Adwaita Neutral Theme

News Apr 15, 2014

Here’s an alternative version of the Adwaita GTK theme (default in Gnome Shell) I’ve made. I changed the dark theme so it has neutral grey colors, instead of the green hues in the original.

My main reason for making this was using the dark theme with gThumb and MyPaint (hopefully Inkscape and GIMP in the future too!). The green hues of the original can affect the way you percieve hues in the image/video you’re working on, since color is interpreted in context (in this case the UI). For design work it’s always better to use neutral greys, and a brightness that matches the context where your work will be seen as good as possible.

The light version is not touched and it’s based on 3.10 (but will update soon!).

You can find the theme in Github, or download it directly.

To install extract the files to /home/[user]/.local/share/themes/adwaita-neutral (use CTRL+L in nautilus to input this folder). You’ll need Gnome Tweak Tool installed to change the GTK theme (more about Gnome Tweak Tool).

If you want to know more, read about color theory on Wikipedia

Justifying like a boss in Scribus

Tutorials Apr 11, 2014

I’ve been working on a magazine project for the last couple of months and sadly I found that there aren’t that many tutorials for Scribus, specially on the topic of justifying. So if you’re also wondering how to get good justified text in Scribus 1.4, read on! Let’s start with setting our text style right. Open up the styles editor and set the paragraph style for your text (usually the default) with these settings:

  • Minimum space width: 92%
  • Gylph extension: 95% - 100%
  • Tracking: -2% (this is in the character tab)

Always let your text flushed, unless you’re required to have it fully justified. It can save you a lot of spacing issues and in many cases just looks better.

Make sure you have hyphenation enabled while you type: open the preferences and go into “Hyphenation and Spelling”. If you import text, make sure to hypenate it (Extras > Hyphenate Text).

This should give you a pretty good base. Now comes the fun part: going through all your text to find overly spaced lines, rivers, widows and orphans.

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Logo explosion

Art Apr 9, 2014

Back to blending! I’ve just had time to get back to blender after a long project. Here’s a intro-ish animation I did while playing with dupliverts.

Get the blend file at Blendswap

Support Gooseberry!

Various Apr 7, 2014

I think at this point most people have already heard about Gooseberry, the new Open Movie project by the Blender Foundation. It seems many are still undecisive or have decided not to support it. To those of you, I want to explain what makes Gooseberry so cool.

What you get

  • The previous 3 open shorts with all the extras: concept art, posters, quad splits, etc.
  • Access to all the source files for the shorts.
  • Of course, access to the final movie and all of it’s assets as well. How awesome is that? Image being able to inspect any scene or use any model from an animated movie!
  • Access to behind the scenes as the movie is being made.
  • Hours and hours of training material (valued at €170).
  • Have Blender stress-tested on a large scale production to highlight bugs, pitfalls and performance issues. Not just that, the development team will be working alongside the artists on these issues as they come up.

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Render+ 0.3

News Mar 17, 2014

After way too much time, I’m happy to announce a new version of Render+

This version adds a few features and bugfixes, but most importantly it adds a toggle for animation renders. Sadly Blender doesn’t have a way of distinguishing between animation and image renders, and all the (smart?) workarounds I tried didn’t work. If the animation toggle is disabled post-render actions, notifications, autosaves and the poweroff options will be executed once for every frame (for instance, the computer would shutdown after the first frame). It’s annoying but just remember to turn it on before rendering animations!

You may also notice that the version numbering is changed to something that makes more sense, given that this addon is not even half a year old :)

Here’s the full changelog

  • Adds autosave for still images
  • Adds toggle for animation renders, so callbacks aren’t called every frame
  • Adds Desktop Notifications (Linux and OSX Mavericks)
  • Fixed bug where callbacks weren’t persistent
  • Clearer UI
  • (Linux) xterm now stays open after a BG render
  • (Linux) Uses systemctl instead of deprecated Dbus calls
  • Major code cleanup. All properties are now inside a collection so they don’t fill up the scene. Uses only two callbacks now. Also PEP8 compatible.
  • Uses more realistic version numbering

Get Render+ on the Blender Market!

Light leaks in the compositor

Tutorials Mar 12, 2014

Light leaks happen when the body of a camera isn’t light-tight and some light leaks in and overexposes the film (or sensor). It’s often used along with vintage effects to give a sense of warmth and a reminiscense of analog cameras. Create a new texture in your world, call it “leaks” or something descriptive. Delete the default checker node and add a clouds node. Set it to “Greyscale” and “Hard”, “Depth” to 0 and “Size” to 0.0001.

Add a Texture node ( input > texture ) and select our leaks texture. Set the scale on X to something big like 0.5 and the Y scale to about 0.1 (ignore Z). Now make a new colorRamp node (color > colorRamp) and plug the color output of our texture into it. Flip the positions of the black and white colors by clicking the icon with two arrows, this will invert the colors of our texture. Ctrl+click on this node to add a viewer to it and activate the backdrop option. Start moving the sliders together in the colorRamp to crush the contrast in our texture. Once you’re happy with it, add a Blur node. Set it to Fast Gaussian and it’s values to something like 150.

Add a mix node, set it to add and mix your image with a bright orange color. Use the output of the Blur as your factor.

Vintage effect in the compositor

Tutorials Mar 5, 2014

Making a trendy vintage effect in Blender is easier than you think. We can get some great results with just a couple of nodes. Jump into the compositor and activate it (click “use nodes”). Use the Render Layers input node, or add an Image or Movie Clip node. Let’s add a “Hue Saturation Value” node and lower the saturation to about 0.5. Note that the values I’m giving here are in ballpark, you’ll want to tweak them to your images.

Add a Mix node and plug the result of the previous node into it. Set it to difference, choose a highly saturated color for the second image input and lower the factor to about 0.1 or 0.03. This will give you a quick color cast.

From here on you can add a color balance or RGB curves node to fine tune colors and get some contrast back. Personally I like to use the Hue Correct node.

Switching cameras like a pro

Tutorials Feb 26, 2014

Changing cameras is a very common task in animation, and it’s actually pretty easy to do in Blender (though a little hidden) . Let’s see two methods to accomplish this.

Method 1: Binding cameras to markers

Go into your timeline and Make a new marker (press M, or use Marker > Add Marker). Select your camera and press CTRL+B (in the timeline) to bind it to the marker. All cameras need to be bound to some marker with this method. If you want to have a different camera at the beggining make a marker at the beggining of the timeline and bind it.

Method 2: Using the Video Sequence Editor

Switch to the video editing layout (or just make space for a VSE somewhere). Add your a strip for your scene (Add > Scene). Move the cursor to the exact position where you want to change cameras and press K to cut the strip. Now you can select each strip and change it’s camera in the properties panel under “Camera Override”.

The benefit to this method is that you can crossfade and use effects between cameras.

Shadeless materials in Cycles

Tutorials Feb 19, 2014

To make any material shadeless in Cycles you simply need to use an emission shader with a strength of 1.0. You can plug textures and anything you want, but the final shader (connected to the output) needs to be the emission shader.

The fun part of shadeless is that you don’t really need light rays bouncing around. If you’re creating an entirely shadeless scene (like a 2D animation) you can set all light path settings to 1 and the samples as low as 20. Less samples won’t give you less quality but you will start seeing aliasing. Though it might be useful if you’re going for a 8-bit look.

For even more performance you can render with the GPU and set the tile size to the entire render size.

Saving renders for compositing

Tutorials Feb 12, 2014

It’s a good idea to separate the different steps of a pipeline for complex projects, but even in smaller jobs you don’t want to re-render everytime you open Blender.

First disable the compositor (ir you’ve been adding nodes already). Then save the render result as an OpenEXR Multilayered file. This will save all your passes and render layers. Render layers will be stored as layer groups and passes as layers inside that group (you get a dropdown in the compositor).

OpenEXR is an open image format developed by Industrial Light & Magic. It supports lossless encoding and up to 32-bit floating-point depth and is supported by many 3D applications and 2D editors, like GIMP or Krita. You can also use OpenEXR files saved by other applications like Maya in Blender.

All you have to do now is replace the Render Layers input node with an Image node, and select your exr file. I recommend you do this on a different blend file if you’re working on a complex scene or just plain heavy file to save RAM. Be careful with large images in the compositor though, it can quickly gobble up lots of ram and when you run out of RAM Blender will crash.