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Genetica Viewer textures in Bryce – a quick tutorial

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Using Genetica Viewer 3 to generate textures is very easy. What to do with them in Bryce might be a little daunting to the n00bs – myself included. So here is a quick-and-dirty tutorial to help you:

First of all fire up Genetica Viewer 3 and select the texture that you want to render:

Then select the "Render Effect Maps" on before rendering. (The Genetica Viewer 3 can only render to a maximum of 2048 X 2048 pixels but that is fine for most needs)

 

Sit back and wait…make yourself a cup of coffee, read your e-mail, take a walk around the garden… because some of the textures will take a long time to render. Once the texture is rendered it is time to export to a usable format.Click the Export Image:

 

Once the "Diffuse" image is saved change the drop-down menu (to the right of the 6 big numbers) to a channel other than "Texture" to save the Bump map and other maps like Specularity etc.

 

…in this case I want a bump map (which is called "Bottom Material" in this instance) so I export that.

 

Export to .JPG format with 0% compression the reults will be quite satifactory.

 

Once that is complete it is time to fire up Bryce, create your object and set your materials (by clicking on the tiny [M] button next to the object in Bryce's Main Editor)

 

Select the P button to select or create an image-based texture.

 

Then click the rightmost button above the "Leonardo Vitruvian Man" thumbnail to open up the texture editor.

 

 Click on an emply block to load the diffuse channel image.

 

…then click on the middle white placeholder to load the bump map as an alpha channel to drive the bumpmapping.

 

If the results look like this, you can click the green check mark on the lower right corner to exit the Texture Editor.

 

 Now set your Bump Map in the A Column on (with the blue button switch) and set the value to get the right bump detail. (I used a value of 50+)

 

The render will show you if your settings are correct. In this instance the Ambience is set too high and the image is washing out a bit.

 

Return to the Material Editor and set the Ambience to 0.

 

Fiddle with the Specularity too by putting a blue button in the A column next to Specularity.

 

This will make the rock texture less washed out and shinier.

 

That is it – in a nutshell – of the basics of using Genetica Viewer's textures in Bryce. It think you will agree that the results are quite spectacular!

Keep on Brycin'

David

aka Hamfast

Genetica Viewer – A useful tool for Bryce

by , Posted in 3rd Party Products | 5 Comments »

Trawling the Internet for textures has never been my favorite pastime. Just too much time is spent on avoiding malware sites or commercial sites forcing you to pay exorbitant fees for access to their databases, or public domain sites filled with poor quality textures that have been used, reused and abused ad nauseum. Nothing yells "loser" more than an image that look like a showcase of Quake 2 textures!

If I hate looking for textures, then trying to get a workable texture using Bryce's Deep Texture Editor must rate up there with having root canal treatment without Novacaine – pure agony!

However I have discovered a remarkable tool called the Genetica Viewer product from Spiral Graphics. The blab on the Spiral Graphics website describes Genetica Viewer as "your doorway to a world of textures that have been created with Genetica.  Specifically, Genetica Viewer is a free application for rendering seamless textures that are saved in the Genetica texture format (GTX)"

Insofar as this claim, Genetica Viewer delivers on its promises. I downloaded this 8.5Mb installer (it needs the .NET framework installed to work) and it ran with no problem on my home machine. (running Windows XP SP2)

The Genetica Viewer can only use and display the predefined .GTX files and the  installer comes with a full set of over 1000 built in texture files so you have quite a bit of textures to play around with. The .GTX files are resolution independent and allow resolutions of up to 6000 x 6000 (however the free Genetica Viewer will only go as high as 2048 x 2048)

The .NET framework might be the bottleneck in the the program as I found the rendering to be very slow, even on my 3.4Ghz Core Duo 3Gb RAM machine, but even though a single 2048 X 2048 resolution texture took almost 9 minutes to render, the end results were very impressive. I made a point of rendering the effects maps as well as the bump maps and noise maps proved very useful for alpha-masking and getting the effects to jump out at you.

As a test I rendered a built-in .GTX texture file called Herculaneum.gtx and saved the files on my old work machine, a 1.97Ghz P4 with 512Mb of RAM. This old machine is running (would you believe it) the Debian Linux operating system and managing it very nicely. Then running the Windows "emulator" WINE, I ran Bryce 5.5 on it and pulled in the textures and wrapped them on a cube. I rendered the scene in Bryce 5.5 and I admit that I was impressed with the results. Here are some screen shots.

 I found the program very easy to use and barring the slow render times and the need for the .NET framework I found little else to criticize. I would recommend it to anybody looking for a basic texture creation tool.

A word of caution though. The full Genetica 3.0 Program is incredibly powerful and allow you to create textures from the ground up, but costs anything from $110 to $300! Not for the cash-strapped hobbyist like myself! Stick for now with the Genetica Viewer. It does enough for now!

 

 

 

 

Preventing a Bryce “B6Axiom.dll crash.

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Here is how one Bryce user described the indiscriminate crashing of Bryce:

“…everything was going great….creating scenes, saving, opening files….
Now if I try to open a .br6 file, Bryce6.1 crashes!…”

The guilty party is the B6Axiom.dll file and apparently the way Bryce 6 does not allow the saving of a file larger than 2Gb. Now I cannot vouch for the technical merit of that – I am not a programmer – but one thing I do know is that I lost my most recent project file this way. Every time I try to open up this .br6 file now, I get the dreaded “B6Axiom.dll” error and the file is, for all intents and purposes, lost!

What can one do to prevent such a crash? What are the practical steps to protecting your files and stop Bryce from corrupting your hard work?

Rashad Carter a well-known personality at the DAZ3D BryceTalk forum had this to offer in a way of advise and “caveats” for Bryce 6 users. Rather than letting the post be relegated to the backwaters of an obscure or soon-forgotten forum thread, I asked Rashad’s permission to place it on the BryceBlog as a posting – which he graciously gave!

You could be hitting the 2gb file size limit in a couple of ways…

This error can demonstrate itself in two ways.

1. Out of memory error during save
This means that Bryce acknowledges that the file will not save and warns you so that you can at least save the final render.

2. The second option is much worse. This is what you experienced today, when Bryce failed to realize the save would be corrupt, so the file appears to save properly but when you re-open the file you get nothing but the awful default sky. The first clue to the problem should have been the time needed for the save. What you will see is that the save will hang at a certain percentage for a bit longer than it usually does, many minutes longer in some cases. I once had a render hang at 63% for about 6 min, I knew the file was corrupting even though it completed the save 100% based upon the screen display. Sure enough the br6 file read 1.99gb when I checked it. Corrupt as could be.

Now I can say that I have not had this error occur on me recently because I now have strategies to ensure that I at least get a finished render out of the deal.

Crash Causers:

You can cause this corrupt save in a number of ways. Most likely, your scene is nowhere near 2gb in real life, but inflated at the moment of corruption.

A. Replication, duplication, cut and paste commands. These commands really gum up the undo buffer, which is the true core problem with these corrupt saves. You need to save every few minutes when you are making duplications and the like. More on that in a second.

B. Undo commands. Using the undo command at all will often lead to a corrupt save. Try to never use the undo command at all, it is very unstable.

C. Bryce 6.1 is extremely sensitive to any and all system instability. Try not to work in other programs while working on high ram Bryce scenes. I have found that the mere act of minimizing the Bryce window to work in other programs, them restoring the Bryce working window sends the undo buffer into madness, guaranteeing a corrupt save. I often went back and forth between PaintShop Pro or Truespace or whatever, editing textures and models minimizing and restoring Bryce regularly. Combine this behaviour with a single replication command of an imported flower and you could get a corrupted save.

D. Watch the Task Manager at ALL TIMES. I swear, I never close it, I keep it open in the taskbar and I refer to that bad boy about every 3 minutes as I compile a scene. Reason, because the true file size limit for accurate saves is only about 1.3GB. Because Bryce 6.1 zip compresses br6 files in a way that previous versions of Bryce do not, there is a good bit of overhead (nearly 500mb seemingly) of RAM needed to compress files at save time. This leads to smaller disc usage but it also seriously limits the true size of Bryce scenes. However, just because you cannot save a file larger than 1.3gb does not mean you cannot continue to add more items. More on that in a second.

E. Never save a file while closing it. Always save the file first, then close it afterward manually after you have had a chance to check the integrity of the save. After saving and before closing, you will look to the target folder to see what the memory footprint is of the file. If it has jumped from a few hundred Mb in the previous version to 1.98 or more Gb, then the file has gone corrupt and can no longer be accurately saved no matter what you do. Which reminds me, when you do save always save the file as unique, this way you will not copy over a good save with a bad one, then you really will lose everything. Not all is lost however, because you have not yet closed the source file. Regardless of the corrupted save attempt, the still open file will allow you to at least complete the render itself. Which you will then export as a bmp before closing the file for the last time ever. No need to try to save it again, you already know it will not save accurately.

I have safely rendered scenes that used RAM up to about 1.85gb. Naturally, the files could not be saved but the final renders did survive.

Good luck, and hopefully by watching the task manager closely every time you add complex objects or make replications or duplications or whatever, you can avoid having this issue to sneak up on you unexpectedly. Hey, at least you still have the previous versions.

The Bryce demi-god Horo was also able to contribute his own thoughts on memory and corrupted B6 files:

Talking about memory issues, I’d like to add the following observation.

If you use IBL, you need a large HDRI if you want it to show it as backdrop. The largest HDRI Bryce 6.1 can handle has a 6400 pixel diameter. The file cannot be saved anymore. A workaround is to use a smaller HDRI. As for the lighting quality, the size of the HDRI doesn’t matter, a 600 to 1200 pixel diameter probe is good enough (I even lit scenes with a 300 pixel diameter probe). If you are satisfied with your artwork – except the blurry backdrop – save the scene, quit Bryce, restart Bryce and reload your scene. Then load the large HDRI, render and save the rendered picture.

If you have an elaborate scene, loading the max size HDRI may already crash Bryce. If so, render with a low resolution HDRI, save and then render an object mask. Then remove all objects, save, end Bryce, start Bryce and load the empty scene with the HDRI, then replace it by the large one, render and save the picture. Combine the render with the low res HDRI with the hi res HDRI using the mask. I do this with HDRShop.

Please keep in mind that the X- and Y-position of the HDRI is not saved. If you have the probe rotated to X=120° and tilted to Y=60°, the next time you load the scene and access the IBL Lab, X will be at 0° and Y at 90°. As soon as you make a change in the IBL Lab, the HDRI is set to the default position. Note the positions before you quit Bryce. If you have the sun disabled and the Sun and Moon not set to visible, you can enter the HDRI positions as the Sun position and that one is saved along with the file.

To quote a character from the old police drama “Hill Street Blues”:

Let’s be careful out there!”

Quick rendering using the Bryce desktop shortcut…

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dragdrop Believe it or not there is a use for your desktop shortcut to Bryce 5 or 6 – apart from cluttering up your screen real estate!

You can do a quick render by simply dragging any Bryce scene file icon (.br5 or .br6) onto the Bryce 5 or 6 desktop shortcut.

It will load Bryce, render the file and save it in the same directory as your scene as a .BMP bitmap.

A very neat little “trick” that Susan Kitchen’s taught me.

It has a few restrictions however. Firstly you have to set up your document size, and any other rendering options and save it with the scene file before you do  the drag-and-drop render, otherwise it will do a default render.

Secondly it saves the file only as a .BMP. You will have to bring it into your favorite image editing program to save or convert it in your preferred format.

Thirdly (and this is my biggest gripe) is that in Bryce 6 it only renders one file at a time. You cannot drag a number of files onto the shortcut and expect them to all render. This trick used to work with Bryce 5.0 but DAZ broke this in Bryce 6 it seems! I could be wrong, but I have never got it to work in Bryce 6.1.

IBL Light Probes for Bryce 6 – Set 6

by , Posted in Bryce-related, HDRI & IBL | 2 Comments »

HDR ThumbnailHere is the 6th set of IBL Probes. The balance of HDR images collected from the Internet and converted to IBL Probes for Bryce 6. A lot of the images were obtained from HDR Creme and the HDR Panorama Group at flickr!

IBL Light Probes for Bryce 6 – Set 5

by , Posted in Bryce-related, HDRI & IBL | 3 Comments »

Sky ThumbnailHere is the 5th set of IBL Probes. A large collection of HDR images collected from the Internet and converted to IBL Probes for Bryce 6. They are large downloads!

IBL Light Probes for Bryce 6 – Set 4

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Sky ThumbnailHere is the 4th set of IBL Probes. A large collection of "skies" with various sun and cloud settings.

IBL Light Probes for Bryce 6 – Set 3

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HDRI-TDBK ThumbnailHere is the 3rd set of IBL Probes. This time not taken from photographs but generated with either Bryce or Terragen.

IBL Light Probes for Bryce 6 – Set 2

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Misc ThumbnailHere is the 2nd set of IBL Probes. The first one was created from a set of images I obtained from the Internet and converted myself. This 2nd set is a collection of HDRI images that I have collected and used over the past year from various sources. 1 new computer and 2 blown hard drives and a video card later I have finally managed to package them for your enjoyment and use! Beware! They are a big download!

IBL Light Probes for Bryce 6 – Set 1

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Although Bryce 6 has the ability to use HDR Probe files for IBL (Image-Based Lighting), there is a general scarcity of content from DAZ3D and its merchants of IBL Probes. So with Rosemary Regan’s help and tutorials, I have created a few collections of probes and are making them available for download for you to use in your images.

As far as I know the original images were created in the public domain, but if there are any copyright issues the copyright remains the property of the originator of the image.

Enjoy…