Friday, March 21, 2014

I Love Grass

Grass - close view
     Wow!  Is it Friday already?  The week has flown by, but every day I am adding something new to the game framework.  This week was tower placement on a map.  I have been designing structures like towers to represent different types of pieces.  For example, the Cannon Tower needs to have a cannon in the tower design.   At the moment, I have just build 4 basic types of tower, War, Mage, Cannon, and Archer.  I am not even sure if these are the categories, but they are close.    Of course, each tower had to show shadows on the ground in a consistent manner to keep up the illusion.  I did manage to hit this weeks goal and now have a nice little selection of different towers in building locations.  
    So that was good, but the map level itself looked like crap.   I tried using some of the nifty effects from GIMP to 'paint' grass, rocks, and other stuff, but it still looked odd.  90% of the reason is my lack of knowledge of the tool and artistic design.  After spending an afternoon playing with different effects and background colors, I still was not happy with the overall look.  In fact, the only parts of the map I liked were the 3D generated artwork that I had stamped all over the map.  What is a frustrated programmer to do?  "Grab a beer and forget about it", said the Crow.  I decided that this map would look better with just a bit more grass covering, but not painted on with GIMP.

Non-Grass backed Map

Geek Side Note

I am sure that I could have used a combination of GIMP filters and tools to simulate the grass very nicely, but decided to stay with the 3D images instead.  Don't judge me!

  Having to create grass in Blender was way above my expertise, but not beyond the Interweb.  I found a nice tutorial on creating grass in Blender and this morning created my very first 3D grass brush.  The tutorial uses the Blender 'hair' particles system to create pretty darn realistic grass.  Mess with the color nodes a bit, and you have a grassy square.  Once scaled and placed in the background layer, the map looked much better.

Tower Selection - On real grass map
Like all tutorials, I had to go through it slowly the first time and then try to recreate the product from scratch using memory.  I am still a bit intimidated by the Color Node Editor in Blender, but forced myself to play with it a bit to get more comfortable.  Once I get over the initial hurdle of trying to use it a few times, the fear factor gets reduced a bunch.  That said, I still am a bull in a china shop in Blender and rely on 'undo' a lot.  A LOT!
    Next week is more map related goals so, this grass work will dove-tail into that work nicely.   Maybe some dirt patches or water effects?  Ah, that is next weeks problem.

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