Thursday, January 14, 2010

Art meets life in 3D: Carnival in Venice

Again, art meets life, 3D and all: Carnival in Venice, and these characters look like they're planning something nefarious. To me, it looks like they're planning to murder someone undercover of the furore and fracas of the carnival ... also, is it just me, or does this have a really medieval look? You can't help thinking about that part of Cry To Heaven by Ann Rice. (Good golly, I haven't read that in ten years. Must drag it out and read it again. Always though it was Ann Rice's best book. Better than the vampires, and less "soap opera ramble" than that other one set in New Orleans.)

And I did it again ... did three renders and can't choose which I like best, so I'm going to upload them all and let viewers sort out which they prefer!

The background is a digital painting, blurred out to make it look like the character there is standing a few meters back and is out of focus. If you're not photographically minded, here's how this works:

When it gets dim, the camera's shutter opens up wide to grab enough light to make a good photo. This is called "large aperture." There's a hard-and-fast rule working here: Small-aperture = crisp focus and loads of "depth of field," and Large-aperture = soft focus and poor "depth of field." The bigger the aperture (meaning, the lower the light), the softer the focus and the crappier the depth of field gets...

So right here, in very low light conditions (looks like they might be under a bridge, maybe in a gondola, at a little landing stage, waiting for somebody who doesn't know it, but he's about to take a deep breath of canal water!) the camera's aperture would be huge. About f/2.8. This means the camera will have a hard time holding focus across the breadth of a single face. So, to make it realistic, the background needs to be very blurry, or "soft."

The easiest way to do this is to finish the background image off totally, then open it in Irfanview and use the Blur effect till it looks soft enough. Save it, then import it into DAZ Studio 3 as a backdrop. (The digital painting was done in Micrographx Picture Publisher 7.)

For the sake of interest, this shot uses...

  • Michael 4 (face designed my me)
  • Jagger skin map
  • Jagger's green eyes
  • Danyel hair set to golden blond
  • The mask from the Wood God costume/prop set
  • Distant light
  • Two point lights
  • The backdrop

You might not believe it, but that's all there is to it! Works a treat, doesn't it?

I'm also working on a different "canvas size" here. It's a variation on the old 8x10 size, and there's method in my madness. At risk of sounding like the Doctor, what this blog needs is a little shop. Nothing too over-the-top, just ... a little shop. And can you think of anything better to sell in it than 8x10 prints of the artwork, ready to be framed?

I've looked at this, loads of services, and have decided to go with Flickr/Snapfish. I looked at Zazzle, but they demand the phone number of the person who's getting the prints! Noooooo. So I looked at other services, but everybody wants to sell canvas prints, framed prints, poster-size prints, photo-products ... which cost an arm and a leg. Nobody wants to sell an ordinary 8x10 that you can stick in an album if you want, or pin to the wall if you prefer, or put in the old frame that you've had lying around for ten years ... you know, the kind of print you can get, post-paid, for $8.99, and actually be able to afford.

So I looked at Flickr, and it turns out they're linked to Snapfish, and I just happen to have a Snapfish account in any case. What happens is: I make a little shop, put paypal buttons on the pics. If you want one, click a button, and give me an address to send it to. Done. And you're out of the shop for nine bucks. I check paypal (which I do every day in any case), see that someone has ordered a pic. I go to Snapfish, where they live in a cache I just made. I order one and put in the client's mailing address -- and I'm done too. Takes about 6 days for manufacture and delivery, and they offer a money-backk guarantee. Made in heaven.

So the next thing that will be added to this site is (thank you, Doctor!) a little shop.

Update on the DAZ Studio 3 Tutorial PDF: almost done! This will be in the shop when it opens. It's been test-driven to destruction, and we reckon it's bullet-proof. We could have rushed it out, but the fact it, beginning-level 3D artists will be getting something much better in exchange for the annoyance of waiting a couple extra weeks.

Jade, 15 January
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