3D World

Cre­ate a me­dieval kitchen

Pi­etro Chio­varo shares his full work­flow for the cre­ation of a me­dieval kitchen us­ing Blender and Quixel

- Software Development · Software · Tech · Blender · Potomac Computer Systems

Pi­etro Chio­varo shows how to use Blender and Quixel Bridge to make a de­tailed in­te­rior

Pi­etro Chio­varo

Pi­etro is a free­lance 3D artist. An ex­pert in the cre­ation of game as­sets and en­vi­ron­ments, he is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing a new game. www.pietro­chio­varo.com

This me­dieval kitchen was cre­ated in just four days us­ing Blender 2.9, the new­est ver­sion of the soft­ware. Some as­sets and ma­te­ri­als were sourced from the Quixel Megas­cans li­brary, ex­ported thanks to the com­pan­ion app Quixel Bridge. Quixel Megas­cans is a mas­sive on­line scan li­brary of high-res­o­lu­tion, con­sis­tent PBR cal­i­brated sur­face, veg­e­ta­tion, and 3D scans, also in­clud­ing desk­top ap­pli­ca­tions for man­ag­ing, mix­ing, and ex­port­ing your down­loaded scan data. One of those is Bridge, the best so­lu­tion for ex­port­ing those mod­els.

In th­ese steps I will demon­strate the full work­flow be­hind this in­te­rior to help you cre­ate your own me­dieval kitchen and many other en­vi­ron­ments us­ing the Quixel tools.

Smart UV Project This script pro­jec­tion un­wraps the se­lected faces of a mesh, and it op­er­ates on all se­lected mesh ob­jects.

01 PLANIME­TRY AND BLOCK­OUT

Once you have a clear idea of the en­vi­ron­ment and lo­ca­tion, we’ll start with cre­at­ing a sim­ple planime­try of the room (the kitchen) and cre­ate a block­out of the scene. At the be­gin­ning I started with a rec­tan­gu­lar shape, and I cre­ated some win­dow holes, the door, and the chim­ney us­ing prim­i­tive geom­e­try such as cubes and planes. I de­cided to give an ‘L’ shape to the room planime­try to add dy­namism to the scene, and to en­able me to place ad­di­tional el­e­ments like wine bar­rels, here I cre­ated an­other door.

02 DOWN­LOAD AND IN­STALL QUIXEL BRIDGE

Once we have the base scene ready, we can start to search for props in Quixel Bridge, but be­fore that, we have to set up the soft­ware to be able to import those mod­els in Blender. The first step is to down­load and in­stall Quixel Bridge. You can cre­ate a new ac­count, sign in with your own, or with your Epic Games ac­count if you are go­ing to use th­ese mod­els for Un­real.

03 SET UP BRIDGE: PART 1

Once in Bridge, search through the ex­ten­sive Megas­cans li­brary for an as­set you want to ex­port. I made use of a range of dif­fer­ent as­sets to build up my me­dieval scene. Sim­ply se­lect the as­set you need and go to the Ex­port Set­tings in the side panel, then set the ap­pli­ca­tion to Blender. Click on Down­load Plu­gin, and once down­loaded copy the script with the path of the file.

04 IN­STALL THE PLU­GIN

Back in Blender, open the Pref­er­ences panel and go to Add-ons, then click on In­stall and paste the path of the script. Now we have to se­lect the Live Link plu­gin and click on ‘In­stall the add-on from file’. Once done, we have to en­able it by click­ing on the lit­tle square near to the plu­gin name. Save the pref­er­ences to avoid re­peat­ing this process any time we cre­ate a new project.

05 SET UP PLU­GIN IN BLENDER

Now the plu­gin is in­stalled and en­abled, so the only thing we have to do when we want to import props from the bridge is to ac­ti­vate the plu­gin for the cur­rent ses­sion. To do that we have to go to Import and click on Megas­cans Live Link. At this point, we are able to ex­port mod­els from Bridge, but be­fore start­ing to ex­port tons and tons of as­sets we have to set the qual­ity of the props.

06 QUIXEL BRIDGE

All of the as­sets in the Quixel li­brary have been cap­tured us­ing pho­togram­me­try, which means that ev­ery model is re­ally de­tailed, re­al­is­tic, and at the same time re­ally heavy to man­age. For­tu­nately, Quixel also pro­vides the mod­els op­ti­mized with dif­fer­ent lev­els of de­tails in terms of poly­gons and tex­ture res­o­lu­tion. For this rea­son, be­fore we can start to ex­port mod­els, we need to set the right qual­ity for our work­sta­tion – the num­ber of poly­gons and the tex­ture qual­ity is re­lated to our PC specs.

The Nishita sky tex­ture is one of the new fea­tures added in Blender 2.9. This new ‘sky type’ brings a pho­to­re­al­is­tic sky model that al­lows us to work with­out HDRIS. It's a great tool and re­ally user friendly, but un­for­tu­nately it is not im­ple­mented in Blender Eevee, and can only be used in Cy­cles.

07 SET UP BRIDGE: PART 2

Since I can’t pro­vide a value for ev­ery kind of ex­ist­ing work­sta­tion, I’m go­ing to share with you the val­ues that I found work best with most com­put­ers. So for the LOD res­o­lu­tion, I sug­gest you se­lect 4 or 5, while for the qual­ity of the tex­tures I sug­gest you set it to 2K. Here you can even se­lect the type of tex­tures that you want to down­load; per­son­ally I used the de­fault op­tion, but you can also down­load them in re­la­tion to the soft­ware in which you plan to use th­ese as­sets.

08 DOWN­LOAD AND EX­PORT AS­SETS

At this point we can start to down­load and ex­port all the as­sets we want to place in the scene. Any me­dieval ref­er­ences you col­lected be­fore start­ing the project will help to give you a clear idea of the el­e­ments you need to down­load. I down­loaded dif­fer­ent kinds of veg­eta­bles, fruits, wooden bot­tles, bar­rels, ta­bles, spoons, stones, bread, pots and other me­dieval tools to fill the scene.

09 CHECK THE AS­SETS

Once we have ex­ported all the as­sets, one im­por­tant step is to make some space in the 3D area to place all the im­ported as­sets, so that we can check all of them and fix the ma­te­ri­als or scale of the as­sets. This sim­ple step is re­ally im­por­tant, es­pe­cially be­fore fur­nish­ing the room, to make sure that ev­ery­thing is work­ing prop­erly and to check if any­thing is miss­ing.

10 UN­LEASH YOUR CRE­ATIV­ITY

In this part of the process it’s time to get cre­ative and use your in­te­rior de­sign skills, as we now have a kitchen to fill with all of th­ese props. Fol­low ref­er­ences of in­door me­dieval en­vi­ron­ments to help you with this. The only thing I did here was to se­lect the props im­ported and du­pli­cate them press­ing Shift+d. Some­times you may need to scale it a bit by press­ing the ‘S’ key on your key­board, and move the props to place them around the scene by press­ing ‘G’.

11 CRE­ATE THE MA­TE­RI­ALS

Once we have fin­ished with our in­te­rior de­sign, it is now time to set up the ma­te­ri­als of the room, the walls, floor tiles, chim­ney, and the other el­e­ments that we cre­ated in our ini­tial block­out.

In this next phase we have to de­cide which process to use; there are three main meth­ods for the cre­ation of ma­te­ri­als, which will be cov­ered in the next few steps.

12 METHOD 1: PRO­CE­DURAL

The first method is the cre­ation of ma­te­ri­als pro­ce­du­rally. This is ba­si­cally the same process that you would use in Sub­stance De­signer, so with noises, pat­terns and fil­ters, mixed to­gether to gen­er­ate shapes, re­flec­tions and tex­tures. This is a fun and in­no­va­tive process, but it does re­quire a lot of time and ex­pe­ri­ence to do it prop­erly.

Sky tex­ture

13 METHOD 2: TEX­TURES

The sec­ond method is to cre­ate the ma­te­ri­als of the room with the use of tex­tures like dif­fuse, rough­ness, metal­lic, nor­mals etc. There are many web­sites avail­able that of­fer great tex­tures for free – one of the most pop­u­lar is Tex­ture Haven, which of­fers free tex­tures li­censed as CC0, with no pay­walls, email forms or ac­count sys­tem needed.

14 METHOD 3: PHOTOSCANN­ED

The third method is the use of scanned ma­te­ri­als, which al­lows us to cre­ate ma­te­rial based on the real world for greater be­liev­abil­ity. In this case, one of the main sources of high-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als is once again Quixel Megas­cans, and as for the 3D props we im­ported, those ma­te­ri­als can be down­loaded and ex­ported in Blender in just a few clicks. All the ma­te­ri­als from Megas­cans are op­ti­mized for the most im­por­tant 3D soft­ware, and you just have to set the res­o­lu­tion and the soft­ware to ex­port to.

15 QUIXEL MEGAS­CANS MA­TE­RI­ALS

Since this tu­to­rial is fo­cused on the cre­ation of a me­dieval kitchen us­ing Blender and Quixel, I’ll take the ma­te­ri­als for the in­te­rior from Quixel Bridge. I looked for some con­crete, brick and tiles ma­te­ri­als that match the style of the project, and I set the res­o­lu­tion in re­la­tion to my work­sta­tion (in my case 4K tex­tures) and im­ported them in Blender. Be­fore ap­ply­ing the ma­te­ri­als to the mod­els I did a quick Un­wrap us­ing the Smart UV Project tool, and then I ap­plied the ma­te­rial to the chim­ney, the floor and the walls of the in­te­rior.

16 CRE­ATE A CHAN­DE­LIER

Once I was sat­is­fied with the re­sult, I baked the lights. Af­ter plac­ing some lights I re­alised that one im­por­tant el­e­ment was miss­ing from the scene, a chan­de­lier. Since it’s not avail­able in Bridge, we have to cre­ate it from scratch; so with the help of con­cepts and ref­er­ences, we can draw a sim­ple one and start the mod­el­ling process.

17 THE DE­SIGN

Early chan­de­liers in the me­dieval era were com­posed of two wooden planks used as can­dle hold­ers. For this project I de­cided to make it a bit more com­plex, like the ones used in the later years of this era, so I cre­ated a sim­ple iron hoop with eight arms (can­dle hold­ers), shaped by a cir­cle hang­ing on iron chains that have been mod­elled start­ing from a torus.

18 CHAN­DE­LIER MA­TE­RI­ALS

Re­gard­ing the ma­te­rial of the chan­de­lier, I used a dark brown iron, im­ported from Bridge, and ap­plied it to the model. Be­fore that I did a sim­ple UV map us­ing the Smart UV Project tool – this helps us to speed up the wrap­ping process. Then I just slightly in­creased the value of the metal­lic of the chan­de­lier shader; a good value is be­tween 0.700 and 0.900.

Real time in Blender 2.9 Thanks to the new Eevee ren­der en­gine, the gap be­tween off­line and real-time ren­der­ing has been filled. Now in Blender 2.9 the ac­cu­racy of the lights and shad­ows has been op­ti­mized and you can ren­der faster than be­fore, pre­serv­ing the qual­ity.

19 CAN­DLES

I ex­ported the can­dles from Bridge, and once in Blender, I in­creased the Sub­sur­face value of the ma­te­rial to make it re­act bet­ter to the lights that we will place in the fu­ture steps. An­other sim­ple method is to cre­ate the can­dles start­ing from a cylin­der and then cre­ate a sim­ple pro­ce­dural ma­te­rial for the wax. For wax, just set a colour for the dif­fuse and in­crease the Sub­sur­face value to 0.5.

20 LIGHT THE FLAMES

In or­der to com­plete the chan­de­lier, we just have to light the can­dles. An easy way is to use some al­pha images, so to do it we have to import an al­pha im­age of a flame. We can use the ‘Import images as plane’ func­tion and then se­lect the al­pha tex­ture we want to use. With this same process, we can add some de­cals on the walls like cracks, rust, and other dam­ages.

Open the Shader panel and change the ma­te­rial shader of the flame, and switch from dif­fuse to emis­sive.

21 ADD LIGHT­ING

Now the project is al­most done, so in this step, we are go­ing to place the lights and the HDRI map of the scene. For this me­dieval kitchen, I de­cided to use a few lights since my main goal is to cre­ate re­al­is­tic light­ing. So I used a point light for ev­ery can­dle in the scene, with­out chang­ing the val­ues, but se­lected a yel­low colour like the flame. I used a big­ger point light for the fireplace with a power value set to 700W, and one sun­light placed out­side the room with a strength value of 1.000.

22 HDRI

Re­gard­ing the HDRI, I used a sun­set im­age from my per­sonal li­brary and I set the in­ten­sity/strength to 1.000. You can find a lot of free HDRIS on the in­ter­net from places like HDRI Haven.

Con­sider also try­ing dif­fer­ent HDRIS to give a dif­fer­ent at­mos­phere to the scene, or use the new Sky Tex­ture avail­able in Blender 2.9, sim­ple and pow­er­ful.

23 REN­DER PROP­ER­TIES: PART 1

The ren­der en­gine I’m go­ing to use for this project is Eevee, Blender’s phys­i­cally based, real-time en­gine that is a bit less de­tailed then Cy­cles, but lets us ren­der an­i­ma­tions and images ten times faster.

A few tweaks in the ren­der en­gine’s set­tings will help us to im­prove the ren­der qual­ity and bridge the gap be­tween Eevee and Cy­cles.

24 REN­DER PROP­ER­TIES: PART 2

The three things we have to en­able in Eevee are Am­bi­ent Oc­clu­sion, Bloom and Screen Space Re­flec­tion. Ba­si­cally, all the de­fault val­ues work re­ally well, but my sug­ges­tion is to in­crease the Dis­tance of the Am­bi­ent Oc­clu­sion up to 1M (me­tre), as this way we can in­crease the oc­clu­sion ef­fect and the shadow of the props in the kitchen. Last but not least we can in­crease the value of the Thresh­old to 1.000. Af­ter that, we just have to press F12 and wait un­til the ren­der is com­plete! •

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