As the title stated, I am new to Blender and have just started my first project- Designing an abandoned insane asylum. It’s a bit expansive possibly, but I figure if I tackle something intricate, it will give me the best exposure to a wide variety of the tools, tricks, and techniques involved with Blender, and I’ll be working with everything from environments and lighting to object modelling as the set comes together, and so far I would say I’m doing a pretty good job.
At any rate, after going through the forums for a couple of weeks, I have so far been unable to find a good guide as to the whys/whens/hows as far as project structuring is concerned. So, I thought I would basically outline what I’ve been doing, what I hope to do, and hopefully this is of use to other newbies and possible some of the veterans can comment on ways that I should approach the project differently and give me a heads up on some of the problems I will come up against and how to avoid them.
My building has multiple wings and floors, and of course numerous cells, offices, open areas etc. So I started by creating the basic floor plan in GIMP and then pulling it into Blender as a background image and building my walls over the blueprints. However, I immediately noticed problems of scaling- I thought I had set the image up to be at the right resolution, but when I pulled it into Blender, it drew the lines thicker than I had, and no longer matched the orientation of the world grid. So, I scrapped that and have been building it basically free hand, extending cubes and planes into a configuration that roughly corresponded to my drawings. But, then I ran into an issue with a lot of vertices and sides that overlapped just slightly, and so when I would make an adjustment, the walls would act in ways that I didn’t anticipate.
I tried using the “delete duplicates” and was able to clean up a number of them, but still had to go through manually and check every corner, because no matter what the unit was set at for the tool, numerous vertices still wouldn’t snap properly.
For the first part of the project, I was joining all the pieces as they became finished, hoping that this would help prevent surprises, but as the building expanded, I am increasingly concerned that while it might prevent problems, it could also impede later editing. So I started breaking them up into smaller chunks using layers. Also, to help prevent duplicate vertices, I started applying grids to each piece. Since most of the geometry as far as the building itself is concerned is pretty regular, building on square meshes and using snap to vertex and automerge editing to make sure that everything lines up squarely and it seems to be going all right so far.
At this point, I believe I have most of the building in place and will only have minor tweaks going forward.
So, the first questions are, what advantage is there to joining versus parenting, is there any advantage to having the building as one piece, as opposed to many? Should I be working to eliminate unnecessary polygons as I go? Like the grid meshes that I am using to line up the floors- Should I be merging those into a single piece, or leave it in squares and subdivide later if I need to make changes to an area.
The next step in my project is (I think) putting holes into walls, floors and ceilings, putting in doors, windows and the some of the larger elements. Any tips, tricks, or tutorials that you would recommend for this?
After the building is exactly how I want it, I will be going through and adding textures and lighting, as well as things like standing water and other elements.
Then, once those pieces are done, I will be going through and adding furnishings and other objects to make it feel used and occupied over decades. I have a number of example objects that I have found on other blender sites, but will end up building my own using them as rough guides, and building my own stuff as well.
Then, I will be adding debris and other finishing touches.
At that point, I think it will be done (though I realize that I am probably looking at another couple weeks of work at my current rate) and it will be time to actually try rendering the thing. I fully expect it to take a long time since I am going for a photo-realistic, or near photo-realistic look, but if there are things that I can do to reduce render time, I would appreciate any tips.
I am at a stage in the project where, if there’s a better way to do what I want, I am not committed to my current methods and can take the extra time to make sure that it’s done according to best practices (as much as there are any), and can rebuild areas relatively easily if it will make the whole thing go smoothly.
Additionally, here are some of the questions that I have had as I’ve been going along:
Is there a way to go through the environment in 3D? I want to make sure that I’ve got things lined up in ways that work well for the camera, and trying to manipulate the view is kind of finicky at times. I don’t care if it’s low-res, but I want to make sure that the sense of scale is correct- Trying to find that balance between things feeling like it’s an actual hospital, while maintaining the claustrophobic sense I am going for is difficult with the standard views and trying to pan/zoom.
If corners and faces over lap, what sort of rendering issues will I have? My only exposure to 3D environments before this was in editing Doom wads back in the 90’s and I know that texture overlap caused a lot of problems, but I have no idea how well Blender does with this sort of thing.
For things like doors and windows, as mentioned earlier, or wall trim and other smaller touches, is it better to actually build them, or is it better to to use textures with the fixtures on them, or is this dependent on where the camera is going to be? E.G I’m thinking at a distance, I can probably get away with using an image of a window, but as the camera approaches, there will be distortion, especially at angles. Or is Blender pretty good about making the necessary calculations that those sorts of things generally don’t become problematic? Since I don’t know exactly where I want the cameras to be, I’d like to try and do everything in a way which increases my flexibility in that regard.
I am hoping, ultimately, to use this model for photos and videos using chroma-key replacement so, what I’d like to do with the finished model is break it into pieces like the sets for Nightmare Before Christmas, so that I can stage the shots I want without having to spend days or weeks on rendering parts of the environment that are never seen. Is there a good tool for this?
Even though most of the shots I am visualizing are internal, I know there will be times where the outside world will be visible- Through a window, hole, etc… What is the best way to accomplish this? I know I can include background images, or possibly put the entire thing in a box with the containing walls having textures of the sky or whatever… Are there any tips as far as this goes, so that it isn’t readily apparent that it IS in a box?
Do objects outside of the world grid still get rendered? For example, one of the buildings that I have, includes a basement. Since I started building on 0 Z, the basement currently exits below the world grid. Is this okay, or should I just raise the entire set and put in a plane for the ground, and have the basement start at 0?
When it comes to using chroma-key to add players to the photos/videos, are there any tricks when it comes to lighting, either of the players themselves during filming, or lighting in the environment, to make it easier to make sure they blend well?
Are there any suggestion, tips, tricks, or tools that Blender has, or which can be added on, which would facilitate this project in any way?
As I get further along, I expect I will have more specific questions, but hopefully this is enough to keep going for now.
Thank you everyone!