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You may have encountered it: you built a nice model in LDD, but it looks surreal because it lacks decorations on e.g. the minifigs. This tutorial is here to help you with that. In this little tutorial, I will try to explain how you can enhance the POV-Ray renders of your LDD models with custom decorations. You can design entirely new figures for example, or you can apply the decorations that aren’t available in LDD. My example in this tutorial will be a stormtrooper minifig. This figure lacks all decoration in LDD, and is commonly used in digital Star Wars builds. It gives me the opportunity to explain how to decorate surfaces that aren’t directly accessible in LDD, how to fit custom decals and explain the general principles. This method doesn’t involve any hacking and doesn’t require any sick programming skills (although the custom decorations might need your artistic talents…). And the best of all: all programs I use here are entirely free! I’ll be using Lego Digital Designer, LDD2POV-Ray, POV-Ray and Inkscape. So let’s get started! Decorate the target pieces in LDD LDD2POV-Ray, the program that will eventually place your custom decorations, can only replace already applied decorations. So firstly, you need to give the pieces you want to decorate a replacement decoration in LDD. Make sure to use different decorations for each surface, so that you later can keep track of which filler to replace with which substitute. Also, taking a screenshot for reference is not a bad idea to support your memory. But wait a minute… Some parts don’t allow for any decorations at all in LDD! Minifig torso’s are not a problem at all, but things like helmets are a whole different story. But luckily, there is an easy way to apply decorations that will work in most cases (no guarantees though!). You have to export your .lxf file to the LXFML format (File -> Export Model). This .lxfml file is actually a textual representation of your model. Among others, it contains a list with the placed parts, including their color(s) and decoration(s). To find your part, use the search function (Ctrl + F / Cmd + F) and type in: in which you replace 30408 (the designID of the storm trooper helmet in this example) with the designID of the part you desperately want to decorate. You can find this ID by clicking on the part in LDD and looking at the bottom left corner. If multiple of these parts are available, you can give the specific part a different color and check for the one that says materials=”26” in which you replace 26 with the number of the color you used (you can find this number by hovering over the color in the color menu in LDD). The key part is then to change the part that says decorations=”0,0,0” in which the amount of zeros dictates the amount of surfaces that you can decorate. If the line isn’t present at all, you’re out of luck and won’t be able to decorate your part. Otherwise, replace the zeros with valid decoration ID’s. It’s best to take decorations that are square and detailed (I will explain why later), so I suggest using the decorations of the 2x2 flat tiles. You can find these ID’s by placing some of these decorated tiles in your model, and check in the LXFML file what number is filled in in the decorations line of those parts. To make it easier for you, here are some handy decoration ID’s you can use: 73023, 63708, 99825, 55350, 63404, 601245 Then, save your file, and open it with LDD. You’ll see your parts are looking very ugly with those random decorations, but you’ll be happy to have decorations. You can copy these parts to a ‘normal’ .lxf file, and get rid of the parts you used to find the decoration numbers. Now we can move on to step 2! 2. Open your model with LDD2POV-Ray LDD2POV-Ray is a program that converts your LDD model into a file that can be rendered with POV-Ray, a ray tracer that simulates the behaviour of real light to simulate a realistic effect. You can set lighting etc, but more importantly, you can set your own decorations. To do this, go to the “Decorations” tab, and check the box “Use custom decorations”. A list will appear at the bottom, showing all the decorations you used. Clicking on them will reveal a thumbnail. Now you’ll be happy that you used different decorations to know which is which. You’ll notice that the decorations (unless they are square) are a bit stretched out. That’s because the program only accepts square decorations. So to load your own decorations, you’ll have to make sure they are square. Otherwise, they won’t cover the whole area you intended. If you already have your decorations (you found them on one of the indexes of the customisation forum here, for example), you can skip to step 4. Otherwise, I’ll give a brief account on how to make your own decorations in step 3. 3. Create your own decorations Personally, I make my decorations with Inkscape. It’s an easy to use vector based program. That means you can easily create very clean, smooth and crisp shapes. I’ll leave it to others to educate you in this nice software, but I’ll show you some general strategies to make accurate decorations. When working on complex curved shapes, like the storm trooper helmet, you won’t know for certain how your image will be mapped to the surface. That’s when the screenshot you took comes in handily. Because you have used decorations with a lot of detail (if you’ve been following properly!), you can easily see how the image is deformed and placed on the surface. You can identify the regions where you want your details to come, look to what part of the placed decoration it corresponds, see what it looks like in its flat state (you can see this in the thumbnail in LDD2POV-Ray), and place your detail in the according place. So in the example of the storm trooper helmet, you can see that the mouth should somewhere at the center of the graph. LDD2POV-Ray shows that that graph is a bit above the, so now you know you have to place the mouth around the center of your decal. When you’ve finished your decoration, you have to make sure your decoration is square. This will most certainly occur when you’re designing decorations for minifig torsos. If you leave it in its actual proportions and plug it in LDD2POV-Ray, you’ll see that the image doesn’t fill the whole area, compared to the stretched out decoration you have to replace. So you resize your decoration. In Inkscape, simply go to the top, where you can enter dimensions. Then you go to File -> Export Bitmap and a dialogue box will pop up. Make sure to select ‘from selection’, and that the amount of pixels of your image is high enough. Otherwise it will look pixelated in the render. Finally, chose .png as file format, and remove the background color of your decoration. Because it might look like the right color in Inkscape, but in your render it will look like the decal has a different color than the body, which isn’t what you wanted. So now you have your parts temporarily decorated, and you got your custom decorations ready. So time to replace them and render them. 4. Render your decorated model Firstly, you have to load your new decorations in LDD2POV-Ray. There are multiple ways to do this, but the easiest method is to select the decoration you want to replace and then click on the empty canvas. A window will pop up to allow you to select your decoration. Just select it. Repeat for the other decorations, making sure you replace the right decoration with the right replacement (that screenshot will come in handy now, especially since you can’t have both LDD and LDD2POV-Ray open at the same time at this moment!). Then you can fiddle around with different settings like lighting etc. For test renders I suggest to place in the first tab the slider on the lowest positions: ‘LDD geometry’. This will result in slightly less good, but much faster renders, allowing you to quickly get feedback about your decorations, so that you can adjust placement and proportions. For flat parts this won’t be necessary, but it can help for curved parts. That’s why I included the TIE pilot in the render. You can see the ensignas are slightly deformed. That’s not my intention, but I already predeformed the circles in the decal, so that it looks more or less round on the surface. You’ll have to experiment a lot with these ones. Anyway, when you're satisfied and feel the need for a more glamorous render, you can turn 'render with visible bevels' on in the slider bar, and wait for some time. You'll get something like this. Hopefully now you know all about rendering your custom minifigs, making your models more realistic. I hope to see some around! Anyway: happy rendering of your minifigs! If anyone is interested in downloading the decorations I designed for the stormtrooper (for now without back printing) and the TIE pilot (torso printing already present in LDD), have a look at this page. Hope you've found this useful.
Kolonialbeamter posted a topic in LEGO Digital Designer and other digital toolsHello everyone, I'm sitting on a couple of large lxf-files that I'd like to create a single rendered image of. More specifically, I created a baseplate that I saved as one file, then continued to create a building (so in relation those two should be 'in place', if that matters) that I saved as another file. Each is around 37.000 bricks, so there's no way to consider the import game... Question now is, is it possible to use LDD2POV-Ray and POV-Ray to create a single rendered image of the two parts combined? And if so, could somebody explain to me, how? I remember reading something about merging them by copy/pasting the POV-Ray scene data... I just have no idea how that works. Another thing I stumbled upon was this idea by bbqqq. Any help on this would be very much appreciated :) Best regards