Painting in P3Dv3+ -- open letter to the community
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Thread: Painting in P3Dv3+ -- open letter to the community

  1. #1

    Painting in P3Dv3+ -- open letter to the community

    Good day all!

    A recent question regarding one of my paints has spurred me to start this topic. Well, not entirely that, but it was the tipping point. I'd like to simply make this a stucky topic if possible because it will affect anyine who wants to repaint for the current version of P3Dv3+.

    I'd like to address the topic of dynamic reflections (DR). I think most people are aware of what DR is. But quickly, introduced in v3.1 DR is the ability of P3Dv3+ to reflection the actual environment sourrounding the object. So, in short instead of using a static cube map to use as the basis for the imahe being reflected, v3+ is capable of using the surrounding environment. So runway markings under the airplane while on the ground and sky on top. Coastline, water, trees, mountains, desert etc. You understand the idea.

    Why this is such an important issue is not based solely in DR alone. Rolled out with DR was the ability to change your rendered lighting settings in game via a set of sliders. Not too uncommon for improvements to a GUI right? Well, here's the rub...

    If repainter X decides to create his masterpiece, and does so, it will have or shoild have a desired look and feel. More importantly, if developer X does the same thing and advertises with screenshots what it will look like, then user X buys the product and complains it doesnt look the same as the screenshots! How can this be?

    It all stems from end user custom lighting settings in P3Dv3+. We saw a glumpse of this with P3Dv2 and the HDR settings. But it is compoinded now with custom lighting and DR.

    I've noticed a few things as far as repainters are concerned: In particular with the MV F100D. Only because i had a hand in creating the alphas and speculars and a few paints for it am I keenly aware of it.

    Diffuse Alpha vs. Diffuse Specular and Specular Alpha.

    What does what? They all make your paint "shiny" right?

    As long as the developer has enabled the material properties in the model correctly, the following should be true:

    Diffuse Alpha: Controls reflectivity. That's it. The closer to pure white will be no reflection. The closer to pure black will be mirror like.

    Diffuse Specular: This is the texture of what you would like to be revealed when light hits it. There is plenty of confusion surrounding the specular.

    Specular Alpha: This is essentially the llight intensity map. How much of what you have reprepresented in the Specular diffuse do you want to come through? Pure white will be no light. Pure black will be 100% focus on what you have in the diffuse specular. This is what controls the final "matted" or shiny look once reflections are set. It controls whether something looks like a plastic model kit or a different material.

    Its important to understand what does what. Also its important to use all of these together.

    P3Dv3+ handles the light differently than FSX or P3Dv2.5 therefore i wanted to get this out in front.

    Finally, the fresnel ramp. What is it? How does it work? If the model uses the fresnel then you can tell your model where to start or focus the specular reflection and you can adjust the lighting values or colors across the model. In fact technically you could assign each texture set its own distinct fresnel so that different matrrials could diffuse differently. Ive rarely seen more than 2 or these assigned independently. Generally one for.glass and one for.the rest of the model.

    I've come to think of gman5250 as my paint mentor. There are others but he has really taken the time to educate me. I'd like to thank him for taking the time and imparting to a newbie. I'm not an expert by any means, but feel like our hobby would be better served by all of us increasing our skill sets. Please respond to this with further insights. But please refrain from injecting confusion where none needs to exist.

    For all you veterans that already know this. You can simply add to the conversation. I wish that when I had started something like existed. Even just finding the SDK was hard enough when you're first starting out. So hopefully this will help someone, and also enlighten as far p3dv3 goes.

    Thanks for reading. Hopefully we can really create some gems and push the envelope!

    -Rick
    Commercial AS/MEL & Instrument
    Certified Airplane Nut

  2. #2
    All I can add is that I'm glad there are folks like you who find this interesting enough to dig into it and understand it and produce the amazing liveries that you do. It's overwhelming and confusing to most.

  3. #3
    Ok, duly stickied.

    A great read!
    As a 3d designer for my sceneries myself I am much interested in the topic! Didn't dive in the reflectivity or specular matter so far though, since most of my objects are natural or dull / non reflective. But this is a nice oaccasion now.

    Ahh, and there's always this as an overview:

    http://www.prepar3d.com/SDKv2/Learni...materials.html

    Cheers,
    Mark
    My scenery development galleries:
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/x0skkam7xu8zz8r/DFwnonB1nH

    Solomon 1943 V2 Open beta download: http://www.sim-outhouse.net/download...on-1943-V2.zip
    Solomon 1943 V2 update 2013-02-05 download: http://www.sim-outhouse.net/download...2013-02-05.zip


    Current Project: DHC-4 / C-7a Caribou by Tailored Radials
    Dev-Gallery at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qjdtcoxeg...bAG-2V4Ja?dl=0

  4. #4
    Rick, I think you are overly generous in your appraisal of my contributions. You have educated yourself with some minor inputs from me, but thank you sir.

    I think this thread will become a valuable tool in developing the skill sets to take full advantage of DR. I have a firm grasp of the fundamentals, but the nuance of using these skill sets will be an acquired knowledge as we explore the technology. It will be an absolute necessity that LM develop DR with a logical and real world approach to rendering light.

    Dramatic changes in the rendering platform will nullify any development efforts, based upon previous platforms, if the development curve is not additive and consistent. If the methodical approach is taken, we can all participate in producing a truly exquisite canvas on which to create our contributed works.

    IMHO.


    Edit:

    I just did a clean install of P3D v3.2.

    One thing that will illustrate the point I just brought up...autogen trees.

    While they do not utilize DR, I noticed right away that 3.2 alpha value interpretation had improved dramatically from 3.1, where the autogen trees were much too transparent.
    With the new install of 3.2, my autogen trees now appear exactly (as intended) the same as they do in 2.5, FSX and FSX ST.

    This is an example of how the curve may be "bumpy" as we explore the dynamics of each build of the software.
    Last edited by gman5250; March 10th, 2016 at 11:42.
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  5. #5
    SOH Staff .."Bartender" AussieMan's Avatar
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    I noticed the reflection of surrounding objects and the same when doing an update of one of my WBS P-51D repaints. A similar thing with the JF Dove.


    Cheers
    Pat


    "Some people might say that freedom is being alone in the bush with the only sounds being the murmurs from the birds ... but I believe freedom is at 5000 feet with no other sound than the engine roaring."- William Hutchison, a young man taken from us far too young (16).

  6. #6
    Yup. John of WBS utilizes the global envmap as the reflective texture and can therefore take advantage of the dynamic reflections.
    Commercial AS/MEL & Instrument
    Certified Airplane Nut

  7. #7
    Very interesting read, thank you. How exactly do you modify the fresnel ramp? I've tried opening it with DXTBmp but can't. And I take it that a model has to have one assigned in order to use it?

    I've been studying the effect of light and reflections on aircraft for a loooong time (painting), and remember seeing Carenado incorporating reflected indirect light and almost wetting my pants...

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Snurdley View Post
    Very interesting read, thank you. How exactly do you modify the fresnel ramp? I've tried opening it with DXTBmp but can't. And I take it that a model has to have one assigned in order to use it?

    I've been studying the effect of light and reflections on aircraft for a loooong time (painting), and remember seeing Carenado incorporating reflected indirect light and almost wetting my pants...
    Ive never used dxtbmp to open the fesnel. I edit it directly in photoshop. As far as i know Its a gradient that tells the model where to begin showing the reflection. As in do you want the reflection showing from 90.degrees headon or to start somewhere further out...on a curved surface. You can also gradient the ramp in multiple locations for added effects. You'll notice Carenado does this as well as a select few other developers to achieve certain results.
    Commercial AS/MEL & Instrument
    Certified Airplane Nut

  9. #9
    The final piece of the pie which i neglected to mention by design in the first post is bump maps. They actually greatly affect final lighting in a very huge way. I discovered this while working on the F-100D. They seem to multiply light emmission effects...maybe someone with greater experience can chime in on this one.
    Commercial AS/MEL & Instrument
    Certified Airplane Nut

  10. #10
    I wonder if the fresnel ramp is not deprecated a bit by the HDR lighting in P3D. At least I would think that it is over exaggerating the bloom effect you can set in the HDR config, doesn't it?

    The fresnel ramp mapping and other materials are mentioned in the documentation at the link I posted above.

    http://www.prepar3d.com/SDKv2/Learni...materials.html

    Nice thing is, the various types and effects are displayed on the tea pot if you hover the mouse over the type designations on the left.


    I agree that bump mapping really works well in P3D. In the sim, the effect seems to be the strongest when the light hits the surface a a flat angle, and almost not visible when it hits at a 90 degree angle. Depending on the way of creating these maps, they even add a nice structure to relatively flat surfaces and can look quite delicate in the complex lighting that P3D is capable of rendering. Check the tarp over the truck here:




    Cheers,
    Mark
    My scenery development galleries:
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/x0skkam7xu8zz8r/DFwnonB1nH

    Solomon 1943 V2 Open beta download: http://www.sim-outhouse.net/download...on-1943-V2.zip
    Solomon 1943 V2 update 2013-02-05 download: http://www.sim-outhouse.net/download...2013-02-05.zip


    Current Project: DHC-4 / C-7a Caribou by Tailored Radials
    Dev-Gallery at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qjdtcoxeg...bAG-2V4Ja?dl=0

  11. #11
    Thats fantastic! Great scenery! I need get some of this period scenery.
    Commercial AS/MEL & Instrument
    Certified Airplane Nut

  12. #12

    v3.x Chrome and Env

    Just an FYI. I was really struggling with how terrible the reflectuons were in my v3.2 setup. Yes, currently im not aware of how to increase the definition and brightness of the Dynamic reflections so for the moment ive switched back to global ENV. Will get back to that in a minute.

    If you've recently upgraded to v3.2x then you've probably reinstalled all the content and scenery. If so then you've lost your Custom GlobalEnv_AC_Chrome.dds and GlobalEnvTest.dds files had you replaced these. I design all my paints to take advantage of bananabobs replacement textures for these and indeed they IMHO make all bare metal or polished metal look hands down better than the default. I had recently purchased the A2A T6 and was just racking my brain as to why the aluminum paints I've been fiddling with over and over were not increasing the reflectivity...voila. i had forgotten to replace these.

    The reason I've turned off DR is that im goimg throigh some testing. Light testing. Im going to petition LM amd you should too, to increase the overall color saturation and contrast of the DR textures. This would be independent of the overall saturation and options under HDR. This is what os needed in my opinion to fully take conteol of the DR option and maintain high quality DR with high quality textures. Currently this only really affects metallic surfaces and the ability to create a vivid and realistic texture.

    Edit: still testing but i think the GlobalEnvTest.dds still has an effect on chrome or metal surfaces regardless if DR is set to ON. Because my skins are looking better now than with default and DR on. Trying to ascertain if its a placebo but seems like not. So.thats good.
    Last edited by 000rick000; April 4th, 2016 at 21:33.
    Commercial AS/MEL & Instrument
    Certified Airplane Nut

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