The very interesting thing about shaders is that it may look awesome with the proper lighting, but if you dim lights a bit or change the angle, they suddenly look very flat an unappealing. I think this is due to my lack of lighting experience, but it may also be due to not really understanding how different materials reflect the same light in different ways. Maybe it’s about the way they reflect light, and these particular things are way more complex than I thought. So there will be more and more tests in the future.
I’m aiming for a fairly realistic approach for this whole project, which will also test the Cycles render engine in Blender (I’ve seen amazing things done in Cycles so that is fully possible) but I also need to give credit to my old(ish) laptop, struggling through these renders while I sip tea and yell “C’mon!!” at her at 6 in the morning.
Looking better. Next one… c’mon!
Though the result was a bit grainy, I like how the metal is actually reflecting things now. So after being temporarily satisfied with the shader, I kept on texturing the gun.
The gun is a freaking huge rifle of some kind (laser propulsed? Dunno, they load bullets in it in Macross Plus) which I want to look battered, used and scratched. Guns are not supposed to look neat and clean if they’ve been used a lot. It should look like the machine gun in an Apache helicopter, extremely dark and smoky. So first things first, I did a bit of extra rigging to it.
I added a bone and controller for the magazine so it can come out, and also a slider so the gun handle can fold when it’s stored under the plane’s belly. The initial shader was bright and shiny, but then I UV mapped it and started making the approximate colours.
Plus a normal map for a bit of paneling, and few tweaks to the shaders, this started to look more realistic. Let’s just make a GERWALK shot that looks awesome, shall we?
The orange and white label is upside down. Whoops.
Now, here’s where the shader got funky.
By adding a very complex specular map with a very complex diffuse texture, this started happening. Extreme noise and fireflies on the render again. So the result looks more like a rock than a piece of metal. I had to do some more research.
Looking better. The “Haward” GU-15 text was made smaller to look closer to the movie, and there’s still some fireflies but they look smaller. I found out that there was a render value I wasn’t messing with: the clamp value. It instructs the light to die after a certain number of interactions so it doesn’t get burnt that much and that way the value doesn’t extrapolate and look like a white pixel.
That orange label is all messed up. Whoops.
With these two massive renders that took almost 2 hours each, I conclude the work on the gun pod. The fuselage is being taken care of now, using some of the same techniques I used to give a metallic texture to the gun by using real photographs. Now I’ll update the inner mechanisms and add some more detail to their normal mapping.