3 years ago I built the 3D Shape Generator to automatically create a variety of unique 3D shapes and objects.
For the latest update I got talking with Marco Iozzi, a professional who has been working in the industry since 1998 as a 3D Artist, Matte Painter and now Concept Artist on productions like Harry Potter, Elysium, Game of Thrones and is currently doing concept art and design on Thor: Love and Thunder.
He downloaded the Shape Generator to help him with his own design work.
He pointed me at Sinix Design, who provides a set of videos on the topic of Design Theory describing the best methods for creating shapes that are appealing and unique.
Sinix spoke about the concept of Big/Medium/Small; the theory that the majority of good designs can be broken down into one large main shape; a medium shape or shapes taking up a smaller amount of the design; and some smaller shapes taking up an even smaller area:
This got me thinking about the Shape Generator; if I can first generate just one large object, automatically scatter medium objects across that, and then scatter smaller random objects across that, I might be onto something.
Once I set this up, it was surprising how many more unique and interesting designs I could quickly generate with the change of a single number.
With the help of Marco’s feedback, I’ve also introduced a host of other improvements:
Along with the Big/Medium/Small controls, a new integrated panel allows you to easily revisit and change your settings which now include more material controls, Boolean settings, and easier to install Presets.
A new Iterator function, much like the one I coded with Chipp Walters in KIT OPS SYNTH, allows you to quickly render out countless variations to quickly let you pick a design to take forward.
The new Bake feature allows you to combine all the individual shapes into one so you can continue to model or sculpt your chosen design to the next level of detail. I’ll talk about each of these new features more in the next few videos. I hope you’ll enjoy these updates to the Shape Generator and find it useful in developing your own designs.
Each of these features are covered in the following videos:
I hope you’ll enjoy these updates to the Shape Generator and find it useful in developing your own designs.
I stumbled across an interesting displacement technique that’s useful for subtle parallax type effects and ripple distortions. Using this technique, you can add movement effects to still images such as clouds to give them the appearance of movement as the camera travels over them.
The above video talks about the technique, and I’ve added a simple Node Group I developed for it up for download at Gumroad and Blender Market.
The collection contains 271 3D meshes that you can use to spread across the walls and hulls of your spaceships, stations, futuristic cities and other projects you may have, in order to quickly make them look much more detailed and complicated in your final renders.
The pack contains various objects arranged in folders ranging from sensors, vents, signs, fuel storage, hatches, scaffolding and many more other random objects and shapes.
I’m gradually making my Blender Market add-ons also available on Gumroad, one by one…next one up is the Plating Generator, which adds a range of plating patterns onto an object, as well as the ability to add greeble effects – that is, adding lots of smaller objects onto a larger object’s faces.
KIT OPS is able to apply a wide range of 3D objects (called INSERTs) that can be used to instantly cut and add to existing objects or create standalone ones with the goal of rapidly creating and exploring new designs. Read more about it here.
They had been interested in my generative modelling work in the Plating Generator and Shape Generator, and had a vision for an extension to KIT OPS called KIT OPS SYNTH.
The original requirement for SYNTH was to simply overlay these INSERTs in a grid like fashion on top of 3D surfaces, but with Chipp’s design patterns thinking and background in NASA we are taking it a lot further….
Emerging features include:
A range of layouts can be used: Arrange INSERTs in rows, columns, grids, randomly, and around edges and borders.
User ‘layers’ of INSERTs to manage and apply groups of INSERTs in one go.
Control the frequency and placement of INSERTS with a variety of parameters: apply padding to the INSERTs, scale them individually, add random rotations.
Use Blender 2.91’s new Booleans feature for more accurate cutting.
Load and save your configurations to share with others or apply later.
This has already given rise to a variety of promising results you can achieve very quickly with SYNTH. Here is a short video of the random layout being applied using a set of INSERT cutters, by just changing the random seed value:
There’s still plenty of work to do and a good round of testing to be done before the first release, but I thought it would be good to show the progress so far. In the future, Chipp is looking forward to taking SYNTH to the next level with Machine Learning…but that is definitely a blog for another time.
I’ve created a video showing how you can combine basic Blender 3D modelling techniques with the Plating Generator add-on to quickly create a Sci Fi looking helmet like the one you see here. Hope it’s useful to you!
The Plating Generator now comes with the ability to add materials to the plating patterns it generates on the mesh, an often requested feature. Jaroslaw Waskowiak tipped me over the edge with this specific request (among many great suggestions):
Material variations, randomizing UVs, assigning different maps to different “plates” at random
So I set to work:
You can assign different materials which will be applied to the grooves and randomly assigned to the plates. You can also vary the vertex colors of the plates so you can get different colored effects from the same material.
The add-on works by using the existing topology to cut out grooves for the plates in an interlocking pattern. Once those grooves are cut, the faces of the plates can be grouped and different materials automaticaly assigned.
Animation Nodes version
I’ve also included an Animation Nodes version if the add-on so you can play with dynamically changing the effect. The file is part of the samples.
Here are another couple of examples of the add-on at work: