San Fernando Church

January 20, 2010

I’ve been working on a model of the San Fernando Church–a focal point of San Antonio de Bexar.  It is more detailed than necessary but it has been a good exercise in learning about UV mapping a complex object.  Currently, I am working on the textures.  The base textures are mostly completed.  The next job is to improve their realism by adding more detail, color variation, defects and dirt.

Here are a couple of renders using Yafaray and Blender Internal.

Yafaray Render of San Fernando Church (draft)

Blender Internal render of San Fernando Church


Render engines

January 9, 2010

Before seriously working on the materials and textures for the models, I found that it would be wise to establish my lighting so that the materials can be viewed as they will appear in the scene.  After getting some less than satisfying test renders using the Blender Internal Renderer (BI), I began looking at other render engines to see if I could get better results.


The first renderer that I explored was Yafaray.  I was not able to render my complete scene due to some unknown error.  I could bring over pieces to a fresh blender file and test out some lighting conditions.  The out-of-the-box renders looked much better than I was getting from BI and was pretty fast.  I thought the shadows looked exceptionally good and the textures seemed to have more fidelity.  I was encouraged by this until I discovered that Yafaray does not yet support Normal Maps — only Bump Maps.  Since Normal mapping is an important improvement to my model, Yafaray is disqualified for now.


I had played with Kerkythea months ago and decided to give it a try with the test scene.  Unfortunately, it appears that textures do not import with the model and must be relinked in the Kerkythea interface.  This is too much trouble at the moment.


I downloaded Luxrender to see how an unbiased render would look.  It worked but after about 30 minutes of rendering, the scene still looked completely noisy.  This is totally unsuitable for my application.


There is a new version of Vray that works with an exporter for Blender.  This ‘VRay for Maya Standalone’ costs about $300 but might be worth the price if it delivered good results.  Unfortunately, I could not find a download for the demo version.

Blender Internal

So all of this research led me back to BI to see if I could improve the render results.  After playing with the settings for a Sun Lamp, a Hemi Lamp and Ambient Occlusion, I think I have some results that are as good as what I was seeing with Yafaray (for my scene).  As a bonus, I found that the render in 2.50 looks a little better still and completes in about half the time.

My conclusion is that, for now, BI is still the way to go.

Modeling a larger environment

January 1, 2010

After a discussion with Mark Lemon, I decided that the model would be greatly improved by adding the buildings around the compound.  I increased the ground object to cover the area to the east of the river and including a portion of San Antonio de Bexar.  Based on information from Google Earth, I approximated the topography on the plane.  Simple building objects were placed based on the map in Mark’s book and  I increased the detail on a model that I had started for the San Fernando Church.  These buildings will only be seen from a distance and I should be able to use a low resolution texture for them.

Here is a snapshot of the buildings of Bexar as seen from the Alamo (without the textures).