(If I follow the anonymous advice I was just given, that title will probably make more sense next week…)
Nailed it. And by it, I mean the technical difficulties I was having with my spec power, that I didn’t make a big enough deal about for anyone to know about because they fell in the middle of the week when I didn’t really have anything to show except technical difficulties. Apparently, UDK wants a Specular Power value far in excess of 1, and, when I plugged in just the grayscale map, I was giving it values somewhere between 0 and 1.
I couldn’t figure out why I was generating these jagged highlights that just basically looked like they were using the Spec map for diffuse (and I kinda wish I had screengrabbed them, just because it was a cool effect, even if it was tear-your-hair-out frustrating when I couldn’t figure it out). After enough looking at UDK’s own materials (not immediately helpful because I didn’t see a single Spec Power map) and trying to track down explanations of how Spec Power worked, I eventually noticed the trend that all the ones I was seeing were somewhere between 10 and 100. So, once I figured out that I needed to think of my grays as numerical values (0.2, 0.8 etc.), and suddenly the Multiply node made perfect sense! I wasn’t looking at a pure white map. I was looking at a bunch of splotches of 10-times-whiter-than-white, 40-times-whiter-than-white, and so on (shut up. This is a big realization for me). And then I had myself some metal getting tight highlights, just like I wanted, some polished wood getting almost-as-tight highlights, and some cloth and leather getting much softer highlights.
So, done, right?
Ehh… much as I’d like to be, probably not. Of course, it would happen while I’m high on the sensation of finally getting it right and hitting up my blog for the first time in a week, ready to post the “I’m done. Moving on to something more fun,” post, I see a critical comment making the dreaded “You should probably start over” suggestion. And this one has the gall to be straight, to the point, and not feel like the author is going out of his or her way to insult me, my education, and all those other anonymous things that Anonymous said so anonymously whenever the Hell that was (Last year? Longer? Blog time is so far removed from real time the way I’ve used this blog over the years).
And yeah, my sculpt didn’t exactly turn out great. I was so psyched to just have Mudbox doing what I wanted it to that I settled for not making sure I was using that awesome power to attempt to create an accurate simulacrum of what I was looking at. I spent so much time frakking around trying to just get my Spec and Spec power to behave that I’m sure I let the textures suffer in other areas, and I know there’s some proportions that are all wrong (the feet are too wide, for one) that have been bugging me ever since I erroneously called the model “done”. I think I may have to actually take the advice this time. I mean, I did say I was going to stick around until I got it right (wait… I only thought I said that? I could’ve said “to Hell with this” any time, but didn’t? Ah crap, well, I’m saying it now. No sense rushing it and being able to proudly declare I spent more than a month modeling a simple prop, but not doing it very well), and I don’t know what “fun thing” I was going to do after this, so I might as well say that this time, I’ll bite the bullet, go back to square 1-ish, and make a better product this time around, closer to my reference, and with a Hell of a lot less procrastination and a little bit more knowing-what-the-Hell-I’m-doing. Maybe I’ll even go completely mad and say that I’ll put some time into lighting that actually shows off the asset and putting it in a room that kinda makes sense instead of just a mishmash of Unreal materials.
After all, I might as well at least try to please my one apparent reader…