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More on lighting and shadows; Architectural builds


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Because I'm so limited to the lighting and shadow detail I can see with my graphics card capabilities, I feel the need to ask around for some tips.

I've got fairly good shadow definition on my prim constructed elements, without adding baked shadows.

There are a few problems, however. Elements that are perpendicular to the light source are brightly lit, too brightly, in fact. Detail and color is lost Tilt the slabs a couple of degrees and it's as if the light doesn't hit them at all. The sculpty elements seem to have do shadow definition at all, (the cave), and interiors under a roof are as brightly lit as the open space outside the structure.

If you have any ideas about how to make a more realistically lit space without using advanced lighting preferences, (but one that will also look realistic to those who do have better graphic capabilities), or can steer me to any tutorials about this, I would greatly appreciate it.

Here's a new example of my sample build:



Note in particular the apparent lack of light on the peaked roof of the pediment, in comparison to the brightly lit cutout of same, as well as the brightly lit interior floor under the cave roof, (visible through the doorway between the central comumns). Am I doing something wrong, or is this just how it's going to look without advanced lighting? I can live with it, I suppose, but if it's possible to improve on it I'm sure going to try.

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I had the same issues when I first started building in SL. The difference being that I could and did use advanced lighting. When I first turned off ALM I was shocked at how terrible my builds looked to someone without ALM. No shadow detail and at some angles and lighting conditions all physical details seemed to disappear. After lots of reading and experimenting with shadow prims (basically a flat prim with an alpha texture of a shadow on it) I found the only way to get a good and realistic effect that works good for most graphic settings is to use baked Ambient Occlusion (NOT baked shadows). I first started out using blender and primstar to make my own sculptmaps with baked AO. Not much later I switched to making mesh (which is actually a lot easier then making sculpties).

 

So I guess you have to ask yourself if you're willing to spend the time to learn how to make your own sculpties or mesh. If not, I think you have done about  all you can (except for maybe using shadow prims, which doesn't look all that great to begin with).

 

If you do decide to go the route of using an external modelling program I would suggest starting with blender. It's a free program and has some nice features for moddeling for SL. There are lots of tutorials on how to use blender (both in general and SL specific) to get you started.

 

If your going with blender take your time to master things in steps:

 

- First learn how to make objects in blender, learn the use of the basic sculpting tools.

- Learn how to UVunwrap your model.

- Learn how to texture and use materials.

- Learn how to bake textures with AO (Ambient Occlusion).

- Learn how to export from blender and into SL.

 

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That's fine, you confirmed everything I already suspected. Without the capability to add ALM, however, I won't be able to see any improvements I might get through using mesh, so my first most essential need is MORE RAM!

I do have Blender installed, but haven't really gotten started on it yet, I was in kind of a rush to make this test sample so I decided to go with what I was familiar with, which is to say: prims.

Most importantly, I just enlisted a couple of assistants who do have better graphics capabilities, so if nothing else they can check my builds and give me advice on any changes I might need to make for the viewing pleasure of those with better computers than mine.

I copied and filed away your steps to mastering Blender, (as well as those recommended by others). 

As soon as I get enough RAM to improve my graphics performance, I'll get right on it.

 

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Smiles.

 

I remember you post from a few days ago. Here's the story -- for better or worse.

 

In the olden days (pre mesh - pre sculpts) folks pretty much built like you are building. There were a few stellar (STELLAR) folks around (and still around LOL) that made their own textures in 3D programs and then mapped those inworld to their prim builds. They were WAY ahead of the curve, likely made tons of money etc etc. Good for them.

 

Then came sculpts (not too great with many issues) and mesh.

 

The real answer to your query is Blender Cycles (or the equivalent in another 3D program). This bakes the shadows into the mesh (well it makes a texture that you add to the mesh and you end up with a very convincing look (with practice) of light and shadow EVEN for folks with lower abilities in the graphics department.

 

That however takes TIME. Lots and lots of time. After almost four years of 40+ hour weeks I feel pretty confident. I wonder about these folks that say the "get it" in a couple of days. I have my doubts as there are SO MANY things you need to consider to make good and convincing mesh.

 

Anyway, that is the LONG answer. The SHORT answer and what was used for a long time years ago would be to make a texture (or a few  - 512 x 512 - 512 x 256 - 1024 x 1024 etc) with you base texture as you have shown with SHADOWED edges around the sides. Actually I am sure you can find these at texture stores as they were all the rage a few years ago. This gives a sort of faux shadow to each prim. Actually it looks pretty good. Not Cycles good by any means but a big step beyond what you have there.

 

Materials came in maybe three years ago and were all the rage. Lots of folks still use them. But to DEPEND on them is a mistake from my point of view. Too many people cannot use advanced lighting AND in many windlight settings normal maps can look really really bad. For that reason -- even though I have a program that will make normal and specular maps -- I rarely use them these days. I rely  on Cycles with a very overall shadow pattern.

 

The bottom line is that if you are serious about building then learning 3D modeling will be extremely important. It is not a short term deal as I said before. It takes a commitment. BUT once you have put in your time, life goes back to fun and creating rather than "how the hell do I do that" mode LOL.

 

All that being said -- when I went over to Opensim a couple of years ago I rediscovered prims and it was great fun. You CAN do a lot with prims and good textures, no argument there.

 

Most everyone started with a cube.

 

Here is a link to my tutorials if they might be of assistance :D

 

https://plus.google.com/100190052320604204973/posts/XD1KKUNKLAK

 

Those are from 2015. Newer ones (very advanced) are in my Google stream.

 

Happy creating!!!!

 

 

 

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Chic Aeon wrote:

Smiles. 

The real answer to your query is Blender Cycles (or the equivalent in another 3D program). This bakes the shadows into the mesh (well it makes a texture that you add to the mesh and you end up with a very convincing look (with practice) of light and shadow EVEN for folks with lower abilities in the graphics department.

 That however takes TIME. Lots and lots of time.

Anyway, that is the LONG answer. The SHORT answer and what was used for a long time years ago would be to make a texture (or a few  - 512 x 512 - 512 x 256 - 1024 x 1024 etc) with you base texture as you have shown with SHADOWED edges around the sides. 

 The bottom line is that if you are serious about building then learning 3D modeling will be extremely important. It is not a short term deal as I said before. It takes a commitment. BUT once you have put in your time, life goes back to fun and creating rather than "how the hell do I do that" mode LOL.

 Most everyone started with a cube.

 

Actually, I'm not really all that dissatisfied, although I know a lot more is possible. I see builds that look as flat as mine, or worse, all over SL every day, and I don't usually even notice that they don't look like photorealistic 3d models of the Parthenon.

I did make a few edge shaded textures, but didn't care for the results I got when applying them. I've heard pros and cons about using shaded textures. I've had good results with shaded textures on small items like jewelry, on the build, not so much.

But I'm just getting started.

I'm not planning on making a killing selling my stuff on the marketplace anytime soon, either.

Me learning Blender is the plan. As for the difficulty, I realize it isn't a 7 day task. I managed to master Final Cut and Flash well enough back in the day, so I'm pretty sure i can wrap my little old mind around a new program, even if it is the dreaded 3D.

 "Most everyone started with a cube"

That's what I'm doing. That, and asking questions whenever I hit a roadblock.

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As Chic Aeon coreectly mentioned it will take lots of learning, practising and experimenting to get your mesh to a professional level. However I do think you can already make some nice simple things and get them textured and uploaded to SL just within a few days to a week.

 

While I agree that the cycles render engine will give you the best result, I think it would be better to start out with the blender render engine. With cycles you'll have to learn using the nodes with can be a study on it's own. The Blender render engine has some simplified nodes you can start out with, but it already does a fine job without them.

 

Normal and specular maps are something more advanced to get into down the road. Not that it is difficult to make a good normal map. It's as Chic Aeon already mentioned quite tricky to get them to work correctly for you. SL has some quircks when it comes to normal mapping but they can be overcome when you know how to account for them.

 

One more thing to add to the end of list of steps I gave you is to familiarise yourself with the concept of LOD (level of detail) and physics models for SL.

 

A good and simpel tutorial to follow that covers all the steps from modelling in blender to uploading to SL (incl. a tutorial on LOD's) is the coffee cup tutorial by Gaia Clary. I would recommend following that tutorial and make your coffee cup for SL. Then do the tutorial again but instead of modelling a coffee cup, try to recreate one of your columns. You should have the basic knowledge to do so by now and it doesn't differ to much from making the coffee cup. You can Just follow the same steps from the tutorial. If you close the curtains, lock the door and unplug the phone you can be sipping your SL coffee from your own mug within a day :)

 

*EDIT

The playlist I first posted was missing some steps, so I made a new one with the correct order to follow.

 

 

 

 

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