Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New Mexico Sunset

Here is a new digital painting I've been working on. I love those New Mexico colors...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Announcing New Blender Book: Creating Diamonds in Blender

Over the past few months I have been working on a new Blender book, and finally it's out! So, I am officially announcing the release of my first book on Blender, Creating Diamonds in Blender! The book is available in the Apple iBooks store and in Amazon in electronic format—a true e-book, not a PDF. Shortly, the book will be available for print on demand.

The book is organized into a series of step-to-step tutorials geared for beginning Blender users. In the book, I cover basic modeling techniques, a bit of interface customization, hot key workflow, camera, lights, scene background, simple particle systems, and of course, material creation with Cycles. Additionally, there are two medium to advanced tutorials that deal with applying random colors to a material, and learning the basics of compositing. The core, and the inspiration really, for this book centers around creating a diamond material that produces believable color dispersion. For those interested, here is an excerpt from the book explaining what color dispersion is:
“Color dispersion comes from different wavelengths of light refracting at different angles. The compounded refraction produces rainbow effects inside the objects, and on the caustics as well. Figure 1 shows an example of dispersion.”
Figure 1. Diamond is clear, but the refraction variance for different
wavelengths produces the colored highlights observed
in this image.  Brillanten, by Mario Sarto - Self-photographed.
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution
Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Here is the introduction to the book:

“The goal of this tutorial is to provide an introduction to modeling, material creation, and rendering in Blender. By the end of it, you will have created your first render in Blender. You will also be learning about include lighting, setting up a camera for rendering, and the basics of color correction and special effects. This is a beginner’s tutorial, so I am assuming a very basic knowledge of Blender, namely, how to select objects (Right-click by default) and how to navigate inside the 3D Viewport: zooming, orbiting, and panning. Figure 1 shows what the final image will look like:

Figure 1. Final result of the tutorial
For the material creation and rendering part of the tutorial, we will be working with Blender’s main render engine, Cycles. When Cycles was introduced a few years ago, it promised to become an alternative to Blender’s internal renderer, which had become outdated. Nowadays, it is a fully supported and upgraded tool, with new features being added constantly. Many commercial projects have already taken advantage of Cycles. Learning Cycles, therefore, is no longer optional—it is essential.
A while ago, I became intrigued about color dispersion in glass. I have always loved rendering glass. There is something about the refractive and reflexive chaos inside glass that I find very appealing. Color dispersion can be seen in those rainbows that appear in glass and water when light hits them directly. It is essentially light of different wavelengths being bent at different angles. Some physically based render engines incorporate color dispersion internally, but Cycles does not. So, I set out to see if I could fake color dispersion in Cycles. I tried achieving this effect in several ways, and in the end I settled for the setup I present in this tutorial. I hope that, beyond its usefulness as a material, by going though the necessary steps to create it, you will learn a few things about Blender and Cycles, and be able to apply that knowledge to your own projects!”

Here is the table of contents:
  1. Modeling a Diamond
  2. Putting the Scene Together
  3. Creating the Diamond Material
  4. Rendering the Scene
  5. Appendix I: Coloring the Diamonds
  6. Appendix II: Compositing

Also, here are a few screenshots from the book:

From the Appendix II: Compositing


From chapter 1, Modeling a Diamond

From chapter 2, Putting the Scene Together

From Appendix II: Coloring the Diamonds