V for Voxel
Posted on June 2nd, 2012
Things went differently today than expected. First off, the weather forecast had changed from clear skies to thunderstorms, so I spent most of the day expecting to get kicked off the computer. In the end we got rain but never any thunder, so I was on the computer all day anyway.

Around mid-afternoon mom discovered that the apples we have were going bad, so we made a quick trip to the market for enough fresh Galas to last until grocery day. Naturally I picked up a few extra things; namely a large peanut butter cup cookie and a rice crispy treat. The latter I'm saving for tomorrow.

A few days ago I'd tried helping a friend online with a 3D mesh he was having troubles with. I wasn't able to get things to work then, but he's continued fussing at it and sent me a new version of the mesh. So I spent my time listening for thunder and editing that, this time more or less successfully.

During the evening I did some research about a new drawing style I was introduced to on DA. This style is called "voxel" art. Voxels are pixels with depth; ie, 3D pixels. This looked like fun to mess with, so I looked up more about it. After some searching, I found a few editors out there and tried a few of the free ones. What I found was rather disappointing for the most part. I can easily fake voxel art using Flash and some careful copy pasting, so I wasn't impressed with editors that couldn't do anything fancier than that.

Then I discovered an editor called Paint3D. Unlike some of the other editors, it's very simple and lean -- it's just the basic idea of modeling with voxels. The demo worked splendidly, and so I spent the evening playing around with the full version.

It's quite versatile and with the right settings you can even make props and figures for Poser with little effort. The main downside is that it has an effectively low limit on the size of your 3D canvas -- 500x500x500 was the largest I managed to reach before performance suffered or it crashed with an out of memory error. 500 pixels wide or high isn't that much these days -- the userpic I'm using is 100 pixels wide. Oh well, it's not much of a problem as you can just use something else (eg, Poser) to render a complex scene.

I really like this little thing. Normally I use Wings3D, which is an extrusion modeler, for making 3D stuff. Extrusion modelling is somewhat complex and requires some crazy planning ahead. Voxel modelling however is just like playing with LEGOs.

The link for the day is a series of pictures taken at high speed. Paint droplets can look like flowers when they splash.

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