Doagh Island terrain…

•June 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Quick update, I found some old photos that I thought were lost and ran them through Reality Capture. Quite a bit of cleanup needed, this is a bigger hunk of landscape than I’d typically try to scan in one session,  but overall I’m happy with how the sharp edges of the rocks have been captured. Lots of scope to mix in some Megascans too. More to come as I break off areas and conform for real-time purposes (currently the textures are at 16k resolution and the tri count is upwards of 12m).


Metal underfoot…

•May 18, 2017 • 2 Comments

I made this manhole cover material from a photograph taken on my phone on the way to work one day, with the intention of extracting enough info from it to populate a full PBR material. I was considering setting something similar as an assignment for my students, so I needed to be sure it could be done, and done fairly quickly. I modelled the L-shaped studs to try and get rid of the noise created by the usual image to normal map issues, but otherwise the material was created by manipulating the original photograph in Photoshop. Check out the real-time Sketchfab version in the last image.

Also couldn’t let this day go by without a shout out to Chris Cornell, who provided the soundtrack to the creation so much of my art, RIP.



Chancing it…

•April 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Driving around Malin Head last week we passed some beautiful natural rugged landscapes and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was worth sticking the phone out the window to record some video to try with photogrammetry. I was hoping that a 3D model could be derived from frames of less than optimal footage, so bumpy roads, motion blur, 1080p frames (low resolution for photogrammetry) and h264 compression were all working against an acceptable result. Surprisingly, Reality Capture used most of the extracted frames and produced a half-decent model, shown here in Toolbag 3.

It wouldn’t hold up to close scrutiny but would certainly work as background geometry somewhere or as the basis for a terrain heightmap.



Volume 11…

•April 14, 2017 • 6 Comments

This is a quick test of the Open VDB support in 3dsmax 2018, rendered in Arnold which replaces Mental Ray in this release. Two Arnold lights and samples set around 4 took  34 minutes for the 1k image on a quad core i7 🙂

Explosion orbit test:


One more rock…

•March 30, 2017 • Leave a Comment

In the same lo-fi scanning session as the last one (ie. a 20 minute window between heavy rain showers on the beach, no tripod, colour checker etc.) I shot this on my phone. Processed in Reality Capture, 3DSMax and Photoshop. I’m fairly pleased with how this turned out, again I was lucky with the lighting and all of the jpegs captured on my phone were aligned. There are some small areas at the base of the rock that are missing some detail due to automatic hole filling but nothing that couldn’t be cloned back in Photoshop. I baked out ambient occlusion and cavity maps to use as layer masks in de-lighting a little for PBR and then painted a roughness map based on some known values and colour selections from the albedo map. Once again, all of these shots are rendered in Toolbag 3 at 1440p and you can check out a real-time version in your browser below, be sure to go full screen and if you hold alt and drag the mouse around you can move the lights!


•March 21, 2017 • 4 Comments


This year for St. Patrick’s Day I spent the weekend in Inishowen, Donegal, where the weather was unpleasant to say the least. For about 2 hours on Saturday, it was dry but seemed to always be a minute away from raining, so I headed for the beach without any of the proper equipment for outdoors photogrammetry. I did have my phone though, which can be hit and miss for 3D scanning as there are few manual controls on the Note 4, so if the sky is present in any part of a photograph, exposure goes crazy, making shots unusable. Also, it only shoots in jpeg so there is very little wiggle room on the texture side.

Three areas in particular caught my eye for some hasty shots as it began to rain- a sandy boardwalk descending from the car park to the beach, a rock about 3 feet in diameter that was exposed due to the tide, and some footprints perfectly preserved in the wet sand, which can be seen below. The beach was just damp enough to hold the shape of the impressions and the roughness of the displaced sand around each of them. All of the subjects were ground based too, which was a blessing while shooting with the phone as it kept exposure consistent between photos. I took about 45 photos in an orbit around the footprints, being careful not to compress the sand and disturb the scene. In the short space of time it took to take these shots it began to rain heavily, so I headed back to the house to process the images. I used the unprocessed jpegs straight off the camera, they seemed pretty clean and the cloudy conditions meant that there was no strong light or shadows to deal with. This time around I used Reality Capture for the photogrammetry, and it performed well, aligning every photo that I had taken which provided me with an 8 million poly high res model! Some decimation, texture cleanup and an export into Toolbag 3 yielded the results below. I picked an evening sky pano and stuck in a very low direct light to add rake shadows across the sandy surface, and a little fog. Inverting the albedo map gave just enough roughness to sell some dampness on the surface.





Under various PBR lighting conditions

If you’d like to check it out in real-time in your browser, check out the Marmoset Viewer scene here:



•March 1, 2017 • 4 Comments

I was trying out a bit of Substance Painter this week, in combination with 3DSMax and Marmoset Toolbag 3. A few months back I had shot a muddy embankment near a construction area with my phone, about 16 photos, but really didn’t think anything decent could be recovered through photogrammetry. The results show however that it’s always worth a go even if you don’t have the proper equipment with you. Some cloning work in painter and then an export into Toolbag 3 for rendering yielded a decent mud texture, next step is to make it tileable.