The blog is being migrated and merged with multiple Imphenzia blogs so the format and content will be inconsistent for a while.

How Do I Promote My Music Online?

Composing music is something I really enjoy doing but for me it is also very important that my music is being listened to and enjoyed by as many people as possible. Unless what you have is a truly amazing talent, resulting in a viral shock wave that promotes itself, you will most likely remain fairly unnoticed unless you take it upon yourself to promote your music.

In this post I will summarize what I do to promote my music on the Internet. I will also let you know of the efforts involved, the costs and the impact it has had.

This will be a long post and if you have little time, I suggest that you scroll down and look at the headers below and focus on methods you haven't used to promote your music.

Create an Official Artist Web Site

Early on I made sure to register my artist name as a .com domain name. That was 12 years ago and you may find that yours has already been taken, but it's still important to create your official site so consider to register the .net domain, or your local country suffix, and build an official artist web site.

My site is now in its 5th generation and I’ve put a lot of effort into developing it. Luckily I have some knowledge in web development so I can design, develop, and maintain my own web site. This may be something you need to get help with if you have little knowledge about development.

Experience, feedback, and statistics from the five generations of my site all point to the following criteria for success:

  1. Stylish but simple

  2. Easy for visitors to navigate

  3. Easy for visitors to instantly hear your music

  4. Links to and integration with social media (e.g. Facebook Like and AddThis)

  5. Search Engine Optimization with Search Engine Friendly URLs
    Each one of my tracks automatically get an unique URL, e.g. http://music.imphenzia.com/tracks/time-travel.html. These pages contain keywords and a description specific to the track and the benefit of this that instead of having search engines index just one page containing all tracks it will index, in my case, over 85 additional pages.

  6. Keep your site updated with your latest music and latest news

  7. Use statistics, such as Google Analytics, to see how visitors find your site

If, for whatever reason, creating a web site is not for you - I still recommend that you register a domain name and point it to your main point of presence on the Internet whether it'd be a MySpace page or a Soundclick page for example. Remember, an URL like www.imphenzia.com is always more appealing and much easier to promote than an URL such as www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=701131.

Cost: I pay $10/y for my domain name and $50/y for my web hotel, $0 for development
Effort: Very high for custom web site with shopping cart, could be low for simple sites
Visitors/Plays: My artist site averages around 20-25 unique visitors per day

Mailing List

A mailing list is extremely important. It will enable you to reach many eager listeners waiting for your next release. I have developed my own mailing list but many artist sites offer this as part of their functionality.

Make sure that you send relevant information to your mailing list users and whatever you do, don't spam them with useless information as it will only result in them unsubscribing from your list. This brings me to another important feature; make sure it easy to unsubscribe from the list as it will encourage more people to sign up. You can see my example image (click to enlarge) how I announce a new track release, also note the one click unsubscribe feature at the bottom.

Make it easy see and sign up to the mailing list. I value subscribers so much that I give away a digital album to everyone that signs up. If your list supports such a feature, or you develop your own mailing list, consider giving your new subscribers a generous gift.

The image above shows how I've presented my subscribe to mailing list feature. It's located in the very center of my welcome page and signup is easy, just enter an email address and click sign up (the digital album will be sent to the subscriber's email as a welcome gift.)

Cost: I developed my own mailing list for free, and there are free mailing lists available
Effort: Little effort is spend maintaining the list. It took some time to develop but there are free alternatives.
Subscribers: My list currently contains 737 valid addresses

Social Media Presence

Personally, I hate Facebook and all types of social media sites. I frequently get surprised of how willing some people are to expose themselves and their private affairs. Nevertheless, social media is an essential tool to promote your music and it is very powerful.

Facebook is the most important site to be on. Create an artist page and announce your new releases, special offers, teasers, previews, news and so forth. The more people you get that “like” your artist page the better. Every announcement you make will appear on their "Facebook wall" so in that sense it's similar to an mailing list with the added benefit that you get comments and interaction with your fans.

Twitter is another one I hate, but again, you have to be on it. Link twitter updates with facebook updates (there are features on the sites to do this) to make your updates appear on multiple sites automatically with little effort. You should also encourage people to follow you on twitter and facebook whenever possible.

Follow other twitter users with similar interests – it is likely that they will follow you in return. This doesn't mean you have to read everyone's uninteresting updates because you can disable email notifications if you are only interested in twitter as a marketing method (as opposed to a social tool.)

Costs: $0 (free)
Effort: Little effort required to maintain presence at Facebook and Twitter
Visitors/Plays: I have 373 facebook fans and 116 twitter followers

YouTube Videos

YouTube is another great site to maintain your presence. Even if you don’t have music videos, consider uploading your tracks with a simple image because surprisingly many people go to YouTube to listen to music. You can also use free online tools such as “Animoto” to create some visually pleasing videos for your music.

Here are some examples of how I used YouTube (and other video sites such as Vimeo) to promote my music:

Create Tutorials

Creating tutorials, especially video tutorials, is another very powerful method to reach listeners. Granted, it will mostly attract other artists, but nevertheless they are humans and fans too. My tutorial videos have been viewed over 100’000 times and I'm not sure how many have actually turned into fans but such a large number of views is bound to bring some fans your way. Don’t forget to clearly promote your URL to your artist site in any tutorials you create.

Here is an example of a video tutorial I've created: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO5u7hNA1mo

Cost: $0 (free)
Effort: Little for single tracks, high for tutorials and animated videos
Video Views: 163'139 video views

Describe Your Music with Keywords and Descriptions

Everywhere you are present, describe your music and videos with many interesting and relevant keywords. Use details such as equipment you used and sources of inspiration etc. Search engines will index your music and people will find you when searching for music created using a particular instrument or music that sounds similar to a particular artist.

Cost, effort, visitors: n/a

Join Artist Sites

Dedicated artists and musician web sites such as soundclick.com and soundcloud.com are important to be on. You can usually upload your music to be hosted for free although some restrictions will usually apply. Be prepared that the registration and upload process will require a fair amount of your time. Describe your music, preferably with varying descriptions for each site, to increase the exposure to search engines.

These type of sites come and go and some will remain active longer than others. Examples of sites that are no longer active where  I used to gain a lot of exposure at were mp3.com, ampcast, and peoplesound but they are since long gone.

Cost: I pay $9.95 per month for VIP account, but free account is available
Effort:  Little to maintain, initially high to upload music if you have many tracks
Visitors/Plays:  101'083 page views, 370'365 song plays

Cost: $0 (free) I've opted for the free account at this stage
Effort: Little to medium depending on how many tracks you have
Song Plays: 1122  (I am not very active at soundcloud, yet)

Artist Sites Top Lists

Another benefit with artist sites is that they commonly have top lists and you will gain exposure if you can get one or more of your tracks into these lists. I have 370'000+ plays at soundclick.com and this is mainly due to some of my tracks ranking in the genre top lists. In an attempt to get into the top lists I decided to go for a paid promotion. I paid $25 for "Promo Song of the Day" (it is now priced at $50) and it rocketed my track to the #1 spot for the entire electronic music genre. Since then the track has promoted itself just by being present in the top 25 of the sub-genre.

Artist Sites Music Groups

Artists sites also commonly feature music groups that you can join and where you can share your music. At soundcloud.com, join relevant groups and share your tracks. I personally haven’t had much exposure through these groups but it may very well be due to lack of effort and involvement on my part.

Digital Distribution / Digital Stores / Streaming (Spotify)

Use an "aggregator" (such as Ubetoo.com, Tunecore.com, CDBaby.comRouteNote.com, Recordunion.com) to distribute your music to digital stores (such as iTunes, Amazon MP3, etc) and streaming services (such as Spotify.)

Peasonally I use Ubetoo for digital distribution because they allow unlimited number of singles and albums for an annual subscription fee of around $80. Ubetoo also distribute the music to 500 digital stores which I believe is more stores than any of the competitors.

Other aggregators usually charge an annual fee per song and album and turns out to be a lot more expensive than Ubetoo if you have 5 albums and 85 single tracks as I do. The exception is RouteNote and they now have a free alternative but they don't reach as many digital stores as Ubetoo so I don't think I will switch.

Some important things to be aware of with aggregators:

  1. All aggregators have awful terms and conditions - you give them exclusive rights for distribution with terrible termination clauses but as an independent artist you can't do anything about this other than leave it or accept it.

  2. Reporting and processing times are what you'd expect from a third world country. It takes weeks and weeks for tracks to appear on Spotify and the statistics make it very difficult to understand where the royalties come from.

Regarding Spotify, simply having your music in the Spotify catalog will likely not result in much exposure by itself. Saying this it is still important to have your music on such popular streaming sites because once a fan has discovered they will probably enjoy having easy access to your music through such services. 

Cost: $80/y (Ubetoo)
Effort: High initially to upload all your tracks and define releases (if you have many)
Plays/Royalties: I get about $50 in royalties (100%) from Ubetoo every 3 months. Due to awful statistics it's difficult to way what store or service the royalties come from.


The main purpose of this blog is simple; I write posts to attract an audience through search engines and I hope that my readers will also discover and enjoy my music. A positive side effect of this promotion method is that I may end up helping other artists along the way =) It's also a good way to give your fans insight to what you are up to.

Cost: $0 (free) There are free blog sites available
Effort: Medium, it takes some time to write blog posts
Visitors: 10-60 visitors per day

Music Forums

Internet forums, especially specific to the genre of music that you create, are useful for promotional purposes. The downside to forums are that you may have to spend a lot of time to get involved in discussions before you promote your music in a non-spamming fashion.  At the same time, if you enjoy engaging in discussions, this may be the perfect way for you to build a name.

A good approach is to first introduce yourself. in the forum Make sure you have an appealing forum profile signature with a link to your web site. Write feedback to other artists seeking feedback. Announce your new releases only in sub forums for such announcements because anything that could be considered to be spam will backfire. Seek constructive feedback on your music as it will both improve your music at the same time as you will gain some exposure.

Cost: $0 (free)
Effort: High to build reputation and maintain presence
Visitors/Plays: Unknown

Paid Promotions

I've made a few attempts with paid promotion, such as Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. These cost a fair amount per click so it may be out of reach for independent artists and I don't find it to appealing to go this route due to the costs involved.

The most effective promotion, by far, has been the promotion features at soundclick.com that resulted in thousands of plays in a single day for $25.

Cost: I've paid around $200 for Facebook ads and $100 for Google Adwords
Effort: Little effort is required to create paid promotions
Visitors:  Google and Facebook ads only resulted in around 500 clicks. Soundclick promotion resulted in thousands of song plays.

Fun, Odd, and Individual Promotion Methods

In addition to the above, there are additional attempts I've made to promote my music but they are very specific to my hobbies and interests. I'll mention them anyway for the sake of it =)

Develop Games - I make simple computer games that feature my music. Some of the games are released as freeware and the game Beat Ball, for example, was featured in a large German computer magazine that to this day (10 years on) turns out to be a large source of my German fans.

Sponsor Virtual Racing Team - A virtual Live For Speed race team I founded, Nordic Racing Group, features the Imphenzia logo and Imphenzia URL on the race cars:


There are many creative ways to promote your music online and you have to be prepared to make a huge effort in order to get noticed. I've released over 85 tracks (and 5 albums.) I've spent countless hours promoting my music online for over a decade using the methods above.

You could argue that it's not worth the effort, and solely from the perspective of time and economic reward it clearly isn't. But knowing that my music has been played over a million times (including historic sites such as mp3.com), and looking at the positive feedback I receive from my listeners, I feel that it's been well worth the effort.

I hope you found some useful ideas to promote your music and best of luck reaching a wider audience.

Secret to Composing Unique Music

In this post I will reveal how I created my unique style of music. With the large number of electronic artists making music today you could arguably question if anything is really unique but I still feel, and I often get feedback saying, that my music has a unique sound.

This unique sound may not be a special genre, but it could be a recognizable way that you combine instruments, how you arrange tracks, or how you play certain melodies. It may not even be possible to pinpoint exactly why it is unique. In my case I know I've succeeded when someone listens to my track and says "Yes - this is an Imphenzia track."

I started making music back in the early 1990s and as a method to learn I tried to copy the music of artists I admired. I repeatedly failed, many times over. I was disappointed at first but as time passed the failures turned out to be the key in creating my unique sound.

My advice to beginner artists (the target audience of this post) is to listen to the music you like and try to write down what you hear. Don’t look at midi data to find out exactly what notes are being played, exactly what instruments are used, exact melodies and note duration, etc.

Instead, use your ears and write down what you hear and what you like. Some of you are well educated in musical lingo while others may describe music in very generic terms. I, for example, listened to Astral Projection and I didn't (and still don't) know the proper musical terms for many things so I made very simple notes such as:

  • The lead instrument plays melodic scales and often transforms in sound from muffled to crisp.

  • One bassline plays a note on an interval offset to the kick drum. It also plays the same note many times over before transposing up or down.

  • Another bassline plays rapid notes in succession. I suspect every 16th. The notes alter octave up and down rapidly. One note may occasionally be transposed up a semi tone.

  • The percussion consists of a steady beating kick with a clap every other kick. A hihat plays in between every kick.

  • ...

After you listen to the music and once you've written down some notes covering what you hear, start up your music making software and try to create music based on your written notes. To begin with, try to recreate a particular part that you like and not a full length track. Listen to it for a while then refer back to your notes and make necessary adjustments.

Avoid listening to the original music you based your notes on while you compose your own music. This may cloud your creativity and influence you to make micro adjustments to get it to sound exactly like the original.

When you have a piece of music that you are happy with you may become discouraged when you finally do listen to the music that you compiled your notes from. The original track will, most probably, still sound much better and it is important at this stage to realize that it is perfectly okay to feel this way.

Repeat this process over and over with different tracks. Try to make a complete track from each attempt and not just fragments and clips. You'll find that your skills will improve with each attempt (with some exceptions =) and that you will favor some elements that reoccur as you progress. It is a fair chance that the elements you favor are what makes you unique.

My conclusion is as comic as it is simple: Create your unique sound by failing to copy others.

Here are some examples of what some of my "failed" attempts sounded like in the mid 90s and what my music sounds like today:

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35761296" params="show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff7700" width="100%" height="81" iframe="false" /]

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35761451" params="show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff7700" width="100%" height="81" iframe="false" /]

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35761635" params="show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff7700" width="100%" height="81" iframe="false" /]

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35761912" params="show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff7700" width="100%" height="81" iframe="false" /]

How I arranged the trance track Spirit Within You

Following some very positive feedback on the tutorial video on how I create trance music I also decided to dedicate today to make another tutorial of how I arranged the entire track Spirit Within You.

This video takes a detailed look at all the sections that form the track - such as the intro, the build up, the breakdown, the culmination, and the outro. It also explains how various instruments are introduced and modified during various stages of the track.

I am, by no means, saying that this is how you must make trance music - it's just at peek into how I arrange most of my tracks. When I started out making music in the 90s I found no tutorials like this and I'm hoping that this video can help some of you that are interested in making music.

Right then, here is the tutorial of how to arrange a trance song / track:

As usual, I use Cubase 5 and my trusted VST instruments Nexus2, VanGuard, and Sylenth1 - but this arrangement technique can be applied regardless of what software you use.

If this tutorial helps you out - I'd be happy to hear about it in the comments field =)

Good luck and happy music making!

How to make trance music tutorial

Today I decided to create a tutorial based on my latest trance track "Spirit Within You". It's a detailed look at a section of 15 measures of the track where I go through each and every instrument, what notes and chords are played, which presets are used, what VST instrument was used, etc. This should hopefully give you the foundation of percussion, bassline, melody,  filling effect - but it won't teach you how to arrange a full length track - that will come in another tutorial.

Have a look at the tutorial

What's in the video?

The video describes the following elements:

  • Percussion (drums) - kick, closed hihat, open hihat, claps, cymbals

  • First bassline (rapid 1/16 notes)

  • Second bassline  (offbeat 1/8 notes)

  • Cluster of 5 simultaneous leads for extreme atmosphere

  • Two trance gates for an even fuller effect

  • Pads for more euphoria

  • And a classic trance piano with delay end reverb

First the video lets you listen to the end result. Then I solo each instrument and describe what notes were played. You can also see exactly which presets are used in Nexus2, VanGuard, and Sylenth1. All presets, more or less, use the default settings and the default delay / reverb effects. Filter cutoff frequency is altered on a few instruments to create that classic morphing or transforming sound commonly found in trance. No additional, external, or invisible effects are applied.

In this video tutorial I use Cubase 5 as a sequencer - but the technique can be applied to any sequencer and VST instruments.

Since this video focuses on a cropped out section of the track, I plan to make another video showing how the track is arranged in terms of introducing various instruments, the intro, the chorus, the breakdown, the outro, etc.

If you like this video and, of course, if you like my music - please consider supporting Imphenzia by buying one of my albums in the album section (or on iTunes and other digital stores) - you can also gain Full Access to all Imphenzia tracks for high quality 320kbps MP3 and lossless FLAC files.

Virtual Instruments (VSTi) used

  • Groove Agent ONE (Cubase 5 drum machine)

  • ReFX Nexus2

  • ReFX VanGuard

  • LennarDigital Sylenth1

Presets used

All the presets are available in the retail version of each VSTi without the need for any expansions. The exception is the percussion since I just use various percussion samples.

ReFX Nexus2

  • Bass | BA Trancebass 19

  • Bass | Lazy Bass

  • Single Layer Leads | LD Detuned Lead 1

  • Epic Pads | PD Floating Away (with Trance Gate "TG" effect enabled)

  • Epic Pads | PD Tranceiver

  • Piano | PN Trancepiano

ReFX VanGuard

  • LD Corsten 01 MS

  • ARP Smuggler

LennarDigital Sylenth1

  • Bank 1 | LD Follow

  • Bank 2 | LD Rollback

  • Bank 1 | GAT Trancentral

Groove Agent ONE

  • Various drum samples accumulated over the years

Creating a low poly space ship in 3DS Max 2012

I decided to learn a bit more about modelling and texture mapping low poly 3D objects for games. My object of choice was a space ship and there are many skilled people out there who can do this ten times better than me, but at the same time I wanted to share my experience because you never know, someone might find it helpful =)

[caption id="attachment_313" align="alignright" width="620" caption="Figure 1: Render of final space ship"]Render of final space ship[/caption]

The space ship pictured above (Figure 1) is a render of my final object. It consists of 252 faces (polygons) and 249 vertices (intersecting points.) Additional detail is added by also creating a slightly higher detailed version (1900 faces and 2125 vertices) used to render a "normal map" which is effectively a bump map adding extra detail to the low polygon version. I'll explain how I did that as well.

Before getting started I'd also like to point out that this is not a full detailed click-by-click tutorial - it's rather a summary of how I went about modeling and texture mapping the object. It wasn't my intention to create a tutorial, it's just something I decided to do afterwards to document the major steps.

Starting with a box and using symmetry

I started by creating  a standard primitive Box object which I then converted to an Editable Poly. You can do this by right clicking on the box then selecting Convert To | Convert To Editable Poly.

To model the basic shape I changed selection method to "Polygon" so I could select the faces of the Editable Poly and then extrude and bevel them roughly shaping one side of a space ship. After some trial and error by repeatedly extruding faces and moving vertices I ended up with the basic shape of a space ship (Figure 2.)

[caption id="attachment_315" align="alignright" width="620" caption="Figure 2: Left side modeled by extruding faces / polygons of a primitive box"][/caption]

I realize that Figure 2 shows the result of many iterations of extruding and modifying the object but I don't have saved file from any previous version so I can't show the progress up until this point. If you are interested in a detailed tutorial - please leave a comment to this post and I'll make a detailed tutorial if there are enough requests =)

It's difficult to see what the shape will be by just looking at half a ship so I added the "Symmetry" modifier to mirror the X-axis of my ship. When you add the modifier you can move the gizmo to say where the mirror center should be and I modeled my ship so that the center of the ship is at the X-coordinate 0. Since the very center of my ship is at x = 0, I moved the symmetry gizmo to x = 0 which then displays the ship nicely (Figure 3) with both sides yet allowing you to work only on one side.

[caption id="attachment_318" align="alignright" width="620" caption="Figure 3: Symmetry modifier added to mirror X axis"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_324" align="alignright" width="183" caption="Figure 4: Show End Result"][/caption]

When using the symmetry modifier it is important that you click "Show end result on/off toggle" (see Figure 4) on the Editable Poly to make sure the mirrored version of the ship is visible while modifying the Editable Poly. This is necessary since the symmetry modifier is above the Editable Poly in the modifier stack.

After some additional modeling, still only using extrude and bevel on faces, I ended up with a space ship shape that I was happy with (see Figure 5 below.)

[caption id="attachment_325" align="aligncenter" width="620" caption="Figure 5: Final Low Poly model"][/caption]

UVW Unwrapping and Texture Mapping

It's now time to paint the surfaces of the space ship (i.e. texture mapping) and that is done by first "unwrapping" the texture coordinates for the object. This is necessary so various surfaces of the space ship is represented by chunks of faces on a template image which can then be used as a reference to paint surfaces for the space ship, e.g. metal plates, dirt, stickers, and so forth.

The first thing I did was apply the "Unwrap UVW" modifier to my Editable Poly. Open the UV Editor by clicking the button "Open UV Editor...". The editor won't show anything useful to begin with, but click on the "Polygon" selector (see 1. in Figure 6) and then press Control + A to select all polygons.

[caption id="attachment_327" align="aligncenter" width="620" caption="Figure 6 - Unwrap UVW Editor"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_328" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Figure 7: Flatten Mapping"][/caption]

When you have all the polygon selected (so they are highlighted in red) - go to Mapping | Flatten Mapping and set Face Angle Threshold to 60 and click OK. (Values between 45 and 60 degrees usually work where 45 will create more separate surfaces and and 60 will create fewer sets with larger chunks of polygons.)

This splits up all the faces into chunks (Figure 7) which are then distributed within a texture map square. Even though 3DS Max did a fairly good job at this we can't start painting on these just yet because there are some overlapping faces and they are not quite grouped the way we want them. We'll get back to that in a minute.

Checker Material

[caption id="attachment_331" align="alignright" width="290" caption="Figure 8: Checker Material"][/caption]

To make it easier to see what's going on I created a checker material in the 3DS Max material editor. In short, I did this by changing the Diffuse map of a material to "Checker" and setting the tiling values for U and V to 25 (see 1. in Figure 8) originally the value is 1 which would only create 4 squares in the checker material.)

Also click to "Show Shaded Material in Viewport" (see 2. in Figure 8.) This enables you to see how the texture map is applied to the object in the viewport rather than having to render the scene every time.

Finally, don't forget to assign the material to your Editable Poly (see 3. in Figure 8.) Once I applied the checker material onto my space ship it looked like as seen in Figure 9.

[caption id="attachment_332" align="aligncenter" width="620" caption="Figure 9: Checker Material on Space Ship"][/caption]

The great thing about the checker material is that you'll be able to see where texture will be stretched or compressed too much. You can see that the squares on the front of the wing are larger than on other parts of the space ship so this is something I had to address. Just by doing the Flatten Mapping 3DS Max has already performed a great job to split up the surfaces and as you can see the checker pattern flows quite nicely around the entire spaceship.

Break and Stitch the UV Map

When painting texture maps it is much simpler to have certain faces grouped together. A good example of this is the air intake of the engine (why a space ship have air intakes I don't know - but mine does anyway =). As you can see in Figure 10 I selected the polygons that form the inside of the air intake. I made the selection on the actual 3D object while having the UV Editor open because most of the time you won't be able to identify which polygons it is in the UV Editor. This is also why this needs to be performed - how would you know where to paint certain things if you don't know what part of the ship it is?

As I selected the polygons I then clicked Break (see 2. in Figure 10.) In this particular case it isn't actually necessary because all the polygons are already detached but often you'll find that the polygons you want are attached to other parts of the object. Make a habit of breaking the polygons before you stitch them together.

[caption id="attachment_335" align="aligncenter" width="620" caption="Figure 10: Break Polygons"][/caption]

Once detached, I moved one of the polygons to the side. Change the selection to Edge (see 1. in Figure 11) and select one of the edges of the polygon. When you select the edge, look among the other polygons and see if there is a blue edge on another polygon that you previously detached. If yes (as seen in figure 11 showing the blue edge on a polygon in the top right corner) these need to be stitched together by clicking on the blue stitch button (see 3. in Figure 11)

[caption id="attachment_336" align="aligncenter" width="620" caption="Figure 11: Stitch UV"][/caption]

Repeat the stitching process until you've stitched all the faces (in my case I stiched all the faces in the air intake. It was easy for me to figure out when I had stitched all the polygons together as you can see when I selected the bottom edge (see 1. in Figure 12) the top edge (see 2. in Figure 12) turned blue.

[caption id="attachment_337" align="aligncenter" width="620" caption="Figure 12: Stitch Complete"][/caption]

This is a slow and painful process and I performed it on both air intakes, the insides of the jet exhausts, the fins, the wings, and the cockpit.

When I was finally done, I rearranged all the polygons into the allocated square space representing the texture map. It's important to minimize the amount of unused space as you want to make sure the highest possible resolution is used for each part of the texture. There are 3rd Party helping tools, such as "Unfold 3D" and "UV Packer", that will simplify the packing process.

[caption id="attachment_339" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Figure 13: UVW Template"][/caption]

You should also go to the Display menu in the UV Editor and enable "Show Edge Distortion" every now and then. If you see any red or yellow lines it means that the edge is much shorter in the UV coordinates compared to the actual edge on your 3D object. Eliminate these red and yellow lines by moving the vertices until the lines turn green. If you don't do this, you may end up having distorted textures.

When done click the Tools menu in the UV Editor and select "Render UVW Template...".  I ended up with a template as seen in Figure 13.

At this point I knew what each group of polygons were located on the space ship.

Adding details to the low poly object using a normal map

There is a trick to make a low polygon object look like it's made out of many more polygons than it actually is. This is done by making a high detailed version of the object and then rendering it to a "normal" texture map which is then applied as a bump map to the low poly object.

To do this, I duplicated my space ship into a new object that I named "HighPoly". I hid my low poly space ship not to get confused as they still occupied the same space. I then continued the process of extruding, beveling, and chamfering parts of the ship to add details. Figure 13 shows what I ended up with.

[caption id="attachment_340" align="aligncenter" width="620" caption="Figure 14: High Poly Space Ship"][/caption]

Note: My "High Poly" space ship is still only 1900 polygons (compared to 252 polygons on my low poly version.) You can go absolutely crazy here with tens or hundreds of thousands of polygons - it won't affect the performance in the game and you can add a lot of details this way.

Once I was happy with my detailed version of the ship it was time to "Render To Texture" to create the normal map. I found a good YouTube tutorial for this so check it out and follow the steps to render your high poly version into a normal bump map:

[caption id="attachment_343" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Figure 15: Normal Map"][/caption]

The Normal Map I ended up with can be seen in Figure 15. I use a texture size of 1024x1024 pixels for all my texture maps. We'll apply this normal map to the low poly object in a minute.

Painting Diffuse and Specular Texture Maps

[caption id="attachment_345" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Figure 16: Diffuse Map"][/caption]

In Photoshop I loaded the UVW Template previously created (See Figure 13 earlier in this post.) I found some free textures (on CGTextures and Deviantart) that I used as a base for the Diffuse map (the actual texture of the space ship) and Specular map (shininess of the surfaces on the space ship.)

On the diffuse map (see Figure 16) I used grey metal textures as a base and I then added some shading, dirt, scratches, rivets, armor plate edges, text, and paint a simple paint job. The diffuse map is where you generally paint everything that you want to appear on your object.

[caption id="attachment_347" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Figure 17: Specular Map"][/caption]

I then also created a specular map (see Figure 17.) The purpose of the specular map is to describe how shiny certain areas of the space ship should be. Black is no shininess at all and white is as shiny as it can be. You can of course have shades of grey in between.

I used scratched metal surfaces covering most parts of the ship. The engines I made less shiny and also the cockpit as it reflected too much light for my liking (making it pure white with its flat surfaces.) I also made the rivets more shiny to make them standout somewhat.

[caption id="attachment_348" align="alignright" width="323" caption="Figure 18: Material"][/caption]

Creating the material

Now we have the diffuse map (Figure 16), the specular map (Figure 17), and the normal map (Figure 15.) Time to create the material. In the Material Editor I simply loaded the three images into the diffuse color, specular level, and bump slots as seen in Figure 18. I raised the Bump value from the original 30 to a value of 100.

Just to clarify - the material is assigned to the Low Poly object. The High Poly object can be hidden or deleted.

Final Render

This is what the final rendering of the object looks like:

Render of final space ship...and the specular shininess can best be previewed in this video clip:

The music in the video is available for licensing on my Imphenzia Soundtrack page. If you are here because you are making a space related game - you may also want to look at my site www.spacebox4096.com for space images with extremely high resolution to use as environment maps.

I hope you find some use out of this post - I'd be very happy if you drop a comment if this helped you out in any way =)

Thanks to the members of Maxforums.org for helping me with some useful tips, feedback, and links to tutorials.

Create seamless loops for game music

Making seamless loops is an essential part in creating music suitable for games. Loops will keep the distribution size of games to a minimum and it also makes the audio cheaper to license which is crucial for smaller indie game developers.

Although I've been making music as the trance artist "Imphenzia" for 14 years, which is starting to sound like a very long time also making me sound old, I've only been releasing music for games during the past 3-4 years as "Imphenzia Soundtrack." I mention this for no apparent reason at all, so lets move on.

I've created a video tutorial of how I go about when creating a seamless loop. In this case it's an orchestral movie-style piece of music that will be added to my library of non-exclusive music. I use Steinberg Cubase 5.5 and Sony Sound Forge 10 to create the loop but you will probably be able to replicate the steps in your sequencer and audio editor of choice.

Time for the tutorial - have a look at it and don't forget to watch it in 720p so you can read the options better.

I hope the tutorial helps you to create perfect seamless loops of your music. Some of the important things to stress are:

  • Repeat the music you want to loop three times in your sequencer, exactly 3 times down to the measure. Why? It's because you want to ensure a good loop including any trailing audio at the end of the music piece, it could be decay, reverb trails, and echo.

  • Export the audio to a Wav file (or a format of choice) and load it into a good sound editor.

  • Crop out the center third of the music, use sample precision to do this.

  • Remove any clicks by ensuring that the audio file starts and stops on 0 dB exactly (or infinitely low as Sound Forge describes it.) This is performed by fading in the start and fading out the end by only a few samples, 20-100 samples is usually suitable.

In the video tutorial I also mention a Javascript that I've created for Sound Forge that will perform the selection of the center third, cropping, and fading the ends to ensure a good loop point. This particular Javascript will be the topic of my next blog post so do come back soon.