Piranha4D's Learning and Practice 2022

Thanks for the tips!

Yeah, Eevee doesn’t render shadows from HDRIs. This was in May when I had used Blender for 3 weeks and knew eff-all; I’ve since learned more about how to set up decent lighting for Eevee. Now I have an extra light group only for Eevee and match the sun to the HDRI with the Sun Position add-on so I get pretty nice Shadows that work the same as the HDRI alone in Cycles. And I have a World shader group that’s more adaptable than what I knew then. Baby steps. :wink:

Back then I picked this HDRI for the sweeping grassy background, so the scene would sort of seamlessly fade into that. Didn’t pay any attention to the sun beyond very general time of day.

I mostly use Eevee at this point because my potato just takes too long with Cycles, and Eevee can produce really nice images if one learns how to use it. But I’m also not paying particularly much attention to rendering yet, just enough to make it look halfway decent.

Your advice (thanks again) with the max transparency bounces did the trick for Cycles; I raised them gradually to 32:


2022-05-24 Simple Game Assets

Grant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEXDylc0Rgg and

More stencil painting:

I ran into a problem with the rightmost object; when I was stenciling it, the effect wasn’t lined up correctly, and bits of the stencil also appeared on other parts of the object. Object scale was applied, and the texture looked properly applied to the right UVs in the image editor. I was stumped for quite a while – this didn’t happen to Grant. In general I am a bit more adventurous with his tutorials now; I don’t necessarily follow them to the dot, but I still stay fairly close. I couldn’t find exactly what I had done wrong since I had just used a couple of different textures, everything else was the same.

Turns out the culprit was that I had scaled the texture coordinates of that object in the Mapping node so the bumps would be smaller, and the Image texture was set to Repeat. I fixed it by returning the scale to 1, which is a cheap fix and I was gonna go back later and see how I could do this correctly instead. And then I forgot. These Sketchbook entries are good at reminding me of such things.

Something else I learned the hard way: don’t just willy-nilly load your base texture as the Image texture to paint on! Make a copy first if you’re planning to use that base texture again. I managed to ruin two before I realized what I was doing. I also need to organize my Blender textures better since I don’t really want to pack everything.

Music: Bump of Chicken, a Japanese rock band. (I’ve decided it might be fun to add what I’m listening to.) My Japanese doesn’t really improve much from this because I tune out lyrics, but in this case I can sing along to a lot of it because I’ve heard the songs so often. I have every album these guys have ever released. They always cheer me up; I’m bopping in my chair. I tend to listen to long mixes from the same artists for hours, sometimes days.


Ahhh yep that’s a classic, we’ve all done that one before :sweat_smile:

My personal structure - I make a folder for each project inside my larger Blender folder. I put my project, textures, and multiple backups + auto saves in there. When I’m done with a project, I zip the whole folder and toss it in the Archives folder. So like this:

—— projects
————Project A
————Project B.zip


Yeah, that’s a good structure. That’s similar to how I usually do it. So why not here? Long story short: pessimistic and lazy, the unholy combination of doom. :wry grin: (oh look, there’s no emoji for my most common emotion, :snrk: (none for that either). And now everything is in a messy state and I’ll break every darn texture connection for existing files if I clean it up. :whine: (really not? Oh come on.)

So obviously that’s what I need to do today. Thanks for beating me gently over the head with how an organized person does things, you know, professional-like.

1 Like

You should know I’m not actually organized :sweat_smile: I’m a bit obsessive about my Blender files but that’s just because my drive holding a year and half of Blender work crashed a while back and destroyed everything, so I maintain a tight file structure and backup system only out of fear :sweat_smile:

Hey, it’s a good way to live, I’m not judging :wink:

1 Like

2022-05-25 Pseudo-Greek pottery

No tutorial, just a continuation of stencil painting since I felt I had barely scratched the surface (ha!).

Where are the layers? I cannot stand painting without layers (because I am not good at it, so I screw things up, and it’s nice not to have messed your base texture or what you did previously). Why could I not select only specific faces to paint on instead of glopping it all over?

I know I could just take the texture with UVs into the GIMP and do it there, but I actually like painting in 3D quite a bit better so far, and there simply have got to be ways to make this easier (Grant didn’t touch on this in these videos – he will do so in others, but I didn’t get to them yet).

For those on tenterhooks: There’s a (free) add-on for layers, Tx Layer.

And one can indeed select individual or groups of faces. In the Viewport header is a little face symbol next to the Mode Switcher, that turns on masking. Select individual faces; box and circle and lasso select also work. For this it helps to have the Wireframe Overlay on. But I learned you can also just switch into Edit Mode, do the selection there, and switch back.

What I continued to find awkward is to apply a stencil along a straight line around the vase. The ortho views only get you so far because of the distortion once you get to the edges. Then I started rotating the vase with r-z to maintain an ortho view and that helped, but it’s still not ideal.

Still, I think these are pretty good for the level I was at.

Base texture is procedural and then baked, stencils are ornaments I have collected over the years from royalty-free sources.

Edit: Huh. Somewhere I lost my baked rocks file. Because I did them before these vases, since I already knew how to bake the base texture after creating the nodes for it.


2022-05-20 Bakey Bakey
Grant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUTdHgif65g&list=PLn3ukorJv4vsa02LIuM_IQF-SASAZBnyi&index=1 (Beginners Guide to Baking | Blender 2.81)

I found my rocks, and ironically I must have thought to reorganize my files because this was in its own lonesome project folder somewhere in the boonies.

Just a simple procedural texture with the diffuse and roughness maps baked.

Aside from it being totally unintuitive, this was easy.

I did no homework because I was planning to do the rock (high poly to low poly normal map bake) right afterwards. And then I battled with the rock; first the sculpting with alpha brushes went haywire so badly that I started over. Then the bake would just not work well; I got the weirdest normal maps I’ve ever seen. And for once Grant wasn’t particularly helpful – he just decided on a certain Max Ray Distance without explaining how he arrived at that, but the same number didn’t work for me. I don’t mind that he often encourages us to “play with it”, but I’d like to have some sort of idea what ranges I am playing with and why. I ended up scaling the low poly rock up so it basically envelopped the high poly one, and that at least got me a halfway decent normal map. But it’s quite… discontinuous, which one might blame on the Smart UV project – or on the human operator – and I was not happy with it. It was a bad couple days in general and I was just dragging myself around. I should get back to that and experiment more. But I’ve since learned to bake with a cage and I like that better anyway, so it’s not really a surprise that I neglected this rock.

It’s untextured, this is just the normal map and a grey colour PBDSF.


Haha, you listen to that too? My Math teacher from midschool was a big fan lol

I like your pottery! Reminds me of an app on my now deceased iPad and amateur experience irl.
I haven’t even heard of stencils before. Looks very neat!


Baking is a massive pain, and there’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to what settings work and what don’t, it’s really just a case by case thing. Wish I had better news :wink: your rock looks good!


The ranges seem to be dependent on the scale of the object: suppose your highpoly object has Scale=1 and sticks out of lowpoly for 0.01m, the Cage extrusion required for clean bake will be 0.01m (at least). And if you scale the object without applying it will still be 0.01m.
Same for Mar Ray Distance but in the opposite direction. I think.


In advance, sorry if this post is unasked for :sweat:


Totally appreciated! Sometimes people mention stuff that I’ve already figured out, since this diary lags pretty far behind, but even then I appreciate it – you just never know when somebody will mention something on the side that I haven’t considered. And other people who read this might want to know too.

In this case I hadn’t thought about it further, so now I know more than I did before. Thanks!

Yeah, the reason why Grant’s number didn’t work for me probably had to do with differing scales.


2022-05-26 Minecraft Creeper

Still doing UVs and texturing. I ventured away from Grant into the greater YouTubeSphere, and found Surfaced Studios, a nice German chap. Funny, too. He caught my eye because he includes his tutorial creations in his intros via VFX. I enjoy that sort of thing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiDrRa6JvQ0

But I left the tutorial behind pretty quickly. I was actually beyond it, and it bugged me slightly that he didn’t do a proper creeper, neither in size nor texture. I wanted to make the real thing. I love Minecraft; I have played it easily for more than 10,000 hours in the last 10 years, mostly building things (couldn’t care less about combat). A few years ago I made some Let’s Play videos and was considering doing renders or little animations to liven those up, but that went the way of most of my artistic aspirations.

But this time! I am gonna do it. When I tackle animation, there will be some featuring Minecraft. And in the meantime I’m gonna model some mobs. I don’t really have to anymore, there’s software now to do it, and these are really easy, but this is fun practice for me when I am mostly brain-fried. I’m thinking of 3D printing them too, I don’t have enough gaming tchotchkes. :wink:

I had to figure out a few things on my own, namely how to properly line UVs up on pixels, and how to have Blender not blur the texture (set the Image Texture’s interpolation to Closest).

I love how clean this all turned out to be.

And then I made a grass block so he could stand on something (should have really been TNT, but the grass block is iconic).

I used the game’s texture for the creeper, and put the grass block’s texture together from the individual game side textures in the GIMP. It helps that I used to make resource packs (you can change the entire textural look of Minecraft with those), so I know my way around.

I also realized just how very much reverse UV mapping like this is only good for extremely simple models where you’re certain that you can recreate the original fairly closely. It would be impossible with something more complex if you only have the UV-mapped texture, but not the model. I have seen people try to do that, and … no, don’t bother.

Then I found mcprep, which is a Blender add-on for Minecrafty things – it can import a part of your world and texture it, it can spawn in mobs, already rigged, your player character with its own skin, different resource packs. Oh man. I am excited!

I restrained myself and only used mcprep’s dynamic sky with clouds to show off my creeper.

Textures belong to Mojang.

Music: Tschaikovsky, 18 solo piano pieces op 72, Mikhail Pletnev


Nice job, and excellent choice of music


2022-05-27 Pokemonster-kind

I found a book in a remainder bin, and hey, a Blender book for a buck, how can I turn that down even if it’s ancient. Building a Game with Unity and Blender by Lee Zhi Eng, 2015, Blender 2.74. The older version didn’t really faze me anymore, but the instructions were so-so. Not bad, but occasionally leaving a bit out; I’m glad I didn’t start with this. Most of my life I’ve learned from books, and in general you’ll still have to pry my books from my cold, dead hands, but in recent years I’ve gotten spoiled by video which is ever so much better for learning something like modeling in Blender.

This was more UV-unwrapping and fitting it to an existing texture. Good practice for unwrapping something more organic. And yeah, the more complex this gets, the harder any retrofitting becomes (and it’s not like this is actually a complex model, just a bit more so than the creeper). The body would just not fit, and I ended up (as you can see), mangling it so at least the dots weren’t totally mangled. The other parts fit easily. It was instructional though: because this was a texture with such clearly delineated features, it was real easy to observe the effect of moving UVs around, how it would stretch or pinch.

After that I cleaned up the texture a little because I didn’t like the grey smudges on the ears and there was a discontinuity on the bottom of the tail. I need a drawing tablet, doing precision work with the mouse is torturous.

Music: Bear McCreary (& Richard Gibbs), Battlestar Galactica (reimagined) soundtracks. McCreary’s one of my favourite current composers for film/television/video games. The soundtracks for BSG struck me as very different from the usual SF style of music, and I don’t ever get tired of listening to them; there’s so much intricate detail.


2022-05-29 Get Rich Quick

Grant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8ltW7pAN6M&list=PLn3ukorJv4vtpIA84xACRExW0F5IK5tEP&index=1 (treasure chest playlist)

I did only the base chest with lid, and the coin, saved the explosive animation for later, even though that looked like fun. Most important thing I learned: Bevel weight, something which allows the use of the non-destructive Bevel modifier to bevel only specific edges.

I diverged a little from Grant’s instructions, first with the chest. He likes to move vertices around to give random imperfections to objects, and he just zips around the object doing so. I am slow and therefore laziness is the mother of invention for me. And since I had previously discovered the Randomize operation, I thought to use it again. Alas that had a pretty bad side effect – I had mirrors on x and y axes, and the randomize did not care one whit that clipping was turned on. I think that might potentially qualify as a bug – if this were my program, I’d view it as such. In any case, I had a lot of separated vertices, and by the time I noticed it didn’t want to undo the randomize. Ergo I had to merge those vertices by hand. So much for laziness. It’s all good practice, yes, that’s the ticket! No moaning!

Then with the coin, Grant made the base shape, cut the skull out with a knife, extruded it, then cut the eyes and nose and extruded them back down. Ever since I discovered Knife Project (Jan van den Hemel of Blender Secrets is awesome; the ebook is definitely worth it) I’ve been using it whenever I can; for some reason I just find it enormously cool. So I made myself a little skull cutter, projected it, and presto, all done but for one extrusion up. I like this workflow because it leaves the cutter intact, so I can reuse it. I could make it an asset. So while it’s not really non-destructive for the object being cut, it fits with my preferences for reusing, recycling what I can. Yes, I like object-oriented programming languages too.

It gives me a little frisson of joy whenever I progress to a point where I no longer need to slavishly follow a recipe, but can concoct a reasonable facsimile of something tasty on my own. I feel more competent when I can see several paths to a goal. It’s interesting to ponder sometimes how often my general philosophy about life influences how I work.

Music: Gheorghe Zamfir, Romanian folk music for pan flute
In the early '70s I went to visit Romania, long before the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. It was a real-life eye opener on communism done wrong (I was and still am a socialist). But the people I met were amazing, and I returned with some lessons on living with overwhelming adversity, and a lifelong love for the music.


2022-05-30 Ye Olde Glazed Torus of Doom rerun by no popular demand whatsoever

Do I really need to link to this tutorial series? Well, it seems fair. Blender Guru aka Andrew Price aka The Ramblin’ Man: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjEaoINr3zgFX8ZsChQVQsuDSjEqdWMAD

I fixed my donut! I wish I had taken a screenshot of the mess, but this was before I joined here. I had had the icing and donut in the same object, proportional editing on, plus snap to faces, plus auto-merge, and had managed to glue several of the icing vertices to the bottom side of the donut body. It took me about a minute to diagnose and fix the problems. 4+ weeks of learning elsewhere paid off.

And then I modeled it all over again, just because I could. Take that! What’s more amusing, I can now really crank these babies out without hesitation every time somebody comes in here with problems so I can show and tell how to fix them. Maybe I should start smoking Virginia Slims. :ugh:

Then I finished texturing it. Got to the end of part 8, and stopped. Grant has pretty much ruined me for Andrew’s rambling style. 19 minutes just to paint a lighter strip around the waist of a donut. At least it was no longer distracting, but I got a little impatient (that’s amusing in itself). He uses geonodes for the sprinkles and I decided those could wait for a later time and another instructor.

I’m glad I put the bugbear to bed though, so to speak. This thing almost had me quitting Blender right at the start, and that still irks me (more about myself than about Andrew, to be honest; the effing depression can go to hell). I will finish it eventually, and I have a great idea for the homework.


I’m really impressed you made it that far in. I tried watching an Andrew Price video the other day, just to say to myself “maybe I’m being too hard on this guy.” Yeah… it’s worse than I remembered. I think fame was really, really, bad for Andrew, he’s turned into one of those insufferable people who are in love with the sound of their own voice.

Your donut looks nice though :slight_smile:


Thanks! I think it looks fine for that point in time; I really worked on that icing. When I was rendering it today for this post, I could see a lot of improvements I could make, especially to the baked part, to make it more realistic. It was also a bit of a break from all the low poly stuff, and I am looking forward to my new computer so I can branch out further into realism for a time.

I think you might be a little hard on the guy. I could be wrong, of course, but I don’t get the feeling that he’s all that drunk on his fame (what fame there is). He just doesn’t seem to have a script, or even notes on what to touch on, and so he adds whatever he thinks might be informative on the spur of the moment. Which is usually related in some way, even if it’s TMI for a beginner. But then he doesn’t always know exactly how something works either – oh, like when he tried to tell people what size to make their textures, and why not 500, but 512, and he didn’t actually know why, so he fumbled around some and nobody got any wiser. Man, if you’re gonna bring it up, look it up. And there was that excursion into whether we could hear the crows and the barking dog and how he didn’t realize it was this noisy when he rented the office, and… Andrew, I don’t care whether your recording is pristine. Get to it! But I don’t have a leg to stand on myself; while I don’t exactly love the sound of my own voice, I am often excessively verbose and love to share ALL THE THINGS I know about a subject, and so I feel a bit of kindred spirit there with him. There so much cool stuff out there that I want other people to know!

I mean, he is ENTHUSIASTIC, and that attracts me to a person (in a platonic sense), and I forgive much for it. We’re just not very compatible in a teacher/student context. I did go back for more punishment with the Søborg Chair, which I also aborted. :sigh: That’ll be another story of mishaps, and it’ll be mostly my own fault. Now I’m thinking I’ll give him another go when I get around to ArchViz, since that actually seems to be his forte.


The pokemonster-kind’s texture looks a lot like one of those dinosaur origamis I did when I was like 4 or smth. Took me wayy back to the cool sand beaches of Florida, thanks!

About yt

About the yt tutor thing…
I haven’t seen much tutorials in general since I’ve been using techniques from my brain drawer since I got used to Bl’s interface & tools, but I do think I noticed blguru change a lot since 2019. :sweat_smile:
As Joseph mentioned a lot of yt people change so :person_shrugging:, but oh well. I still watch yt from time to time as I do want to progress, but I put it on 2x almost all the time :sweat_smile:
I do have a yt playlist of mostly hardsurface mdling, but if it interests you:
Sorry if it’s the same stuff you find lacking of detail. I myself put major importance in that area as well, and some videos from it are still recommendable for me.
Your models are looking goood!
Especially the coins :yum:

Thought I try condescending text cuz it was long :wink:


Nice donut! Makes me hungry.
(And I have to admit that I’ve never been awarded the donut-award, because I never tried to do the tutorial in the first place :grimacing: Maybe I should)

I just wanted to add that I love the additional infos/texts accompanying your renders. Insights like these are really valuable (at least for me). Your progress is inspiring.