Friday, November 30, 2012

Software Spotlight - Guake Terminal

I'm hoping this is the first of a series, to be honest.  It's an idea that popped into my head this morning and I just went with it.  But, without further ado, let's talk Guake.

Guake is a command terminal for Linux, much like the standard terminal you can find in Linux Mint.  What makes this one so special is that it's unobtrusive - the standard terminal will always be present in some form, whether that's on-screen or minimized to your taskbar, or on another workspace.  Guake is also always present once launched, but the difference is that Guake will hide in the notification area, and only come out when you call it with the (default) F12 key.  It also has workspace immunity, so it will appear on your screen regardless of which workspace you are currently using.
You can see it here in action on my second monitor**, currently running a python-script for automated GPU temperature monitoring and fan-speed control (script by lfrisken on

And like the standard Terminal, you have the option of having several different Tabs running different processes - Guake, however, displays these on the bottom.

The other nice thing about Guake is that it is very customizable.  In the Appearance settings alone, you can set transparency - I have mine around 20-25% - and background colour, font colour, set up a background image, change font types and sizes, as well as pre-defined palettes, which I haven't yet tried.
On top of which, keyboard short-cuts are also customizable.  For instance when Guake starts for the first time you can summon it using the F12 key, set it to full-screen with F11, and so on.  However since Blender also uses the F12 key for rendering images (therefore a pretty important key) I've changed this to the "~" key, between "Esc" and "Tab".  I find this more intuitive, but you really can set it up with whatever key combination you like.

There are also several other options, most of which are more technical so I haven't yet figured out what they do.  Putting all that aside, however, I can definitely recommend Guake to any fellow Linux users.  It's quick, unobtrusive, and quite customizable.  I thought I liked the standard Terminal quite a bit, but Guake has overtaken it :)

** The only slight issue with Guake at the moment is that you can't choose which monitor it appears on.  It simply sets itself up on what it considers the primary monitor, which in my case is, oddly enough, my second screen.  If I remember correctly this is something in development and should be available some time in the future.  It doesn't really affect it negatively in my opinion.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A fight to the death - MeshWeaver VS Dust & Thermal Paste

So it's finally time for me to talk about a side-project I've been working on for a couple of months.

I'll kick it off with a comment concerning thermal paste and what it's for.  Of course, if you're already familiar with it, then feel free to skip ahead.
Thermal paste (also called Thermal Grease) is, obviously, a material used on various pieces of computer hardware and electronics such as processors - both central (ex. quad-core Intel i5-2320) and graphics-dedicated (ex. nVidia GTX560 Ti) - and it is usually applied between said processors and their heat sinks to improve heat dissipation through conductive materials like silver, aluminium, and other metals.  The Wikipedia article lists the different types as well as the general usage of thermal paste - for instance too much can increase the risk of over-heating, while too little won't help heat-dissipation as much as it should.
Thermal paste can also be relatively expensive considering the size of the tubes - over at you can see that they have three pages-worth of different brands and types, and they go for up to ~40.00$ CDN.

As I just mentioned above it's usually found between heat sinks and processors to help conduct heat generated by the processor over to the heat sink, which then usually air-cools and any excess heat is pushed out the back of your PC by the casing fan(s).

Dust, of course, needs no explanation - it's just really, really annoying to deal with.

And now on to the project - I mentioned it my last blog post but the only hint I gave was installing drivers for a nVidia GeForce 6200.  Well, time to let the cat out of the bag - I've been working on restoring a roughly 8 year old computer to working order.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Open-source penguins, food mixers, and anime - Long post ahead!

Yep, I'm still around, still geeky, still stuck on my Audi project.

I've been slowly chipping away at the interior models, but it's proving to be rather difficult - not to mention I seem to be going through a creativity drought, and my life's been a bit hectic over the last few weeks.
As a heads-up, I also have a post about a recently completed project coming up, so keep your eyes peeled.

Anyway, on to those open-source penguins.  In other words, Linux.  I've now spent the better part of today configuring my desktop's Linux Mint 13 installation, which I had been putting off for several weeks.  In case you're wondering (or if you're forgetful, since I've posted about this before), my desktop is a Gateway with a quad-core Intel i5-2320 at 3.0GHz, 6GB of RAM, and a EVGA nVidia GeForce GTX 560TI SC GPU.
The fun part when installing Linux is that most of the time it can't use the GPU in your system when still "out-of-the-box".  You have to install the drivers for it, since Linux doesn't generally seem to be as plug-and-play as Windows 7 (which I love), which is both a pro and a con in my opinion.  The problem then becomes actually getting to the desktop interface, which is made tricky by the afore-mentioned lack of display drivers.

That of course means that even the LiveDVD versions have trouble booting up properly, which is always fun.  So in order to get around that, you have to first get to the Grub loader screen and modify the parameters for the Linux booting process.  For nVidia GPUs, there's a specific change that needs to be made which, unless you edit the grub.cfg file itself, is temporary and resets itself when you reboot.  I have no idea if this works with most common Linux distros like Ubuntu and so on, so if you're having trouble booting a Linux LiveCD/DVD or getting a newly-installed GPU working I'd recommend finding the right set of instructions for your Linux distro :)

My process, however, is as follows: when you get to the grub loader, press E over the desired option, which then brings up details concerning that particular boot process' instructions.  You should see a long line of instructions about two-thirds of the way down, which should end in the words "quiet splash", or at least have those words near the end of the string.  For an nVidia GPU (whether that's a GeForce 6200, which I had to deal with a few days ago, or a GTX560Ti, which is in my desktop) you have to change that "quiet splash" to "noacpi noapic nomodeset", which basically tells Linux to boot up without all the fancy GPU processes that require drivers.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Updated Gallery + new Audi improvements

So I've finally done a bit of cleaning up in the Gallery page, as well as a general clean-up throughout both my blog and my DeviantART gallery.  I'm trying to better showcase my best renders and projects, so as they tended to get lost among the test renders and lower-quality renders, I've removed quite a few images from both galleries.
For DeviantART, I've simply moved all the unwanted images into storage.  I'll deal with deleting them eventually, I just don't have the time at the moment.
Also concerning the new Gallery page, I've added five other shots of the Audi A5 to the list (I'll be adding them to the Audi's project page in a moment), so click the tab up top to check 'em out!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

2012 Audi A5 - last updates and Render!

So, just another string of pictures!  There were 6 more updates since my last post, but they were mostly centered around tweaking and texturing.

WIP 18 - Still experimenting with materials
WIP 19 - Tweaking the model slightly
WIP 20 - More model tweaks, this time on the headlights, adding
detail on the lights themselves.
WIP 21 - More tweaking of materials.  Everything is starting to come together :)
WIP 22 - Textured calipers.
WIP 23 - The scene's coming together!
And now the final render!
The final shot was rendered on my Intel i5-2320 at 1250 samples.  Took 3 hours to churn out this 1080p image.  I'm still working on a few other shots, so I'll put those up once they're all ready and whatnot.

I think I can now say with certainty that this is my most complex project ever.  The vertex count is above 3 million at render time... anyway, now on to other projects!  I'll have a special post over the weekend about new developments, so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

2012 Audi A5 Coupe - Update #2! (lots of pics!)

**A wild meme-face has appeared!**

(Lvl. 9001 Wy-yuno)


Well, to put it simply...I was being lazy - posting on a blog is a bit more time-consuming than uploading on DeviantART, you know?
Anyway, last time I ended with WIP snapshot #04, which was a turntable render of the bodywork at it's then-current level of progress.  But...since then there have been thirteen new updates.  I'm that lazy, yes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Geekness à la GTX560 Ti (long post!)

What's a GTX560 Ti, you may ask?  Put simply, it's awesomeness condensed into the shape of computer hardware.  Put complexly (because I can't resist talking about the details), it is the second generation of the nVidia GeForce 460 - the 400 series was replaced with the 500, so the GTX460 (apparently a very popular GPU) became the GTX560.  However, to bridge the performance gap between the 560 and the 570 (which was relatively considerable) nVidia came up with another "in-between" version, the GTX560 Ti.

Why am I talking about this particular GPU?  Well, waaaaaaay back in December 2011, I bought my current desktop PC, a Gateway DX4860 with an Intel i5-2320 processor @3.0Ghz, 6GB of 1333Mhz RAM, a DVD drive, about a dozen USB ports (you can never have too many USB ports) and finally a nVidia GeForce GT520.  Not the best card out there, truth be told - I looked it up on an benchmarking website and it was third from the bottom.
However, it was millions of times better than the GPU I have in my good-ol' laptop - an Intel 965 Express Chipset, which sometimes struggled to run even Age of Mythology - not exactly the most graphics-intensive game out there.  (I don't even know why Intel makes GPUs O_o)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Coming to a 3D handheld-console near you

So I just opened up Google Chrome and was checking the good ol' BlenderNation news feed on, when I saw this:

...just to explain just how epicly awesome this is to me, consider this following sentence.   My discovery of The Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time and other Nintendo games has very probably led to me doing what I'm doing now - being a total Blenderhead.  And now my one great passion/interest being (in a way) ported to a Nintendo system is something I was not expecting at all.  I seriously grew up with an NES and N64, and Nintendo's games remain my all-time favourites.
Not to mention it's coming to the 3DS, which is an amazing piece of tech - even though I can't say I've used it that much, I've completed Ocarina of Time 3D and the amount of detail and the quality of the graphics, not to mention the amazing 3D effect (galloping across Hyrule Field or fighting the King of Evil, Ganondorf, was even more epic than in the original, which was over 9000% pure epicness) was simply stunning.

...I'm really, really happy right now :D

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

All the geeky, geeky things...

So, I haz moar updatez for youz :D

First off, the Audi A5 Coupe.  To be perfectly honest, I haven't worked on it since I rendered that last WIP update, the model turntable.  I've been much busier with setting up Linux Mint (more on that later) and a bunch of other things like Minecraft, Star Wars Battlefront II, and Gran Turismo 5 :P  I'm planning on getting back to it this week, so keep an eye out (...gross) for those updates :D

So...From Freedom came Elegance, and from Linux Mint 12 came headaches and over six re-installations.  To be fair though, I love the interface and how the menus and so on work in Mint 12, and oddly enough it feels a bit more professional than Windows 7.  Maybe it's the absence of a few graphical flourishes Win7 uses, or maybe it's just that I'm expecting a Linux distro (aka distribution package/version) to be more professional since it's what they use over at the Blender Foundation in Amsterdam.  Who knows?
Anyway, about those multiple installations... they're all due to FAILs on my part.  Half of those fails were due to my crappy disk-partition management - deleting partitions that had the GRUB loader (what asks you which OS you want to use when you start up your computer) and therefore, I got GRUB errors that I couldn't fix by any method except re-installing everything.  So yesterday I finally got all my disk-partitions setup properly and Linux Mint 12 installed, updates installed and Nvidia GeForce GT520 drivers also installed - which means I also have my two screens setup awesomely.  I'll post a picture of my setup sometime :)
I'm still in the process of installing my essential programs, but hopefully I'll soon be regularly switching between Mint 12 and Win7 to do all my work :D

Yumm, minty chrome...

Two gaming-related updates too!  Yesterday I finally got my hands on...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Project - 2012 Audi A5 Coupe

Hey Blender-heads!

So, about a week or two back I started working on a new model - a 2012 Audi A5 Coupe.  Yes, it's another German car.  What can I say?  I like German car designs...and most European designs, actually (most of the cars I have in Gran Turismo 5 on PS3 are European)

So far, I haven't even mentioned this project over on BlenderArtists - I'm trying to go it alone on this one and see if I can avoid any nuclear detonations of problematic-ness, but I might just start a thread over there a bit later in the process, I don't know yet.
Anyway, here come the snapshots:

WIP #01 - Outlining important topological features

WIP #02 - Some completed panels with slightly messy topology.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just a quick post

Hello World!

So, this is just a quick post to prove I'm still alive*, and I just wanted to mention that I'll be posting some new project snapshots tonight or tomorrow - I've begun working on a model of a 2012 Audi A5 Coupe :D  So yeah, I'll be posting a few WIPs tonight, as well as maybe talking about a few new things I tried out recently.

See ya later, Blender-heads!

* No, I'm not actually referencing the ending song from Portal ;)

Friday, February 17, 2012

2011 Golf GTI - Final Renders!

It's finally done!

Well, this angle was rendered in Blender's new render engine, Cycles, at 1000 samples - took just over five hours to finish.  I did have to erase a few "fireflies" (high-contrast pixels that appear with certain materials - hey, the engine's still in development, it happens) but other than that this is 100% Cycles :D

This one was rendered at 250 samples in roughly 45-50 minutes:

I'd also like to send out some thank-yous to everyone here who faved and commented on the WIP snapshots, as well as to DDD and TyrantMonkey over on :D

...and now onto my next car model!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Latest Golf GTI updates

Getting really close to the final render! (*finally*)  Check out these latest updates, they're awesome:

Reworked and tweaked topology - big thanks to TyrantMonkey and DDD over on for all their help with this stuff!

Within an hour of this snapshot, I'd done a complete overhaul ofthat section, so this is no longer accurate.

And, last but not least, a quick-and-crappy render of the car as a whole! :D

Like I said, quick-and-crappy.

Anyway, there's just a few finishing touches to add to this model, so afterwards I'll be moving on to developing the materials necessary in Cycles and then the final render, plus a bit of compositing (hopefully Blender 2.62 will be out by then, could use the upcoming Render Layers in this project)

I'll also be recording another video tour a bit later on, so stay tuned!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

2011 VW Golf GTI - Updates 16&17

New updates!  Reworked the door, plus a few more little things - mostly mesh tweaking and whatnot.
I'd been tweaking the mesh, trying to finish up the model, and I noticed that I'd overlooked the little inset on the bottom part of the door and area just in front of the back wing.  So after an hour or two of tweaking, more tweaking, remodeling and yet more tweaking, we have the results below:

Remodeling the door... that handle is a real pain in the neck, but it (thankfully) seems to be working okay.

New topology VS "Old" topology

That's it for now - I'm going to go clean up the mesh a bit more, there's a bit of potentially problematic topology above the tail-light, and I also have to figure out how I'm going to add in the petrol-tank's cover.

...and yeah, I'm saying petrol instead of gas or gasoline.  What can I say, I prefer the British terminology (we use British spelling in Canada anyway, so why not?)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2011 VW Golf GTI - Updates 13-15


So I've actually started working on this again...I guess buying a second monitor (Samsung 23" LED) kinda helps get the motivation going again ;)  I've actually been blending on two screens and it's seriously awesome.  I have to admit, though, I did have to prop up the 20" Acer up a bit so it would sit a bit more level with the 23" Samsung :P

Having a new computer certainly helps - I can now display all the layers without any problems, and the viewport remains nice and fast.  The tower I'm using (that I've actually had for over a month now, forgot to mention it before) is a Gateway DX4860 with a 3.0Ghz quad-core Intel i5-2320, 6GB of RAM, Windows 7 Home Premium (going to have to upgrade to Pro eventually) and a nVidia GeForce GT520 - not the best graphics card on the market, but over 9000 times better than the Intel 965 Chipset in my laptop...
Oh, the GT520 also has 1GB of VRAM :D  Only problem is, a CUDA-based Cycles benchmark render (Mike Pan's BMW M1) takes 5 to 10 times longer than with just the CPU... going to have to upgrade that as well, maybe get a GeForce GTX570 to run alongside the GT520, or something along those lines.
Anyway, this computer is fast.  I mean, my trusty dual-core Toshiba Satellite laptop was amazingly fast back when I first got it, but this PC blows it out of the water... I still feel attached to the Toshiba though, so I'm lucky it's still in great condition - might use it for network rendering or something.

Anyway, that's it from me for now.  See ya!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Minor updates


So, just a quick post - trying to get back into the rhythm of posting regularly.

#1 - So, as you may have guessed, I've started working on my upcoming website again!  ...well, sort of.  I'm trying to finish up some of the content and a replacement tutorial, and I'll also be doing a revision of a few of the Free Downloads.  If everything goes according to plan, I might be able to bump up their quality by a notch or two, or at least make them more interesting.

#2 - The Golf GTI, on the other hand, is pretty quiet... I guess you could say the project's engine is idling around 1000rpm at the moment.  I am still slowly chipping away at it, I've just been caught up in four or five projects at once... I never learn, do I? ;)

Anyway, I'm going to go try and finish up that replacement tutorial now - I've got the text version almost complete, and man, it's a lot more complicated than just recording a video, what with the snapshots and paint-overs and so on.

May the Blend be with you!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Hey Blenderheads,

I needed a small break form the Golf GTI and a couple of other on-going projects, so I thought I'd try my hand at creating a banner for BlenderNation :D

Was inspired by David Revoy's sketch of the Durian team  ( from back in 2009/2010 - more specifically Brecht van Lommel's portrait (he's the main coder for Blender nowadays, and he's dev-ed some pretty amazing stuff)

Made with Blender 2.61 - and NOT rendered with Cycles! =P

P.S.  Golf update hopefully coming in the next few days!

EDIT (26-01-2012) - So I got word from Bart, who runs BlenderNation, and unfortunately he couldn't accept the image as a banner, as it doesn't really showcase Blender's capabilities - Best of Blender, as he put it - and I totally understand and agree with him :)  He said he liked it, which is awesome (I kinda went "yay!" - I mean, he's one of the well-known Blenderheads out there), but he's right, it's a rather simple scene...nothing really impressive.  However, I learned a lot from the project, so it's still a winner for me...maybe next time ;)  Might even use this as a banner for here...hmmm
Anyway, it's in my Render Gallery page - I updated it last night, go check it out!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blog Redesign!

Okay, so it's time for a redesign!  I'll be using a more standard template and getting rid of this horrible blue-and-orange...thing...going on.  I'll be using a new banner as well, which I'll see if I can whip up quickly... I'm thinking of using the NES render, since it's my best so far.

Yeah, I liked the blue-and-orange design back when I first redesigned, but now I've grown tired of it - I need something more up-to-date, you know?

Other news, I've got another Golf GTI update coming within the next week or so - I think it's nearing completion!

Stay tuned!