November 13, 2016
Facade with new statues
The facade of the church of the Alamo has four empty niches. In 1836, it is believed that they contained statues of four saints: Anthony, Ferdinand, Francis and Dominic. The statue of Anthony had been damaged during some of the work on the compound the year before. This statue was found years later in a weedy lot near the Alamo and is on display in the Long Barrack museum.
My latest work has been to replace the low resolution statues in my model with improved high res digital sculptures.
The new statues were crafted by using the following workflow:
- A base mesh was created in MakeHuman and imported to Blender
- The model was posed along with some of the accessories that the figures carry.
- The posed models were imported into ZBrush where the clothing, hair and other details were sculpted in high detail.
- ZBrush was used to derive a lower polycount mesh from the high detail model.
- The low polycount model was imported into Substance Painter and the high detail model used to bake normal maps (giving the appearance of detail in the render).
- A limestone material was applied along with a layer of dirt.
- The resulting textures and low polycount model were imported into Blender and placed into the scene.
Here are renders of the individual statues taken from Substance Painter.
Saint Anthony (Antonio)
Saint Ferdinand (Fernando)
Saint Francis (Francisco)
Saint Dominic (Domingo)
And here are their SketchFab renders:
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.
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.
December 1, 2015
Last year I modeled a soldado using ZBrush. The model used too many polygons to be practical in my Alamo model and I never went through the process of changing the topology and rigging it for animation.
The new model is based on the MakeHuman tool. The clothes were modeled in Blender and textured using Substance Painter. The level of detail is suitable for a display in which the character is less than about 500 pixels. The character (with gun) uses about 8K vertices but I could probably reduce it to about 6K without losing much detail. It is completely rigged and can be posed and animated.
Here is the model in SketchFab: Soldado in 3D
October 19, 2015
Mexican Infantry Shako 1836
This is a model of a shako worn by Mexican infantry soldados during the battle of the Alamo in 1836. The hat and visor are leather with brass furniture and plate. The chin strap is a scalloped pattern brass.
The model was created in Blender and textured in Allegorithmic Substance Designer and Painter. It is a bit more complex than it looks. I had to choose between using geometry vs textures for some of the more complex objects. The model has 15 different materials.
A simple model will be built for low-poly distant viewing.
View in 3D on Sketchfab here.
Chartrand, Santa Anna’s Mexican Army 1821 – 1848. Osprey 2004
Hefter, The Mexican Soldier 1837 – 1847, 3rd edition, The Virtual Armchair General, 2013
September 26, 2015
Brown Bess – India Pattern Musket – Used by Mexican Infantry in the Battle of the Alamo
This is a model of the muzzle-loading, smooth bore musket used by the Mexican infantry during the Texas Revolution. Of British origin, this third generation or “India Pattern” descended from a line of weapons that were used as early as 1722. A good discussion of this gun can be found in Arms of the Mexican Infantry 1835-1836.
My model was created in Blender and textured in Substance Painter. The render above is from Substance Painter.
You can view and explore this model in detail on Sketchfab
September 4, 2015
March 6, 1836 Dawn
The final battle of the Alamo occurred in the hour before dawn on March 6, 1836. This image depicts what San Antonio de Bexar might have looked like on such a morning. The view is from an elevated position just west of the Main Plaza. The San Fernando church is flying the red flag of “no quarter.” In the distance you can see the Alameda, Watch Tower and Alamo. You can barely see a glint of sunlight reflection in places along the San Antonio River.
This render made with Blender Cycles. Textures made with Allegorithmic Substance Designer and Painter. HDRI from Hyperfocal Design.
Trees, foliage. stones and fences were instanced using Blender particles. The foreground ground textures were improved from the low res versions used previously. Ruts in the roadway and plaza may be seen.
May 16, 2015
First render of the Veramindi Palace
This is a work-in-progress of the front of the Veramindi Palace that was on Soledad Street. The backgound is a placeholder as I have not placed the structures in the larger model yet.
I am learning to use new tools for texture creation: Allegorithmic Substance Designer and Painter. These tools allow the creation of textures using a combination of procedural, image and hand painted techniques. A single paint stroke can affect color, roughness and height at the same time. The textures are based on a physically realistic shader model. While one could achieve the same results with tools like Photoshop and Blender, itself, these special purpose tools should increase productivity and quality once I have mastered them.
The PBR shader for the Blender Cycles render was found here. A useful technique for creating an ID mask was found here.
The original building survived until the early 1900s and there are some early photos that were helpful as references along with some drawings by Maverick made in the 1860s. The 12 foot doors are on display inside the Alamo church and modern photos are available.
I decided to model the geometry of the doors rather than just use a texture because they are such a large and prominent feature of the structure. The rest of the compound has been modeled but need texuring then placement into the Bexar model.