Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shaman: Conjurer of Storms

I was inspired. This one has to be a contender for the most beautiful render yet ... full of nuance and texture and layers of meaning. It started as a background ... which I admit, was not a photo of mine. I wish it were! So I did loads of things to it, to turn it into full-on artwork rather than just thieving a picture off the internet. The original pic is small, too. My finished artwork is 2000 pixels wide and has had something done to every single pixel.

To get the background, I used Irfanview and Micrographx. Changed the median filter on it, changed the color balance, changed the orientation, painted out a lot of flaws in the original, softened it way down, and so on and on. Result: artwork. I wish I knew who to credit for the original image, but this was just pasted to a weather service page and no one was credited. If you know the artist, give him or her my compliments: fantastic photo which has been turned into something new, and I'd love to give credit for the original, and a backlink...

Next step: take your inspiration and run with it. I looked at this and I saw a shaman, a conjurer of storms. So ... you import an existing model to save some time. The body form I wanted was the bod with a few nice muscles on it, which was used in God of War. In your DAZ, you set up a new project at the exact dimensions of the background image. My image is 2000 x 1500, so I set the size in the "render settings" at 1000 x 750, then set the backdrop as this image. Save it!!! Then, go you go File > Merge, and bring in a model of your choice. Aries was mine -- and he teleported in complete with the fantasy double-ended sword.

Get rid of the sword (highlight it in the scene object list and hit delete. Duh). Pose the model.

Now the real fun begins, because right at this point the picture's flat as the proverbial bickie. It needs something. But what does it need? It's the lighting. Seriously. The default lights don't set up the shot for you, so you have to set your own lights. I did this with two distant lights (one white and very dim, one pale orange and medium dim).

Suddenly you have an image ... and STILL something is missing. Your picture should look something like the second image at the left here. (If you can't see it clearly, click on the image, because I uploaded the whole thing at 900 high, so you can see it properly.)

It's the shadow zones on his back ... they're just a flat black zone, which looks flat when you have a pic that is otherwise textured everywhere. So ... you set a backlight. In fact, I set two, one green (and parked around his butt and lower back) and the other purple and parked around his right shoulder.

And the result is great. The image looks 3D now, whereas the one without the backlight looks 2D, like a painting ... a hell of a nice painting!

Now, the only thing that's missing is a killer border and your signature. So, do your final render and open the image in Serif X3. Pick a font that suits the mood of the piece, set it up with its color and transparency ... and think about what you want for a border. I used a 15 pixel line border on a transparent-fill rectangle, set a bevel on it, gave it an inner shadow, and then set a 2D pattern map to give it some oomph. But you can do anything you like ... that's the beauty of Serif. You could string Christmas lights around the picture, if you wanted to ... please don't!

I have GOT to get some more props. This character would have looked so great with some tattoos and warpaint and bangles and such...

Jade, 26 November

This piece just went on sale at Zazzle -- as a mousepad!
Order it now, for $12.95
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