View Full Version : Cathedral and crypts, isometric

11-29-2010, 03:28 AM
I did an isometric map for the Lite challenge this month and really got into it, so here is another experiment: the beginnings of a cathedral I whipped up last night. I have been using sketchup as a base and touch it up in photoshop.

Edit: Woah, just noticed the weird black dotty artifacts in there. Probably because Sketchup only outputs a flat image with a background and I did a sloppy job color-selecting it to delete it.

11-29-2010, 03:31 AM
looks great - gotta learn to do that some day :) ... like the shift of color/style as you go down :)

11-29-2010, 07:50 AM
Thanks Tilt! I really want to figure out how to make these more useful for actual encounter maps. I am trying to fiddle with the wall heights to actually expose the floors, but I guess it still isn't really perfectly useful. I'll keep experimenting.

One of the awesome things about mapping in sketchup is that you have immediate access to a huge huge huge online collection of objects like barrels, chairs, tables, etc. If you're doing maps just for personal use or practice, then a few clicks will filling up your dungeon amazingly quickly.

11-29-2010, 07:54 AM
it does sound good, I'm only "holding" on account on spending time learning a new program - I fetched Blender some weeks ago, but haven't even opened it yet *lol*

11-29-2010, 08:07 AM
Reckless, that looks just great. I should try sketchup someday as it is said that it has a great user interface for making buildings. I think Blender would cause some head aches with that. Its not that it cant do it but I have found that the individual point picking and single polygon entering of Blender to be one of its weakest features. Taking a sketchup model into Blender for final rendering would be the best idea I think. Blenders render engine is pretty powerful and capable and IMO one of its strongest features.

11-29-2010, 08:11 AM
hmmm that sounds like a good way to go redrobes, so maybe I should get sketchup after all - or at least after the finals for my marketing class :)

11-29-2010, 08:20 AM
i like this mate , i have only been using Sketch up for star ships, maybe i will give some thing like this a shot , Repped

11-29-2010, 08:25 AM
Redrobes - Thanks a tonne! I know what you mean about the interface. I opened blender once and exactly once, thought "I am way in over my head" and promptly closed it. But you're right that a more powerful program would produce some nicer results: Sketchup's biggest weaknesses are definitely the absence of manipulatable lighting (you only have one light source: the sun, and it produces only very basic hard shadows) and lacking in depth texture options (only basic, flat textures). One day I'm sure I'll give a more complex program a shot for those features alone. I did see that sketchup has some really great plugins that provide those options, but they are all commercial products that cost hundreds of dollars. Of course, Sketchup has really lacking export options too, so making stuff and switching over into another program is not really an option. I haven't tried importing models into Photoshop to give their basic 3D painting tool a try yet, but any 3D work I've tried to do in PS was laborious, slow, and frustrating. I am eager to see what new features Google adds as they go. Sketchup 8 came out, but the new (and impressive) features were geared towards making actual buildings for Google Earth.

Tilt - It is honestly amazingly easy. You'll get going in minutes. In fact, just watch the four short 'new user' tutorials and you'll already have enough going for you to make stuff. Sketchup has some pretty brilliant interface elements that make it super easy to know what you're doing and what is going on. Here is a link to the official tutorials, for when you decide to give it a shot: http://sketchup.google.com/training/videos/new_to_gsu.html

Vorhees - Thanks a bunch, buddy!

11-29-2010, 08:38 AM
Awesome stuff RE, from what I can tell Sketchup is a pretty simple and easy to use tool. But if I were to work with 3D though I think I'd want more then just simple shapes to work with haha. I haven't bothered trying 3D yet, but the software function I would want is where you can take a grey height map and subtract from a simple shape and get the topography or results wanted. I doubt Sketchup has it but would Blender?

11-29-2010, 09:21 AM
Dunno. Sketchup has a new "sandbox" tool to make realistic terrains. I don't know if it had the option to import height maps, but I bet it does. You might be able to do that in the free version of Bryce 3D, and import it?

11-29-2010, 09:28 AM
Looking very good RE! Been meddling with pure-ISO and visibility lately as well a bit. It's kinda hard with muti-levels, and my way is still to layout the dungeon in a way that I have no (or almost no) overlap between levels (which reduces layout-out possibilities dramatically of course :( ). As for walls and visibility I think you're on the right track. The wireframes of the arches look pretty cool this way. Maybe you can use some glass material to show them with some opacity in sketchup (never worked with glass materials myself though). Getting good shades is also hard using sketchup. Normally you'd have small, multiple lightsources in a dungeon. Currently your shades are very long, maybe you could get the lightsource up higher to increase the effect of a dungeon with ceilings... (I think sketchup does not support multiple lightsources but Im not sure) or maybe post-process shades in PS (would look the best I guess but also would take a lot of time :P ) Also maybe possible to load the model in another 3d-tool and add light sources. Also actual rendering in sketchup is pretty bad so using another finishing tool may be a way (I know architects use sketch-up a lot for mockups and then load this in 'real' modellers to do the rendering)..... well, just my thoughts... cheers!

11-29-2010, 09:53 AM
Djekspek - Thanks a bunch, my man! Your ISO dungeon (http://www.cartographersguild.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=30779&d=1289250774) was a huge inspiration and made me think this was worth trying! I agree that multiple levels can be tricky, but they are also part of the beauty of isometric maps, I think. I considered using slightly transparent materials, but I think when all is said and done, it looks cleaner to have 'cut out' bits, like in your dungeon. I think I might have figured out some tricks for doing post-render shades in PS, too: you can output a separate image with the shadows alone on it, and then apply things like gaussian blur and fill in other areas, set it as a 'multiply' layer. I also just discovered that you can 'paint' an object with a simple transparent .png image as the material and it will be transparent but still cast shadows--A near 'glitch' that will allow for more consistent lighting with roofs that are 'there' but not there. I am still looking into other plugins for adding multiple light sources (and hopefully soft lights): I'll post if I can find a free one.

All in all, I am loving Sketchup. Definitely preferable to graph paper.

11-29-2010, 11:31 AM
agree on the cut-out bits - makes it obvious where there were "supposed" to be a wall :)

11-29-2010, 11:45 AM
A little touchup work in Photoshop could mitigate the worst of the render problems. Specifically, the bit of cylinder protruding through the floor above the spiral staircase and those nasty splotches in the glowing border in the center of the image. Is there a way to improve the antialiasing quality in the SU renderer? If not, you could render at double size, blur, then scale down to fake it.

11-29-2010, 12:18 PM
thats a good idea Midgard, especially the "empty" lines are a little rough :)

11-29-2010, 01:51 PM
If your going to use Blender as a means to render terrain then I would recommend against it because you would normally convert your greyscale height map into a 3d mesh by displacement mapping it over a grid. The grid has to be really really large and with 3D apps not designed for this purpose. If you can get it into Terragen then you would probably get better results.

With sketchup there was supposed to be some additional plugins that you could get to render more interesting effects. We had a guy here called SeerBlue who used to do this and made some great renders for my Thrub region in CWBP - see if you can find the ones about Snapgallows.

If someone can explain how to export a sketchup model and get a free converter into something more standard like OBJ or even 3DS format then that would be interesting for me. It would probably be the key to me trying out sketchup. I have resisted using it so far because I have no way to import it into Blender or anything else. Is the sketchup file format ascii ? cos then it could be easily converted to OBJ which is also ascii.

11-29-2010, 01:55 PM
Redrobes - The Pro (pay) version does export .obj, but the free one does not. However, there seem to be plenty of .obj export plugins available for free.

Midgardsormr - Sketchup does actually have an antialiasing option when you export 2d, but since I haven't actually finished the model, I wasn't worried about quality. The final version (if I ever finish) should look much smoother.

11-29-2010, 03:14 PM
Thanks R.E. I found this one...


Digging, I saw that the free sketchup exports COLLADA and blender does import it so maybe that is a route. RE - maybe you could confirm that works - even if you don't actually render it ?

EDIT: Ahh more info...

"Exporting to Collada DAE files is officially supported in the Pro version. There is a possible workaround from the free version. The workaround is exporting to Google Earth (*.kmz) and then renaming the .kmz to .zip. When you unzip the file the "model" folder contains a DAE file of your model."

so kmz is just zipped COLLADA format ??? If so then that is well cool to know.

EDIT2: Wow I just checked and its true - the zipped file is a KML file which is a COLLADA file so unzip to somehere and rename the extension to a dae file and then it should import into Blender. I will have to try sketchup now and try this out because this would be really useful and makes learning sketchup worthwhile.

11-29-2010, 04:45 PM
Be aware that the latest version of Blender may have some kind of problem with the Collada importer. I wasn't able to get a Sketchup model into Blender 2.5 beta, but I could get it into 2.3 without issue. I didn't try the latest stable release (2.49).

During my experiments, I found that the Sketchup models from Google's data warehouse were enormous in Blender. So if it doesn't appear to work, try dollying your camera way back. Also, Sketchup exports really rotten topology, so if you're planning anything fancy, you'll want to set aside some time to retopologize. I eventually wound up using a plug-in for Maya to import the .skp file, and I had to spend about three hours per model cleaning them up. Still way less than I would have spent trying to model them myself, though, and their relative scale was reasonably accurate.

11-29-2010, 04:47 PM
Just found this....great work RE! I love it.

If you have problems with lighting in Sketchup, perhaps try this: Bryce 5.5 is a free download. If you can export your sketchup model as an .obj file, you can texture and light it Bryce.

11-29-2010, 04:56 PM
Thats just it Ravs, you cant export OBJ from sketchup but (and not being on my normal machine here) I just installed sketchup and Blender and sketchup can export COLLADA directly and Blender imports it directly. If Bryce can import COLLADA files then its all a GO else you need to convert with something like Blender or MeshLab or some other 3D format converter. I should add that there is no need to unzip or change extensions or anything it can go directly. Also, this COLLADA format is pretty cool since its based on XML - I see this usurping the more common OBJ format.

11-30-2010, 02:28 AM
so I've checked out the videos RE, looks really easy - at least the basics. :) ... and with all the talk in this thread about exporting and stuff I just checked what it would cost to "go pro" ... 430 euros! ... so I'm guessing the free version will do :)

11-30-2010, 03:33 AM
Thats just it Ravs, you cant export OBJ from sketchup but (and not being on my normal machine here) I just installed sketchup and Blender and sketchup can export COLLADA directly and Blender imports it directly. If Bryce can import COLLADA files then its all a GO else you need to convert with something like Blender or MeshLab or some other 3D format converter. I should add that there is no need to unzip or change extensions or anything it can go directly. Also, this COLLADA format is pretty cool since its based on XML - I see this usurping the more common OBJ format.

Just checked with Bryce 6, doesn't look like it will import Collada files. :(

12-02-2010, 07:32 AM
Trying out different rendering software... definitely have no idea what I'm doing. I am just getting interested in 3D stuff, but am extremely daunted by how much I don't know...

12-02-2010, 08:09 AM
... definitely have no idea what I'm doing.
yeah.. thats my way of working too *lol*

12-02-2010, 01:28 PM
For someone who doesn't know what they're doing, you're getting some very impressive results!!

Steel General
12-02-2010, 09:19 PM
Ditto what Ravs said...

07-08-2011, 02:47 PM
I'm in a video game development program at a local community college. We used Sketchup in our intro class (I took it Fall '10 semester)...I really didn't like it much. But what you've done here is really awesome. I can even tell which techniques and tools you used on most of your model. I agree that Sketchup's textures are really flat...but have you looked at the Indigo renderer? It has a plugin for Sketchup and it's totally free (as far as I know). They have a commercial version but the free version gets some great results. One of the guys in my class used it and it turned the models from cartoony to really nice. You might want to look into it if you continue using Sketchup a lot.

I never really considered using a 3D program to make maps, but this isometric model gives me a lot of ideas. :) Thanks for posting! I'm giving you rep.