Back in 2009
I wanted to create a mathematically perfect 3D football with blender
I created a script that selected vertices before subdividing in the hope that then extruding and scaling those would create the hexagons.
Did you ever notice that footballs are not just hexagons ?
Still it did create this nice android wallpaper
Fast forward to last month and I was heavily involved with The world Cup Map
a silverlight azure bing maps HD video experience that is currently linked too from the bbc world cup home page.
Being a large silverlight application it needed its own loading screen, we opted for a bouncing football. If we had had time I would have created and all dancing XAML ball, but due to time constraints we went with a stock image.
I wondered how easy it would be to blender
up a nice football and went in search of flat image maps on google
After a fair amount of searching I found a grand total of ... One
Slight problem was it was 128x128 pixels, not very detailed.
Inkscape to the rescue. I set the image as the background and over a few nights created a full vector based impression of the ball map, being very careful to retain the gaps between cells.
I then had lots of back-and-forth from inkscape - gimp - blender
making sure all the edges were in the correct place, this took a substantial amount of time.
Finally I had a perfectly mapped football in blender
but, I wanted more, more detail to be precise.
First attempt was bump mapping which fakes 3D, the results were not good, so I looked at the displacement modifier
This creates real 3D topology in your mesh based on differences in the pixels in your Texture.
In Gimp I used the gradient fill (shaped) too convert all the hard lines into soft grey scale ones and applied a blur.
The displacement modifier
needs a lot of blur or you get striking differences in height.
It got a bit messy here, but using gimp and the UV editor I managed to get the map to sit correctly and give the correct appearance.
From there I just added a quick random bump map to give the leathery appearance.
Download the 2.4mb blend file from blendswap
it contains the high-res color map and displacement map.
Watch on YouTube
Production images are on flickr
Image maps were 2.5kx2.5k and the high-res image on flickr is
1024x1024 - where can I host the real high-res images ?
High resolution images are now hosted at DeviantArt