Category Archives: blender

Blender PBRT exporter test scene.

I got contacted on twitter by @Cao_Jiayin on twitter today, and he asked about a scene that I had posted previously, specifically the ‘glass monkey’ scene.

I have now re-created that scene, and exported it, zipped it, uploaded it so that you can render it out if you want to test a bit. You have to adjust ‘”integer pixelsamples” [32]’ to something much higher if you want a clean render. I rendered it over night, I set it to low by default now
so that you can quickly get a look on how the render will look.

The ply mesh is pretty dense, that’s to prevent any artifacts in the smooth surface. You can download the zip from from here:

https://stigatle.no/owncloud/index.php/s/ynMVxiLrBRQeFQX

Status and info on my PBRT exporter for blender.

I want to write a bit about my first blender development project, if you follow me on twitter then you probaly already know its a renderer exporter for PBRT render engine.

The reason why I wrote it as an exporter is because it was the easiest way to get started. The project started when I decided to stop using 3dsmax and go to blender full-time, so I needed to learn everything I needed about blenders C/Python API while making this.
It has not been as hard as I feared, 16 years of 3dsmax daily + many years of maxscript and 3dsmax c++ SDK experience helped a lot.

I’ve spent a lot of years on the luxrender project working on the 3dsmax plugin, but after I stopped using 3dsmax it did not make sense to me to continue working on that, also the integration of luxrender in blender had already been done, so I took a look at my PBRT book and decided that I wanted to spend time with that, also later on I want to dive deeper into render engine development, so it makes perfect sense to me to use pbrt as boilerplate. But first it deserves a proper exporter, which is what I’m developing right now.

The way the exporter works right now is that it exports the scene to the format that pbrt can read, and you render the resulting scene with pbrts command-line client.

Currently the shader GUI are written in C, the reason is simply that I was not able to make it work the way I wanted in python. The downside of this is that I cannot release it in its current state as an add-on, I need to fork blender instead. So right now I’m at a crossroad, rewrite the c parts in python to make it an add-on, or do full c implementation and have it as a fork, then later do a full implementation like any other internal renderer in c, like cycles for example, that would also mean render properly from inside blender and not externally like I do now.

I’m leaning towards doing a full c implementation, but I also see the benefit of making it with python as an add-on, so Ill think a bit more about it before I make my final decision.

So, here’s a list of what I have already implemented:

*Custom shader guis with all their settings.
* Mesh export
* Camera export, with DOF setting.
* Texture map export.

Currently I have no light support except a hard-coded hdri light source, the plan is to add all lights including environment map support next.

I will openly admit that I wanted to sell the add-on, but I decided against it, the reason why I decided not to was because the market for such a thing is very small, so there’s no reason to earn maybe 100 dollars and go trough all the hassle of selling it, id rather make it open source and free for anyone to enjoy, and maybe inspire others the same way I did when I worked on the luxrender plugin.

I also earn enough at my regular job, so I have no reason to do this for money, its my passion and I love to code and help others in my free time, so it makes perfect sense to me to do this.

So, now you might wonder when the source will be released – I will do that shortly, just some more features to add (lights, render settings panel), and Ill decide if Ill rewrite the C code in python first.

Time to show some test renders, you might have seen these before on twitter, but I figured it would be nice to collect them here in this blog post.
And as you will see – some of these are grainy, I simply did not render them long enough
PBRT is CPU only, so rendering takes a lot of time.

Switching to blender on all personal projects.

So, in December (2017) I decided to leave 3dsmax and switch to blender full time for all personal work. I’ve been using 3dsmax for half my life, and still use it at work (our whole workflow there is based around autodesk software), byt at home it enabled me to completely ditch window – which has been a goal of mine for a long time, it was only 3dsmax holding me back.

Blender has been on my radar for a long time, but I never found the proper motivation to learn it – since I was quicker in 3dsmax anyways. But now I have taken the time to really learn it, and the more I use it the more I like it. I’ve spent a lot of time learning the hotkeys, I use the default blender hotkeys, and that was the key for me to really learn it. Now after just a few personal projects I’m as fast as that as 3dsmax.

My next step is to focus a lot on plugin \ addon development for blender, this is where I struggle the most right now, I’m very good with the 3dsmax SDK, but not with blender’s API yet. I do however develop a exporter in python for a external render engine, and by doing that I learn what I need.

There are many advantages for using blender, but for me the biggest reasons are the following:

  • Fast development.
  • Open source \ free.
  • Cross platform.
  • Very easy to compile from source.
  • PBR workflow in viewport (EEVEE).
  • Great documentation \ online resources.
  • Great community – all about sharing.
  • Open roadmap and planning.

There are many reasons to leave 3dsmax behind, and for me it’s these things:

  • No more free home license when we have 3dsmax at work.
  • Subscription only (200 usd a month).
  • Removed Mentalray , and nvidia stops development of mentalray.
  • Added Arnold, which cannot even do texture baking.
  • Iray cannot do texture baking either.
  • Slow development and a focus that’s not clear.
  • Not cross-platform (the only one that’s windows only..).
  • Closed source.
  • Do not care about the ‘small’ users.

There is one downside as well, and that was stopping the development of LuxMax, that was the hardest project to put away and stop working on. It’s been my pet project for many years, and I’m very proud of it, but I decided to stop working on it since I do not use 3dsmax anymore and want to focus on blender.

Testing CentOS 7 as desktop \ developer OS.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to give CentOS 7 a try as my main OS,
the reason why – is because it’s the closest you get to redhat without paying,
and I’ve been running everything from Debian to Arch, gentoo and others, but now I wanted a rock solid OS that feels predictable,
CentOS feels like the natural choice for that kind of system.

What worried me a bit was outdated software, that has been a issue before with other OS’es,
but after I checked aroud a bit I found out about elrepo,
which is a repository that you can add to CentOS so that you get better hardware support and drivers.

The ELRepo Project focuses on hardware related packages to enhance your experience with Enterprise Linux.
This includes file system drivers, graphics drivers, network drivers, sound drivers, web cam and video drivers.

The first big problem I ran into when I installed CentOS 7 was the kernel,
the netboot \ install DVD did not work as it should on my hardware, but the live-DVD did boot up and install.
The problem I had was that the hardware did not get detected properly,
and after I installed the OS trough live-DVD I decided to upgrade the kernel,
this again caused hardware issues, the usb froze and keyboard \ mouse stopped working,
so that I could not enter my full disk encryption pass phrase at start-up.

So I decided to install it again – fresh install with the live DVD, then I installed the kernel through this guide.
Getting the latest kernel fixed the issue I had with usb locking up, letting me log in and use it.

The next problem I had was to get the Nvidia drivers up and running, but after some trail and error I ended up using this guide.

When it comes to games I mostly run games via steam, that works as expected.
I also run Steam for windows through PlayOnLinux , so to get that to work on CentOS 7 I just grabbed the latest standalone package and run it there.
Then I chose to install ‘steam’ in the games list, accepting the defaults, then I go to it’s properties and make it run ‘wine staging’ instead of the default one.
Steam with wine on CentOS 7 runs like a charm.

I have a big list of games that I’ve tested here:
https://stigatle.no/index.php/2016/08/02/steam-games-for-windows-that-works-with-wine-on-linux/

I also buy games on Gog , since I like DRM free copies of games that I actually own.
They list each games dependencies – all tough they are listed with the names they have in Ubuntu, so some times you
have to jump through a couple of hoops to get the right ones installed in CentOS 7.

The trickiest problem I had with my games there was the ‘ libcurl-gnutls.so.4 ‘ dependency,
but in the end you could do the following to make it work:

cd /usr/lib
sudo ln -s libcurl.so.4 libcurl-gnutls.so.4

Also with QT Creator I had issues with libGL.so \ libGL.so.1 ,
the solution works the same way as the libcurl fix:

yum install mesa-libGL-devel mesa-libGLU-devel
cd /usr/lib
ln -s libGL.so.1 libGL.so

There are many repositories you can add that enhances your CentOS experience, you can look at them here:
https://wiki.centos.org/AdditionalResources/Repositories

Now I can say that everything I need works, nvidia, steam, all my games, all development tools, 3D tools –
everything I need, and it feels solid.

My render exporter \ integration project

The current renderer I’m writing a exporter for
(and later a proper integration) into blender is Pbrt.

The reason why I chose this renderer is because I have the book and I really like the renderer, and having a proper exporter \ integration of this renderer in blender is something a lot of people might find useful, especially if they have the book and want to really test the renderer.

And as you might know – many of the render engines on the market today started as Pbrt source code.

As you can see on my site I used to work with 3dsmax, but I’ve always had my eye on Blender,
and recent events with 3dsmax\Autodesk made me switch over full time to Blender.
I have been developing Luxmax (3dsmax integration of LuxRender for 3dsmax) for many years, but now I feel
that blender is where the future is, it is the best open source 3d application that exists today, and it will continue to be that,
so investing time into it is not something I’ll regret in any way.
And the best part of ditching 3dsmax is that you can get rid of windows at the same time, I now exclusively use Debian.

One other important reason why I do this is that I want to get more into the render engines as well, I want to be able to add to it, implement new things, learn new stuff, and that’s why I choose pbrt , the book really completes it.

Luxrender already has a great plugin for blender, and later I will most likely join the development on that,
but for now (since I’m busy with work and family life) I need a project I can do in my own tempo, and I need to learn all the nuts and bolts in blender.
Switching from 16 years of 3dsmax to Blender was surprisingly easy, and developing for it is not hard either, I’m used to maxscript\c++ so I feel
right at home with Python and c\c++ in Blender.

I have not decided yet if this will be a open source script, fully free, or if  you should be able to buy it instead (or maybe try the ‘patreon‘ thing).
I will decide on that in a bit once it’s more feature complete, currently it’s in its infancy.

For now I have a simple test render with a basic shader:

My new project

I’ve been thinking about it for a long while, and now I’ve decided to invest all my free time into it.
I will integrate a renderer with Blender, first as a exporter for the file formats that the renderer uses, then
do a better integration later on when that is feature complete.

I have ditched windows completely, and with that 3dsmax. I still use 3dsmax at work every day,
but now I do not use it for anything at home. I invest all my time into blender now, that makes perfect sense to me.
I really enjoy blender, and after 16 years of 3dsmax it feels great to have a fully open source work flow.

Here is a sample of what’s to come:

Customizing blender by compiling from source

There is one small issue in blender that I’ve really disliked, and that is the rounded corners on every GUI item.
I absolutely hate rounded corners, I like it straight and flat.
So today I hunted it down in the source code and fixed it, that’s the beauty of open source – fix it yourself.

You can see the difference in the screen shot here :

remove-round-cornersLeft side is the rounded corners, right side is the GUI with my fix.

The patch has been submitted:
https://developer.blender.org/D2178

Blender – wireframe on shaded

There is one thing I really missed when switching from 3dsmax to blender, and that was wire-frame on shaded view-port mode.

This is one feature I used in 3dsmax all the time, for blender you can get the same by installing this script:
http://www.pasteall.org/57345/python

If you are new to installing scripts, then create a file, for example ‘wireshaded.py’, then copy the text and paste it in there, make sure the indentation is correct, then go to blender’s settings\addons window, select .’install from file’, then point to your script file, enable the listed addon, then click ‘save user settings’.
installwireshaded
You can then toggle the wire-frame on shaded mode by going to the object menu, then select ‘Toggle Wire’.

Here is a screenshot of it when it’s enabled:

wireshaded

Learning blender properly

After 16 years of 3dsmax every single day – I’ve started to force my self to work in blender on my own personal projects.
At work I still use 3dsmax daily, but I’ve always had an eye for blender.

The biggest reason why I find blender so intriguing is because it’s open source and free, and also it enables me to work in my favorite OS – Debian.
If something is ‘wrong’ in blender – I can fix it, if I need a tool – I can easily add it any way I like.
And the blender development is never slowing down, I can pull any version I want from source and just build it.
It’s not like the 12 month release cycle from Autodesk.

Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoy 3dsmax, but I also love the freedom blender gives me, both as a artist, and as a developer.

This is a screenshot of my current model, I’m making it from the photo you see here.
(It’s my first blender project, and is a work in progress).

3dmodel

 

I chose this model because it’s unique and fun to work with, and I enjoy mechanical rigging.

The idea is to make it photo real, and create a high-poly version, and a real-time version.
Then rig it for animation, but also for ‘real-time’ use in blender game engine \ Blend4web, so that you can drive that thing around in real-time.

 

 

Making my next plugin a blender plugin.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, and I’ve been thinking about starting a new project that I can do for my self that is not related to Luxrender\LuxMax.

I won’t say exactly what it is yet – but it’s a new plugin.
The thing I’ve been thinking of is if I should make it for 3dsmax or blender, and I’ve decided to get more into blender now.
And I want to make my next project for that. I’ve been using linux for 6 years or so, and blender on and off for a long while.

The reason is simply that I want to learn more about the code for blender, and I’ve been working for so long in 3dsmax that I now want to code for something else, and work fully on linux (Debian).

I do not like the way windows is going (in regards with privacy and all that), and I stay away from windows as best I can, but that’s impossible if you work with 3dsmax on a daily basis.

My bread and butter comes from my daily job – I’m a project engineer at National Oilwell Varco, been there for 10 years now.
Currently I work with 3dsmax every day, and I code in c++\c# (I work with realtime simulation).
That part of my life will not change.

But at home  where I also do a lot of coding (check under ‘Software’ in the top menu) I now want to focus on more open source software, and not only 3dsmax as I’ve mostly been doing the past 6 years or so at home.

First now I’ll get blender compiled from source, dig into some of the bugs, see if I can help the blender project out a bit, then move from there and see where it takes me.

I always like to learn new things, and now I want to focus more on linux and blender.

Also – it feels really good to work on a free OS with free software.