Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gay Heroes ... in 3D

This is the most complex image yet appearing on this blog ... you might not believe it, but to achieve this, the artist was wrangling 14 models, 4 lights and the backdrop:

(and if you think this is complex, guys, scroll down to the bottom of this post and check out the December 2010 update!!)

Michael 4 x 2, with two different physiques and eye colors;
Mon Chevalier hair (set to dark blond);
GQ Event hair (set to very dark brown);
Michael 4 High-rez skin map;
Jagger skin map;
Jeans -- 2 pairs, one set to blue, one set to black;
Boots -- two pairs (they're there, though they're out of picture);
Tee shirt, set to green;
Muscle shirt set to burgundy;
Belt set to red, tooled in green;
Leather Jacket;
Two figure poses designed to interact;
Distant light;
2x point lights;
Backdrop image.

And I'll be honest with you ... this one was a bear. Usually I can get a lovely image in 5 - 15 minutes, and this one took over an hour. I just couldn't get the lighting right -- it still isn't quite right, but I'm out of time and will have to have another shot at it later. Also, the characters are supposed to interact ... this is Jarrat and Stone, from Mel Keegan's NARC books, and the one thing these guys do not do (ever!) is stand there like cardboard cutouts striking a pose!

It'd take pages to describe how to do this in detail, and that belongs to the tutorial project I'm writing. But it all starts with THE MODELS.

When you get into 3D artwork, there's a set of staples you need, without which you can't do anything much more than pose Michael 4 just as he arrives "out of the box." So ...

Meet the hero: Michael 4 himself!

You download him from DAZ 3D (click on the banner in the right column...) and run the installer, and when you open up your FIGURES in the DAZ Studio 3 program, there he'll be. Double click to bring him into the scene, and ...

Here he is, just as he unpacks. He has buzz cut hair, a medium complexion and build, brown eyes, a glazed expression, a pair of spandex trunks, and no dangly bits whatsoever. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out how to turn this potential into the real deal. First thing you need to do is get rid of the trunks; so you track down the MAT, or materials for Mike, and click "All_Natural." The trunks go away; a nice tan appears ... and he looks like he's been in a terrible accident and had certain appendages amputated. So you probably want to fix this! You'll also find you have two odd looking icons that look like way oversized figleaves...! Yep. The first is the "model" for the figure's genitalia; the second is the texture for same.

So add these, and at least you have a guy who looks like, well, a guy! You probably won't want him bald, though ... and maybe you'd like to put some clothes on the poor man?? So now it's time to hit the stores!

There's more hair styles than you can shake a stick at, and there's basically just THREE things you have to keep in mind while shopping for them.

1. Know the difference between a HAIRSTYLE and a TEXTURE ... the textures fit the hairstyles; if you buy a texture without having bought the hairstyle, it won't work. The texture needs to fit on something, so you must buy the hairstyle first!

2. Make sure you buy a hairstyle that works in DAZ (aka DS, short for DAZ Studio). They also retail some great ones that only work in another one of their programs, Carrara. So basically, if the description of the model you're looking at even breathes a mention of "Carrara," leave it alone, because the file format won't work in DAZ.

3. Make sure you buy a hairstyle that fits Michael 4. There's loads and loads of other models, and fantastic hairstyles, but unless the style says it fits Michael 4, you're going to land yourself with hours of fiddling about trying to make a Michael 3 or Hiro style fit right.

Right: you install it, select Michael 4 in your scene and then go to the hair, double click the icon ... and set the color either yourself using Surfaces (I like to do this) or with the MAT options supplied with the model.

Looking good so far! Now ... how about something for the poor man to wear?!

Back to the stores ... and, literally, pick what you want. Just bear in mind the exact same rules as above: be careful not to buy a texture instead of the clothes themselves, because textures fit ON the clothes ... you have to have the costume installed first; be sure you don't buy something that only works in Carrara; and make sure you get something that swears up and down that it fits Michael 4...

Speacial note: a lot of costumes say they need the Morphs++ or Elite body shapes to fit. What in the universe are they talking about?

They mean this:

If you want to do anything much with Michael 4 beyond very simple stuff, you need the body morphing kit. It's probably the most expensive thing you're going to buy -- about $30, though you can get it on sale now and then for a lot less. I lucked out, but since the Michael 4 "base" model is FREE, you can't complain about this! Figure, you buy this and split the diff between this and the Mike model ... $15 each. And that's good.

The other way you can go is this:

This is basically a package of body forms where designers have done the work for you. Now, for me, this would take the fun right out of it. Making the faces and designing the physiques is where the fun is, for me! But if you don't mind shelling out $90, you can cut a major corner here and wind up with a character in about three clicks! These are the Elite morphs...

Okay: that's Michael 4, with hair on his noggin, and a face and form you can design right down to the last fingernail, and clothes. Now you can start to get clever. Like, design TWO characters and have them interact in the same scene, actually doing something.

Like the Jarrat and Stone shot, above. You load up your models and accessories (I used characters I designed a few weeks ago, and mix-and-matched bits from several different clothing packages). Then the fun starts ... the posing. The expressions on their faces.

I want to talk about getting the glazed look off Michael 4's face and putting an expression on it -- but I'll have to do this tomorrow, so ... come back soon!

Last note: if you're going to buy DAZ models, consider starting out from the DAZ banner on this blog page. It's an affiliate link and they do pay a couple of bucks when someone shops here. I need to buy more goodies to expand the artwork I can do, so every buck helps! (I need the starship interiors and the alien planets ... haven't seen them? When you go to DAZ, click on the THEMES > Tales of the future tab!)

If you liked the above, you'll get a kick out of...

...! Ten months later, and I'm wrangling FOUR Michael 4 models in full costume, four different skinmaps, hairstyles, eyes, poses, plus an incredibly complex full-3D background, rather than a backdrop image, and the lights to make it all go. Whhoo! Click here to see this post.

Jade, 18 December
(Newer post: October 16, 2010 --
Update: 9 November 2010)
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