Panorama image on YouTube

September 2, 2016

This is an experiment to use the YouTube 360 viewer for panoramic images.

I can now do 360 videos with animation (although this one is static).

In order to view this on iPhone/iPad, you need to use the YouTube app.



Panorama images

August 30, 2016

Facebook recently introduced a panorama viewer which lets a consumer view a 360 degree image by panning the mouse or moving a mobile device.  The viewer requires an equirectangular image with a 2:1 aspect ratio and certain embedded metadata.

I created a scene in Blender with an equirectangular camera placed in the southern courtyard of the Alamo.

This site does not support panoramas but the scene can be viewed on my Facebook page: Alamo 2.0   or with a direct link to the post: Panorama Image (link may not work if you are not signed in to Facebook).

Panoramas give an immersive feeling–especially when viewed on a mobile device that can pan the image as the device is moved around.  They are quick to download and work on just about any modern browser that supports HTML5–unlike a game engine presentation.  Panoramas even support 360 videos.

An app could display a map with hot spots for 360 views or even use geo-fencing to pop up a view when the user walks to a certain place in San Antonio.  Adding characters would place the viewer in the middle of a battle scene.  Rendering in stereo for Google Cardboard would complete the VR experience.  I am pretty excited about the uses of this technology for presenting my model.

Alamo Church from the southeast

July 29, 2016



Southeastern corner of the Alamo Church

This is a view of the southeastern corner of the 1836 Alamo Church from my model.  The render was done in Blender Cycles.  For this render, I completed the texturing of the walls and made improvements to the “door of the dead.”  I lowered the tower a bit and added some cross supports.  I am learning to create more realistic vegetation using the Blender Sapling add-on and the Grass Essentials product from Blender Guru.

See full resolution photo in the Gallery.


Alamo facade animation

June 28, 2016

A short animation featuring my improved facade on my Alamo model.


Updating the Alamo church facade

June 21, 2016

Alamo Facade (see Gallery for full size)

Seven years ago I posted a video of my first Alamo 3D model on YouTube.  Since then, I have been gradually improving my technical abilities and tools to create a more photo-realistic result.

The render above, represents my latest work: reworking the Alamo church facade.  For comparison, here is a render of my model in 2009.


2009 Model

Here is a summary of the improvements:

  • Using a physically accurate render engine with global illumination (Blender Cycles) produces realistic lighting.
  • The lighting source is from an HDRI image (Hyperfocal Design).  This is another important contribution to realistic lighting and background.
  • Color grading.  The rendered result was corrected to improve color balance.
  • More geometry.  The new model has a higher level of detail.  For example the spirals in the pillars.
  • Higher texel density.  The size of the textures is sufficient for a sharp image of objects that are 1-2 meters from the camera.  Also, the texel density is more uniform across objects in the scene.
  • Bump and normal map textures add detail without increased geometry.  For example, the decorations on the doorway.
  • Physically based material workflow.  Materials were created using Allegorithmic Substance Designer and Painter.
  • Hand generated textures.  The stonework textures were created by hand using a workflow involving Photoshop, Inkscape and Substance Painter. This allowed the addition of realistic weather, dirt and damage effects.

Not visible in this render are the other improvements like the complete modeling of Bexar and more realistic landscape around the San Antonio River.

Soldado walking in the Main Plaza

April 24, 2016

Animation of a soldado walking in front of the San Fernando church in the Main Plaza of San Antonio de Bexar.

Continuing my study of animation, this render is an improvement of the previous try.  The feet make good contact with the ground thanks to a feature of MakeWalk.  I fixed some problems with the skinning of the model to the rig and I used the Blender compositor to reduce the render time by only rendering the foreground for the full sequence.


Soldado animation

April 18, 2016

This weekend I took a break from model texturing and investigated the workflow for animating my Alamo characters.  The video above shows a test in which an early soldado model was animated by retargeting a motion capture file (BVH) from CMU using the MakeWalk add-on in Blender.  The character is one of my first characters based on MakeHuman.  I created the clothes in Blender and textured them using Substance Painter.  The result was animated and rendered in Blender (Cycles).

There are some obvious deficiencies: the skinning to the rig breaks down in places, the feet contact with the ground is not perfect and the motion blur seems extreme.

Despite these problems, the process was fairly easy.