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Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Author: Karel Kerezman (page 1 of 385)

Final Exam For The Blender Donut Tutorial

I completed the Blender Guru’s new version donut tutorial sequence just before dinnertime on Thanksgiving.

The duck’s a bit janky but hey, I made it entirely on my own, building on what I learned from the donut videos and reading/watching bits of other available how-to material. There’s something still a bit glitchy about the coffee cup, specifically some of the “liquid” contents. The “autumn leaf” sprinkle idea didn’t work out like I’d hoped on the donut but it’s not too awful, I suppose. I kind of wish I’d gone with a different brick texture for the wall since I never did find a color that looked good for me (hence the gray). And so on, and so on.

Part of the point of all this was giving myself permission to be bad at parts of it so I can learn, so… you know what? I’m pretty happy with this.

To be clear, I had to render this at 640×480 in order to get done with the animation in a reasonable (for me) timeframe. Which, sad to say, rules out the possibility of animated duck-related projects in the near future. Nothing’s stopping me from making any kind of wackadoodle still-frame imagery I want to, however!

Next time: More ducks, hopefully.

Will It Blend?

I tried the writing thing for a while. That didn’t pan out, as evidenced by the death of the 3WA project.

I thought I’d take up photography again. Turns out I bought entirely the wrong camera for most of the uses I wanted to try, and I can’t really afford to throw tons of money at that solution. Never mind that our living space is cramped enough without trying to carve out a workspace for that sort of thing.

I still want to exercise my creative impulses somehow. So, what next? Turns out that a friend on the bird site suggested I look into some tutorials by a guy who bills himself as the Blender Guru. Thus began my immersion in the wonderful world of fake-donut creation.

The hardest part was agreeing with myself to allow myself to be bad at something at first. Seems obvious, but I carry some deep-seated mental baggage about trying something, doing poorly at it, then never being able to try that something again. And boy howdy have I not really matched the tutorial for the type and quality of results. But that’s not the point, the point is to learn, I must remind myself every time I tackle another video.

It all started modestly enough.

A 3D donut mesh complete with 3D icing

Yum, sure looks tasty, doesn’t it?

Then I learned a tiny bit about working with materials. Too bad my sense of color was a bit off.

3D donut with 3D icing, in color

I was aiming for the look of chocolate icing… and missed.

Vyx suggested an improvement to the color scheme, which when paired with my lessons in making colorful sprinkles resulted in a vastly superior donut-looking image. Lighting’s still a mess, though.

3D donut with chocolate icing and multi-colored sprinkles

Right about at this point in the process I started craving a donut. Heavy-duty craving.

Then came the coffee cup section of the tutorial, which was easier than expected in some ways yet annoyingly fussy in several others. It doesn’t help that I completely missed one important part of the instructions so my cup ended up a bit… frosty.

3D glass (frosted) coffee cup on saucer

I actually really like this frosted-glass effect, but it’s not what I need to finish the tutorial properly. Whoops.

I also found a better “de-noise” add-on than what comes in Blender 2.8 natively, which truly improved the quality of my renders. Once I sussed out some of the problems along the way I was able to stage and render the not-actually-final product. (This is as of the end of the third “stage” of videos, with one to go.)

3D donut and 3D coffee cup on 3D saucers

There’s still a weird glitch with the coffee cup but you know what? I’m pretty happy with this so far.

Additionally, after each section of the tutorial I’m re-watching the videos and taking notes that I put into a wiki for later reference. It feels like the process of taking notes after having done the work is helping reinforce the learning somewhat. And what learnings aren’t reinforced are at least documented!

Now, let’s be clear: I’m not doing all of this so I can render snack foods. I have something a bit more… on-brand… in mind.

3D test render of a "Rusty" type duck toy model

I created this model entirely from scratch, though the rust effect involved following a tutorial video (not from Blender Guru).

Yeah? Yeah.

Ducky Dice

I’m not saying that I need these dice to appear under the Yuletime Tree with my name on the package or anything, but I’m not not saying that either…

The Month of Teeth

The most notable thing about October 2019 for me is the series of three (out of two scheduled) periodontal scaling appointments which have allowed me, for the first time in [redacted] years, to brush my teeth without fear of bloodshed. The appointments themselves were utterly miserable but I can’t deny the quality of the work or results.

I mean, everything else is deteriorating inside and around me, but hey, my teeth & gums are in better shape. That’s something, right?

We were the pop kids.

I just finished listening to the Pet Shop Boys “The Parlophone Years” documentary/mixtape presentation at the BBC. It’s quite good and the interview bits run the expected gamut from informative to amusing to introspective, and you get bits and pieces of songs from nearly the entirety of their career. (They left EMI/Parlophone shortly before releasing their 2013 album, Electric.)

There are three main musical acts at the core of my library. Genesis (and most of its solo offshoots), Midnight Oil, and the Pet Shop Boys. Of those, only one remains active. What this documentary program reminded me of is that for basically my entire music-purchasing life I’ve been fortunate enough to get a new PSB record every so often, and nearly every time I’ve found something to enjoy about the new record. That’s a thirty-year-plus run of superb songcraft.

“Opportunities.” “Suburbia.” “It’s a sin.” “Left to my own devices.” “Always on my mind.” “Domino dancing.” “How can you expect to be taken seriously?” “So hard.” “Being boring.” “I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing.” “Single.” “Yesterday, when I was mad.” “Closer to heaven.” “Integral.” “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show.” “Pandemonium.” “Did you see me coming?” “Love etc.” “Leaving.” “The pop kids.”

And that’s just selections you can hear bits of in the program linked above, to say nothing of, let’s say, “The end of the world” or “The Theatre” or “Metamorphosis” or “Up against it” or “To step aside” (look, Bilingual is an amazing album, okay?) or “Minimal” or “Twentieth Century” and so forth.

I feel like I’ve reconnected just a bit with one of the key threads woven into the fabric of my conscious life. Not a bad way to spend part of a day off, yeah? Yeah.

Mastodon-and-on-and-on

I’m back in the fediverse again. This time I’m not running my own instance. Though I tried. Boy did I try. I tried using the Docker method of building a Mastodon instance, which back when I was running the old ‘frell.co’ site was the preferred method (which of course I didn’t use when I built ‘frell.co’, ha ha). Oh, apparently that’s old hat and doesn’t really work anymore, great! I tried using the new official install instructions and… that didn’t work either. I gave up. (Which is a shame because I hoped to use a great domain name for it. Ah well. I’ll figure out something else to do with ‘earworm.me’ eventually.)

So I’m using someone else’s instance. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m still most active on Twitter but with every passing month it becomes more of a dumpster fire so having an exit strategy in place seems like a good idea. Here’s hoping it all pans out.

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