Commonly Ignored Feature #16: Randomize Transform

Ever wanted to randomly position a bunch of objects? Of course you have, and like me, you probably resorted to using Proportional Edit’s random falloff. Such cavemen we are. Or maybe it’s just me.

Turns out, there’s a function just for this, and it’s been around for years.


What does it do? Yep, you guessed it! It randomizes the transforms!

When you click it, it may seem like it doesn’t do anything. This is simply because the default settings are all on 0, so you just need to press F6 to show all the options.

Cycles Gets Sphere and Tube Mapping

Sergey Sharybin added sphere and tube mapping options to the image node yesterday:

[12ccac6] Cycles: Support sphere mapping for the image texture

[dda3554] Cycles: Support tube projection for images

This way Cycles finally becomes feature-full on image projections compared to Blender Internal and Gooseberry Project Team could finally finish the movie.

What is it?

Just the same mapping types we’ve had in BI for years ;)

Sphere mapping allows us, for example, to painlessly map a texture of the Earth onto a sphere without needing to do any UV mapping.

How do I use it?

Simply change the projection method on you image node from Flat to Sphere or Tube, and probably you’ll want to use generated coordinates.

Commonly Ignored Feature #15: Depth picker


Ok, so this isn’t actually a “commonly ignored” feature as such because it was only added yesterday, but it’s the sort of feature that may be forgotten in future so I thought I’d give it some attention :)

Committed by Campbell (3d503ea):

UI: Eyedropper for view-depth

Currently this is mainly useful for picking camera DOF depth.

  • EKey over a distance field prompts you to pick a depth from the camera.
  • WKey (Specials menu) to pick from the 3D view (when the active camera’s selected).

Since it was only added yesterday, you’ll need to get a build off, or follow Gaia’s excellent build-it-yourself guide for windows (which I did the other day, it’s so easy). Or, you know, wait until 2.74 comes out.

What is it?

Just a little tool that lets you pick the distance for the camera depth of field :)

How do I use it?

There are two ways:

  1. Hover over the ‘Distance’ property of your camera, press E (just like you normally would to pick colours and values), and then click anywhere in the viewport to select the distance from that point to the camera as the DoF distance.
  2. While looking through the camera, open up the Specials menu with W, and choose “DOF Distance (Pick)”, then click in the viewport to pick that point’s distance.

If you click and drag (like I did in that gif), it’ll sample the average of all the points you moved your mouse over (not the last one!)

Adaptive Samples is Coming!

Check it out!

A patch for adaptive stopping and sample distribution has been made off the massive metropolis sampling patch, so I’m guessing that sometime in the next few releases we’ll see it merged to master :)

What is all this you ask? To quote from the patch:

Adaptive stopping: For every tile, the remaining error is estimated after a certain number of samples … Once the error is below the threshold, the tile is stopped. In case the maximum amount of samples per tile is reached, the tile stops as well, even if the threshold is not reached yet. This does not affect the individual pixels in the tile, that’s what adaptive distribution is for.

Adaptive distribution: If this option is enabled, the samples inside every tile are also distributed accordingly to noise levels. Once the warmup interval is over, an importance map is generated and samples are drawn from it (this happens on the CPU even for GPU rendering). This helps mainly for big tiles (usually >32×32) with different levels of noise, for example, at the edge between scene and background.

In retrospect, the name for this blog was a pretty terrible idea.