toaster oven

toaster oven

Behold my first portfolio piece! It is a Black & Decker toaster oven that resides in my kitchen.

This is a significant improvement to a previous iteration I created using Maya, with which I am less proficient than I am with Blender, my preferred tool. The Maya version is little more than a UV mapped box. This improved version has more complete modelling and much more sophisticated texturing.

toaster oven old reference
reference image for my first attempt

What went well

I’m really happy with the textures, which are mostly procedural. I hand drew the gunk on the top and inside of the oven, and I used these images to affect the color, metallic, and bump properties of the respective materials. The brushed aluminum base is just scaled noise with a color ramp.

toaster oven top
gunk affects the metallic property, among others
toaster oven interior
burned out heating filament at the top of the interior

The tray came out really well because I was able to photograph it on my back deck; no hand drawing there.

I also photographed the grill. Getting my camera to focus on metal wiring was a chore, and I aborted my UV mapping effort in favor of stenciling the photograph onto the model, which began as meta objects that I converted to a mesh and decimated to reduce the poly count.

toaster oven grill
gunk photographed and stenciled onto the model

Areas for improvement

You might note from the reference image that the toaster oven is actually separate parts bolted together. I modeled it as one piece and tried to add the separation lines as bump maps; the result wasn’t convincing. Then I tried modifying the model, but that was more effort than I wanted to expend at that point.

Ditto for the vents and heat sinks on the back and sides. Those probably wouldn’t be too hard to add, but I was ready to move on to something else.

My biggest lesson learned is that procedural textures significantly increase the render time. I theoretically knew this–it’s why games generally used baked textures–but rendering out over 2,000 frames with 3m45s or more per frame, rather than about 45 seconds, was painful. My fairly robust desktop machine ran for over three days to complete the rendering task using Blender’s Cycles ray tracing renderer.

For future animations, I will bake textures or use Eevee, Blender’s real time renderer.

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