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3D Graphics

Myrtle, fetch the mower!

Convincing sim airports are built of many things, most of which we can pretty much all agree on. Hangars are shaped a certain way, pavement looks like asphalt or concrete or gravel, vehicles either have the right look or they don’t. Where things get a bit more subjective are in the tiny, organic details – grass, for instance.

For some time now, there’s been an expectation that smaller airports (and for that matter, most larger ones) will at least try to incorporate some representation of grass. It might just be a fringe around the taxiways at an international hub, or it might involve a full-blown tangle of thick vegetation that threatens to overwhelm the whole field.

In our latest project, we asked ourselves, “what makes realistic grass look, well, realistic?” Since the airport in question is a smaller GA field, there was no doubt that the natural elements would play a key role in “selling” the believability. So rather than plunking down some grass from one of our existing libraries, we decided to go back to the drawing board and find as perfect a balance as we could between performance and plausibility. We’re pretty happy with the result.

They key elements were:

  • Coloring – The grass had to seamlessly match¬†the photoreal ground beneath it. After all, that image is essentially a top-down view of the actual grass on the field.
  • Variety – Like most organic elements, there’s a lot of variation of color, texture, and density in a field of grass. In some seasons, that includes a splash of wildflowers here and there as well.
  • Performance – We’re trying to fool the eye into seeing hundreds of thousands of blades of grass while laying down a few hundred polygons. That means striking a balance between what’s actually there and what looks like it’s there.
  • Blending – After all that work, the last thing we want is for someone to look at a field and think, “yep, there are a bunch of polygons trying their best to be grass.” We want you to peer out through the windscreen and just think, “grass.” We paid a lot of attention to the best way to hide those straight 3D model edges the human eye has such an affinity for, but which look out of place in a natural setting.

Of course, in the real world many airports are meticulously maintained, including regular mowing. That means that the grass is seldom more than a few inches high. For our simulated environment, we’ve relaxed that standard a bit and let it get higher without being out of control. The result, we hope you agree, is quite believable…

Convincing sim airports are built of many things, most of which we can pretty much all agree on. Hangars are shaped a certain way, pavement looks like asphalt or concrete or gravel, vehicles either have the right look or they don’t. Where things get a bit more subjective are in the tiny, organic details – [...]

Filed Under: 3D Graphics, FSX, Hundred Dollar Burger airports, New England Scenery, P3D4, Prepar3D V3

It’s About Time.

Presented with no further commentary… yet. ūüėČ

Presented with no further commentary… yet. ;-)

Filed Under: 3D Graphics, Announcements, Flightbeam KPDX, FSX SP2, KPDX

Your Island is Ready

After a total rebuild and a whole lot of tweaking and testing, version 2.0 of The Heron’s Nest is a go! Rather than deliver it only to mailing list subscribers, we’ve decided to open it up to everyone for download, absolutely free.

Get your copy here: http://iblueyonder.com/portfolio/the-herons-nest/

And here’s a sampler…

After a total rebuild and a whole lot of tweaking and testing, version 2.0 of The Heron’s Nest is a go! Rather than deliver it only to mailing list subscribers, we’ve decided to open it up to everyone for download, absolutely free. Get your copy here:¬†http://iblueyonder.com/portfolio/the-herons-nest/ And here’s a sampler…

Filed Under: 3D Graphics, Announcements, Bush Flying, FSX, FSX Scenery, Heron’s Nest, New England Scenery, Prepar3D V3

Hot New Tech for Decrepit Old Stuff

The hottest buzzword in 3D rendering and gaming at the moment is PBR, short for physically-based rendering. It’s a deep, highly wonky topic, but at a high level is basically an attempt to re-create how light plays over real-world surfaces using mathematical formulas and sets of texture maps. For any given material you could have, for instance, a base color map, a map representing how glossy each pixel of a surface is, one for the specular color of each pixel, and so forth. Wait, wake up! I swear, this is not only cool, it’s a sea change in how we create realistic looking things in a digital environment.¬† [click to continue…]

The hottest buzzword in 3D rendering and gaming at the moment is PBR, short for physically-based rendering. It’s a deep, highly wonky topic, but at a high level is basically an attempt to re-create how light plays over real-world surfaces using mathematical formulas and sets of texture maps. For any given material you could have, [...]

Filed Under: 3D Graphics, FSX, FSX Scenery, Heron’s Nest, New England Scenery, Prepar3D V3

Wanted: Beta Testers

It’s that time again. We’re preparing a new version of the Heron’s Nest for release, and find ourselves in need of around five more¬†beta testers.¬†Ideal testers would:

  • Own more than one version of the sim – targets include the original FSX/Acceleration, FSX Steam Edition, and Prepar3D v1, 2, or 3.
  • Have previous testing experience (not absolutely necessary, but nice to have).
  • Take testing seriously, but be¬†willing to have a little fun with it, too.

If this sounds like you, drop me a comment below so we can talk. If you don’t meet the above criteria, but feel you’d be a great tester anyway, let me know that as well.

Thanks to everyone who commented. We’ve got our hands full answering the current list, so I’ve closed this post for future comments.

It’s that time again. We’re preparing a new version of the Heron’s Nest for release, and find ourselves in need of around five more¬†beta testers.¬†Ideal testers would: Own more than one version of the sim – targets include the original FSX/Acceleration, FSX Steam Edition, and Prepar3D v1, 2, or 3. Have previous testing experience (not [...]

Filed Under: 3D Graphics, Announcements, Heron’s Nest

KACK Preview Pics – Now in P3D3!

KACK Preview Pics – Now in P3D3! post image

Every once in a while, I still get that wow factor from flight simming. You know the feeling; where just for a moment, you forget all about software, tweaks, and settings and are just… there. Lately, I’ve had a whole bunch of those moments. Granted, using an Oculus Rift VR headset has provided a whole slew of them. But the other component is Prepar3D v.3.3. People, if you are fence-sitting about Prepar3D at all, let me nudge you off that fence. This sim is nothing short of amazing, especially from a graphics perspective.

All this is a fancy run-up to something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and that’s provide some new screenshots of Nantucket Memorial Airport (KACK) – this time in P3D. In addition to the modeling and textures, look at the tree shadows now! We finally have those available, as well as dynamic reflections on the glass, bump maps and specular highlights on ground polys, and some really beautiful HDR lighting.

Okay, I’ll shut up now and let the pictures do the talking.

kack_preview_1

kack_preview_2

kack_preview_5

kack_preview_3

kack_preview_4

Every once in a while, I still get that wow factor from flight simming. You know the feeling; where just for a moment, you forget all about software, tweaks, and settings and are just… there. Lately, I’ve had a whole bunch of those moments. Granted, using an Oculus Rift VR headset has provided a whole [...]

Filed Under: 3D Graphics, FSX, FSX Scenery, Hundred Dollar Burger airports, KACK, Nantucket, New England Scenery, Prepar3D V3

Beta Testers Wanted

In the last Heron’s Nest update, I said all that was left was to add a staircase from the top of the island leading down to the float hangar. So, here you go…

hn_staircase

With that out of the way, it’s time to move on to testing. I’m looking for about 5 testers to check out the Heron’s Nest, but also for general testing on my other upcoming projects. Ideal testers would:

  • Own more than one version of the sim – targets include the original FSX/Acceleration, FSX Steam Edition, and Prepar3D v2.
  • Have previous testing experience, especially on projects I’ve been involved in.
  • Take testing seriously, but be willing to have a little fun with it, too.

If this sounds like you, drop me a comment below so we can talk. If you don’t meet the above criteria, but feel you’d be a great tester anyway, let me know that as well.

Either way, we’re nearly there!

In the last Heron’s Nest update, I said all that was left was to add a staircase from the top of the island leading down to the float hangar. So, here you go… With that out of the way, it’s time to move on to testing. I’m looking for about 5 testers to check out [...]

Filed Under: 3D Graphics, Announcements, Bush Flying, Flight Simulator, FSX, FSX Scenery, FSX SP2, Heron’s Nest, Hundred Dollar Burger airports, New England Scenery, Prepar3d V2

Heron’s Nest: The Latest

Amidst the flood of paying work lately (and mind you, I’m not complaining), I’ve managed to squeeze in a few hours here and there to push the Heron’s Nest towards completion. There were two things left on my mental list that had to be checked off before I could move to final testing and installer: adding some more ground interest around the house, and putting in a steel staircase descending the hill to the float dock. Happily, item one is now complete. Here are a couple of shots of the cottage now that it’s been filled in with all vegetation and a flagstone walkway.

hn_house_front hn_house_back hn_house_night

Item two, the steel staircase, is modeled, and I’m working on finishing the texturing for it. I’ll post shots once it’s ready.

Amidst the flood of paying work lately (and mind you, I’m not complaining), I’ve managed to squeeze in a few hours here and there to push the Heron’s Nest towards completion. There were two things left on my mental list that had to be checked off before I could move to final testing and installer: [...]

Filed Under: 3D Graphics, Announcements, Flight Simulator, Freeware, FSX, FSX Scenery, FSX SP2, Heron’s Nest, Hundred Dollar Burger airports, New England Scenery

Heron’s Nest Update

Here we are, smack-dab in the middle of July. If you signed up for the mailing list in the hope of receiving the Heron’s Nest scenery right about now, you’re probably wondering where it is. When I made the announcement about it, it looked like the scenery was just about ready for final testing. Then I tried it on some other versions of the sim, and discovered that I had to rebuild all the coastlines for the many islands around this one in order to preserve the shape of this one. It’s a long story, but the sort of head-on-desk moment that scenery development is made of. I have the coastlines rebuilt and looking mostly fine now, but I’ve discovered that the far end of the HN runway is now falling off into the sea instead of perching high on the cliff above, which means more terrain sculpting to try and put it back where it was. Did I mention I hate terrain sculpting?

Anyway, that’s where we stand. Sometimes it’s the little details at the end of a project that toss it all into disarray. I’m still aiming to release this month, but the middle is looking increasingly undoable. Bear with me, please. We’re nearly there!

Here we are, smack-dab in the middle of July. If you signed up for the mailing list in the hope of receiving the Heron’s Nest scenery right about now, you’re probably wondering where it is. When I made the announcement about it, it looked like the scenery was just about ready for final testing. Then [...]

Filed Under: 3D Graphics, Announcements, Bush Flying, Heron’s Nest

The High-Wire Act

Everything in life is a balancing act, it seems, and nothing more so than the so-called “career” of a self-employed freelancer. For every new project that crops up, time has to be taken away from other pursuits. Things that start off with a bang can fizzle under the weight of obligations, roadblocks, and just plain old running out of time. The things you woke up planning to do often end up gathering dust while projects you had no idea existed before breakfast run away¬†with your day until you collapse in bed, exhausted, wondering “what the hell just happened?”

All this is by way of explaining why I sort of suck at meeting my FS deadlines.

Never the less, I showed some shots of a new project I’m working on back in December, and it’s time for another batch of screenies! As soon as this goes into beta testing, I’ll announce to my mailing list what this project is (along with a little surprise). Until then, all I can say is that I’ve been a busy boy perfecting¬†more advanced night lighting techniques and creating my own libraries of natural elements such as grass, shrubs, and trees.

Enough blabbering. It’s time for shots!

hn_hangar_1

hn_hangar_2

hn_cottage_1

hn_hangar_3

hn_hangar_4

 

Everything in life is a balancing act, it seems, and nothing more so than the so-called “career” of a self-employed freelancer. For every new project that crops up, time has to be taken away from other pursuits. Things that start off with a bang can fizzle under the weight of obligations, roadblocks, and just plain [...]

Filed Under: 3D Graphics, Announcements, Bush Flying, Flight Simulator, FSX, FSX Scenery, Hundred Dollar Burger airports, My FS Products, Prepar3d V2