First attempt at Blender and Horde

For a future project, I have tried Blender and Horde in order to create a model, animate it and place it into a 3D engine.

Blender

This tutorial on the wiki is very thorough for creating your first character. Beware, it can take you some days. Here is what I have come up with in 2 days :

My precious

Of course, a human may not be the best way to start, but it’s not bad for a first attempt ! In order to animate that, you will need to create the mesh (a looong) step, then create the skeleton. For each bone, you will have to define the vertices it can move by weight painting. This allowed me to create the previous “Gollum”. Inside Blender, it looks like this :

My
precious (inside)

Now we need to animate on several frames in order to create a small movie. I have animated the first step, then rendered the animation on the jpeg format. A walk is finally created with ffmpeg. Note that you will need to create a picture for each frame, so I symlink the new pictures to the old (see the script in the github repo). Final result :

Not very realistic, but it was surprisingly fast (compared to the mesh creation). Now, we only need a 3D engine !

Horde3D

Before going to Horde3D, I have tried Ogre. It looked awesome but was surprisingly difficult to install. On Debian, I managed to make it work only with the source. Another issue, ATI graphics card (like the one I have) are not well-supported.

So I turned to Horde3D. Lightweight and with some examples, it may not do everything you want, but it will do for me as a starting point.

To test that, I wanted to create a custom terrain. Horde3D will create any terrain you want if you provide a heightmap. You can use a grayscale image which will contain only the height and convert it with a script (see the official wiki). Or you can create the heightmap with the normals in the RGB format. In the end, I have created mathematically a hill (as a product of cosines) and used the python library PIL for reading/writing image files.