Making Of / 11 May 2019

Material Study: Woven Bamboo Fence

I was looking for some kind of weave pattern to recreate in Substance Designer and ended up with this reference.
My goal with this project was to get the weaving working in a way that was flexible to edit through parameters and get close to the main reference.

To get a better understanding of the material I started to search for more reference and quickly found the site that sells these type of fences.
The site also showed the fence from multiple angles and variations which was really helpful.
Additionally I looked up more general information like the anatomy of bamboo and how these fences were constructed and came across some interesting sources which I will link below, if you want to take a look into it.
Through the pdf I discovered that the fence in the main reference was a variation on the Otsu type fence and was constructed out of pieces of split bamboo.

Bamboo Fence Shop Page
Bamboo Anatomy
Bamboo Fences (Pdf Download)

For the weaving pattern I tried out multiple things but ended on this setup based on gradients run through a Tile Sampler.
1. I started off with a Gradient Linear 2 that I altered with a Curve node to get the main shape for one of the bamboo pieces, with the Levels node I bring the height values closer to each other by toning the high white and black values down to make the range less extreme.
2. The pieces of bamboo were not completely flat, to simulate this I Multiplied a Gradient Linear 2 set to 90° on top of the main piece with a low opacity. I added a bit of noise variation to the masks of the blends, that way it doesn't curve perfectly all across the piece. It's very subtle but adding all these subtle layers on top helps to sell the piece.
3. In the Tile Sampler is where most of the heavy lifting is done, I put the X Amount to 22 and the Y Amount to 1, this stretches the Pattern across the whole Y axis. In the Size settings I adjust the Scale to 1 and the X Size to 0.53(this value determines the gaps in between the pieces). In the Position settings I set the Offset to 0.5 with the Type set to vertical quincux and the Global Offset to 0.25 on X and 0.5 on Y to line it up with the reference. Lastly I adjusted the Pattern Input Filtering to Bilinear, this gets rid of the Mipping that got added to the pattern when input.
4. Now that one of the Samplers is done, I add a tiny bit of Slope Blur at Min(these are very low values like 0.003, again it's about adding subtle detail)  for some edge damage and Blur to smooth the falloff of the piece a bit.
After this I just duplicated this part and changed the second Tile Sampler's Global Offset of the X axis to -25. The reason for using two Samplers instead of just one, is that the pattern in the reference has two pieces of split bamboo next to each other, this way I'm able to adjust various parameters by linking them to each other as long as the Global Offset stays the way they are.
5. For the horizontal pieces I used a similar approach however here I added two pieces together in the same shape as these were farther apart from each other so certain effects like the Directional Warp later wouldn't make it look wonky. With the Curve node I added a little ridge in in the middle of the pieces as seen in the reference. The Curve node makes this really easy to do as you can control the values to have the highest point dip in which is in the middle of the Gradient Linear 2.
6. This Tile Sampler is setup similar to the ones before, here with a X Amount of 1 and Y Amount of 6, Size of 1 on the X and 0.3 on the Y and a Scale of 1. The Global Offset on Y was changed to 0.5 to align with other parts to form the weave.
7. Here I used a Directional Warp at a low Intensity to break up the straight look these pieces have.
8. This is the part where all the previous made parts are blended together with Height Blends, the first one is between the first set of vertical pieces and the horizontal ones with the settings of Height Offset set to 0.72, Contrast to 1 and a Balanced Height Mode. The second Blend is between the second set of vertical pieces and the previous blend with the Height Offset set to 0.5.
This concludes the main pattern, from here on I layer subtle details on top of each other and finish off with creating the other maps.
Height Process Gif
I'm happy how the project turned out. It was really interesting to read up on bamboo, how it's getting used and how it behaves.
I got more familiar with setting up parameters to create variations and I enjoyed the albedo creation a lot more for this one, since that's an area where I still struggle at to get right.
I want to thank the people of The DiNusty Empire Discord community, their amazing feedback helped me push this piece forward.

The final result can be found Here on ArtStation

Feedback is as always greatly appreciated!

- Martin