Blender 3D – the Terrible Trouble with Textures

SupermanShield3D-thumb
Very basic render of my Superman 3D symbol from Blender

I should actually call this the Terrible Trouble with Everything in Blender.

This one’s for all you Blender heads out there.

I saw a really cool piece of Superman art by a guy named Valiance over on DeviantArt, and I thought I’d give it a shot in Blender. Let me tell you it was more work than I thought.

The Superman “S” shield is made up of what appear to be very simple shapes, so it should be some pretty easy modeling, right?

Nope.

THE MODELING

It quickly became clear to me that I didn’t know the best way to model this thing. I’ll tell you couple of ways not to do this:

1. Do NOT attempt to subdivide a plane into many sections, then push and pull the vertices into position. It will suck and suck HARD. All those verts will quickly become unwieldy when it’s time to extrude your model.

Subdividing a plane in Blender quickly turns ugly

2. Do NOT attempt to import a path from Illustrator or Inkscape with the intention of converting it to a mesh from there. As seen in the linked article, it will look like crap and you’ll have to do so much work to clean up all the triangles and messy quads that you might as well just do it yourself anyway.

Converting an imported path to a mesh in Blender. Look at those ugly triangles...

3. Just in case you’re wondering, don’t try making a path directly in Blender and then converting that, it’ll just turn out the same as number 2.

Oh yeah, side note: You still can’t import a path in 2.5? (I’m using version 2.56.0 r34076) I sure couldn’t figure it out, so I had to import using Blender 2.49b, save the file and open it in 2.5. All for naught, my friends…

So finally I realized that the only way to do this was as such:

1. Start by adding a plane

2. Cut it in half and add a mirror modifier

3. Begin extruding, with the intention of using the least amount of verts/faces possible

Alas, as you can see I ended up with quite a few faces in there. More than are probably necessary but at my current level of skill that’s how I had to do it.

Superman shield modeled in Blender
Modeled and extruded Superman symbol in Blender

A major hang-up for me was the yellow part of the shield. I wanted it all to be one piece, then I would use vertex groups to assign different materials.

Well I couldn’t pull it off in a satisfactory manner. Meaning that I couldn’t get the quads all lining up as nicely as I would like. It actually was coming out looking like crap and there were a few areas where I could see no other way to complete the mesh except to use a triangle.

Finally a gave up. I just didn’t model the yellow parts. I only did the red parts, then stuck a yellow plane in there to fill in the space. It grates me that I couldn’t do it the way I initially wanted, but I’m sure with more modeling practice I’ll be able to make these things in a more efficient manner.

THE TEXTURING

Now to the part that really pisses me off.

I suck at texturing. After all this time, I still can’t make something look the way I want it to look.

Trust me, I spent a phenomenal amount of time combing through the forums and Google trying to find materials settings and such.

I wanted to go for a shiny gemstone or possibly metal sort of look to the “S” red parts, but I’ll be gosh-darned to heck if I can figure it out.

Man, I’ve still never been able to make a decent shiny metal texture without resorting to UV Mapping. Very annoying. I’m obviously not getting it.

To that end I’ve found this book here (not affiliate links):


Blender 2.5 Materials and Textures Cookbook

Looks like it might be the answer to my texturing problems? I know the price at first glance looks a little steep, but considering the knowledge that’s (hopefully) inside, the time and frustration it could save me will be more than worth the money.

I’m going to finish this one soon and post the blend file when I’m done. I’ll also make a video showing exactly what I did and what did and did not work for those interested. Right now I’m just at the complaining stage.

If anyone has any tips or suggestions go ahead and leave them in the comments, It’s much appreciated!

13 thoughts on “Blender 3D – the Terrible Trouble with Textures

  1. John,

    I knew I made the right career choice by going with board games vs. graphically-rich computer games. LOL

    Everything you wrote about Blender I can say with the same frustration about PhotoShop.
    At least you have an artistic well from which to draw – if I can’t make it PhotoShop, it’s not getting made.

    I hope you hang in there, though. Just like programming, the more you practice, research and discover, the better you’ll become.

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    1. Yeah I will definitely hang in there. The results I’ve seen from other artists are just too good. I want to get to that level myself and really create some awesome stuff.

      You know the old saying “nothing worthwhile comes easy”!

      Although I sure wish it would…

  2. Hey John,

    Okay, so while you have my complete sympathies, forgive me for chuckling at your complaining stage. Once upon a time I used to dabble with Photoshop and I *loved* playing around with textures. However, I had this horrible allergy to the complaining stage, so I never got any better than dabbling with a little bit here, and a little bit there.

    This project looks really big endeavor, and I don’t know that I’d have the gumption to try it, especially with a program that I was unfamiliar with. Of course, I think that’s part of what art is, right? Gumption. =)

    Delena

    1. Haha, you said “gumption”!!

      Well, this project isn’t really that big in the scheme of 3D artwork, that’s why it’s frustrating that I’m having a tough time pulling it off.

      It takes time, though. I have almost 15 years of working with Photoshop and Illustrator day in and day out doing design and prepress (stuff you really don’t want to do!).

      Unfortunately I only have about 5 years working with Blender as a hobby, meaning only from time to time, so I’ll just have to work through the pain and soldier on to get where I want to be with this.

      Eye of the Tiger!! No retreat, no surrender! (remember that movie..?)

  3. Wow i really admire people who do things like this, it’s really hard to make even Superman’s logo like this, i was trying few times do to some simple 3D things and it was so hard to do that i just gave up.

    When i look how my brother operates all of those shortcuts, options etc. then i see how much knowledge it’s needed to do something what will look nice.

  4. Paul it’s tough! especially if you’re a 2D artist moving into 3D.

    it’s almost better if you had no training in the 2D art paradigm because then you don’t have to shake off all that stuff when creating in 3D.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. Hi, John!
    I came for the first time here … This individual blog topic caught my eye!

    I’ve never heard about this program before, but the interface reminds me of the program 3D MAX. What do you think about it? Have you used it?

    Anyway, great post! Thanks!

  6. Whoo hoo…I followed your instruction and I could make it by myself! Thanks a lot JG. Your tutorial means a lot to me. Looking forward for your next tutorial. Catch you later…

    1. Cool Andrew, you should post a link to your file once you get it rendered. I’d love to check it out!

    1. That’s how I felt Robert, when I first was getting into 3D. I knew the learning curve was huge, but the results were just so freakin’ awesome I couldn’t help but give it a shot. I’m still not where I wanna be but we must soldier on..!

  7. This blog got my interest! :) Superman is one of favorite Superheroes and I’m so amazed with the Superman Logo you’ve made! :) Very classic and creative! Keep it up!

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