Alamo VR/AR project

Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:53 am

Hey all, I'm working on an AR/VR Alamo project which involves an historically accurate depiction of the Alamo circa 1836 and the siege and battle. It will have over 20 custom created high poly characters created by my friend Jerry Perkings (MasterXeon2001) and others. He works mostly with Blender, ZBrush and Substance Painter. I'm using primarily SketchUp, 3D Coat and Substance Painter.

More can be found out about this project at the websites:
http://alamoreality.com
http://imaginevirtua.com

I'm working with Alamo historians including Stephen Hardin and Gary Zaboly, the two foremost names in Alamo history and it's architecture.

To my knowledge, there has never been a 3D project of this scope and magnitude created about the Alamo. We're having daily sessions going over details such as the stitching on General Cos' uniform, and the holes knocked out of the Alamo church entranceway for the cannons to be wheeled in. Fascination stuff.

This thread will help document some of the work I'm doing in SketchUp to create the total architectural piece of the full Alamo and it's associated buildings, landscape and props.

I'm using several plugins to help with the building and rendering of the models. I'm glad to answer any questions, or take advice on any of the techniques discussed.

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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:07 am

Early stuff:
I started off by using the Oob topology plugins to grab a site terrain to begin work with. I then used Gary's notes, drawings and legacy Alamo blueprints to begin to layout the site. One great thing about SU is each Group/Component has it's own local axis and it made it very easy to work in different axis planes for each of the buildings. This allowed me to keep the model true to compass, so I can then later identify accurate lighting and shadows.



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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:17 am

I tend to always model in SketchUp keeping components and groups solids if at all possible. This allows me model integrity as I go along, and makes editing these later much easier. For instance, just today I received word from Gary I had missed a window in a key place on the Church which was only revealed in drawings done well over a century ago. Because the window would have to pass through a wall AND a vaulted ceiling, it was easy to do using booleans.

As far as booleans go, I really like using both SU Pros Booleans as well as Dale Martens (Whaat)BoolTools 2. His Booleans can be somewhat tempermental, but they work when SketchUp's don't, so I encourage both sets. I also use his Artisan tools quite a bit as well as ThomThom's Vertex Tools.

Here are some more of the early developmental sketches. They were rendered with Fluid Interactive's Ambient Occlusion plugin then composited in Pshop with a SU line drawing export. I've since purchased SketchFX as well to streamline this process. I'll show some images in a later post.













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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:25 am

One of the cannons was the first prop I worked on. The goal is to create a photoreal version of it which when rendered in Unity looked like the real thing. I also needed to create a realistic and properly colored version of it for 3D Printing. Just building out the workflow for it took over a weeks time but the results worked great.

Here's the SU model which as you can see the wheels and the support beams were skewed, so I created on-axis component accurate versions of them, then copied them and adjusted in other components.



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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:47 am

I then took the SU cannon into 3D Coat and added distress. There were three objects, one for each material (wood, bronze cannon, and metal). OBJs were exported and UVs added automatically in 3D Coat.



The model was exported as bake targets for Substance Painter and there materials applied, then exported and rendered in Unity.





Next the model was tweaked in SU to create a low poly version and baked and mapped again in Substance Designer. Here are the two high poly and low poly versions of the cannon side-by-side in Unity.



Then, the model was voxelized and tweaked in 3DC and made an entire solid for 3D printing. Many of the features had to be 'supersized' in order to meet the material thickness threshold requirements. Here's the under 1M poly finished 3D print model in 3D Coat.



Finally, colors needed to be added for 3D printing in Substance Painter. The same bake targets were added and then adjusted for the supersized details. Also, I only used diffuse maps (no normals, metallic, smoothness) as the color Sandstone material would not reflect the other qualities. The model was mapped, exported to MeshLab and converted x3d for final upload to Shapeways.

Here's what it should look like when I receive it.



Here's a video describing some of this process:

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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:00 am

Back to the Alamo church. After base approval, the model is tweaked and further componentized, keeping mindful of creating solids which could easily be voxelized in 3D Coat for adding further distress.

The workflow for creating the correct textures includes a custom shader I built in Unity, the details can be found at: https://public.3.basecamp.com/p/oTZSntqtnpobGTrE4WmpRq6P



As the shader does a great job with the normal bakes, you can see the hard lines of the underlying low poly geometry belies it's simple shape on profile views. So, my next step was to go into and add some very low poly distress to corners and edges where they might be seen frequently in profile.



Currently, I'm working with my new SketchFX Ex extension to figure out a custom render theme and video workflow for these in progress pictures. Here are a few tests..









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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby nickchun » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:11 am

Fantastic! I will be taking a look in more detail when I get a chance, its interseting to see how you integrate all the different software. :thumb:
Love the clay and sketchy renders also.
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby pbacot » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:42 am

This is exciting! Beautiful, beautiful work1 The cannons alone, or the facade alone...are work to be proud of. Hope we get to see the final result!
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:19 am

nickchun wrote:Fantastic! I will be taking a look in more detail when I get a chance, its interseting to see how you integrate all the different software. :thumb:
Love the clay and sketchy renders also.


Thanks. :)

pbacot wrote:This is exciting! Beautiful, beautiful work1 The cannons alone, or the facade alone...are work to be proud of. Hope we get to see the final result!


Thank you.
The facade renders are BEFORE I'll be adding the actual textures for the game model. I expect they'll be much better when completed.
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby Rich O Brien » Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:45 am

This is intense! Following along
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:25 am

A quick set of animation tests with SketchFX Es:



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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby Mike Amos » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:42 am

Looking really good, something to keep an eye on.
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby tuna1957 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:50 pm

great stuff :thumb:
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:22 am

Some more front detailing. The statues were quite the challenge as they started off as huge Zbrush files. I dropped them into 3D Coat, voxelized them and began to close all gaps I could find. I then converted them to surfaces, and 3D Coat has this cool tool called Object-ify (separate) which separates a mesh into only contiguous pieces. There's always junk lying around, and this lets me clean it up and then save out a very high (1M+ polys) mesh for baking.

I then use 3DC smart decimation to create a very small mesh (all 4 statues are under 900 vertexes each!) and export into SketchUp. I'll bake the original mesh on in Substance later and you can see the result.

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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby pbacot » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:31 am

Pretty advanced stuff (and a lot of work). So you turn the image of the detailed mesh into a texture to apply to the simplified model?
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:48 am

pbacot wrote:Pretty advanced stuff (and a lot of work). So you turn the image of the detailed mesh into a texture to apply to the simplified model?


I actually turn it into a single normal map, which when applied, adds a lot of detail to the model. It also creates texture targets in the low poly model allowing me to quickly add diffuse maps for parts and pieces of the single OBJ. There's a video on the process:

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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:47 pm

Working on the texturing. All are Unity renders.









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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:55 pm

Finally got the 3D color print back and it looks wonderful.









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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby Mike Amos » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:09 am

Have you thought about making this a card/paper project? Much cheaper and sales could be greater.
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:32 pm

Mike Amos wrote:Have you thought about making this a card/paper project? Much cheaper and sales could be greater.

That's a great idea! Are there SketchUp plugins/tools that can do this?
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby Mike Amos » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:38 pm

There is an unfold plugin somewhere.
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby baz » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:44 am

Mike Amos wrote:There is an unfold plugin somewhere.

Flattery?

https://sketchucation.com/pluginstore?p ... n%20Pirate
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby cuttingedge » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:59 am

I so love the 3d print.. how the texture came out is amazng ..Are the colors there right of the 3d print or is it repainted manually.. What kind of printer will give me this detailed output? Very well done...
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:13 am

cuttingedge wrote:I so love the 3d print.. how the texture came out is amazng ..Are the colors there right of the 3d print or is it repainted manually.. What kind of printer will give me this detailed output? Very well done...


Yes the colors are correct. I added a dirt layer and ambient occlusion layer in Substance Painter. I used Shapeways.com to print it. Cost about $150. You can find out more about the Z-Corp printers half way down this page. They're fairly expensive. I think they start at around $60K.
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby liam887 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:27 pm

Good luck! My VR experiments are still ongoing, on hold a little while I expand my coding skills!
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Sun Sep 17, 2017 5:47 am

Some more stuff...

This tambour was located on the South side of the Alamo and used 4lb cannons to defend the South and East.

Gary Zaboly's map of the entire Alamo compound as it existed in 1836


The SketchUp model of the tambour





A quick SU SketchFX video of same:

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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby db11 » Sun Sep 17, 2017 2:16 pm

chippwalters wrote:Currently, I'm working with my new SketchFX Ex extension to figure out a custom render theme and video workflow for these in progress pictures. Here are a few tests..


I've looked at this extension and considered adding it to my list of plugins-to-buy. (along with Ambient Occlusion). I really like some of the effects and your examples look great.

How have you found it? Are you happy with the output? Is there any performance hit? Does using it without AO severly handicap the avaialble effects? (I use Twilight Render currently)

Oh, and the project overall is very impressive... but having seen some of your previous work (e.g. your Hyperloop presentation) I'm not at all surprised. Great work.
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:50 pm

I actually really do like the SketchFX extension. If I had to get only one, I'd get the AO one as it helps you design by accurately showing you what the object looks like. Both give you the ability to create some really nice and quick renders and animations. I don't see this as a presentation tool to show finished work, I'd prefer something like Thea or Unity or KeyShot for that.
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby db11 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:17 am

Thanks for the reply. I imagine I'll probably end up getting both, but I'll likely take your advice and start with AO.
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Re: Alamo VR/AR project

Postby chippwalters » Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:46 am

Some more updates. These are Unity screenshots from the Palisades scene, which is the place David Crockett and his men defended the Alamo from. It was supposed to be one of the most vulnerable, but due to Crockett and his sharp shooters, became virtually impenetrable.

Ultra low geometry except for the Alamo, which will be optimized next...
Also, we'll be adding a better ground texture as well.

Of interest, the shader I'm using was created in Amplify Shader for Unity and it's a pretty interesting shader. The goal is to NOT have too many texture maps for mobile AR. So, I've compiled 2 different shaders and the only custom maps per object are a normal and ambient occlusion map. The rest of the texturing is done with only a couple of diffuse and normal maps, plus a noise map for the dirt coming up from the ground. This way I can keep both the polys low AND the number of textures low.









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