Shape Generator Update: Applying Design Theory

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. 

A sample of the generated shapes using the Shape Generator’s Big/Medium/Small settings
A Screenshot of the Shape Generator’s Big/Medium/Small settings in Blender (Also available in Houdini)

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.

The Shape Generator is available for:

Blender

Houdini

2D Displacement Technique in Blender

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.

Blender Market: https://blendermarket.com/products/2d-displace

Gumroad: https://gumroad.com/l/2d-displace

Plating Generator Greeble Pack by SolCommand

Greeble Pack by SolCommand

An extensive pack of 271 objects have been made available by SolCommand. This pack has been made specifically for the Plating Generator And Greebles Blender add-on.

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.

The Pack is available both on Gumroad and Blender Market.

The Blender Market sale: Get 25% off all my add-ons and many more

Between 27th to 30th November the Blender Market Black Friday Sale is on – all my add-ons will be 25% off!

By supporting these add-ons you also support their continual improvement, so it is a mega help – you also help out the Blender Foundation too as a percentage of each of the add-ons go to them as well.

My current add-ons are:

  • The Plating Generator – Quickly create a configurable mesh in the form of a fighter jet or starfighter. 
  • Shape Generator – Quickly create and configure countless random shapes for a wide variety of purposes
  • Hull Texture – A versatile, reusable base texture for creating irregular plating effects.
  • Curves To Mesh – Create and configure mesh surfaces from bezier curves.
  • Mesh Materializer – Map objects onto another object using its active UV coordinates.
  • Window Generator – Model many windows at once on the faces of a mesh
  • Bevelled Extrude – Create extrusion effects that have configurable bevel effects on the base, corners and tops
  • Twisted Extrude – Extrude Faces with an Extra Twist
  • Fit Lattice – Quickly fit a lattice deformation cage around a mesh or set of meshes.
  • Configurable Dynamic Jet – Create a configurable mesh in the form of a fighter jet or starfighter.  

You can find out a lot more about each add-ons here.

What have I been up to lately…? KIT OPS SYNTH

Original vision for SYNTH (Credit: Chipp Walters)

I was approached a few months ago by Chipp Walters and Masterxeon101, famous for some of the most leading tools in 3D modelling such as KIT OPS and HARD OPS.

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….

KIT OPs SYNTH early results, being applied with the new KIT OPS BEVEL (Credit: Chipp Walters)

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:

A short video showing SYNTH’s random layout…and this isn’t even the most powerful layout!
Results achieved in just as few seconds.

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.

Greebles comes to the Plating Generator

I have just released a big update to the Plating Generator for Blender which includes a new collapsible interface and, most importantly, Greebles!  Thank you to all my testers who really helped me get this ready for release:

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 08.03.40 Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 13.56.49 Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 23.11.10 Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 23.00.38

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 21.27.32 copyThis will allow Blender users to quickly add random detail to models.  A demonstration video is here where I show you how to simply create a Death Star like trench:

Features:

  • Vary the amount, size and height of the Greeble objects.
  • Choose from a range of built-in Greeble objects (Cubes, Cylinders, L-Shapes, T- Shapes)
  • Customise your Greebles by adding your own objects to the effect.
  • Choose from a selection of Blender operators: Just Plating, Just Greebles, or a specialised Plating+Greebles operator.

For this and other add-ons visit the online store.

New Add-On: Convert Bezier Curves to Meshes

My latest Blender Add-On allows you to quickly create and configure mesh surfaces from bezier curves. I think it will be ideal for creating accurate machine parts or for more organic modelling.

Here is a demo video on how it works:

Features

  • Choose to create meshes from 1, 2 or 4 curves with a customisable number of cuts in each direction that are evenly distributed by default.  Meshes can be created from curves with multiple bezier points.
  • Works on curves with multiple bezier points.
  • Useful when you need to create accurate pieces of a mesh, like an aircraft, or for more organic shapes.
  • Faces can be set to smooth or have their normals flipped during the creation process.
  • Works on a variety of bezier handle types (VectorAlignedFree)
  • A network of curves could be built up to create more complex objects.
  • Can be used as a complement to more traditional modelling techniques.
  • By default the edges will be distributed evenly, but this effect can be reduced (see instructions).
  • Compatible with my other add-ons such as the Plating GeneratorBevelled Extrude and Window Generator.

If you have any questions do get in touch – it is best to contact me via Blender Market or via Twitter as I can sometimes miss the comments here.

New Add-On: The Shape Generator

Available at https://www.blendermarket.com/products/shape-generator – a new year, a new add-on!

Quickly create and configure countless random shapes for a wide variety of purposes:

  • Generate ideas and abstract concepts for inspiration.
  • Create base meshes for further editing such as spaceships, game assets, and objects I haven’t even thought of.
  • Create shapes for background assets or to add peripheral details.

The shapes are created by specifying a random number and then changing a range of length, scale and rotation parameters of the resulting extrusions. By default, the add-on will work to ensure that the faces of the shape won’t overlap.

A demo video is here:

A more detailed list of features is available at https://www.blendermarket.com/products/shape-generator.

If you have a new feature request or any questions, either contact me via this website, the Blender Market or you can reach me on Twitter.