Hardware index

What kind of hardware and software you need is based on the target resolution and which kind of workflow you want to use. Here are some general suggestions:

Camera

The resolution and sharpness of the photos is obviously a huge factor, it is essentially the upper limit for the quality of your materials. You should therefore use a decent DSLR, SLR or something similar whenever possible. But there is no need to worry if you don’t have access to these kinds of cameras. Technology is catching up rapidly (although it must be noted that most smartphone post-processing algorithms don’t help you as much for texture creation as they do for normal photography) and Allegorithmic even released a blog post focused on smartphone-based texture creation. At the moment I shoot all textures on a Nikon D5100 with a stock 18-105mm lens which I trigger using a simple IR Remote from Amazon Basics or an app called ”DSLR Remote”. Triggering the camera this way is especially convenient if it is not on a comfortable height on the tripod. It also eliminates another source of blur as I don’t have to touch the camera while taking a picture.

If you are using a zoom lens make sure its focal length doesn’t change. It can happen very slowly over time due to the movement of the tripod and if it goes uncaught it can make processing more difficult, if it keeps happening just add some duct tape to the side of your lens. It looks dodgy but it helps to keep things consistent.

Tripod or Monopod

Textures are best shot on a tripod as the reduced blur and the constant distance simplifies the reconstruction and increases texture quality. This applies to all workflows. For floors this does not present a special challenge as you can just move the tripod by a few centimeters between every shot. Walls, however, can be quite challenging when using a tripod, because regardless of whether you place it on the ground and move it in parallel to the wall or lift it up and lean its feet against the wall - you will either end up having to do a lot of adjustments on the tripod to which can be tricky if the ground is uneven or you will get sore arms from holding it up against the wall. For that reason I recommend using a monopod (single-legged tripod) for walls instead. It combines the best of both worlds: You can lean against the wall for sharpness, but without constant adjustments and without getting sore arms.

Remote Control for the Camera

Many cameras offer remote control functionality in one way or the other. This is particularly useful for the Multi-Angle workflow where the camera must not be moved at all because you don't have to touch it in order to press the shutter button. Older camera use infrared which has the advantage of being cheap but can quickly fail if your remote doesn't have a line of sight to the camera's infrared sensor. Many newer models offer remote control via Bluetooth or Wifi with the aid of either a dedicated remote or a smartphone. This works more reliable once it has been set up, but it's generally more expensive and can be annoying to pair.

Polarization Filter + Polarization Foil

If you have a strong light source attached to your camera you can drastically increase your texture quality by applying a combination of a polarized filter to your lens and a special polarization foil to your light source. I followed the excellent tutorial by ”Classy Dog Studios” when building my setup. The foil mentioned in the video can be purchased online via ebay (I found that more convenient than ordering on polarization.com), a fitting lens filter is easy to find on amazon.

Light Table

Light tables are normally used by architects or illustrators. They provide a uniformly lit surface which can be used to capture the translucency of leaves or fabrics. You can also use a sufficiently large tablet PC with a white screen app (or just a white picture loaded onto it). (Image by andreas160578/Pixabay)

List of my current tools

Cameras Nikon Z50 / Nikon D5100
Lenses NIKKOR 60mm Macro / NIKKOR 15-105mm
Light Nanguang Luxpad 23
Polarization filter Hoya 67mm HD Digital Circualre Polarizing Screw-in Filter
Tripod Rollei C6i Carbon
Computer AMD Ryzen 7 2700X / 64GB RAM / Nvidia GTX 1080ti



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