I decided that this next year I’m going to get serious about my 3D art. (I start my new years resolutions with Advent, as the start of the liturgical year for Catholics) So I picked Blender 3D back out of the closet on my computer, and started dusting it off. I grabbed the first image out of my workout bin that caught my eye and decided to get to work. I wanted a simple model that I could practice some really advanced materials and com positing on, and the Venceslas Sword that I downloaded a while back was an excellent candidate.
First thing I realized in modelling this blade is that it isn’t straight. It looks awfully straight, but it isn’t. I already knew that imperfections made for good art, but I didn’t realize that even tiny variations like this would produce such a magnificent result.
The modelling itself was easy fairly straight forward, I could probably retopo some spots for future use, and likely will. Probably the most interesting thing here is the projection of my logo onto the scabbard, I have my logo saved as a plane mesh that I shrink-wrapped to the scabbard, then applied the solidify and subsurf modifiers to.
The materials were some that I borrowed from El Brujo de la Tribu, which, if you are not familiar with his stuff you should get there. Not only does he have some amazing material nodes to use, but he does some great render tests and explanations for the nerdier artist using Blender. (that’d be me.)
I used a bronze node setup like this:
Both of these are group nodes and in the case of the gold material, the only other thing affecting it is a bump map from an image texture to give it some nicks (that will probably show up better when it isn’t full on reflecting the lamp pointed at it, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the blade was turning black sometimes until the render, then I realized there was nothing for it to reflect… >facepalm<) The bronze material also has an anistropic shader mixed with this second group node, but I’m not sure the amount of effect I’m getting out of it in the final render.
The nodes are really a lot more complicated looking than they are complicated. Long story short, for realism you can’t beat a well structured node tree, so play around with them often.
The final trick to any render is the compositor window. If you are not judiciously running separate passes, acquiring the z pass and separating things like the glossy direct pass for your renders, you are missing out on about 3/4 of the power of Blender. Here’s my composite tree, which is *very* simple, despite what it looks like:
Fully 1/3 of that is just trying to get the glossy direct nodes to pull out alphas so that I could mix them as a glow without dulling the rest of the image.
So there you have it, the Vinceslas Sword (minus the awesome cross cutout) in a pretty decent render. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments, or connect with me on Google+.