Making Of 'Swords and Daggers'

This overview is specific to Blender 3D, although the principles can be applied to most other 3D applications. Some knowledge of Blender will be needed, as I don't cover any hot keys. I used the textures directly from the Total Textures V14 CD, without modifying them.

When I modeled the sword I used two images as templates, because I liked the handle style from one texture and the blade and hilt from another.

As the displacement mapping will add most of the detail at render, you can get better results with many small faces.

So I subdivided the handle mesh and increased the Sub-surf level to 3 iterations at render, Blender's equivalent to 3DSMax's meshsmooth.

After modelling the handle, I deleted verts until I had one quarter of the mesh left. After UV mapping I will duplicate and mirror the mesh, back to it's original shape and form. This is to make the UV mapping of the handle as easy as possible.

Blender's LSCM method of unwrapping, uses seams to split the mesh into sections. So I added four seams to the mesh to give three UV face sections.

UV Mapping the handle and blade

This method of UV mapping works best if you already have a image texture that you don't want to modify. I make the UV face layout match the image, instead of making the image fit the UV layout.

I unwrapped the handle mesh using the LSCM calculation and rearranged the face sections to fit the texture in the UV image/editor window.

With Blender's main screen split into two windows, I have one showing the UV image/editor and the other as a 3d viewport to check the texture placement was correct.

Once the handle was mapped correctly, I unwrapped the blade using the viewport to produce the UV co-ordinates.

This 'from window' unwrapping method gives a matching UV layout to the mesh, which I scaled to fit the blade image. This was possible because I used the same image as a modelling blueprint for the blade.

I used the same method for the hilt, although I had to re-map the vertical faces separately.

Using side view, I used the 'from window' unwrapping again with just the vertical faces selected and adjusted the UV co-ordinates to remove any stretching.

UV Mapping the handle and blade

Blender's material system works similarly to 3DSMax's, in the same way you can have many textures with different blending and assignable options, layered inside one material.

All the materials use the UV co-ordinates for mapping the textures correctly, except for the procedural textures which use spherical mapping.

The handle material is a cream Oren-Nayar diffuse shader and a Blinn specular shader. The material has four texture layers, using a single cloud procedural texture for 50% colour blend to the base diffuse colour and three image textures from the Total Textures V14 cd. (weapons3.jpg & weapons3b.jpg x2).

The first image texture is the colour map, assigned to 90% colour blend to the base diffuse colour and 100% specular colour.

The second and third image textures are copies of the matching bump map, with one assigned to 10% displacement and the other assigned to 5% normal bump mapping.

The blade material is a grey Lambert diffuse shader and a Blinn specular shader, using an image colour map and the matching bump map from the Total Textures V14 cd. (weapons14.jpg & weapons14b.jpg)
The first image is a colour map with a 50% colour blend to the base diffuse colour.
The second image is the matching bump image assigned to 7% normal bump mapping and 100% colour using 'darken' texture blending. The second image also works as a mask (stencil). The blade material also has 50% raytraced reflections with a 25% fresnel setting.

The gold hilt material is procedural based, with a Lambert diffuse shader and a Cook Torr specular shader. It has, 17% raytraced reflections and 45% fresnel, using a black procedural cloud texture mapped to affect reflection and 5% normal bump mapping. The cloud texture uses spherical reflection mapping co-ordinates.

The black hilt material is also procedural based, with an Oren-Nayar black diffuse shader and a Blinn specular shader. It uses a scaled cloud procedural, which affects 8% normal bump mapping. It also uses the same image maps as the blade for, 19% colour blend and 10% displacement, mapped using the UV co-ordinates.

Lighting and Rendering

Lighting setup is quite simple; 1 hemi key lamp, 2 hemi fill lamps & one buffer shadow spot. I positioned four white emitting planes around the swords for the blades to reflect, one above the camera, and the others front, back and one to the right.
I rendered at 4000 x 1500 pixels at level 16 Anti-Alilasing. I made the world environment black which was set to render as transparent, this was so I could post process the image later.

Post Processing

I loaded the image into Photoshop and Auto contrasted the image, I then pasted 3 copies of the image onto 3 new layers in a new document.

I made the background white and dropped a shadow from the bottom layer.
For the glow around the blades, I applied gaussian blur to the second layer leaving the top layer un-affected.

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