I've always admired the rich textures Peppe Tannemyr uses in his images but never had much success with the technique before now. Image mapped textures can add a great deal of realism to an image but can also be a little tricky to work with at times. They render very quickly and also work well as an alternative to complicated models for architectural objects.

Here are a few basics to help you get started.

Part 1 - Foundation Techniques

Sources for 2D Textures

A wide variety of high quality image textures textures are available on the web. You'll also find textures included on the Bryce content CD. If you have a digital camera it's also a simple matter to make your own textures or generate them from Bryce or other software packages.

Basic Geometry

Let's start with some simple geometry. Select or build models that are fairly accurate (accurate doesn't necessarily mean high polygon count) because they're foundation for your textures. Low quality models can sometimes create unwanted visual defects in the final image.

Some basic geometry as it was imported from Rhino.

I've scaled the entire model 1,500%, named each object, grouped similar objects and turned off most of the atmosphere as well as the sun. The scene is illuminated by a single omni light.

When you're using image mapped textures you don't generally need complicated geometry. The walls, floor, urn and border aren't very complicated so later, I'll add a fairly complicated texture. The taxus baccata already has a pretty complicated geometry so I'll keep it's texture simple. Balance the complexity of the texture with the complexity of the geometry for a uniform result.

Converting Placeholder Objects

One of my favorite features in Bryce is it's ability to change one type of object into another. I can already see that the ground under the taxus baccata isn't showing up very well so I'm going to convert it to a Bryce terrain. I do that by selecting  the surface, and clicking on the word Edit at the top. Click and drag over the arrows at the upper right corner of the interface to open the "Convert Selection To ..." fly-out menu. Release the mouse button over the type of object you want and Bryce will convert the selected object to that type.

Global Illumination

I also want the feel of global illumination in the final image so I modeled an array of 17 spheres arranged in a 4 x 4 grid with one additional sphere in the center of the grid. After I imported the model, I selected the spheres and converted them to omni lights because it's much easier to accurately position objects in Rhino than it is in Bryce. I used the same method as above.

The same scene after applying smoothing to the meshes. I've also turned on the light array and reduced the shadow intensity to 50% to give the illusion of radiant light. Since there are 17 lights in the array now I've set the intensity of each to 1/17th the intensity of the original light. This is already giving a nice tonal and shadow balance.

I can add soft shadows to the lights later if the effect isn't smooth enough. The wall texture will tend to disburse the discrete shadows so I'm not going to worry about it right now. I want the scene to render quickly while I'm working with the textures so I'll turn the light array off again.

If you want to learn more about lighting in Bryce look at the description under Ed 'n Mac and also the Lighting Reference tutorial.

This feels like a Mediterranean garden. So, for the textures, I'm thinking I'll want stucco walls, stone tile floor, tile border and something interesting on the urn.

Questions and Comments

Send questions and comments to toad@castironflamingo.com.

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