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Paintings, sketches, tutorials, videos, and art related DIY projects.
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First Computer Build!

Update

So I haven't been posting any videos for several reasons but mainly because my laptop's fan started making a lot of noise. It sounded like it was on the verge of dying, so I didn't want to leave anything rendering on it. Initially I just planned to replace it but the only place that could get me the right model gave me a ridiculous quote (like $60) for what was probably a third party $5 chinese fan and I didn't want to go through the trouble of importing it myself.

I thought, to hell with it, I'd rather save up and switch to a desktop, their parts are actually priced reasonably (by which I mean ~1.5 x US prices instead of 2-2.5 like nearly everything else, kill me) and it's easier to upgrade/repair. Also it's not like I move around as much as I used to when I bought the laptop. The only thing it really had going for it at this point was the battery because there's a lot of power outages where I live, but then battery started to die for the third time now, so even more reason to replace it. The only thing I'm sad about is that the 16GB RAM sticks I had ordered for it finally arrived (along with quite a few other art supplies and stuff I hope to be reviewing soon). I tested those for a while and I just cannot go back to just 8GBs anymore.

Parts

This is technically my first build. I have completely disassembled/reassembled laptops for cleaning/fixing, and I've changed parts on PCs, but never from scratch. I read up a bit before doing it, got stuck a few times with the cables, but all in all it was honestly the easiest part. If you've never built a PC there's plenty of videos showing you how to connect everything step by step, I won't even bother. I think it was harder to choose the parts and make sure they were all compatible and had what I needed more than anything else. There's websites like PC Parts Picker that can help you, but just because the parts are compatible doesn't mean that's they're best you can buy for the money or that all the parts are taking full advantage of each other.

Motherboard and CPU

A great example of that is the motherboard and the CPU. Sure you could get the cheapest motherboard that supports the cheapest CPU that meets your needs, but that probably wouldn't be the best idea.

For example, Intel's 7400 i5 is about the same price here as AMD's Ryzen 1500X. Before Ryzen, AMD vs Intel was a no-brainer, but now, Ryzen chips are better for the price at nearly everything except gaming. But supposing they were the same, that specific i5 (the cheapest) is also locked, while the Ryzen isn't which means it can be overclocked. And there's the plus that AMD doesn't plan to change the AM4 socket for 4 years (Intel changes their's every 2 years).

Here's where picking a motherboard can get tricky. Motherboards have three main compatibility criteria:

  • Form Factor - which just means the size (this only matters if you want a small case)
  • Socket - which has to match the CPU
  • Chipset - which is like the brain's of the motherboard and determines what the motherboard does/doesn't support in terms of overclocking, CrossFire/SLI (multiple graphics cards), and a few other things that usually aren't too important (e.g. max number of SATA and USB connections, RAID support, etc).

Ryzen Chipsets

Chipset A320 B350 X370
Overclocking No Yes Yes
Crossfire No Yes Yes
SLI No No Yes

As you can see to take advantage of the Ryzen 1500X and overclock it I needed to get at least the B350. The X370 is overkill for me because I won't be able to afford a 1070 (the minimum needed to SLI) anytime soon, let alone two, and looking at benchmarks a single 1080 still seems to do better than two 1070s.

I didn't even bother comparing the Intel chipsets because the difference between just a locked/unlocked i5 was much greater than the difference between the A320 and the B350 motherboards for the Ryzen.

After looking at several B350 motherboards I ended up going with a GA-AB350M-Gaming 3 because it was cheap and has a dual bios and bios flashes are always dangerous and I knew it was likely to need a few updates and I've had a motherboard die trying to upgrade the BIOS to support a new graphics card. It had some bad reviews, but most of them were complaining about problems with the BIOS and since it's fairly new that's to be expected. I updated and everything is working fine. It's best to do this manually through a USB btw instead of from within an OS through an app, check your motherboard for specific instructions.

I was able to overclock just fine. Also my RAM auto-overclocked itself to 2400MHz without having to enable X.M.P. or anything. More on that below.

Overclocking the CPU

I tried two different ways to overclock, through the BIOS and through AMD's Ryzen Master. I initially had the same problems with Ryzen Master. At one point it wouldn't reset to defaults, and even the defaults when applied felt a little bit different than the real defaults (after restart/uninstalling). So I went to the BIOS, disabled Core Performance Boost, Global C-State Controls, and Cool'n'Quiet as recommended and I got a stable (w/ 1 hour stress test) overclock at 3.8GHz @ 1.38V (+1.26 offset) with max temps of 67°C. I could get 3.9GHz but at 1.45V (+2.00 offset) with temps reaching 76°C, which I would not leave for long term use. Btw I used HWiNFO to get the voltage reading because it looked like the most accurate (and Ryzen would not read voltage when overclocked from the BIOS).

I then went to enable Global C-State Controls and Cool'n'Quiet again (not Core Performance Boost!) to see if I could get the CPU to downclock when idle. It was stable but it wouldn't lower the frequency, just the voltage, not sure what that means? So I switched back to using Ryzen Master because it downclocks properly. The only problem with it is it doesn't apply the overclock on startup, you have to apply it manually, it's not too much of a bother, it's kind of nice I can only turn it on if I know I'll need it.

RAM

Like I mentioned after trying 16GB I could not got back to 8GB. Photoshop especially can handle much larger canvases than it used to and now I can run 3-4 large programs and 20 Chrome tabs at the same time and have yet to reach 100%, it's great.

I got a single Kingston Fury DDR4 2400Mhz 16GB stick that "auto-overclocked" itself to 2400Mhz from the start (on the BIOS it came with, version F4). I say "auto-overclocked" because the advertized speed is already an overclock, it's like the speed it's been tested to be stable at, but some memories need to be manually enabled in the BIOS by enabling X.M.P. to run above 2133Mhz.

It should be possible to overclock it further, but I have not tried it yet.

Graphics Card

I got a 1050 Ti with 4GBof VRAM and I got the best one I could find, a Zotac OC edition with dual fans. I was tempted to get a 1060 3GB but I only I had enough money to "push" one thing (RAM, CPU, or GPU) and I chose RAM because of the reasons I said and also because any graphics card would be an improvement over what I was using. I reasoned if I found it lacking, I would then save up for something a lot better (at least the 6GB 1060).

In the video though I'm using an old 545 just because the graphics card hadn't arrived yet. I was going to sell it, but the 1050 Ti makes the screen freeze a bit when rendering because the Ryzen doesn't have built-in graphics, so I might just keep it to drive the display.

Power Supply

So the market here for power supplies is 90% cheap Senteys, then 18% were known brand names (Thermaltake, etc) but they were often overpriced for the quality of the PSU (look up Tier lists online). They were all Tier 4, which is better than an untiered unrated Sentey anyday, but it's usually recommended you get something better if you're overclocking.

There were no Tier 1 PSUs available, but there a few (2%) Tier 2 PSUs: Seasonic's (S12II and M12II) but they were 520W (Bronze rated, non-modular) and 620W (Bronze, modular) respectively, and for a little bit less than the 620W one there was an XFX XTR 650W which was Gold rated and modular. Although the computer doesn't need anything near even 500W, I got the XFX because it was the best value for the price and basically future proof. Unlike the graphics card which is easy to sell, I imagine it's a bit harder to sell a used PSU. Also, now that I might use both graphic's card, I'm even more glad I got it.

If you know nothing about Power Supplies, like I said, look at a Tier list and get the best you can afford. A basic White 80 Plus rating is a must, but that doesn't guarantee quality. The rating is just how power efficient the PSU is, though of course because you need better components to achieve better efficiency the higher ratings have some correlation with quality (if the PSU you find happens to not be tiered). Apart from quality though, it's good to get a high rating if you'll be leaving things to render overnight, etc.

Case

Much like with the PSU, 80% of the market is Sentey cases, with the rest being way overpriced because they tend to import the nicest brand name models. Unlike the PSU though there isn't as much of a problem going cheaper so long as you shop around, and I found this nice Sentey GS-6000 model that came with 4 fans (one of which is a huge 120mm side fan), a dust filter, an SD card reader, and 4 HDD bays for 3.5" and 2.5" drives. Ph and a fan controller, but I didn't use it.

Now it had it's problems, the frontal HDD fan didn't work (but I had everything built by then and couldn't care to replace it), and the HDD bays were badly designed. They did not fit 2.5" drives as advertised which is something I wanted because I have three 2.5" drives. Well technically they did fit, you can screw them in, but they're so far in, you can't connect them to the power supply or the data cables. I had to drill holes along the edge of the bracket, add masking tape where the circuitry touched the metal, and secure the back with masking tape as well.

But I was kind of expecting something to go wrong so I don't regret it. In the end it worked just fine. The drives have been fine with my fix, and apart from the SSD (which didn't need any masking tape or anything because it's all plastic), I will probably replace the drives for 3.5" drives in the future. I will replace that frontal fan someday when it needs cleaning, otherwise the other fans have worked great, they're nice and silent (compared to a cheaper Sentey case I've heard), there's good ventilation, and all the other buttons/connections/LEDs work.

Monitor

Lastly I want to take a moment to rant about monitors for a second. On my laptop I had a monitor that covered of the ~95% NTSC color gamut. The colors on it were great. As far as I know it's a TN panel and it's viewing angles are superb. I love it.

Now there aren't any affordable monitors here with a similar color gamut, so it was either a cheap TN or a cheap IPS, so I thought ok, I'll get an IPS, I heard they were great. Well I honestly don't understand how people can say that (well I can see it compared to a cheap TN panel, but not a good one).

I got an LG 24MP48HQ-P and at first I didn't notice the IPS glow. Something seemed off about the colors, the black and grays seemed off, I thought it was just a transition from a good monitor to an ok one, I kept fiddling with the settings and couldn't make it look right. Then I put it next to my monitor and I noticed the viewing angles were just awful. All the viewing angles were way worse because of the IPS glow. Even compared to other TN monitors around the house, even compared to the old Dell one I ended up using which has the worst viewing angles. Once I saw the glow I could not unsee the glow.

Now I do sit very close (~40cm) because that's what I'm used to and also I'm having some eye problems and that's the farthest I can see with my glasses, but the monitor needed at least a meter for the glow to go away which is a ridiculous distance and this was WITH ambient light. I don't know if higher quality monitors (like a Dell Ultrasharp) are better, but I still find reports about IPS glow for even expensive monitors, so I don't want to buy anything else without seeing it and here it's very rare for monitors to be on display for some reason and there are NO return policies. I have seen a few TN monitors on display but they were clearly bad quality. I'm stuck now trying to resell this thing and don't want to be stuck with another. There are a few AMVA panel monitors, but I can't find much info on how the blacks compare to a good TN panel, only how they're better than IPS, but how much better? If anybody knows I'd love to hear. It's either that or I'm considering getting the more expensive 144Hz TN monitors used for gaming because on reviews they seem to have decent viewing angles like my laptop's monitor.

Also anybody know why some TN monitors can achieve better viewing angles? I remember I used to own one of those convertible tablet PCs and the TN screen had horrible viewing angles, it was only 12" but if you didn't look at it dead on, the colors distorted A LOT. So when I was shopping for my laptop I made sure to get a screen that had good viewing angles and it did.

How to Export Models from Regard3D with Textures

If you saw my previous post/video about scanning objects into 3d models you'll know the current version of the program I used, Regard3D, has a bug with exporting objects with image textures.

The developer is aware of it and it should get fixed eventually, but in the meantime, a viewer sent me an email with a better workaround so I thought I'd go over it.

In the video I mentioned one way to get around it, and that is to use colored vertices, but as was pointed out to me, this creates much fuzzier textures at equal resolutions whereas an image texture will retain it's detail no matter the resolution of the model. I personally did not care about them so I didn't really investigate further, but the solution is embarrassingly simple if I would have thought about it more than two seconds.

We know the program saves everything as it creates it to the project directory and it can correctly make and read textured models from there so the files in the project folder must be fine, the bug occurs only when a model is exported.

Steps

So what we can do is once we created our surface model with image textures (Colorization Type should say Textures), instead of exporting it, note down it's path in our project tree. For the picture set, just count which it is from 0.

Project%20Tree%20in%20Regard%203D

Then open up the project folder in your computer and navigate to the path (e.g. Project Folder > pictureset_1 > matching_0 > triangulation_0 > densification_1 > surface_0). Once there you'll see a bunch of files. We need the obj file (our model), the mtl or material library file (tells programs where to look for the textures), and the texture images. Copy them manually wherever you wanted to export them to.

Project%20Tree%20in%20Regard%203D

Now we can import these into Blender (make sure your import extension for obj files is on) and they should work import automatically. If the textures aren't showing up just make sure you're using the Blender render engine and that you're in the texture view. This is how Blender imports them by default. To use them with a different rendering engine you'll have to connect the textures manually.

Pros & Cons

Colored Vertices Image Textures
Fuzzy Textures Detailed Textures
Smaller File Size at Same Detail Much Larger but...
Looks Much Worse at Low Resolutions* Same Texture Detail at Low Resolutions*
Computes Faster (2x +) Computes Slower (but again ^)
Duller/Less Reflective Captures more lighting artifacts.**

*This is because with colored vertices the amount of detail is tied to the amount of points, whereas with image textures, the texture is always the same resolution so it preserves it's details no matter the mesh's resolution.

This is why in the image below, even though we're at the same mesh resolution, the colored vertices make the texture look fuzzy.

Both%20at%20Depth%208

**By less reflective I mean that you don't get a lot of weird really light areas, especially if you had uneven lighting or scanned the model by turning it instead of turning the camera around the model. This causes lighting artifacts which are more noticeable when using image textures. I'm not 100% sure why that is, but it means using colored vertices might still be the better option if you don't care about the textures of your objects, just the color, and you want the scan to process faster.

For example, if you were scanning a smooth multi-colored toy, you'd need to add texture to it somehow like I did with this model by spraying it with ink. So you'd have to paint the model by hand anyways if you wanted textures, so you'd only really need a rough reference of the object's colors, image textures would be overkill.

Anyways, here are some more examples for comparison.

And here are some closeups, you can see how much detail the second one appears to hold even though the mesh is quite simple. If you have a keen eye you'll notice the textures aren't 100% the same, that's just because the program pieces them together slightly different at the different resolutions, but you can see the amount of detail is the same.

Other Notes

For those who might be wondering if it's possible to salvage the exported raw file, I did think it might be a simple bug, maybe an extra line or symbol or something that could be corrected by just editing the raw file, but the file is missing a lot of coordinates. Still I can open it in Meshlab and all the points are there, so if for some reason you lost all the files by this one, you could use the points to do the poisson surface reconstruction from there, though of course, you wouldn't be able to salvage the textures.

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Reference from mourguefile

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Reference (used under CC-BY license: Aquarelle marine 3 by E. D'Ascoli Photographies

How to Turn/Scan Objects Into 3D Models With Just a Camera

In this video I'll be showing you how you can turn almost any object into a 3D model with just your camera and some free software.

Now I'm not an expert at any of this. I've tried as best as possible to read through all the documentation, at least the parts I understand, and condense that into a video.

Also please note the cleanup process was aimed at getting it ready for sculpting. I know that people like to scan objects to then 3d print them, but I don't have a 3d printer, so you'll have to look somewhere else for the details on how to do that properly.

Lastly, I would love to share the project file so you can see what I tested but it's HUGE (15GB) and I'm not sharing the 3d model just yet because it's an original character of mine so I'm working on a generic version for practicing lighting the face, and I'll make that available to patreons when I finish it.

Regard3d + Tutorial/Documentation

Meshlab (I was using 1.3.4BETA)

Blender

If your object is particularly small I recommend you look at this part of the tutorial I wrote on magic lantern (you don't need it to apply the concepts descriped but it's helpful if you have an DSLR camera).

PS: To give you an idea of the type how long it might take on your computer, or what type of computer you need, I'm using a laptop with an Intel i5, 8GB of RAM, and a NVIDIA 650M GPU.

Polymer Clay Basics Part III

This is the third and last part of the polymer clay basics tutorial. I will be covering the different tools I use, blending clay, and doing some real time demonstrations. Because so much of this part is visual I won't be transcribing it to a post.

Polymer Clay Basics - Part II

This is part two of the polymer clay basics tutorial. See Part I here.

Armatures

My first tip is to use a sturdy bulked out armature that's a attached or can be easily attached to some sort of base. You do not want to try sculpting anything complex without an armature because you'll never find a place to grip it without ruining a different part.

For a figure you can run the main wires through the base of a piece of wood like this.

And on the top and bottom I used a special 2 part epoxy clay to secure it, more on that in a bit.

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Polymer Clay Softening Experiments

This is an extension of Polymer Clay Basics - Part I.

First & Second Test

I initially did a few rough experiments myself though with different substances. I only thought of a few things I had on hand (not baby oil), then I redid part of the test with the baby oil but I didn't bake it exactly the same (the first test you see in the pictures was slightly overcooked). So it was a bit of a mess but it told me that in a pinch you could use just about anything. At normal cooking temperatures there was very little difference in coloration. There were some differences in flexibility but Fimo is so flexible no piece broke from the bending.

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