Compositing Models Into an Image | Research

A lot of my intended final outcome relies on me compositing my creation into real life environments, so a key part of my research needed to be dedicated to this subject. I had never done anything like this, so I made sure to begin with the rest of my assets completed, i.e. a chosen background image, a completed model and imported textures.

Blender Guru:

Having relied on BlenderGuru’s guidance for most of my learning process, I firstly looked to his website and youtube channel. The creature dedicated a useful post to rendering onto a photo background, including an informational video on how to do so. Although useful, the video is rather quick, and didn’t provide as many tips about how to light and create appropriate shadows for my model as I had hoped, so I searched elsewhere for help.

The Curious Engine:

One of my tutors runs a website dedicated to presenting both his portfolio and information about 3D and special effects. One of his posts includes a playlist devoted to explaining how to effectively composite a 3D element onto an image.

‘ This is a series of videos that covers the workflow I recently used to create the ‘Tank Bot’ concept. Fundamentally, I take you through the process of:

  • Importing an image into Blender and aligning the 3D cmaera to match
  • Importing models into the project and adding textures from a PBR workflow and building a new material based on the new Principled Shader
  • Adding a Keylight and Ambient lighting to best match the lighting in the background image
  • Setting up render layers and passes as well as optimizing rendering times and quality
  • Combining foreground and shadows passes with the background image in the Nodal compositor inside Blender’ (Holmes, 2017)

I relied mostly on this informational playlist to create my final images due to the detail it goes into and the outcome it produced.


– Blender Guru. (2017). How to Render onto a Photo Background. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2017].

– Holmes, J. (2017). Blender | CGI & Image Compositing. [online] The Curious Engine | Digital Post Production. Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2017].

Animation in Blender | Research

What is Animation?

 ‘Animation is the process of making the illusion of motion and the illusion of change by means of the rapid succession of sequential images that minimally differ from each other.’

Animation can include drawings, models, or even inanimate objects. Animated motion pictures and television shows are highly popular forms of entertainment. Traditionally, animation has involved the filming of a series of cartoon drawings or objects so that, when projected, the illusion of movement is created.’ (Britannica Kids, 2017).

Animating in Blender:

Keyframes are an important thing to learn about in animation. A keyframe holds the value of a property to a specific time on a timeline, for example it could define the position an item is on its Y axis, increasing as the frames go on. Blender’s animation feature automatically predicts frames, meaning instead of having to define each frame in a scene, you can define the properties in frame 1 and then how you want them to be in frame 15, and the frames in between will be filled in appropriately. You can insert keyframes in 3D view, and move and delete any keyframe you insert by using the Dope Sheet editor window.

Dope Sheet  Dope Sheet 2

Insert Keyframe

 Blender Animation Showreel:


– Blender. (2017). Animation — Blender Manual. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2017].

– (2017). Animation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec.

– Britannica Kids. (2017). Animation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2017].

Substance Painter | Research

When beginning to texture my model, I needed to consider how I would be texturing my models. As I was already working in Blender, so I initially planned to texture and colour my models with the tools this software has to offer, however I discovered another program that offers much more to your project.

Substance Painter:

‘Substance Painter supports the use of advanced layer presets. These presets can be used to quickly share across Texture Sets or Projects a similar texturing process while keeping the results different, adapted to the mesh topology.’ (Allegorithmic, 2017)


Substance painter has a range of material you can use. Their library includes materials such as different types of metals, concrete, fabric, leather, plastic and wood that can be dragged and dropped onto the model you are working on, and it renders live to show you how it looks. There is also a list of smart materials that auto-wrap and adapt to your mesh.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 16.13.09

Smart Masks

Creating a mask layer on top of your material and adding a mask allows you to create effects on top of your model. This can be used to create a layer that causes your project to look rusted, dirty, moist, mossy or old, and they are very simple to use. The masks morph and adapt to the topology, applying it’s self to the places it seems suitable.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 16.21.07 Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 16.20.51

Grunge textures

As well as masks, Substance Painter offers the use of ‘Grunges’. These add extra depth and create other forms of effect to your model. These grunge textures have options that allow you to make your model look less two dimensional, and they can be anything from creating water stains to adding a fine layer of dust. These grunge layers can be added as an additional Fill effect to break up the results.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 16.41.04


Substance Painter offers Physically Based Rendering (PBR) and particle painting, brushes with opacity control, Substance procedural effects, smart materials and smart masks, and fast baking (Allegorithmic, 2017). The paint brush allows you to paint anything from simple colours to adding masks above textures so you can apply them where needed. There is also the option to paint with physics properties based on particles presets within the software. When applied, these can add specific effects as if they had naturally occurred, such as rainfall or a sand storm.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 16.43.08


With the use of HDR Environment maps, users can texture paint their model in an environment that will resemble the lighting and reflections the model will be surrounded and affected by. There is a range of environments available within substance painter, from cave entry to above the clouds, and they can be used with any model so that designers can ensure their model will look good in the correct type of lighting.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 17.20.07 Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 17.20.01 Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 17.19.46 Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 17.19.40



– Allegorithmic. (2017). Smart Materials and Masks – Substance Painter – Allegorithmic Documentation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Nov. 2017].

– Allegorithmic. (2017). Substance Painter. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Nov. 2017].

Lighting my Images in Blender | Research

As I was compositing my images and animation, lighting began to have a large effect on the outcome of my creations. As I had little experience when working with Blenders lighting options, I consulted online forums and videos for tips and advice and information about how to light appropriately, and which rendering engine would be most fitting.

Blender Render:

Blender render is Blender’s original render engine. It is has non-photo-realistic rendering, with render technologies such as ray-tracing, subsurface scattering, glossy reflections and a primitive global illumination feature. ‘It was forged in a time when realism could only be achieved through illusion; with tricks and hacks to fake reality’s characteristics.’ (Blender, 2017)

Cycles Render:

‘Cycles is Blender’s ray-tracing production render engine. Since its release under a permissive open-source (Apache 2.0) license, it’s also in use by other 3D tools. Cycles can be used as part of Blender and as stand-alone, making it a flexible solution for ray-traced rendering.’ (Blender, 2017) It has global illumination and calculates physically correctly, and has slowly become Blenders premier render engine. ‘Cycles has garnered notable respect from the computer graphics industry. In fact, other 3D software developers have even ported it to other applications, like Cinema 4D and Rhino’ (CG Cookie, 2017). It is unbiased, physically based and designed for animations, produceing an image by tracing the paths of “rays” through the scene.

Lighting Tips:

1. Size – Increasing and decreasing the size of my light would effect the diffusion. The larger the lamp size, the less harsh the light would appear in my final image.

Size 1 Size 4 Size 2 Size 3

2. Position – Make sure the position and direction of the light source is where the light source is in the image. The direction of the light will effect where the shadows are cast as well as where on your model the light will effect the most.

Position 1 Position 2 Position 3 Position 4

3. Strength – The strength of the light source can drastically effect your image. For softer effects, decrease the strength of the light source, and for a harsher and more obvious effect, be sure to increase the strength appropriately.

Strength 50 Strength 5 Strength 500 Strength 6  Strength 1000 Strength 7Strength 5000 Strength 8


4. Colour – Certain lighting situations emit a different colour. For example, a sunset may have warmer tones compared to a harsh studio light. Change the colour of your light source to emit the correct colour onto your model.

Colour 1 Colour 2 Colour 3 Colour 4

5. Create an Area Light – Setting the lamp type appropriately will also alter the harshness of your lighting effect. Point lights emit an equal amount of light in a spherical manner, the Sun option positions it’s self outside of the image and infinitely far away from your objects, Spot lights focus their light by emitting it in the shape of a cone, and an Area lamp emits their light from the shape of either a square or a rectangle.

Area Lamp:


Spot Lamp:


Sun Lamp:


Point Lamp:




–  Blender. (2017). Introduction — Blender Manual. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Nov. 2017].

– CG Cookie. (2017). Big Idea: Blender Render VS Cycles. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Nov. 2017].

Weight Paint Mode in Blender | Research

Part two of Sebastian Lague’s tutorial focuses on parenting my mesh to the armature and making them move cohesively. To do so, I would have to use the Weigh Paint Mode.

Weight Painting Mode

‘Weight Painting is a method to maintain large amounts of weight information in a very intuitive way. It is primarily used for rigging meshes, where the vertex groups are used to define the relative bone influences on the mesh. But we use it also for controlling particle emission, hair density, many modifiers, shape keys, etc.

The basic principle of the method is: the weight information is literally painted on top of the Mesh body by using a set of Weight brushes.’

When you enter Weight Paint mode, the selected Mesh Object is displayed slightly shaded with a rainbow color spectrum. The colour visualises the weights associated to each vertex in the active Vertex Group. Blue means unweighted; Red means fully weighted, as shown in the image below. You assign weights to the vertices of the Object by painting on it with weight brushes.




– Blender. (2017). Weight Paint Mode — Blender Reference Manual. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Nov. 2017].