The main trend of the development of our engine in the recent month has been the transition to the physically correct rendering system known as PBR, which is widely used in modern real-time graphics. A major advantage of this technology is the easiness of creating and implementing photo-real materials that correctly interact with scene lighting.
Our main concern is giving 3D artists means to work with Blend4Web projects using familiar, native tools. Our goal is to move beyond Blender pipeline and to step by step unify our project, opening it for the users of Max/Maya/C4D as well as CAD systems.
The upcoming release of Blend4Web engine is slated to bring a little revolution in the material and rendering workflow. Soon enough Blender will get a major update in the form of Eeevee PBR viewport and its new material system (which, without a doubt, we will directly support). These new materials are set up in Cycles mode. Now, you can export your Cycles scenes to a web browser and use them for real-time graphics!
Yes, we are stating to support the Principled BSDF ubernode! From now on, you can forget about convoluted node trees and baking cubemap. On the other hand, if you are preparing materials in Cycles, you won’t need to switch rendering modes to apply your textures to models for export.
Moreover, Environment Textures applied in Cycles can now be exported to web browsers. They also work in GI mode, correctly generating reflections on shiny surfaces.
It is no secret that a texture and material artist accustomed to modern texturing software can find Blender Internal pipeline rather difficult to use. It, however, will not be completely fazed out, as we will continue to support it in the near future. Cycles renderer, on the other hand, will go forth to become powerful and fast solution for ray-trace visualization of video game assets. This is made possible by the introduction of the Principled BSDF ubershader. With it, Blender becomes a convenient tool for Unity and Unreal developers. We, for our part, have added a Fast Preview button, enabling Cycles ubershader to work in web browsers.
It should be mentioned that support for the PBR stack of the Principled BSDF node will be added gradually. At the moment, Blend4Web supports Roughness, Metallic and Specular inputs, while AO and Normal Map can be plugged in using standard Cycles means. This is already enough to create lifelike materials for metals, wood, plastics, cloth, leather and even landscapes. Rendering parameters, postprocessing effects, logic and everything else you might need to set up a scene is still available in the Blend4Web rendering mode. Materials, however, can now be built entirely in Cycles.
Developer Preview for the new release will be out soon enough, and we would greatly appreciate any constructive feedback from our users. We recommend using tech-related models such as vehicles, buildings or weapons for testing purposes.
Testing texture assets imported from software like Substance Painter, Substance Designer or Quixel would be appreciated just as much. And let’s not forget about Dust Maps and weathering effects, i.e. artistic devices used to make an object appear older by imitating small defects, abrasions, sputters, paint splinterings and many other types of marks that environmental factors leave on any surface.
If you are a Cycles enthusiast, we welcome you with open arms. And don’t forget to bring your friends who use other 3D software! The testing will be open as soon as Developer Preview gets released, and the time is drawing on.