New Spring 2011 edition of Blender.art

New edition of the free Blender.art magazine

The magazine’s editorial points out that XFrog currently has a host of free professional-grade plant models available, including a very high-poly topiaried ornamental boxwood that could be useful for fantasy-world gardens if you use Vue or Bryce…

The Xfrog trees are quite high-poly (the Boxwood freebie is a 141Mb download, although you do get 8 models in the .zip), although some are acceptable. The Betula Birch (young) / Coulter Pine (young) / Staghorn Sumac (young), for instance, are all around 50k faces. But the leaves are problematic. Once the .obj models of these trees are in 3DXchange you need to select the leaf texture, and drop the opacity to 99% — that cures the horrible fringing effect on the leaves. However, move the model and you’re still getting transparency effects.

The Xfrog trees are still worth downloading, though, since they come with 2D billboard “cuts-outs”, and after extracting all the .zip files to the same directory you’ll get a subdirectory called “Billboards”, containing…

But there’s also another ultra-low-poly alternative, to be found in the Blender.art article on CanTree. CanTree is a free online 2D tree generator in HTML5 (so you may need the latest Firefox or Chrome browser)…

“With Cantree, you can generate 2D trees, that look almost like 3D, because of simulated ambient occlusion. … you can easily change the size and complexity of the tree using sliders. You can also choose your leaf texture(s), wood texture, and flower textures.”

“You can save your trees as transparent PNG image files” [perfect for iClone and CrazyTalk Animator]

“The uniqueness of CanTree is that the trees are generated by your web browser. There is no plugin, installation or download required. It’s also free, and under the MIT licence”

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Rayguns pack for iClone

The most recent Google SketchUp 3D Challenge #120 was to model a “Ray Gun”. There have been some excellent entries, and the challenge has just closed.

I’ve converted the best of the ray-guns as iClone props: The Afterburner and Wunderwaffe DG-3 JZ, both by aNgRyWaFfLeS AZ. Also Tesler’s Ray Gun. And Alien Ray-Gun, Ray Machine-Gun and Customized Ray pistol, all by GoldenSim.

Poly-reduced by me, and converted for iClone. The props are between 44k and 90k faces. No re-texturing, so you’ll have to do that yourself if you feel the need.

Download here (25Mb)

New version of MakeHuman released

A new version of MakeHuman 1.0 alpha, alpha 6 (Windows only). This is still very much in alpha, but progress is being made with this promising Blender-friendly figure/character creation tool. It’s free.

The new features…

NEW: Expressions plugin
NEW: Randomize plugin
GUI: Better openGL lighting

The Random options are in Experiments / Random / Tools.

Those interested in getting figures into iClone may be interested in:

NEW: Simplified Collada export

Rigging is retained through a 3DS Max pipeline to a 28k .fbx figure that loads in 3DXchange with the “Convert to Character” option clickable. But — no textures, which makes a MakeHuman model kind of useless in iClone.