Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gay heroes from the cult classic ... on New Year's Day!

The gay heroes are of course Jarrat and Stone ... the cult classic is the NARC series ... and no, you haven't (yet!) missed something fantastic on tv -- an incredible gay sf movie didn't (yet!) blow by you unnoticed. The characters are from the series of books by Mel Keegan, but the more I render these guys in 3D, the more I work with them, the more I drool over the idea of a movie.

And I know it's impossible, because no one would spend that kind of money on a gay movie. But it's a nice dream ... and it has a epilog. The software to do an "animated fan production" is landing on the desktop. You've only got to look at what I'm doing in the very early days (been doing this about five months) with the absolute entry-level version of the DAZ Studio 3 ...

You know there's one (could be two) more level(s) of DAZ above this one?! The Advanced level is out of sight. Check out the video:

Ye gods. Now, I'm nowhere near being up to speed with the first level version of the program! I looked very briefly at the animation controls, and then decided to start with baby steps and learn all the other stuff first. I think I'm about 50% of the way through what you need to learn with working with the models and lights, working in the x,y,z environment and what-not.

Next comes the deformers, and ... a whole lot more. Like creating my own textures and applying them, for a start! I'm just starting to feel my way into this part of it. Another couple of months, and I could look at animations -- if (and it's a big if) my computer will handle it. I'm not sure it will, so ... before the animations comes the new video card, and the new operating system (because Vista sucks, and I want Windows 7 as soon as they've shaken the bugs out of it ... when did they stop calling that Windows Horizon? I lost track).

And then comes the lure of the fire, smoke and fog effects ... and ... and ... and I think I need a 64 bit system.

Anyway --! Let's learn to ride the bike before we start drooling over the Lamborghini But you take my meaning...!

Getting back to today's renders: what you have here is literally two frames out of the movie; two sides of the same conversation, where Jarrat and Stone are setting up or winding down -- the action is not actually going berserk, and for once they don't look like they're carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders!

In fact, the other day someone asked me why they look like they're fighting world war III every time I render them -- and the reason is because they are fighting something along those lines! In the books, the Angel War is one of the biggest things that every hit mankind.

So here you have Jarrat -- tanned and fair, the colonial who has that slightly "different" look of somebody whose genes have been drifting in the colonies; and Stone, with the Irish skin and the absolute-earthling genes, which you expect of someone who was born in London.

Both these characters were designed by Mel Keegan and executed by yours truly, and I like to pat myself on the back for the way they turned out. I, uh, did good!

The faces were designed using the Michael 4 Morphs++ pack. (Michael 4 is the base model; every character you see in these posts started life as your basic Mike.) I the Morphs++ pack you can change every characteristic of the model, down to the shape of his ears. Then you add the high-rez skin maps -- and of course I used two maps. Jarrat tans faster, according to the books, and comes back from vacation "honey brown," while Stone has to watch out for the sun, being much more "Euro-mongrel" and pale-skinned.

I've also been asked when I'm going to do an African, or African American, character -- and I would love to. I relished doing the cover for The Lords of Harbendane:

But this is a painting -- a real, genuine painting, not a 3D scene. I need to get an African or Afro-American skin map to make an African (etc.) character really doable. I mean, I can adjust the features on Michael 4 to African, and use the surfaces tab and lighting to change the skin tone, but ... that's a hulluva lot of work, and I'm busy like you wouldn't believe. So ...

Thirty bucks. This here is a skin map by the name of Rob -- what they call an M4 Elite Texture. This is the real deal, and when you really get into this work, you won't accept less. Thirty bucks. And five small words: when I can afford it!

If you've been following the blog, you'll also have noticed the huge change today: I redesigned the whole format. I was on two columns up until this morning, and the blog had seriously outgrown that template. So I spent several hours switching it out for the template I worked up for other content-rich blogs, and it looks quite something.

New Year's Day is getting some long shadows here on the other side of the dateline. Dinner is impending, and it's time I left the computer and devoted some quality time to the clan.

Happy New Year! Notice the 2010 date stamps on today's renders ... woohoo: it's 2010!

Jade, 1 January

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Yaoi elf, the enchanted forest, and New Year's Eve!

The Yaoi elf comes to life -- big time! -- in a full-on 3D environment ... foreground, middle ground, background, the works. Today I've been playing with one of the cycloramas ... never got around to it before, but lately I've been pushing things a big, and see if my system can handle environments. This is a simple one, made up of 2D-style set dressings which you move around like props. Knock wood, my system didn't have a problem with it...

The heavy work comes in when you ask the system to load a street scene or something so highly detailed that every surface is textured, and everything you see in the scene, down to the last blade of grass, is a 3D model. Welllll ... this system is a quad core (4x 2.4 processors) with 6G of ram and 1.35T of hard drive space, but I don't think I have the graphics card to handle that. Not that I wouldn't like to!

But for the moment I think I might stick to faking it to a degree with this sort of cyclorama setup. The difference between a cyclorama and a proper 3D environment is the difference between a stage and the real world. On a stage you have a front-projection screen on which things can be (!) projected, and you stand set dressing in front of it. The effect can be fantastic, and extremely believable. The real world is ... 3D everything. Phone poles, trashcans, litter, broken-down garden fences ... the lot. Nothing projected, no two dimensional set dressing that the stagehands roll around!

Anyway, my system handled this (it's a Lenovo desktop, with a big flatscreen attached), so I thought I'd push a bit further and add a second character. Our elf has met a friend in the enchanted forest...

The Gypsy showed up ... I guess he and the bratty little dancer are camped not too far away ... this Gypsy clan (which Jayne DeMarco dubbed the "Zaparasti" -- and I like that!) have wandered into some part of Europe where you leave behind the cities, and where magickal times and magickal people just might happen.

The system did slow down when I added the second character, but it didn't stop. I deleted all unused props and got rid of a lot of lights that were turned off, and it kept itself up and working quite nicely. DAZ Studio 3 does love to fall over, even on a powerful computer, so the trick is to save the file before you change anything or load anything, or make major changes. That way, you just start it right back up.

Tricks of the trade, right? Speaking of which --

The first tutorial book is being proofed right now! It's about 20pp, and this one is the "get started" guide that'll walk you around the interface and give you a really good look at the foundation skills you need to make sense of DAZ 3D. The tutorial takes the form of a "hand holding stroll" through the whole project, from knowing nothing to rendering the image above. It's a "snack-size" manual ... loads in it, but not so much that you'll be overwhelmed.

Also, it's like no tutorial you ever read. It's a fully "organic" approach. More about this later. When I get it back from the proofreaders, it'll be available for download as a PDF, right here on this blog.

Here's a milestone: today's renders are the last I'll be able to sign "2009." It's New Year's Eve on this side of the dateline. The old year has six hours left before we pop the corks and they let off the fireworks on Sydney Harbor.

So ... Happy New Year to all, and ... see you next year!

Jade, 31 December

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

3D Art: beauty shots ... ars gratia artis

Just beauty shots today, folks ... but I am putting up three of them! ... because I'm in a hulluva rush, work to do, New Year stuff to do, domestic stuff to do.

The top image here, I call it "Ripples in the Mirror" ... 3D Fantasy, and here's the fantasy: is it a mirror? Stick your finger in it, and it ripples, and you could ... and I say could! ... step through!

The middle shot is actually the same character, and the same mirror prop in the background. All I did was change the pose, zoom right in, and put a different expression on his face. When I rendered it, I though, my gods! He's the first cousin (on his mama's side) to the Angel from the Madonna of the Rocks! You know the painting? Here's the Angel:

And the bottom render is something new ... I never worked with proper sets before, but I just got something called "Space Blocks," which was on sale for about $14, and therefore within my price bracket! There's so much to learn when you start working with sets. The results you can get are amazing, but I'll tell you this much: it ain't easy! When I get this figured out, I'll be able to write about it, but right now it would be like the half-blind wearing coke-bottle glasses, leading the blind!

The penny is slowly dropping about how to navigate around a closed set. Here's where it's very different from anything I ever did before: these sets have two walls, floor and ceiling. You have to fly the camera inside them! You switch over to the camera's eye view, which isn't hard as soon as you realize what you're doing.

What's hard is setting up the lights to render the set properly:

I'm pretty good at this stuff, and figuring out how to get the lights inside a box, and chase after them with the camera ... took me about six goes!

So -- just beauty shots today, folks, before I run back to work.

And here I go...!

Jade, 30 December

Male nude art in 3D: best posts ... must-see items...

Massive apologies, guys! This list hasn't been properly updated in years, and my best work is all recent. This kind of art is all about a learning process, like all else in life, and the longer you do it, the better you get, so it stands to reason that the more recent the work, the better it's going to be, right?

So -- I have a Godzilla-sized job to do in terms of indexing, making up this list, so what can I say? I've already done some serious work on this page, but it's barely scratched the surface. There's volumes of art on the blog, and what can I say? Browse around, enjoy stumbling over goodies. Happy browsing!

You could actually do worse than scroll down the page and check out the art in the margins. Many of those images are links to the actual posts; and I'm working on it. Again.  Meanwhile --

Most images below are links; click to visit the original posts, where you can see the art at full-size. I'll be working on this page as time goes by, bringing all the image-links alive. (Also, in the older posts, I talk through how to do this artwork, using DAZ Studio 3, with different discussions on each post. Note that even now I don't use Studio 4. Couldn't see the sense of the "mickey mouse interface," still can't. I do wish I'd gotten into the Genesis figures, of course! Next year, I hope -- with an upgrade to Poser Pro 2015, which is (gulp) AUD$650, so it'll have to wait a wee while longer._

Meanwhile -- enjoy these:

...and there's more scattered acoss the years of the blog -- enjoy hunting for them! Also, see this: The Glamour page at my Gallery. There's a lot of glamorous ladies there too, but some very tasty guys for your visual entertainment. (And yes, you're right: the gallery hasn't been updated in a long time, either. I'm working on it again -- about time. But it's such a vast job to update the old pages, it's almost easier to just start over. So there's also this: Just the Pictures. Another kind of gallery ... enjoy!

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