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Searching for a doable workflow

I am trying to develop a workflow in which I can create assets in AD (macOS or iOS), export them as SVG, and import them into Blender for animation. I have discovered, after quite a few failed attempts over the course of many months, that this is not as straight-forward as one would imagine.

Breakthrough

Yesterday, I stumbled across an old post that turned out to be a breakthrough for me. Apparently, while exporting the assets out of AD, a specific setting must be unchecked, as shared by @Dave Harris here:

After playing around with the different settings, I settled upon the following combo that seems to work relatively well:

855471491_Capto_Capture2018-07-14_02-05-25_PM.thumb.jpg.865b179453abea7c9dd30f4e5bb5c317.jpg

This did indeed allow me to get them into Blender, colors and all. However, I did discover another problem.

A New Challenge

Here is an admittedly silly little project that I created in AD a while, just for fun:

1074602222_Capto_Capture2018-07-14_02-19-07_PM.thumb.jpg.3a5d7236776a9105795c9cd81174c8a7.jpg

And this is what I got when I import it into Blender (after rearranging the layers for visibility):

343418759_Capto_Capture2018-07-14_02-24-51_PM.thumb.jpg.4d5b2e9f17c8cecaec39a5a44b850f72.jpg

As soon as I saw this, my response was, "Ah yes, it did exactly what I told it to do, even if it was not what I had expected. Duhhh..." ;)

What I want to do

What I would like to do is to get each of the letters of our names into Blender so I can extrude them into 3D objects and animate them - that is simple enough. But I also want the colors of each letter to go along with them - not so simple.

Is there a way that this can be done? It seems that I will need to flatten out or convert the layer masks to something else before exporting them to SVG. This is where I am stumped.

Finally... Kudos for the iPad app!

I purchased the iPad app the very moment I received the email. The dev team really outdid themselves with this, big time! I truly enjoy using the Mac app for working, but I am actually LOVING it! :17_heart_eyes:

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Edit: Finally, I'm doing a post below, as in case someone already did try to follow this mess, it'd be better if would fully read the fixed version down below. It is still messy, as being in a hurry and expanding too much, not very good for the purpose, but the OP seems initiated in Blender, so, might be a breeze for him to follow.


Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo licenses, Windows 7, i7  860 (2009) 2.8 GHz,  8 GB RAM, GTX 1050 2 GB, HD 7200 RPM.  Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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I'm still trying to get my head around Blender, its a super cool app. Would like to see the end result of this "silly little project" always interested in what peoples effort produces.


iMac 27" Late 2015 Fully Loaded, iMac 27" Mid 2011 both running High Sierra 10.13.6 - Affinity Designer/Photo, Publisher Beta 1.7.0.140, Illustrator CC, Inkscape, Blender, Sketchup, Pepakura Designer, MTC, Pixelmator & Pixelmator Pro + more... XP-Pen Artist-22E, - iPad Pro 12.9 B|  

Affinity Help - Affinity Desktop Tutorials Instagram & Flickr - Affinity Live 19th June 2019

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oopps...sorry.... I made quite a disordered explanation.... too fast, and no typo reviewing...gonna fix (and quite expand it, sorry) now...

 

And yep, Blender is great... used it seriously -before was only a slight hobby- since 2002. And probably only till 2.28c I thought it'd never be able to allow me making the stuff I used to make in Max at companies. I've done quite a bunch professional gigs with it, in recent years, till now. Is very, very capable. :)


Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo licenses, Windows 7, i7  860 (2009) 2.8 GHz,  8 GB RAM, GTX 1050 2 GB, HD 7200 RPM.  Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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So, improved version below

My advice :

Having saved of course a full source file as a safety measure, use a duplicated file and  :  Delete all internal content/designs, in the interior of the letters and hearts, remove all what is not silhouette, contours, general shapes border I mean. Only the external borders stay.

Take each letter, hearts too, and if are in the form of "text", convert to paths/curves, or at least do mark in the export dialog "export text as curves" (you have it unchecked in that screenshot).

With those internal designs deleted (so you only have mere flat shapes), export this as a svg. It will be your shapes object once imported into Blender, and then will convert it to mesh/object.

Now in A. Designer, close the file you were working on, and re-open your full original design which you show firstly up there. Export it in a quite high resolution (dunno, maybe 4.000 pixels wide) , as a bitmap, probably as a PNG, as is lossless and very well supported by Blender (even transparency ! Tho u don't need it, if uv-mapping later correctly). This will be your global texture in Blender. In games, and other media, is also a good way of optimizing: Using a full texture for all objects (as I understood you need to separate the thing into several objects)

Import in Blender this "contours" SVG. I don't remember the steps, as I never do, it flows naturally when I'm in Blender, lol, but I think you'd just import there the svg (but you seem to be familiar at least already with Blender), select the imported thing (tip, you can hit a pair of keys to center on object ("." in numeric pad, I believe) and zoom-scale to object, I just don't remember, now, it becomes natural after 10 minutes am back in a Blender session, lol. I say this as sometimes it exports a file in a very tiny or huge scale, and u see nothing, believing it did not import a thing : It did, usually. This tip solves it. ) in the 3D viewport, convert these curves to mesh, then just extrude (select the mesh, TAB key(gets u into edit mode for that object), select faces, "e" key to extrude). Do any mesh operation that you'd desire. For example, rotate the mesh so that it can be read perfectly from top (rotate in 90º steps till you get it so. In the axes needed. Be accurate, is important)

[ Tip: You can handle Blender a lot with keys (I was an avid flight simulators gamer, but also, worked with shortcuts at companies with every app, all my life, as is 500% faster), as is best, but these days, 2.79 and incoming 2.8 can be handled much more with just the mouse and menus (contextual and not). This I guess is done for newcomers. Also, somethings are faster by the UI, of course. 2.8 will have even a fully newcomers mode, so the typical unfair "fame" of the Blender UI will disappear  . But of course, I'll keep using the advanced mode, obviously. ]

You can then simply apply a planar top UV mapping (UV map ("u" key from UV window, having selected the mesh in the 3D window, being in edit (tab), faces mode, and selecting the specific faces to be uvmapped) "FROM VIEW" , having the 3D view in top view (7 key ), of course), maybe then refine the extruded walls' UV mapping (the walls resulting from extrusion),  and move these faces in the UV window to a free area in the texture (UV) space, so that you can paint it later on, inside Blender, or in an external editor : you can indeed export the "UV template" (is a depiction of the mesh wires unwrapped, without the textured pixels, even as vectors, if I remember well), set in a new file at Affinity  AP / AD as an overlay layer (probably multiply mode as best), and paint on a below layer the texture in A. Photo or A. Designer (pixel persona or the default UI ), that's at your desire. Still in AD/AP,  you can later on hide the UV wires template layer, and export as PNG the actual modified texture. Maybe with the same name (ie: loved_ones.png ), so you only need to hit "reload" the texture in Blender's UV window, as you could keep doing back and force painting in AP/AD as you refine more and more the texture.  This one is too simple, but a hyper realistic rusted barrel would need it :D .  

Indeed, this is the way a ton of people refine the texturing in 3D. These days, 3D painting directly onto the model is much more heavily used, let alone with the super advanced Allegorithmic's tools (Substance Painter and Designer), but to texture sth for any 3D project, specially, animation related like this, you don't necessarily need all that (it is ideal for texturing, though). Blender has now even a PBR (Physically-Based Rendering , is what the acronym means.... it just kind of ensures a realistic look, but in this case, totally unneeded) material to use and enjoy, so, unless one is into professional game art workflows, Blender alone is even enough to texture anything, by 2D or 3D painting. I just end up always exporting to a 2D packages as gives a ton of control over fine tuning the texture. Gives increased freedom and capabilities.  So, there is where AD and AP would help, not only for the initial design and getting the shapes and main texture. 

And so, you would have your 3D version of the design. It is waaay simpler to do it (maybe the whole project in 5 minutes) than this explanation makes it look like. Also because I expand too much in several areas, but hey, is free knowledge !

Now, for your real purpose, the actual real reason you are wanting to import it into blender, if you want to animate (you do) the letters independently, do the following : Select the object, in edit mode (tab),  select one vertex of one letter, then you can hit ctr + L to select only mesh connected (or use the menu option for it) vertices, edges and faces,  so it selects only the letter. Or easier/faster, just set a top view (7 key numeric pad), in wireframe mode (z), "b" key to select marquee, as it will get the full letter inside the rectangle selection, back faces included, as is wireframe mode (wouldn't do so in default solid mode), and as your letters are quite separated, is super fast to select.   Then again if I remember well, p to separate selected part , tab again to exit edit mode. Do so with every letter, maybe selecting top view (depends on how it imported, or how you rotated the object later). There are a number of ways for texturing these letters, but one useful could be to sharing the global texture (your entire design as shown up there) for all letter objects -using your 4k texture-full-design in the image/uv window-  and go doing the UV coords there for each object, each now separated letter-object. Surely using "from view" in a perfect top view (7 key), and proportionally scaling the top UV coords of each letter to match the letter in the texture, to the size and position in the global design texture (ie, position and scale the letter A uv coords to fit the A key in the texture-full design, to those pixels in the texture.

Once you have all objects UV coords forcing the letters to have the right texture content, you are ready to go and start animating those letters, even using physics simulations (that'd require an entire tutorial from me alone :D ), particles, smoke, wind, zoom effects, camera travelling, etc....And/or just basic 3D animation. I think there's now new stuff to render fast and noise-free in Blender Cycles (my favorite way to render), dunno if in latest 2.79 or in some preview builds of the so much ground breaking incoming 2.8. I've seen rendered tests and test data/benchmark and I'm fully impressed with this improvement.  If not, you can render always with the internal renderer, or exporting to external renderers. With 2.8, you will even be able to do GPU rendering. I don't see myself using that for production (it gives production quality, but not for absolutely all fields/purposes, yet, and a lot depends on your graphic card's quality), but totally rocks to use it in the viewport, while working on your scene.


Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo licenses, Windows 7, i7  860 (2009) 2.8 GHz,  8 GB RAM, GTX 1050 2 GB, HD 7200 RPM.  Wacom Intuos 4 XL.

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