Monday, November 9, 2009

A boy and his horse

Got new toys! Actually, I got the Millennium Horse model yesterday -- it's packed on the CD-ROM which is included in the back of the FIGURES, CHARACTERS AND AVATARS book. The package given on the CD has the model itself, plus the "morphs" (these turn the model into everything from a stallion to a mare, a Shetland to a shire horse, and everything in between), and a pack of "poses" (canter, gallop, rear, graze and so on). It's enough to whet your appetite, so you don't think twice about going to DAZ and spending $9.95 on the textures and maps to turn the plastic model into the real thing.

So this morning I got the Millennium Horse Texture Pack 2, which gives you a range of coats and colors at a very cheap price:

I'm genuinely and pleasantly surprise by the quality of what is actually "just" a starter pack. I mean, it's really good -- producing extremely realistic results, and for ten bucks! Of course, you could go ballistic if you were in the mood, and money was no object, and horses were your major turn-on ... see what you can get for $29.95:

...are you gobsmacked yet? I know I am! The textures above are definitely on my list of "gotta get goodies." They're on a list of about 49 other packs, all of which are $25 - $30 a pop, so the whole thing will take quite some time to work through, and in the meantime I have to pay my compliments to DAZ: the affordable starter pack gives you some really good results, for the princely sum of ten bucks.
Today's render took about 20 minutes, including buying, downloading and installing the texture pack for the horse! The hardest thing about it was getting the lights set up ... the horses really, really need to be lit, or they come up d-a-r-k, which isn't going to look good when you introduce a nice bright background like a paddock. I ended up using three "distant lights," a white one, a gold one and a pale green one, and then juggling the intensities of all to make it look like the lad and the horse are in dappled sunlight. Nice effect.
If anyone's interested, the background is the Karka Pavilion area at Belair National Park ... the red channel was intensified to make the colors more golden to match the characters -- this was done in Irfanview. Still in Irfanview, I blurred down the digital image ... digital pics tend to be incredibly sharp, while digital 3D models have a softness about them. Each is fine on its own ... put 'em together and in collaboration they look fake. So you blur the background to match the characters, then balance the colors in the background image to match the lights you set up on the models. Irfanview is by FAR the easiest way to do this. (The image, incidentally, is from DreamCraft Digital Stock. We're reorganizing, and you'll soon be able to access such royalty-free images for about $2.50, by the thousands ... perfect for the backdrops for 3D art like this.)
So I'm as happy as a clam today. The CD also has the Millennium Dog, Cat and Dragon ... but now I have to get some actual WORK done, so I have to stop playing...!
Jade, 10 November
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