ModelConverterX used to have a render mode called performance indicator mode. With this mode you could spot where the texture mapping or normals were not so optimal. The recent updates to the preview have removed that mode. But I have now added two replacements. One is called the Normal Inspect mode and the other TexMap Inspect mode.
In the Normal Inspect mode the colour of the object is determined by the normal, see the screenshot on the right. This means that as long as the normal is shared by different triangles smoothly you will see the gradually changing colour. If you see a sharp change in the colour, then the two triangles meeting there will have a different normal. Hopefully this helps to spot places where the smoothing is not as optimal as it could be.
The TexMap inspect mode works similar. It is meant to spot places where the texture coordinates are not shared optimally between triangles. The screenshot below shows an example. In this case the object is covered by a checkerboard with a varying colour. The checkerboard helps you to spot if texture mappings might be misaligned and the colour gives you an indication which part of the texture is used. So on the side of the church in the screenshot you see two types of blue, which means those polygons are textured with different parts of the texture.
The Normal Inspect mode is quite intuitive to use I think, for the TexMap inspect mode I am not sure yet. But I haven’t come up with a better idea yet. Hopefully these modes help you in making optimized models.
The recent changes I made to the ModelConverterX preview turn out to be a bit buggy. To be honest that’s not a surprise to me. I am still learning the OpenGL shader language and also the fact that every graphics card might handle the shader code slightly different does not make the job easier. But I like the bug hunting and it helps me to learn more about the shaders as well.
So a big thanks to all the users who encounter these problems and report them to me. Your reports really help and I try to iron those bugs out as soon as I can.
And if the bugs really prevent you from doing what you want to do, please revert to the stable version 1.3 for the moment. The development has hardly any new functions, except for those preview changes. So you are only missing the bugs.
The development release of ModelConverterX now contains an updated preview of the objects. It is now using OpenGL shaders, which as enabled me to add some cool new functions. Like showing bump maps and the reflection influenced by specular maps. Be aware that this is a big change, so it might have resulted a few new bugs here and there. Please let me know if you have any issues. And in case of big issues, you can always revert to the stable 1.3 release until I have fixed them.
Since my previous blog post about the new Instant Object Studio tool I received a review copy of the tool (thanks for that Konstantin). So I am now able to answer some of the questions I still raised in my previous post.
When placing for example a roof on a box, the tool does not remove the top polygon of the box, altough it is not visible. So that means there are slightly more polygons than optimal, but for most objects that should not matter too much for the performance. Especially if you make sure it has the same material as other polygons in the model, in that case it ends up in the same drawcall.
Speaking about drawcalls, as long as you are careful about how many materials you use when modelling, the generated scenery objects can be very light on drawcalls. As an example I tried to model the house I did for my SketchUp tutorial again with this tool. This house only uses one texture sheet, so the generated model has only one drawcall.
I also mentioned in my previous post that I did not like the visually dragging and scaling of the textures, as that makes it hard to align exactly the part of the texture sheet you want. Especially when you put all your texture parts in one big sheet that can be tricky. But there is a function in Instant Object Studio to help you with that already.
In the material settings you can select that the texture should be stretched along the X and Y axes. With the Area button you can then choose the area of the texture you want. If you then apply it to a polygon, exactly that piece of the texture will be fitted on the entire polygon. Works quite neat I would say. It’s not as flexible as the UVW Unwrap editor in GMax, but I feel it gives me better control over where the texture goes than in SketchUp. Maybe starting scenery developers won’t appreciate this feature so much, but if you try to model with one texture sheet only I feel it comes in handy.
I’ll continue to test this tool more, as it seems to be packed with interesting features. Make sure to read the manual to learn about all the shortcuts and restrictions that can be applied. Next thing I will probably test is see how easy it is to make a building when you have a photo scenery showing that building. The object I made now is in the middle of the sea. But I think this tool can be really handy to trace buildings from photo scenery. I’ll share my experiences again after I have tested this.