Wednesday, December 23, 2009

3D gay heroes ... Jarrat and Stone looking hot

This one was a long project: Jarrat and Stone, gay heroes extraordinaire, in 3D, the full treatment ... and boy, did I learn a thing or two on this one!

First, it's filled with detail:
See the dogtags on Jarrat, the wristwatch on Stoney, the aviator's sunglasses. Until you get in "tight" on the artwork, you don't even notice all this. The props are from the M4 Air Crew kit; the helmet is from the Thunderbike kit; standing in the background is the Starhawk model.

The flight suit is from the M4 Air Crew kit, set to blue. Jarrat is wearing Mon Chevalier hair set to dark blond; Stoney is wearing GQ Event hair, set to dark, dark brown. The vee-neck tunic is from the Stylin' clothing kit. Captain R.J. Stone is wearing the pants from the Hardcore M4 Utilitize kit, and the moccasin boots from the Wood God kit!

Some very subtle work has also been done on the Jarrat face:

We gave him a bigger nose. Sign of virility? Could be! It's not easy to believe that both Jarrat and Stone started life as the Michael 4 model, is it? They're so different! Distinct personalities. Marvellous. (I also really like the sub-text on this piece. Jarrat is going to fly a mission, and Stone is damned worried. It's Jarrat's job, and neither one of them is about to say anything about it, but Stone is fretted. Jarrat's a tough boy, but... after Death's Head, all bets are off.)

Captain K.J. Jarrat is wearing the Jagger skin map; Stone is wearing the M4 High-rez skin map. Then, there's the background --

And you might be thinking the background is a set. Nope: it's an image I made this morning. I used the ceiling and the floor segments off a snapshot from an air and space museum aboard an aircraft carrier in the States; cut out the top and the bottom and slapped them on 3D surfaces that could be skewed into the Z-dimension. The whole thing was done in Serif X3:

...and then cropped and sized in Irfanview and imported into the background of this Jarrat and Stone study. It really, really fools the eye! (You can buy full-on 3D sets of the insides of spaceships, space stations and everything you can think of, but they're not so cheap. I'll get them eventually, but I can't rationalize the expense, on the doorstep of Christmas...)

The first job was posting the characters, and I went through a lot of variations. The hardest part about the pose was getting the helmet to lie just right in Stone's hands.That took more attempts than you'd believe. It was fiddly, in the extreme. Then I locked the helmet to his right hand so it would move around with him.

Importing the spacecraft (which is called the Starhawk) was a challenge. All models arrive in the DAZ Studio workspace on position X,Y,Z=0 ... which means they're plumb in the middle of the scene. And when they're H-U-G-E you can wonder at first what you're looking at when they teleport into being! The Starhawk beams in, and you're looking at the inside of it, something in the middle of an enormous model.

To get this one correctly positioned, I went into the field where you can type in coordinates, and I made the Z coordinate -1000. It actually ended up at -1350 to look right in the shot -- this shows you how massive the model is.

The workspace starts to get busy when you start working with the lights (which is your next job in a project like this:

Each of those graphical line-drawn shapes in the viewport are lights of some kind. This is territory I've written about before, and this time I want to talk about the new things, the stuff I just learned. In the past I've always accepted the Default Camera because I never had a reason to mess about with it...

The reason just turned up. With the heroes in the foreground and the soft ambient lights of the launch bay, any photographer is going to know instantly that objects a ways off in the background will not be tack-sharp. It's all about DOV, or depth of field, which means, what percentage of the distance between your eyeball and infinity is in focus!

Now, in the computer DOV can either happen ... or not. And unless you make it happen, it won't! So the first few renders of this picture showed the spaceplane so sharp, the camera would have had to be focused on it -- which would have put Jarrat and Stone out of focus. The eye knows this for sure, and the picture looks fake. I mean, it looks okay, but not "real." There's a layer of reality missing.

I'd known for some time that you could configure the camera, I just didn't know how. Today I had to find out. Whoa! Look down in the bottom right corner of the above screen shot. Click on it and view it at 1000 pixels wide so you can read the tabs! Every camera setting in the world is available ... and the model just softened right up to look normal.

There's two things still missing from the shot at that point: it? NO shadows. Everything and everybody is just floating there over the background. Which is another level of "reality" that's missing.

Now, it's easy to make objects cast shadows in DAZ. You just turn on "cast shadows" on both the model and the light, and then decide what kind of shadows you want. But objects will ONLY cash shadows on other objects, right? And a backdrop isn't an object, it's just a picture in the background that fools the eye. When I get some real sets, I can click a button and have the software generate the shadows. For the moment --

Off to Micrographx Picture Publisher to paint the shadows in. Before I did this, I burned in the lights in the ceiling, which gave me a clear idea of where the shadows should fall. Then I "dodged" in the shadows with the darken/brighten brush (dodge and burn are old photographics terms. I used to work in the industry, back in the days when there was an industry, before everyone went digital).

Then, I did some more post-work in Micrographx, including shifting the ambient light and color across the whole picture and adding some lens flare. The differences are subtle, but the really make a difference. Then the piece was imported into Serif X3 to have its logo and signature added and ... off to Blogger for upload!

That was a doosie of a project, and I did it strictly for fun. It's Christmas Eve, and my day off, and what I enjoy is mucking about with art which, to me, now, means 3D art!

I'll try to upload a Christmas picture tomorrow, but in case I don't get the chance to get online ... Merry Christmas to the folks who are following this blog! There's about a dozen people now who check in almost every day to see what in the world Jade is doing now! Thank you all for staying with me this long. I hope very much to surprise you with a new project next year. It's art ... but it's story ... but it's art! More about that in a while. Happy Holidays, all!

Just for fun, here's Take Two:

Jade, 24 December

UPDATE: If you like this post, you might like to fast-forward in time April, 2011, where opened the old project file and not merely rerendered this image, but created a true 3D scene and then drove the camera around in it, as if this is a clip from the movie:

... not one shot, but SIX, quicker than it takes to tell. Here's the new post:
... enjoy!

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