Exploring 3D

There are a number of ways in which Project Dogwaffle has added 3D capabilities. Some in PD Howler, some also in PD Artist. In many examples, we've also focused on making it fast, by porting some of it to the GPU, i.e. your graphics card or chip. Here are a few. Some can be described as somewhat easier, beginning level tools to add a 3D'ish effect. Others are rather advanced in what they can do:

Beginning level 3D

Advanced 3D:

and there are of course more in either category. If you find one that isn't well documented yet and you're struggling with how to use some of its parameters or options, please don't hesitate to contact us. We'll be happy to make a new paragraph and/or tutorial if needed.

Here is a video posted on YouTube that walks you through several of these, based on PD Howler 9.1.


Keep also in mind that the 3D Designer filter went purely ballistic when it received a tremendous push with more features for landscape designs with sediments and erosion and clouds, as seen in the release of version 9.5. You can see many such features mentioned here: http://www.thebest3d.com/howler/9/what-is-new-in-the-Howler-9.5_Purely_Ballistic.html

Transform > 3D Perspective (Filter AND Timeline)

Perhaps you'll find this tool mentioned in another category, under general review of Transform filters. The same goes for the Spherize tool. In both cases, we wanted to list them here for sure again, since these tools tend to be of interest when some types of 3D illustrations or animations are done.

The 3D Perspective tool is found amongst the Transform filters. It lets you work from the current image, and turn or swivel it around the horizontal or vertical axes, adding a strong perspective look to it. You can also have the image tiled endlessly so that to keeps repeating into deep space. Plus, you can apply a shift transform to the original image. Essentially, it's like a u,v texture address shift.

This filter is also available in the Timeline editor, so you can keyframe and thus vary the amount of rotation or shifting over time. This can be used to create very cool 3D titling effects, such as intros that disappear into space.

Here is a tutorial video that, amongst other things, also shows the use of animated 3D Perspective with the Timeline editor.


Stylize > Lighting tool (Filter)

The lighting tool can be used to shed some light on a texture and make it look even more interesting, perhaps by giving it a more embossed, 3D appearance.

More details on its options coming soon. For now, look for tutorials in our YouTube channel.

For example, here is a video that covers a few newly enhanced 3D features, including the Lighting tool, as seen in v8:  https://youtu.be/SpgDkL400i8

There are also some in our older staigerman channel. For example:  https://youtu.be/IjlpfC-wLGY

Animated > Starry Night (Filter)

This tool can ve used to create a starry background. The stars can apear as tiny dots or larger spots, or they can be rendered with more sophistication, including the Lens flares module.  It can be static or animated, with motion that makes you fly past the stars or into the stars.

More details coming soon. For now, enjoy this example:

Animated > Tunnel (Filter)

With the tunnel filter, we essentially take the existing image and wrap it on the inside of a cylinder, and place you to the inside of that cylindrical tunnel. The tunnel moves in or out, and it can also turn along the long axis.

It works best when used with an image that is square shaped, and particularly for 512x512 pixels.

More detai ls coming soon.

Transform > Spherize (Filter AND Timeline)

This will wrap the current image onto a sphere and add some lighting and other effects to help in making it look like a planet, globe or otherwise textured sphere.

There is a Spherize tool in the Transform category of Filters. There is a Spherize tool in the Timeline editor too, so if the terrain is animated, the texture on the Sphere may appear in motion too. This can be used for example to make it look like a spnning sphere, or to show animated weather systems like storms with huricanes and lightning on a wild planet.

More details coming soon.

Transform > Wireframe Designer

Before 3D Designer, there was Wireframe designer. As of v9.6, it is still visible in the Timeline editor. You might have fun with it in creating some retro-graphics look, such as a wireframe gizmo you could imagine seeing in an arcade video game from the 70's.

More details coming soon.

Transform > Puppy Ray Raytracer (Filter)

Puppy Ray is a ray tracing filter. It comes in two versions: one runs on the CPU like the rest of the software. Another, faster version runs on the GPU. You won't be able to use that version on WIndows XP, and it probably also will have difficulty on Windows Vista. If you're on Windows XP, even running the CPU-based version needs a special dll. Get it from the downlaods area. For the GPU version to run well, you need a good graphics card or graphics chip, and drivers that use it ell. It is likely that you can find these for Windows 7, 8 or above.

The GPU version and the CPU version have essentially the same or almost same functionality, but the CPU version will run it usually fast enough that you can use it in real time, interactively rendering the full frames, not just the small preview.

What can you use Puppy ray for?

It is basically using your current image as an elevation map, and renders a landscape from it that is tiled endlessly, or at least far enough that it disppears in the distant fog. You can adjust the fog distance, but essentially, you're looking at endless terrain.

Of course, to make it look good, you'll want that elevation map, i.e. your current image, to be seamless.

While the elevation map is generated from your current main image, there is also coloration of the terrain, coming from the Swap image. If the swap image is blank (white), then of course you won't have a visible colration added - it wll be colorized by other items, such as the color of the light source, the color of the surrounding skies if enabled, the color of fog etc...


Puppy Ray from Howler 9.0 - First there was the CPU version

The first release of Howler that included Puppy Ray was version 9.0. That version only came with the GPU-based implementation. It may have evolved some more since then, so here is what it looks like when you launch the GPU version in v9.6:

Your nitial interface may look a bit like this, for the GPU version:

  1. Preview with interactive interface: At the top, you see a preview area of the current 3D scene. It is interactive. Use the mouse with the left button in there, to drag and move the position of the camera. The right button may also have an effect, such as to move the camera up into the air or down low to the ground and below.
  2. There are a few icons below the preview that let you switch to other controls. The second one from the left controls the camera angle. Try that and drag the mouse again inside the interactive preview. There is also an icon to switch to controlling the position of the light source. And two more icons for changing the position and scale of the world, instead of the camera.
  3. The menu belowthese icons is for setting the rendering quality. Note that it has minimal effect on the preview. This is for the final rendering, as seen in item 6
  4. Several colored boxes can be used to change the color of the light, the shadowsand the sky.
  5. To the right of that you'll also see a 'Skies' menu. It only affects the scene' rendering if Global Illumination is enabled. There are a few presets for skies, and you can also select one that is the curret Custom Brush image. You can change the amount of global illumination as well, essentially its intensity.
  6. When you're ready to render the image, click Raytrace. Warning: this can take a long time with slow computers or very high rendering quality. We recommend that you do a quick test at one of the preview settings (menu in item 3). A final render can take minutes, depending on the situation. Even hours in extreme cases.
  7. One of the very interesting controls is the amount of Prefiltering.  When pushed to the max (1.0), you tend to et very smooth surfaces. When you bring it down to zero, each pixel from the elevation map remains visible as a block square in the rendered scene.
  8. There are other options and controls. Click the More... button to see them.

Here are a few examples.

Rendering with Global illumination enabled:  using 'High' rendering qualuty, but not Final rendering. Note that there is final rendering level and one that's even beyond. In the GPU version it is 'final final'. In the CPU version, it is called 'hours would seem like days'.

When you re-enter the Puppy ray module, it remembers the most recently used parameters. So you can try alternate settings. But of course, it works from whatever the current image is, so be sure to have the original image stored and restore it before re-entering Puppy Ray.

Here is one with no light source (Intensity = 0) but just a little more Global Illumination. The image used for the G.I. is that of a sunset scene, so there is a lot of red tonality showing in the terrain too. the terrain scale is enhanced too, and the fog is closer, so you don't see too far.

Notice in this case that we have already created an image in the current main Image buffer, and it is seamless. It is a simple plasma noise from the filter: Render > Plasma noise

In the example below, the Prefilter level is at zero. We also disabled Interpolation, which is accessible in the addition controls when clicking 'More...'.

This results in a sharp, crisp blocky appearance.

Puppy Ray on GPU - much faster!

As mentioned earlier, there are two versions of Puppy Ray. The GPU-bsed version was added in Howler 9.1. It will easily be the preferred one to use if you have a good graphics card. In rare cases, the CPU version may be recommended though, such as when you try to render something with such high quality settings like level of antialiasing and ray tracing counts that the GPU appears to be locked up too long, in which case WIndows may decide that it appears dead and stuck, and it may reset your driver. Bummer. It was just taking too long to render. Be careful with high end settings, if they are too high end for your system.

More details will be coming soon For now, enjoy some examples:  https://youtu.be/cEXTwkhgY7M

Transform > 3D Designer  (Filter AND Timeline)

This tool has evolved over the years. An early version was called the Wireframe designer, but it was replaced with the 3D Designer when more realistic features were added. Wireframe Designer still exists in the Timeline editor. The 3D Designer is visible both in Filters and Timeline, under the Transform category.

Since version 9.5, 3D Designer includes support for raytraced shadows from lightsource 1, as well as erosion and sediments on the terrain. Like Puppy Ray, 3D Designer works from the current main image to interpret it as an elevation map. It also can use coloration coming from the Swap image.

The 3D Designer is particularly intended for creating nice landscapes with mountains containing a mix of rocks and snow. To discover the many features added in PD Howler 9.5, start here:


To get started, make sure there's already a current image loaded. 3D Designer will work from that image to turn it into some form of 3D. If that image is an elevation map, you'll see some great landscapes.

If it is a text string or logo, you'll see some 3D rendition of it.

Remember: dark is low elevation, bright is high elevation.

3D Designer has gone through a lot of growth and new features sin v8 and v9. In version 8, it started to use the GPU. You can use it to quickly make some fancy 3D logos, or fly through landscapes with valleys, hills, canyons and tall mountain peaks. Some parts are still rendered on CPU, such as the clouds that were added in 9.5. Over time, you might see further changes to make it more responsive and interactively intuitive to use, but we feel that this is already a pretty powerful module of Dogwaffle. PD Artist 9.6 has it too, but without the clouds, since that's part of the animated Particle Modeler. In PD Howler 9.5 and beyond, you can also find 3D Designer in the TImeline, this keyframing some of the parameters uch as viewing postion and angles. You can use this to briskly fly through a canyon or over a landscape.

Here are just a few examples worth exploring to learn more:

A Trailer, developed for our launch on Steam. A lot of focus in this video is on tools that may appeal to game developers:


A tutorial series: The River Canyon. This contains dozens of tutorials on the many aspects of using 3D Designer to make a river canyon, and related content.


Animated> Particle Modeler

The Particle modeler lets you create clouds that appear to be volumetric, and they have some rather sophisticated animation features too.

More details coming soon. For now, enjoy this video.

Intro to cloud modeling and animation - part1 - https://youtu.be/Va2_Ly7ptiE