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SilveRansom

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Silveransom's Egg Rendering Tutorial Reply to this Post
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YPP Easter Egg Rendering for Non-Professional Max Users

---Author's Disclaimer:
I write this to help people render Max eggs to test their patterns for Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates' Easter Egg Contest. I'm a professional Max/Maya user, working in the game industry, and am in no way affiliated with Three Rings, the people behind Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates. (Besides being a pirate on Sage and Midnight, and being a fan of the company's work, that is.) I'm just an artist who works in 3D, and who wants to share his experience. So, thanks for reading, and if there are troubles making this work, blame me, not Three Rings.
Also, be warned, this is slightly technical, and pretty long... but it should be equally informative.


This tutorial assumes a few things:
1. You have a computer that can handle 3DStudio Max version 7. (Check here for specs:http://www.microsearch.com/products/show_product.php?idno=20230027)
2. You have already designed your proposed egg graphic, and it's saved in .PNG format, and it meets the specifications for the contest. (See here for the official contest rules and regulations:http://forums.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=58386)
3. You have a working knowledge of how to use Microsoft Windows programs, and understand things like "middle mouse drag" and "Ctrl-S" and "F10".


That said, you're going to need some tools. First, you need 3D Studio Max, version 7. You can get it here:
http://www.softpedia.com/progDownload/3D-Studio-Max-Download-15976.html

Note:
Autodesk has purchased Discreet (the publishers of Max 7), and they currently offer a trial version of Max 9 on their website, but we're using Max 7 for a few reasons. One, it's not quite as demanding on your computer specs. Two, if you do go all out and use the Illustrate! plugin for renders, the last fully functional version is keyed for Max 7, not 9. There is an Illustrate! beta for 9, but since the original Max file that we're working with was created before 7 anyways, it doesn't matter much, and using Max 7 will be simpler and cleaner. It's also the version that I'm using for this tutorial. If you absolutely must use Max 9 (or any other version), it should be pretty similar, though.


You'll also want the egg file itself. I've taken the liberty (with permission) to modify the original Three Rings file and streamline it a bit. This should keep some common problems from popping up. You can get the file (TestEgg.max) here:
http://www.filefactory.com/file/40f758/

(OPTIONAL: You can also take a moment to grab the Illustrate! plugin off the web. You want version 5.3, found here:
http://www.davidgould.com/Illustrate/Products.htm)

Now, make a few folders on your C: drive. (If for some reason you can't do this... it'll booch a few things, but it's no a big deal, and we'll cover it a bit later.) Create a folder called YPP, then inside that one, create a folder called Egg. In that folder, place the following files (Right-click to save the graphic files):

TestEgg.max (The TestEgg file you downloaded)






(image from Three Rings, taken from the original contest rules as their given sample)

These are files that should get you up and running; it's a few texture files for testing, and some renders to show you what should be happening. Thanks to Guppymomma for the egggrid.png file! (And, er... I forgot to ask for Guppy's permission to use that file... my apologies if that's an issue!)

Go ahead and install Max 7 with the defaults. You shouldn't need to do any tricky work here.

So, with Max installed, and the .png files in the C:/YPP/Egg folder, you should be ready to start Max.

Fire it up, and open the TestEgg file. You may see something like this:



Click Continue to proceed. These files don't matter for what we're doing with the eggs.

You may also run into this dialogue box, which simply wants you to save the file using whatever version of Max you're working with. Click OK past this, and go ahead and save before doing anything else.



Now, you should see this:



This is the Max interface, with the TestEgg file opened. There are four big windows that you'll be working in (the ones with the egg visible in them. Don't do anything to the lower right window. It's the one that says "48.6deg camera" in the upper left corner. That's the window that you'll be rendering the final eggs from, so don't mess with it. You can change the view in the other windows if you wish, but they are in good positions to start with.

If you want to move things around, middle mouse drag slides the view around, Alt-middle mouse drag rotates the view, and Ctrl-Alt-middle mouse drag zooms the camera. If at any time you get the camera so booched that you can't see the egg anymore, select the egg by clicking on it in the 48.6 window, then Alt-Middle mouse drag (rotate the view) in the window you want recentered (to activate it... it'll have a yellow line around it), and hit the "z" key. This zooms the camera in on the egg. Also, Shift-z undoes the last camera shift you did.

So, you have an egg, and a little understanding of how to look at it... now you need to know how to assign a texture to it and render that little beastie out. ("render" means "to produce a final computed image of")

Hit the "m" key or look for the following icon by scrolling the tool icon bar at the top of the Max interface.



(Note the little hand? You can scroll the toolbar by left mouse dragging in an empty spot on the bar.)

This should bring up the Material Editor window. It looks like this:



Now, there are a few important things to note here. The red and blue circles show how your Material Editor should look. These little sphere things are "Materials". You will apply these to the egg to tell it what texture to render. The textures that are shown here are two of the sample textures that I asked you to grab and save in the C:/YPP/Egg folder. (That's where Max is looking for these files. If, for some reason, things aren't working out, you can click on the text box indicated by the green circle (OK, oval) and tell Max to find another file for the texture.

In fact, it's a good idea to do that now just to see what it does. Go ahead and click on that little text box, and you should see something like this:



From here, click on the text box with the filename (again ovaled in green), and Max should let you browse for the file you want to use. If nothing else, use the ApolloEgg.png file to test this. Once you confirm the file selection, you should see it displayed on the little Material sphere.

Great! So now you have a Material you want to use, and an egg. You apply this material to the egg simply by dragging the picture of the little sphere and dropping it on the egg's surface. You should see the egg display change to reflect its new Material. Ifyou only see the mesh (wireframe) of the egg, hit F3, and it will change the selected window's view to shaded mode instead of wireframe. (This is a toggle that applies to most windows.) F4 is also a toggle that shows the edges of the wireframe on top of the shaded mode, if you want to see both.

So, now that you've got the egg and the Material applied to it, you just need to render it.

Hit F10 or click on the little teapot icon next to the Material Editor icon. This brings up the Render Scene window, which looks like this:



There are a few things going on here. Since I've taken the original file and streamlined it, you can just hit the Render button (blue oval) and see your pretty egg. The resolution (red oval) is set to 640 by 480, which is the size that it needs to be to produce eggs that look official. You can tinker with this pretty safely, but if you want official-looking eggs, leave it at 640 by 480. Also, for the official sized egg, make sure the active window (again, lined in yellow) is the 48.6 one, OR that the Viewport (camera-to-render) dropdown menu (green oval) shows the 48.6 name. You can render from any window (the default is the active window), and it's nice to do so from the closeup windows to get a feel for the egg itself. (That's where those big egg test renders I asked you to download came from; the closer views were rendered.)

Note that if you want to see how your egg will look in-game you will need to use the 48.6 window render.

Once you hit the render button, Max should produce something that looks like this:



That's Guppymomma's test pattern on that little egg. It's the right size egg, so don't worry about it... you should just crop it down in your graphic editor (I use Photoshop Elements) if you plan to use it anywhere so you don't have that mass of wasted space all around the egg. From here, click on the little disk icon (blue oval) to get the Save dialogue. Save your render as a .PNG file, and you've got a rendered egg to show off!

OK, so that's the bare bones of it. There are a lot of things you can do with Max, but that should get you through testing some egg patterns. If you have any questions, please just PM me and be as detailed as you can about what sort of problems you are having. Going through the tutorial, specifically testing new textures and rendering each, is a great way to see how your texture ideas may be implemented in the official eggs. The egg texture layout can distort things in some weird ways, so testing this way is valuable if you're trying for a certain effect.

If you want to go out on a limb and use the Illustrate! renderer to get that nice, truly official YPP look, install the plugin, restart Max, and follow the Help files for the Illustrate! render. (Once installed in the same folder as your installation of Max 7, the plugin puts a new menu on your Max window appropriately titled Illustrate!... that's where you can get help for that particular bit of software.) Illustrate! is run from within Max, so there's little beyond just setting it up once it's installed (again follow the Illustrate help) and rendering away. I've been using the Cartoon setting with decent effects. Please note that I've had less than stellar large-scale results with this Illustrate Renderer active, as noted here:
http://forums.puzzlepirates.com/community/mvnforum/viewthread?thread=58453&offset=20

That's why I have two files to do my testing. One with the Illustrate! running, and one where I can do hi-res zoomed in renders that actually look nice.

If you have any questions with any of this, feel free to ask. I can't guarantee a quick answer, but I'll do my best. Yes, this was a brick of text with pictures to boot, and I may have missed something or used some unknown terminology. I'm happy to answer questions. Please be civil, though.

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your eggs!

Mucho thanks to Three Rings and the YPP staff, especially Apollo, who is running the contest, and has been valuable in assisting my efforts to create this tutorial.

----------------------------------------
Silveransom
makes art like this or this &
Blender Eggs!
----------------------------------------
[Edit 1 times, last edit by Apollo at Feb 27, 2007 11:16:42 AM]
[Feb 25, 2007 9:32:45 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://s13.invisionfree.com/Peregrine_Design/ [Link]  Go to top 
Apollo
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Re: Silveransom's Egg Rendering Tutorial Reply to this Post
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Silveransom, thank you again for helping people out to do this. I know it's not something they *have* to do for the contest, but being able to test the designs out themselves will produce better designs in the end (and is fun!).
[Feb 26, 2007 12:25:54 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://blog.puzzlepirates.com/apollo/ [Link]  Go to top 
BlackBeth

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Re: Silveransom's Egg Rendering Tutorial Reply to this Post
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Thank you, thank you, thank you! Nice clear instructions; even I was able to follow them. Being able to tweak-render-tweak-render is moving me closer to a workable celtic design much faster now :-)

-- Fey
----------------------------------------
Feylind

Semi-retired Midnight Cerulean Event Addict
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SilveRansom

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Re: Silveransom's Egg Rendering Tutorial Reply to this Post
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I'm glad that it's working for ye Feylind! I'll have to get my Celtic design done, too. The eggs demand it! ...or something like that...

Apollo, in my massive block of text, I somehow forgot to mention that aye, this is totally optional. Thanks for catching that! It's a nice tool for design, and a fun way to see your designs come to life... but it's in no way necessary. ;D I'm also using this to let my nieces design eggs and I'll render them. It's fun to see your drawings/paintings in 3D.

Oh, and my apologies for the FileFactory gibberish. (I just went through this tutorial at work, just to make sure it's not too arcane, and FileFactory is a bit... tedious to use.) I was just trying to get this up and running. If anyone knows of a better free file hosting service, I'd be happy to put the egg file up there.
----------------------------------------
Silveransom
makes art like this or this &
Blender Eggs!
[Feb 26, 2007 9:51:59 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://s13.invisionfree.com/Peregrine_Design/ [Link]  Go to top 
SilveRansom

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Re: Silveransom's Egg Rendering Tutorial Reply to this Post
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(OPTIONAL: You can also take a moment to grab the Illustrate! plugin off the web. You want version 5.4, found here:
http://www.davidgould.com/Illustrate/Products.htm)

D'oh! I goofed on this. You need version 5.3 if you're running Max 7.0 like I suggest. Sorry about that!
----------------------------------------
Silveransom
makes art like this or this &
Blender Eggs!
[Feb 26, 2007 2:01:52 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://s13.invisionfree.com/Peregrine_Design/ [Link]  Go to top 
Apollo
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D'oh! I goofed on this. You need version 5.3 if you're running Max 7.0 like I suggest. Sorry about that!
I changed to 5.3 in the first post. Let me know if anything else needs to change.
[Feb 27, 2007 11:17:18 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://blog.puzzlepirates.com/apollo/ [Link]  Go to top 
SilveRansom

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Upon further testing, there are a few more points to consider:

The "clean" egg file I provided above is just for clean renders with no YPP-type outline. It's just a diagnostic tool to test your textures.

If you want the Illustrate! outline, try the original file from Three Rings (found in Apollo's Contest Description thread), but make sure you fully install Max and Illustrate! first!

That's true for either Max 9/Illustrate! 5.4 or Max 7/Illustrate! 5.3 so make sure you're getting all your tools before rendering.

Also, if you're using the Three Rings file, make sure you're only rendering a Single frame (it's at the top of the Render Options list) and that you're not rendering to a file . (It's somewhere midway in the Render Options list; it's just a checkbox, turn it off.) That should take care of things.

I guess I could do another "clean" file with those Render Options taken care of, but it's really just those two setting that should be giving you trouble. The rest of the tutorial above should help with navigating Max and testing your renders, with either file.
----------------------------------------
Silveransom
makes art like this or this &
Blender Eggs!
[Mar 1, 2007 8:20:34 AM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://s13.invisionfree.com/Peregrine_Design/ [Link]  Go to top 
SilveRansom

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One more bump on this, just in case anyone needs it for the last week before the contest ends. I'm happy to answer any questions.

Good luck, all!
----------------------------------------
Silveransom
makes art like this or this &
Blender Eggs!
[Mar 4, 2007 6:59:35 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://s13.invisionfree.com/Peregrine_Design/ [Link]  Go to top 
tkp42

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Re: Silveransom's Egg Rendering Tutorial Reply to this Post
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The TestEgg file has disappeared!

Please help the procrastinators of the world. I can host the file on my web site, if necessary. Just send it to me.

PM me here (tkp42) or send an in-game tell on Sage to Tonyanator.

Thanks!
----------------------------------------
Tonya+nator
Claiming poker ruined the game since 2006
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SilveRansom

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Re: Silveransom's Egg Rendering Tutorial Reply to this Post
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The TestEgg file has disappeared!

Please help the procrastinators of the world. I can host the file on my web site, if necessary. Just send it to me.

PM me here (tkp42) or send an in-game tell on Sage to Tonyanator.

Thanks!

Silly file hosting. Sorry about that! Tony, I've PMed you. We'll get something sorted out. This is a good chance to sort the file out again, too, since it was a little wonky still. The new iteration of the file should work best if you have Max 7 and Illustrate! installed. (See the first post for links to those.) The rest of the instructions should be accurate as well.

Thanks, Tony!

Silver
----------------------------------------
Silveransom
makes art like this or this &
Blender Eggs!
[Mar 8, 2007 7:06:14 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://s13.invisionfree.com/Peregrine_Design/ [Link]  Go to top 
tkp42

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The file can now be found, hiding in a zip, at http://www.tinyurl.com/2w7zn6 . I'm off to test out this rendering stuff now!
----------------------------------------
Tonya+nator
Claiming poker ruined the game since 2006
[Mar 8, 2007 7:51:47 PM] Show Printable Version of Post        Send Private Message    http://ice.puzzlepirates.com/yoweb/pirate.wm?target=Tonyanator [Link]  Go to top 
Inkburrow

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Thanks so much Silveransom! I really, REALLY appreciate your clear guidelines and willingness to help! I have enjoyed playing with this rendering business.

Queasy, Viridian
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Queasy, Viridian
I live in my own little world. It's okay; they know me here.
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