As I was telling last time, I suddenly felt the cockpit was lacking some bling, some oomph, some je ne se quoi pas. So in the spirit of not really ending the project ever out of crippling perfectionism, I decided to add some more stuff to the chair and sides of the cockpit.
My main purpose for the details on the sides of the chair – besides some more techy detail and interesting things to look at – was to give it a more grounded look where things have a purpose, and space is used. In the military world space is rarely wasted, and everything serves a purpose, or is kept simple and plain. So I decided things were going to be actual flight controllers, not just background noise and random technobabble.
While I was at it, I happened to finally figure out why the normals were behaving like that. For example, why are the panels at the right of the joystick carved in, while the handle of the stick is apparently reversed and it’s sticking out? While I was making some renders I found out the reason: In the UV map, some of the meshes were rotated upside down (to fit them in the cramped square) while others were rotated 90 degrees or so. So each part was upside down or upwards in relation to the map image. Once the normal map is created, the same information looks carved in or carved out, depending on the orientation. So that explained, finally, why I was having those weird issues. All I needed to do was to edit the normal map to be oriented depending on the part’s orientation.
To do that, I created 4 different maps, then rotated them all differently, one was kept as it was, another was rotated 180 degrees, then the final two were flipped 90 clockwise and counter-clockwise. After applying the normal filter that extracts the black and white information as height information on all of them, I reverted the orientation of the last 3 back to match the first one. Then, simply choosing which orientation was the correct one, I copied and pasted every part of the map until it showed correctly.
While some things looked good, others needed some work in the specular maps and diffuse maps. I kept making these renders – each one took about 40 minutes – while fixing stuff, noting things to go back to in Photoshop and generally making the feel more beautiful.
Then I started doing some improvement to the rest of the chair and cockpit.
Just noticed the reversal normal problem was also happening in the fuselage, so there’s another thing to fix.
With the overall cockpit finished, I went back to trace my steps and look at the panels from up close. I also noticed how close can you get before things look bad, so that’s a good pointer for how close the camera should be in the film.
The depth was way too much so I’m now refining and testing to make them look good from far and close.
Will be back with some more updates! These are small things and mostly just a clean-up moment to look back, render some good shots and move on to the next parts of the project…