animation Project

Cycles Renderer: how to correctly setup bump maps

September 15th, 2011 § 15 Comments


As you might know, 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, 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!


Building Blender 2.59.2 and beyond! For Windows Users

September 12th, 2011 § 15 Comments


You don’t have to Build Blender to use it! You can get a copy of a supported, fully working copy at Or grab the latest Builds from This Tutorial is for those that want to try and Build their own Blender.exe application form source files.

The Set up:

Download and install the following three applications to your PC ( I am using Windows Vista).


Follow the linked image and install TortoiseVNC on your PC. I am running Windows Vista SP2 at the time of this article. We will use this program to collect all the needed files from Blender’s Repository so we can Build Blender. You can get it here.


Next you must obtain a copy of CMake in order for us to “make” a file from the files we collect so Visual C++ can Build Blender. You can get this here.



 Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition:

This is the last program we will need. It is Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition. You can get it here.




Step one: Getting the files.

Now that we have the SVN tools needed (TortioseSVN)  we can now connect to the Blender foundation Repository.

 If you have successfully installed TortioseSVN,  just right click on your desktop and you should see a couple of new options. Choose “SVN Checkout“. A new widow will appear asking for some information. Fill in the following directories…


  …The first is URL of the Repository. Just copy and Paste this directory This is where all the coders do a commit (save all their work to).

The second, the Checkout Directory, is where do you want TortioseSVN to save these files. Please use the following directory C:\Blender\Blender (This could be anywhere on your PC’s hard drive but for now please use that directory. You can change the path later but it will make things easier to find later if you use the one above.)

 A window like this should pop up and download all the files that make up Blender. These are the files you will need to update each time you want to Build a new revised Blender.exe These revisions are  made by the coders as they make commits.  SVN will update only the changed files when you do future Checkouts of the code, this one should be kind of large.

 Step two: Get the LIBS

Now we need a set LIBs (libraries) to aid CMake and Visual C++ 2008 Express as they attempt to build Blender for us. To do this just right click on your desktop and do another checkout with SVN, but this time change the URL of the repository to and the Checkout directory to C:\Blender\lib\Windows

Because  building a 64bit version of Blender requires a patch to work, I will be building a 32 bit version. But if you want to build the 64bit version you will need the 64 bit LIBs. You can get those here:  URL of the repository to and the Checkout directory to C:\Blender\lib\Win64

Now back to our 32 bit build….



Once you have download all the files from the Blender repository you should see the following file structure on your C drive:


Step three: Using CMake

Open the CMake application from where ever you installed it and you should get this nice window. 

CMake will create what is called a “solution” for Visual Studio 9 2008 Express to use to build Blender from all those source files downloaded. We will tell CMake that our source code is in C:/Blender/Blender and that it should build the solution or Binaries here C:/Blender/build 


Then click the configure button in the Lower left to open a pop up window to tell CMake that we will be using Visual Studio 9 2008 (if that is what you are using too).

Then Click Finish.



The results is a checklist of sorts. Here you can include or remove options that will be in your new Blender.exe.

Note: I didn’t make any changes to these but to include just be sure the little tick box has a check and to remove make sure there is no check mark in the tick box. If you make any changes you will need to click on the Configure button again. If you get errors you may want to try this with all the options off.

Now Click on the Generate button!

 Step four: Using Microsoft Visual C++

This is the part we have been work towards. Navigate to our new Solution called Blender.sln it should be in C:/Blender/build/

Double click that file and MSVS will open.

Two important settings need to be made in MSVS before we build Blender:


1. Be sure to change Debug to Release.

 2. Then look for INSTALL and Right click that and select build!


 Finally: time to enjoy Blender!

To find your new Blender.exe just navigate over to C:\Blender\build\Bin\Release, there you will find

your brand new Blender.exe! Enjoy!


 Final notes: Keeping up with new builds:

The Blender coders commit all the time so you may want to up date your Build. To do this just right click on your Blender repository copy (remember C:/Blender/Blender ?) and select SVN Update. Check out you LIBs too just to be safe.

Now start at step three above to rebuild a new solution for MSVS. Navigate to your Blender.sln and double click…


Problems with MSVS: call Support at 800-936-4900

Problems with CMake: Support is Here

Problems with TortoiseSVN: Go Here

Problems with this tutorial: Leave a comment.

Problems with to much money? Send some to us!

Special thanks to Mike Pan for his help with this and the guys in IRC #Blendercoders for their help!



SVN and sharing.

September 6th, 2011 § Leave a Comment


Cyber studio back bone:

Ok, so the fact is we are a cyber studio and we will someday all meet, but as it is now we have to share files remotely or this will be a huge mess.

While Daniel is working on setting up the animatic and Milan is making Models we need to share these files and not step on each other toes by breaking what the other guy does. What we are using is an SVN server to store the files and each person can go in make changes, add files and get new copies to work on. Each of us is on a different Operating system also. Daniel is on Linux, Milan is on Mac OSX and I am on Windows and Mac OSX.

In order for us to share these files we need a server!

I just jumped over to my host (Dreamhost, whom I love by the way) and set up an SVN repository with cool log in names and passwords for everyone! Then I passed them out to each person that will need access. Daniel uses a terminal to login and grab his “Working copy” I used an application called Radipsvn and Tortiose to grab my copy and I pointed Milan to a great article on SVN on a mac. I also found this cool GUI application called Versions for him to use but is costs $55 us. We shall see what works best for him

The way it works:

how SVN helps

Image credit goes to Versions

It is rather an easy concept really, one guy makes a file and others in the group can make changes to it. Each of us can see what files have changed and by whom and when the changes were made.

Cost to run this is nearly nothing due to the fact that we are just using my existing Host (did I mention Dreamhost?) and we are using opensource solutions to access the repository.

Sharing has never felt so good.


Table model – making of

September 5th, 2011 § Leave a Comment


Hello guys!!!

As you saw in my previous post on the forums I have finished a table model based on Luis reference. The task to complete this model was challenging because (for this and every other model that will come in future) I have to think mostly on poly count.
The first part of the table that I focused on was a complicated ones (the ones that should have more faces) and that is the main support of the table and center support of the table.

Next, I cropped the reference image to use it as a guide. I then inserted the image into Blender (by using “Background images” option in Properties panel – N key),
Then, I created only half of the model and instead of using mirror modifier I used what is called a group instances. And that was the technique I used for the rest of the table.

The upper part of the table was made by using a smooth faces function (as well as every other part of the table that has hard edges). So the thing is that before starting on something I add a smooth to whole upper part, and after that play around with loop-cuts and slide function, by adding as much loops as I need, mostly on the ends of the model.

So now the complete table has around 36k ploy, which is quite good, compared to the 500k I had previously.


for people with recent Firefox or Chrome, watch the table in 3D!





Character Renders!

August 15th, 2011 § Leave a Comment


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, this is not finished, 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)

July 20th, 2011 § 1 Comment


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, even with hes ridiculous proportions, 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, 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!

July 9th, 2011 § Leave a Comment


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, 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

July 9th, 2011 § Leave a Comment


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, 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

June 9th, 2011 § Leave a Comment


    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!

May 30th, 2011 § 1 Comment


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, problems, triumphs, 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

Welcome Man I Can (MIC)

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