Daily Progress: Panel Lines and Emissive Effects

Today’s progress I’m not very sure was actually progress. Unfortunately, most of my time was spent working on something that I believe I may not use anyways. I finished up the panel lines on the bottom side of the Skirmisher, which lead to good overall results. Now that the base texture is more or less finished, it’s time to move on to adding details. One thing that I thought would be interesting to add was an emissive texture on the panel lines. Substance Painter, in it’s infinite glory, has a provision to do all of this. I decided to run over the panel lines in a new layer with a red emissive texture. Here’s the results:

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Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 9.40.36 PM.png

I felt mixed about the results. It seemed like a cool addition to the aircraft, but there were a couple of things off. First off, the emissive material didn’t really seem particularly great. It came off as almost a bit plasticky and cartoonish. Secondly, it wasn’t casting light on anything. I investigated the lighting issue. A bit of digging found that the only way to get this to work was either to ensure that the object never moves and set it as static or to use a complicated system of point lights to mimic the effect.

The reason (for those of you who may have also encountered this)? Without getting into the complexities of rendering engine technology, the problem is that making realtime lighting calculations for something like an emissive texture is really damned expensive. For static (non moving) objects, it’s easy to pre-calculate all lighting information. In order to ensure that this will work with dynamic (moving) objects, one has to add a light probe group to the static object, which basically sets up a series of anchors that samples/pre-computes lighting info at those points, so when a dynamic object is near those ‘points’, the pre-computed lighting information is used to light the dynamic object. I’ll write up a tutorial on this later, since I didn’t spot one on the Internet yet, and it seems fairly important.

Here’s how the static object looked in a variety of settings:

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 5.42.10 PMScreen Shot 2017-03-29 at 5.30.51 PMScreen Shot 2017-03-29 at 5.24.25 PMScreen Shot 2017-03-29 at 5.21.25 PMScreen Shot 2017-03-29 at 5.16.26 PM

You can see the effect in the first two pictures clearly. Unfortunately, for what I plan, it’s basically impossible to use just the emissive texture and a dynamic object and get the lighting effect. Moreover, I’m not sure how much I like the effect I’ve managed so far. It does take away from the original feel of the aircraft. At this point, it’s more likely I may get rid of the glowing panels and go with the original. So, it may be that much of the work is in vain for today. On the bright side, I learned quite a bit about emissive textures, for future reference.

Here’s another picture that I managed to get:
Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 5.40.08 PM

 

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And of course, thumbnails:

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