Sunday, December 6, 2009

3D Male Fantasy: the Gypsy Rover

3D eye-candy ... guy-candy ... call it what you will. 3D hunk extraordinaire! It's the same character as the Gypsy, which I really like. I gave him what George would call a "butt flap" and the tall moccasins, and better yet ... I gave him Hidalgo.

The background for the piece was a challenge, for a couple of reasons. One: I haven't (yet) splurged on any "environments," so I have to be really clever with digital painting to get the backgrounding. Two: is this a contemporary setting or fantasy...? It could be either one. This guy could be a circus performer from Budapest! He could also be a contemporary of Conan the Barbarian. So I definitely wanted a background that didn't scream "Seventeenth Century," or "Capability Brown," or "Vancouver, BC, Stargate location!"

So I picked a dry-stone wall, which could be 200BC or last week. It's a snapshot from someone's visit to the UK (Sara? Mike? Mel? God knows. Thanks, guys. I need to get out more. Then again, this neck of the woods doesn't have any dry-stone calls, so it'd've been bloody hard to get this background pic without jumping on a plane...)

The roughest thing was taking the shot and matching the color toning and definition with the characters rendered by DAZ. Look at the sheer beauty of the backgroundless render:

The last thing in the world you'd want to do is muck that up. Go ahead and click on it -- I uploaded it at 1000 pixels high so you have really see it, right down to the grain in the leather of the jacket. Beeootiful.

So, now you have the gorgeous DAZ render, and a snapshot taken on a dull cloudy day, that contains the material you want (the wall) but the colors and all washed out and blah. Sooo....

Irfanview: drop the gamma. Crank the contrast. Crank the color saturation. Resize the whole thing to match the render window in DAZ (this was done as 1200 x 1600). Then save it...

Micrographx Picture Publisher (version 7, if you're stuck using Vista, 10 ought to be okay on XP or Windows 7. Version 10 has ghastly, catastrophic "issues" with Vista. get me to tell you about that some time... bleck). Anyway, Micrographx Picture Publisher: you're going to be painting with the bright/dark, highlight/shade tools. Bring up the contrast on any area of the pic that was washed out. Use "highlight shadows" to bring out the trees in the background. The whole thing starts to take on a painted look, and that's nice, because this is artwork.

Paint till you think it's right. Save it ... set it as the background in your DAZ project and do the final render in DAZ, to get subject and background together. Now ... back in Micrographx, go back to your bright/dark, highlight/shade tools and start painting in the shadows cast by the horse and his boy. Otherwise they're just hovering over an image. You'll have to physically paint in the shadows, because this is just a picture used as a backdrop, it's not an "environment" which would have a floor/ground, and a sky dome etc. The good news is that you can fairly easily paint in the shadows and make the characters look like they have gravity, and are part of the picture.

(Obviously, there was a fair bit of work to do before I started mucking about with the background. I started with the Gypsy and imported the horse. I set the material (skin) of the horse to the painted Hidalgo texture, then posed the horse to look natural, fluffed his tail and so on. Then I posed Michael 4 to interact with the horse and changed his costume a bit. Then I set up four lights to light the Millennium Horse properly, because if you do set some lights on the horse models, they're incredibly dark in the render.)

When you're done painting in the shadows, you're reading to add a border and signature -- these were done in Serif X3. I really like Serif X3 because it's so powerful, so simple, and so cheap! You can get it for $50 in a fully legal sale, *and* it runs properly under the chaos that is Vista. And when it comes to doing 3D borders and so on, there's nothing better.

So there you go: 3d guy-candy. Again.

Jade, 7 November

UPDATE: See the January 2011 "retake" on this theme -- click the pic to see the whole post, where several renders are uploladed on this re-do of an old idea. Nice!

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