[Blender] DECALmachine: surface detailing using mesh decals

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MACHIN3 sublime tool

DECALmachine is a blender addon, which through mesh Decals , allows for surface detailing in a very non-committal, non-destructive, UV-less way. And as such, it represents an alternative approach to hard surface texturing.




Trailer (1.8)


DECALmachine works ONLY with Blender 2.80!

Features


Support

If you encounter errors with the addon, please follow the outlined process to get support.
This makes it a lot easier for me and will get your problem fixed faster as well.
Specifically, please don’t post errors messages in this thread. Reach out to me directly.

If you want to discuss using the addon or have questions, let’s do that here.


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Comments and questions appreciated!

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  • JoseConseco
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    JoseConseco greentooth
    Congratulations on new relase.  Looks like lots of work went into developing this  version and even though there is huge amount of options, it is really easy to use. 
  • Justo
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    Justo interpolator
    This is my first exposure to Decal Machine. I think I saw a cool video about it once before but had forgotten what this was.

    This is...interesting. Coming from a max/maya hard surface modeler, this blender+DMplugin combo looks fascinating and terrifyingly deep honestly. 

    So, the basic idea behind this would be to model out the big volumes, and then apply with this tool decals for panel lines and terciary details? I suppose the decals/floater cards are generated automatically by this? 

    For a game asset, we would need to bake all that floater info into textures inside only Blender, or is it possible to take the mesh and decals to other bakers, like say, Substance Designer's?  

    Anyway, mad good job on this :) 
  • Obscura
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    Obscura veteran polycounter
    @Justo you don't need to bake these. 
  • Justo
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    Justo interpolator
    @Obscura Could you elaborate Kristóf? I don't see how I wouldn't need so if I am to put this into a game engine.
  • Obscura
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    Obscura veteran polycounter
    Sure. Check out this thread:
    https://polycount.com/discussion/155894/decal-technique-from-star-citizen

    Basically, some games simply uses the decals as they are, without baking them down. This way things stays very high res for very little performance cost.
  • Justo
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    Justo interpolator
    I know about how to use decals to fake details - my question to Machine3 still stands. How exactly does this plugin integrate to a game workflow? I don't know enough about this plugin. His comment in the FAQs that baking is planned for 1.9 / 2.0 certainly leads me to believe bakinig isn't "not needed" as you say.

    Let's take the star citizen decal workflow approach for example. Correct me if I'm wrong Kristóf, but for that you (usually) need at least two materials:
    >your decal material, which often reads from an atlas full of the terciary details used for the floater cards + some shader setup inside the engine
    >and a simple tilable material, used for the main body of the asset. 
     
    How far into this finished state does the plugin take me? From what I gather, it is an awesome tool at placing decals and previewing in Blender's viewport a final target quickly and easily. Does it help in creating the decal atlas material in any way? Or any textures? Someone tell me if I'm speaking nonsense though. 
  • Obscura
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    Obscura veteran polycounter
    Now i see that I slightly misunderstood your question, sorry. I understood as you want to bake the decals into a unique texture. 
  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    1.8 does not have any tools to do the export/atlasing or baking of decals to normal maps. The following 1.9 and 2.0 releases will re-introduce these workflows.

    You can skim over the docs for the previous version and take a look at the exporting capabilities: https://machin3.io/DECALmachine/docs279/decal_export_basics/

    As @Obscura said, you can take these decals as is into your engine and use them there. The tool will pack the atlas for you.
    This is also what I'm going to do for my own needs.

    I've added baking of decals only due to popular demand, and I will re-add it for this new 2.80 version as well. This will then allow you to take the bakes into painter or similar and work on top of them.

    Take those 2.79 docs with a grain of salt please. I'm about to redo this completely and aim to simplify it a lot.


    or is it possible to take the mesh and decals to other bakers, like say, Substance Designer's? 
    I don't think that's possible unfortunately. I haven't used it in a while though.
    The baking of decals as supported by DECALmachine will happen directly in Blender.
  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    Congratulations on new relase.  Looks like lots of work went into developing this  version and even though there is huge amount of options, it is really easy to use. 
    Thanks mate!
  • Dash-POWER
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    Dash-POWER polycounter lvl 4
    Just amazing! I wish there would be similar tool for 3ds max with same level of insanity. Recently I made a "decal tool" for our art folks from work to make their life slightly easier but after seeing this... You raised the bar far above my experience with maxscript.
  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    Just amazing! I wish there would be similar tool for 3ds max with same level of insanity. Recently I made a "decal tool" for our art folks from work to make their life slightly easier but after seeing this... You raised the bar far above my experience with maxscript.
    Thanks, I appreciate it!

    If your tool makes your artists job easier, then that's a win, nice job!

    I think Blender's python API makes my job a lot easier than it is for other tools out there, although I have only really started scripting with Blender, so I can't know for sure. I like the API a lot and see it as major strength of Blender.
    Also, the very first version of DM was very different. 1.8 is just the latest evolution, after ~1.5 years :)
  • Justo
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    Justo interpolator
    the good vibes in me: The amount of work you've put into it is really commendable, excellent work :)
    the bad vibes in me: goddammit all these cool dudes making cool toys for cool blender stop making me want to pick up blender aaaa---
  • Ryusaki
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    Ryusaki polycounter lvl 3
    You should definitely pick up Blender as companion-tool when its 2.8 version is fully released, even if you are mainly a Max user. Especially if you are into hard-surface stuff. Max is very powerful, but if you use Blender augmented with plugins like MESHmachine, DECALmachine, Hardops and Boxcutter you will get incredible speed as return of investment.
    I went from being a slow modeler in Maya/C4d to someone who is slightly slower than Tor Frick in less than half a year.

  • Gustavo_Elliott
  • Electro
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    Electro polycounter lvl 14
    Yo, recent new DM customer here :)
    Placed a heap of decals and now up to needing them to batch into atlas(s) (one is info decals, other is subset)... I remember seeing a vid of it a while ago, but now found out it's only back in the old version. What can I do to get them all atlas'd and exported? Freaking out atm hopefully all this work isn't wasted!
  • Wesley
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    Wesley Polycount Sponsor
    Electro said:
    Yo, recent new DM customer here :)
    Placed a heap of decals and now up to needing them to batch into atlas(s) (one is info decals, other is subset)... I remember seeing a vid of it a while ago, but now found out it's only back in the old version. What can I do to get them all atlas'd and exported? Freaking out atm hopefully all this work isn't wasted!
    MACHIN3 said:
    1.8 does not have any tools to do the export/atlasing or baking of decals to normal maps. The following 1.9 and 2.0 releases will re-introduce these workflows. 

  • musashidan
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    musashidan insane polycounter
    Ryusaki said:
    You should definitely pick up Blender as companion-tool when its 2.8 version is fully released, even if you are mainly a Max user. Especially if you are into hard-surface stuff. Max is very powerful, but if you use Blender augmented with plugins like MESHmachine, DECALmachine, Hardops and Boxcutter you will get incredible speed as return of investment.
    I went from being a slow modeler in Maya/C4d to someone who is slightly slower than Tor Frick in less than half a year.

    I'm still on the fence even though I started learning 2.80 a few months back and had it down very quickly, I'm still not convinced on the speed aspect of modeling. Hardops/Boxcutter I already have in Max(Lazercut plugin) and Max's new Chamfer modifier blows all other DCC chamfering away. Also, I really miss Max's spline tools and Unwrapping and a few other tools in Max.

    I'm going to stick at learning and playing with 2.80 though as I imagine when it's officially out of beta and Textools and Speedflow(which is the main tool I am waiting for) are ported Blender will become ALOT more popular.

    Sorry to derail, DM looks fantastic, but not much use to my workflow until decals can be atlased to NM and exported in-game.
  • Electro
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    Electro polycounter lvl 14
    Wesley said:
    Electro said:
    Yo, recent new DM customer here :)
    Placed a heap of decals and now up to needing them to batch into atlas(s) (one is info decals, other is subset)... I remember seeing a vid of it a while ago, but now found out it's only back in the old version. What can I do to get them all atlas'd and exported? Freaking out atm hopefully all this work isn't wasted!
    MACHIN3 said:
    1.8 does not have any tools to do the export/atlasing or baking of decals to normal maps. The following 1.9 and 2.0 releases will re-introduce these workflows. 

    I know, I read the thread.. I was more-so pointing out that I'm new and ran into needing this feature pretty quickly so I was wondering how long to need to wait and work on some other assets in the meantime or what. Right now if I wanted to get them all in-game I would need to collapse all the decals, make my own atlas and shift all the uv's manually. Not an ideal workflow :\
  • Maddog4america
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    Maddog4america polycounter lvl 3
    Love your stuff man.   Been following since your first iteration.  Is there an uber list of all the great tools needed for blender, and tuts on getting them all up and running?    Time to convert!! 
  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    Thanks man, If you check out the DM addons video below, it touches on what I think are great tools. GroupPro and BatchOps are must haves IMO, if you do any kind of model creation. They focus on organization basically, keeping on top of scene complexity.

    HardOps is great too and BoxCutter is doing amazing things right now.
    I haven't done any serious art in 2 years now, so I will need do spend some time doing that again to evaluate where and how the updated Hardops and BoxCutter fit in my workflow now..


    Oh, also MACHIN3tools, but that's really a "made-for-myself" addon, more than anything. So may not suit everyone. But you can pick and choose exactly what you want from it and many people seem to like it.

    As for tutorials, I've only ever really watched this one. It's probably quite a bit outdated by now and only for 2.79 so far.

    If you are into rigging, there's also the Humane Rigging series on youtube. I've only watched the first few videos so war, but it got me up to speed quickly.
    There is also DanPro on youtube doing excellent (hard surface)rigging videos.

    Resist the temptation to go back to what you are familiar with. Give it at least a week, better two. Good luck.

  • m_asher
    @Maddog4america

    I'd recommend holding off on the big "workflow-changing" addons for the first while. Most of their value comes from how they change workflows, rather than how they create workflows, which means you'll get more out of them if you dive into the vanilla Blender experience first.

    I made the mistake of getting HardOps and Boxcutter before I really knew what I was doing with Blender, and I didn't really get my money's worth out of them until I made a conscious effort to learn Blender's boolean/hard surface workflow the 'old fashioned' way. I had a totally different experience when I picked up MeshMachine a few months later, though, because I had enough saddle time at that point to apply it immediately.

    That said, I would heavily recommend Pie Menu Editor to experienced modelers coming over from other software suites. It's a solid customization tool with tons of depth, and you can use it to recreate the quick convenience features of other addons or modeling programs. I like using it to build meta menus, listing out the useful (but hard to remember) operators from multiple addons in one place, and cleaning up keymap conflicts by turning overlapping keys into pie menus. 
  • MRRadioactiv
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    MRRadioactiv polycounter lvl 5
    I made a small decal pack for it. Check it out. https://gumroad.com/l/rVYzo

    coming soon: 

  • Electro
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    Electro polycounter lvl 14
    Any update on being able to atlas bake/export for game use?
  • RH2
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    RH2 polycounter lvl 5
    Waiting for baking options as well.  
  • benny350
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    benny350 polycounter lvl 10
    Is there news on this? Defeats the purpose of the tool if it cant be made game ready.
  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    If you look at my twitter or youtube, you can see I'm working constantly on this and my other tools. 

    I have now started working on the baking of decals for the 1.9 release. Atlasing will come in the 2.0 release.

    Please keep in mind that Blender 2.80 itself isn't even released yet, and until recently the API was constantly changing and breaking things. So have some patience.

    benny350 said:
    Is there news on this? Defeats the purpose of the tool if it cant be made game ready.
    This may surprise you, but many concept artists are using DM and have no need for exporting tools. 



  • akaChris
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    akaChris polycounter lvl 5
    Hi! Love your addons. made me switch to Blender (next to the fact that my loathing of 3dsmax and it's outdated and rotten core exceeded a certain threshold after over 17 years of working with it). Just one question, hoping not to come of as impatient: do you have a rough eta on when you are going to support newer builds of 2.8? (In the documentation it still recommends (Blender 2.80, f606f588455e (May 20th) and I haven't had any luck getting it to run with June/July daily builds. Also saw that you were working on supporting atlas textures as a feature which would be really much appreciated to optimize drawcalls in game engine use cases. (Our game heavily relies on decals but I scratched my custom maxscript spline based solution when I saw your blender implementation ;))

    keep up the great work! you rock :)
  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    akaChris said:
    do you have a rough eta on when you are going to support newer builds of 2.8? (In the documentation it still recommends (Blender 2.80, f606f588455e (May 20th) and I haven't had any luck getting it to run with June/July daily builds. 
    That is an oversight in the docs, I've released 1.8.6 just a few days ago, see https://machin3.io/DECALmachine/docs/changelog/ If you use a build from June 27th or a few days earlier you wil lbe fine.

    You should have emailed me immediately, when you can't run DM, and make sure to send me your error message, see https://machin3.io/DECALmachine/docs/faq/#get-support 
    I assure your DM has been working throughout June just fine.

    Unfortunatly, Blender just f*cked us again yesterday, and with any builds since June 28th, the asset loaders's aren't displaying icons, see 
  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    akaChris said:
     Also saw that you were working on supporting atlas textures as a feature which would be really much appreciated to optimize drawcalls in game engine use cases. (Our game heavily relies on decals but I scratched my custom maxscript spline based solution when I saw your blender implementation ;))
    Please email me at [email protected] with any info you have and can share on your decal/atlas workflow. Examples too, if you can share them.
    I'm going to start working on his soon, so now is a good time to influence what it will be able to do.
  • copenhagenjazz
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    copenhagenjazz polycounter lvl 10
    Something I would love support for is to be able to generate edge decals more easily. I would love to be able to have a bunch of edges selected and easily create a new object that is basically an L-shaped extrusion that is unwrapped out of the box. Creating edge decals today is a rather tedious job and it is especially sucky when you later have to change the underlying geometry for whatever reason.

    You probably know about this workflow already but here is an illustration; https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6UZf-R1MbsfaUVKZExSU3Vfb2M3a2JTcWRDWmVnaS1PUXRJ 

    What I would normally do is in max is to duplicate the object I want to make decals for, extrude my selection of edges with a height of 0 and width of whatever width I want my decals to have, inverse select faces and delete unneeded faces, clean up edge geom, unwrap by unfolding from edge, and setting it to a single smoothing group. This is a very tedious workflow and one I would not miss if it could be made any simpler.

    Also, bonus request in regards to the unwrap; it would be nice if there was an unwrap setting where you could choose to split the UWs along the originating edge and also set it to hard. Often I would opt to bake it with a hard edge and split it in the UVs to avoid too much gradient in the bakes.

    Hope you will consider my suggestion :)


  • akaChris
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    akaChris polycounter lvl 5
    That is an oversight in the docs, I've released 1.8.6 just a few days ago, see https://machin3.io/DECALmachine/docs/changelog/ If you use a build from June 27th or a few days earlier you wil lbe fine.

    You should have emailed me immediately, when you can't run DM, and make sure to send me your error message, see https://machin3.io/DECALmachine/docs/faq/#get-support 
    I assure your DM has been working throughout June just fine.


    thats great to hear. knowing this made me investigate my problem more closely (previously just focused on learning all the other blender aspects). Found out that the error I get when doing a slice on 2 intersecting cubes comes from the simple fact that I had "Render: Cycles Render Engine" deactivated under Add-ons as I assumed I wouldn't need it since I don't plan on rendering anything. However with that disabled I get this error:

    ...
    in finish_panel_decal
        panel.cycles_visibility.shadow = False
    AttributeError: 'Object' object has no attribute 'cycles_visibility'
    ...

    Didn't bother to report it as I was under the impression that I wasn't using a supported version :) Can be scratched up as a user error tho :)

    Will try to get you some info about our atlas texture workflow over the next coming days.


  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    Preview of Baking Decals


    All you have to do is pick one or multiple objects with UVs and Decals and hit Bake.
    There is an option to automatically preview any or all of the main texture maps (Color, Normal, AO, Subset Mask) directly on your objects.
    You can then also easily restore the original state of the materials again.

    Note, that his does not actually bake the object colors/materials. It only bakes the decals themselves.


    akaChris said:

    I had "Render: Cycles Render Engine" deactivated
    I see. I'm gonna say it's highly unusual and uncommon to deactivate the only real renderer in Blender, esp since there's is no downside to leaving it enabled. And so am not going to bother preventing that error :)



  • pior
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    pior insane polycounter
    Impressive stuff as usual @MACHIN3 ! Can't wait to try it out.

  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    To celebrate one week of of Blender 2.80, I’m doing a flash sale on gumroad right now. 
    You can grab DECALmachine for 30% off for a limted time enjoy! Supercharge what Blender can do for you :)
  • Justo
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    Justo interpolator
    Purchased! Super curious to understand this plugin. There's just still so much to learn..
  • Menchen
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    Menchen polycounter lvl 2
    Wonderful, just like always!

    Besides baking, what are your plans for game engine exports (in the FAQ of your documentation it says you have it planned por 2.0), wondering what your solution to that problem is.
  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    Mainly atlasing, which I had already working for the 2.79 builds, but will redo and improve on. I will also look into using existing trimsheets.
  • frmdbl
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    frmdbl interpolator
    Hey @MACHIN3 ,

    Ok, I see the export options seem to be gone in the 2.8 verions.

    Either way I have a question.
    There one thing I'd like to be able to do with the DECALmachine,

    I'd like to configure one decal atlas that can be used over several .blend files, possibly one that can be adjusted.
    Now, when I tried making atlases in older versions of DM it made an atlas for a given group or object if I remember correctly.

    The problem is when I created an atlas within one file for say a part of a building, I moved on to another file I had no way of using that atlas.
    I'd have to create another one, that would most likely have a different UV layout  etc., for rendering it wouldn't be a problem, but I don't want multiple redundant atlases in UE4.

    Hope I explained it clearly enough.
    I just can't think how I can work around this. What do you think?

  • MRRadioactiv
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    MRRadioactiv polycounter lvl 5

    I made a second Decal Pack for it! (WIP)

    https://gumroad.com/l/gXSaS 




    There is also a free pack for “numbers”: https://gumroad.com/l/dFfFz 10

    I hope you enjoy it! smiley

  • Justo
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    Justo interpolator
    Can DECALMachine be used as a library to contain meshes with materials? Dare I say, a kitbash library browser, that would store my own meshes and materials? Or are there perhaps other alternatives more oriented towards this? 
  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    Check out Asset Management. I haven't used it in 2.80 yet, so I'm not sure what the state is. From what I've seen on twitter,  the 2.80 version brings awesome improvements though.

    Also, if you have just a a dozen or so materials, MACHIN3tools' Save PIe can append materials stored in a single blend file.
  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool


    I have uploaded a demo scene (8 MB), for anybody curious about DECALmachine
    Existing customers are welcome to take a look as well of course :)
  • Justo
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    Justo interpolator
    MACHIN3 said:
    Check out Asset Management. I haven't used it in 2.80 yet, so I'm not sure what the state is. From what I've seen on twitter,  the 2.80 version brings awesome improvements though.

    Also, if you have just a a dozen or so materials, MACHIN3tools' Save PIe can append materials stored in a single blend file.
    Thank you for taking the time to answer Machine. Your suggestion about MACHIN3tools was exactly what I was looking for! I also found out now about File>Append, but I'll be using your tools instead. Congratulations on making such a ridiculously useful and easy to understand tool.
  • MRRadioactiv
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    MRRadioactiv polycounter lvl 5
    I made a Letter Pack for decalmachine: https://gumroad.com/l/ejUWl


    https://gumroad.com/l/ejUWl

    A discount is current available! Use “hardopsfan” to get it.
  • copenhagenjazz
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    copenhagenjazz polycounter lvl 10
    @MACHIN3 Not sure I posed my suggestion well enough. Basically what I am after is a function that allows me to create L-shaped edge decals easily to support the workflow described here; http://https//www.artstation.com/artwork/l3wwa 
    This is an awesome way to add fidelity to edges and a workflow that would perfectly compliment the existing DecalMachine
  • Justo
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    Justo interpolator
    Totally agree with @copenhagenjazz , I'm not very knowledgeable still on this plugin, but edge decals sound like they're well within this addon's field of focus. Of course, being able to bake those decals down to export to game engines or substance apps comes first in my book...
  • MACHIN3
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    MACHIN3 sublime tool
    It's not really a focus of mine right now. I may look into it after the 2.0 release. It requires a new decal type, that much is clear already.
  • copenhagenjazz
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    copenhagenjazz polycounter lvl 10
    Thanks for your reply MACHIN3 :) You are doing a great job on this!
  • armagon
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    armagon polycounter lvl 8
    I'm using this to create modular walls and it's great! However, I'm getting tons of smaller quads on top of my wall mesh (which is just a plane). Is there a way to bake them in, so I get a single texture?
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