How I wish I'd known about Mecabricks and this brilliant community before I'd started on my latest Lego project! I don't use Blender and I'd not heard of this site or the Mecabricks tool/workshop until a couple of days ago, after I came cross it when I was looking up brick stud logo variations.
I'm aware of Blender, obviously, and have tried it, but I've thus far not given myself enough time with it... plus I can't use Cycles due to my old PC not having a CUDA-enabled graphics card. I work with Modo as my main modelling tool, and have done since version 102, so I naturally fell to that for creating the Lego pieces I'd need.
To ensure accuracy (and thinking it might save me some time), I looked into a CAD tool/builder, which I could export from. I tried Ldraw initially, because I'd heard it had the biggest library, but for some reason it just wouldn't install properly. After that I tried LDD, which worked a treat. The only problem was that it didn't export in a format recognised by Modo (I should have checked!). So I ended up going from LDD as .ldr, to LeoCAD, where I could export as .3ds.
The problem then was that the bricks would come into Modo with faces flipped and generally messed up. At that point I was just resigned to modelling them in Modo, using the LeoCAD exports as guides. Once I had a few basic bricks, it became easier to model others because I could duplicate parts. Still took ages though!
I'm very comfortable with Modo, having used it for years. I normally use Subdivision Surfaces for everything because then all objects are resolution independent. However, for this Lego project I decided to try standard poly modelling but use Modo's edge rounding options, which doesn't alter edges physically but makes them round in the render. A cheat bevel, I suppose. The results are good though, and the amount of roundness is customisable and can be applied on a per-material basis. Which is great because I can have studs set at a larger bevel than brick edges, for example.
Anyway, back to how I came across Mecabricks... I see that it exports the stud logo? Or have I got that wrong? In Modo, I've had to resort to mapping each exposed stud in my model separately. Yay!
My next project, where I'll have more time to experiment, I'm definitely going to try Mecabricks and Blender together.
1) Bricks built in Modo using LeoCAD exports as guides.
2) Noise/bump maps on Rudolph slopes
3) Sub surface scattering
4) Stud logos using displacement mapping for Rudolph
5) Working on stud logos for Sleigh - you can see they're just diffuse/colour maps at the moment, while I position them.
6) Lighting is a few Area Lights - no HDR images for lighting/reflection yet.
Once all stud logos and slope bumps are in place, I'll add a Santa minifig (I'd already modelled a minifig a couple of years ago), then other details like reins etc. and finally add colour to the bricks, and add some dirt/dust and wear & tear maps.
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