Weighted Normal Modifier, interface for Face strength and Matcap

Hi everybody, Here is my first post on Devtalk. I am an hard surface modeler and up until today I wasn’t really interested in 2.8 as not everything was working as good a 2.79 from the modeling point of view.

So as Beta was available I decided to get an eyes on it. I decided not to adress all the changes that can be troublesome since too me since I am working with blender for almost 15 years now.

The mesh shading system since 2.4 was never quite clear to me, mostly because I couldn’t understand why do I have to activate auto smooth on every single one meshes, it should be a default features for meshes from my point of view (I read it was for performance issue).

Anyway I was looking for a way to replace Y.A.V.N.E plugin (a normal vertex editor) in 2.8 and noticed there was a new modifier called Weighted Normal,.I was quite happy but there is some problems with it in my opinion.

  • First of all I can’t see how it affect my shading (by shading i mean my normal flow) in edit mode… well that will be a problem for setting the normal weight (I don’t know if it’s a bug but that sure is troublesome)
  • In the Weighting Mode setting of the modifier there is no “all by hand” or “no automation” choices. That don’t give me full control over how my shading looks.
  • The face influence toggle of the modifier is affected by a face property called “Face strength” (wich i can set as strong medium or weak just like Y.A.V.N.E). But the way you set the face strength is quite tedious. You have to set the face strenght to the setting you want (in the “Normal” Menu near the “Mesh Option” Menu. ONLY THEN you can go in the mesh menu > normal > set strength (wich of course you add to your “Quick Favorites” tray

It is not in any way user friendly even the Y.A.V.N.E plug in have had a better UI. I can guess it is not a feature used by most users but it’s part of the control you want to have on your creation.

One last thing, compared to 2.79 the matcap display quite strangely. Flat face now have a kind of softness to them, indeed that looks good but I quite liked the hardness in 2.79 because it helped me looking for defect in my topology. I have find a way to go around by going in orthographic view.

I am really sorry that my first post on this website seems quite negative (i could have praised EEVEE or the performance improvement in the viewport or the great new features) but in a way that’s mean nothing really bothered me before ^^

Thank you all for your awesome job.

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The problem with the weight normal modifier is that in Blender2.79 (it had an experimental branch) it had a tab in t-shelf with all the parameters and tools clear for the user. But actually with the elimination of the T-shelf in Blender2.8 all the options have been put in menus that are really tedious.

I am the developer that took over maintaining these features after the summer student Rohan implemented them and put them into 2.8.

I agree that the UI for doing things is very tedious. As Alberto said, the UI was a little better when it was in 2,79 with a tool shelf section. But I’d really like to make some custom gizmo to edit these normals. Just didn’t have time yet.

I found that some of the shiny matcaps (especially the one that reflects a circle with a line through it) did a reasonable job of showing the effect of editing the normals on shading, Also you can turn on the vertex per-face normal display in Overlay (in Edit mode). Though that only works if you have already applied the Weighted Normal modifier, which I know isn’t a great solution for normal workflow.

But some options and tools are only usable from a panel, not in a gizmo. For example multiply/add/divide or change the weight of the faces.

Yeah, it will be tricky to figure out how to do some of those is a UI-friendly way.

I wondered: do people ever use the multiply/add/divide features?

You may or may not know that there are tedious ways to do each of these things right now in 2.8, using the widgets that show up in the Normals section of the Tools property panel (top tab on properties panels normally on right side). There’s a tricky multi-select-mode dance to specify exactly which normals to affect (which I hate). See the release notes for details.

All tools from normal weight modifier are important in some works. That tools were added because some users ask for it.

The only way to implement a similar way to use weighted normals is recover the normal tools in the sidebar.

Thank you both @Howard_Trickey @Alberto for your attention and your answers that made the problem quite clear. I must admit I am quite confused with 2.8 right now.