Programmer John Edwards on sand technology in Journey (via G4TV):


Heightmaps are used by many games to render terrain. Heightmaps literally describe the height of the terrain at each point on the map. In Journey, instead of using just one heightmap, we used three. Matt would model a very rough version of the sand for the entire level in Maya, and then we would load it up into the game and apply something called B-Spline interpolation to it to make it super smooth. That yielded the nice shapes of dunes in the distance, but up close it was way too smooth, and just looked like melted plastic. So we added two more heightmaps on top to simulate a thin layer of “loose sand.” In one heightmap, we stored all the little tiny ripples that get formed by the wind, as well as the journeyers’ trails. In the last heightmap, we stored the “sand waves” which don’t actually exist in real life, per se, but made areas with lots of wind, like the bridge area and the sunken city descent, feel a lot better.

It was important to use three separate heightmaps because heightmaps can take up a lot of memory. If we tried to store the entire terrain of the game at full detail, you’d need to tape 4 PS3s together just to get the thing to run. But by storing the dunes at very low detail (and then smoothing them dynamically as they got close), and only storing the “loose sand” for a small distance around the player, we were able to get things working on the standard single-PS3 configuration.


The texture probably took the longest to get right. We went through about half a dozen different techniques until we found something that worked. In the end, the idea behind the texture is that if you think about an individual grain of sand, it is basically a sharp crystal, where each side is like a little mirror. So one way to think of the surface of a sand dune is that it’s made up of trillions of little mirrors, all pointing in different directions. That’s why it sparkles the way it does in the sun.

The PS3 is a pretty powerful device, but even it has it’s limits, so we had to settle with simulating just 8 million little mirrors (and actually we even grouped those up into sets of 1000). When the journeyer, or a cloth creature, or the wind pushes the sand, we use a physics simulation on the SPUs to move all the little mirrors against each other. So, that’s the basic idea, but then taking that mirror texture and using it to create just the right amount of sparkle ended up consuming about 2 months to settle on the 60 lines of shader code that actually render the sand on the PS3’s graphics card.


Unusual interesting tool for texturing, using particle brushes!

kazeknight asked:

Could you explain how to make/texture glasses in low poly?

From the very beginning: This method works in maya, but it should get the idea across even if using different modeling or texturing software.

: Start with cube: 2: Delete three of its faces 3: Squish. Modify size/length if needed.

1: Make sure UVs make sense to you, using auto UV or manually, etc

2: In photoshop (or whatever art program you use) draw out the frames however you want them to look. I typically stick to 128x128 resolutions as I would include them in the same file as the character, unlike this example. 

3: Save the texture without a background as a .png. All blank areas should appear invisible.

1: Import the .png file into maya, assign it to a material. and apply it to the mesh. Be as detailed or not as whatever style you are aiming for!

Thats really all there is to it! This is by no means the only way to do low poly glasses, but *a* way that I prefer. Just practice/experiment with as few polys and low a resolution as you feel comfortable with! I hope that answered you question!


daikon-console-deactivated20141 asked:

Heya! I was just wondering what do you use to create texture maps? I've been doing guesswork for my texturing and it never works the way I'd like it to (Y'know 'cause I'm guessing how the image would look on the shape... doesn't work out usually > p <) So yeah! It would be neat to know how you do it (O u O)!

Check out this similar question (link) it might be more of what you are looking for, if not please continue reading :) 

Before doing any texturing, I always look at the models UVs (pronounced U-VEEZ). They are coordinates on a 2D plan that map how a texture image is displayed on a 3D mesh. They can be rearranges, scaled, rotated,cut, sewn together just like like the mesh, but only in a 2D plan. In maya, it looks like this, will be using Captain Falcon for this example:

From there, when the mesh or any of its pieces are selected…

…they correspond to a location in the UV editor.

How the UVs are arranged is entirely dependent on who modeled it: arranging UVs is like doing a puzzle with the exception that all the pieces need to make sense to you (or whoever else is texturing). I typically put a models head and face UVs secions in the upper right, bodies on the left, feet on the bottom, etc.It all depends on the complexity of the model, if pieces can mirrored or not. All factors to consider when modeling.

As long as you (or whoever else is doing the texturing) are able to tell what is where, there is no *wrong* way to UV. That goes without saying, you want to make the best use of space in the UV editor, try not to have large gaps of nothing.

But before I actually do any texturing, I make sure the UVs are laid out properly. A good way to tell is by using a checked texture, Like this one:

v Feel free to use one and all! v

^ Feel free to use one and all! ^

If the squares are not deformed or stretched when applied to the mesh, then the UVs are good, if not, simply move UV points, sew edges, split edges, scale, rotate, etc as needed. It can be time consuming, it can be tedious, but worth the effort to get a good texture.

See any distortion?

Yes, some of the squares and number “3” are stretched beneath his armpit, that mean said texture would also be deformed if I textured without accounting for it. But since that particular area did not have much detail or focus, I left it as is, and said distortion is hardly noticeable with the final texture applied.

Was bit wordier than I intended, hope that helps :)

P.S. I must confess: doing UVs is my ABSOLUTE favorite part of 3D modeling. I cannot stress enough how much I love arranging pieces into nice organized works of art ready to be textured OvO

Bear Simulator Progress Report #7: Textures and a Billboard

Hi, I hope you are having a great day today. First off, made a Kickstarter update, check that yo.

Now, on to this progress report. It’s about textures, YEAH!

So whilst making up some textures for this bear game I am sneaking messages in along with strange text, for example:

Trying to not overdo it and also trying to not use much “internet humor” since that can get pretty cringey. So I’m hovering between making the references subtle to glaringly obvious.

For this billboard I bought, it was blank and I had no idea wtf to put on it:

So I decided to be an egoist and put my website on it, along with a stock photo of a lady laughing to herself and eating salad:

That was a good decision.


EDIT: Just noticed I mispelled on that billboard, supposed to be “everywhere” not everwhere.


Hello everyone, I apologize for being inactive for a bit. the reason is I have been full of work.

Anyway, I have been doing pre pro for my finals at Full Sail.. It is hard to fully replicate these assets.

I choose one indoor, one outdoor, photographs and I choose an indoor Concept art by Timothy Kong (I recommend you checking his work at www.cgtalk.com . He is a great artist!)


that message from djipi got me a little… distracted..

ended up looking through all the rushed tp textures. found a certain door texture bothered me enough that i cleaned it up properly

anyway it turns out in the original psd file i had kept everything as separate layers instead of combining and painting on v few layers so i kept doing that and made this neat process gif

it’s cool to see how much i’ve improved too. the original was very VERY rushed but even now i see how i could’ve done something better with the same amount of effort

also if anyone wants to see the original .psd file to learn from it i’ll upload it somewhere for download