Fullmetal Alchemist Live Action Movies

A new trailer was recently released for the new Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movies. The two new movies are sequels to the original live-action movie released in 2017, and they appear to stay true to the “Brotherhood” anime (and original manga).

It has been a while since I watched Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and I don’t speak Japanese, but I immediately recognized almost all of the characters from the trailer, along with many iconic scenes from the anime.

On a related topic, the actor that plays Edward also starred in a live-action adaptation of Assassination Classroom, although the trailer for that movie does not seem as strong of a translation to live-action. Some of the facial animation for Koro-sensei looks off, for instance, and overall it doesn’t seem to provide value over the original anime.

But if you want to watch the first live-action Fullmetal Alchemist movie, it is streaming on Netflix, and you can even watch it dubbed into English!

Procedural Planets

I have been playing with Blender at least a little each night, although I haven’t dedicated as much time to it as I would like. However, I am happy that I am building a nightly habit of opening and using Blender.

During my sessions, I created a few procedural planets/moons. Then I created a still scene using the linked objects and rendered a 4K image:

Procedural planets (click for full size 4K image)

As I mentioned, all of the planets were procedural, which means I didn’t use any external textures in the scene.

The main planet uses a combination of Gradient, Wave, and Noise textures to achieve the banding. The rings are a very simple UV map combined with a Noise and Color Ramp.

The other two objects are also procedural. The closer one I modeled as a simple moon, with some Noise nodes to add variation to the surface. The further object is modeled as a habitable (aka “Class M“) planet, again using Noise textures to drive the different land/sea/cloud areas.

And finally, the background stars use a simple technique I’ve seen in multiple Blender tutorials, connecting a Noise texture to a Color Ramp in the World Shader.

Now time to decide on some new subjects to work on in Blender!

Blender Anime Shading Overview

Check out this short two-minute overview video from the Royal Skies YouTube channel, which describes his pipeline for creating dynamic anime-style shaded characters in Blender.

His end goal is video games (real-time rendering), which means that the models need to work from nearly any angle with simple lighting requirements. In theory, the same pipeline could be used to simplify low-budget animations.

His channel also has dedicated videos for all of the steps listed in this video, if you want more details about any part of the process. Most of his videos are only a few minutes long, but he packs a ton of useful information into that short time!

Geometry Nodes in Blender

When version 2.92 of Blender was released, it included a new feature: Geometry Nodes. It is the first feature of the “everything nodes” initiative for the software, and it allows manipulation and creation of geometry through a node graph attached to a mesh. Version 2.93 added more geometry nodes, and I presume that subsequent versions will continue to expand this feature.

I decided to learn the basics of Geometry Nodes by creating a simple animation. Of course, the “simple scene” became more complicated than I expected, but I am very happy with the result.

Here is the final video. Note: you can right-click on the video and select “Loop” to view it continuously.

Continue reading “Geometry Nodes in Blender”

Conveyor Belt In Blender

I have been doing some more small experiments in Blender and I thought I’d share one of them. My goal was to create a conveyor belt in Blender, where I could animate the moving belt.

The final solution is extremely easy to animate and also very easy to create on your own! Follow along below to create your very own conveyor belt.

First, we create a single piece of the belt, which we will eventually repeat for the final result. Make a single plane, add two loop cuts (along the Y-axis) to split the single polygon into three, and then extruded the middle polygon upwards. Note that the single piece will be repeated along the X-axis (the red line in the screenshot).

Polygon model for conveyor belt
This doesn’t look like a conveyor belt yet….
Continue reading “Conveyor Belt In Blender”

Lights with Mesh Gobos

This was a quick experiment, where I played with a couple spot lights and some geometry to block the lights. Blender made this very easy using the Wireframe modifier on the mesh, to quickly generate holes in a subdivided plane to use as a gobo.

In this version, I didn’t modify the plane beyond subdividing it in edit mode. I also experimented with mixing in a displacement modifier for different irregular shadows, but ultimately I liked the geometric effect and the way the colors overlapped without any displacement.

Anvil Tutorial

I went through Blender Guru’s anvil tutorial last week, which was a great intermediate modeling and texturing walkthrough. It covers some different modeling techniques for hard-body surfaces and introduces normal-map baking, which is something I have never really had a chance to learn.

Here is my final render of the anvil I created:

Final render from Blender of the anvil from Blender Guru's turorial

Although the final render shows various nicks and cuts, the actual mesh does not have any of those features. By creating those details in a higher-resolution mesh and then baking them to a normal map, it gives the illusion of all that extra detail.

Here is the same shot as a wireframe (with subdivisions turned on):

Wireframe render of the anvil

If you are already familiar with Blender but want to go beyond the basics and learn more about modeling and texturing, I highly recommend the tutorial!

Marking Time

I put together another Blender image, this time just to practice modeling and surfacing. The end result is a little more abstract than usual for me, but I like how it turned out.

Click to view full-size image.

I used some textures from Texture Haven (floor, walls, wood, and stone pillar). The metal pieces are simple Principled BSDF with the Metallic setting set to 1. The hourglass is just a Glass shader. Honestly, the sand is probably the most complex shader network, because I used procedural noise nodes to give it a fine-grained look.

Platforms on Water

I am still slowly learning Blender and trying out different features in the software. I put some of the tools I recently learned together into a rendered image below.

Click to view full image.

The moon is a sphere with an emission shader, casting light on the scene. The texture on the moon is a simple procedural noise node.

I generated the background trees using the “Sapling Tree Gen” add-on that comes bundled with Blender. After creating one tree, I used the particle system on a subdivided plane to create a forest.

The water is just an Ocean modifier on a single plane, with a simple-yet-convincing shader node network. The fog and clouds are different volumetric shaders. Each cloud (there are three of them) is a different cube, although they use the same shader network.

Finally, I downloaded the character standing on one of the platforms from Mixamo, a service from Adobe that offers free rigged characters and a large library of animations for those characters.

Shattered Moon

I started rewatching Cowboy Bebop, and that inspired me to make this image. In the universe of the show, an accident on the moon caused large chunks to be expelled from the surface.

This was a fun exercise in Blender where I used procedural modeling, boolean modifiers, the Cell Fracture plugin, and some physics simulations to get the final result.

Click for full size image.