Thursday, January 7, 2010

DAZ 3D: creating characters - faces and races

Creating characters in DAZ Studio three is one of the biggest challenges ... and one of the biggest sources of fun you can get out of the program. It's a thrill like you can't imagine when you set out from nothing and make something like this happen. This here is NARC Blue Raven 6, Sergeant Gil Cronin himself ... and short of the diamond stud earrings he's supposed to be wearing, this is "Gilly" as he's described in the books, right down to the last detail! (When I get some 3D diamond studs, I'll add them in and re-render these shots.)

(If you're tuning in late: I'm designing the 3D characters for the NARC series by Mel Keegan. There's a promotion coming up, involving a lot of work on the NARC website and a big campaign for the books. Be warned: these are not kids; books; there's GLBT content, and if you're troubled by this, or if you're not "of age," whatever that might mean in your neck of the planet Earth, stick to the blog here and enjoy your 3D stuff, and leave the books to the grownups. However, I think we're all big kids on the blog here, and I gotta tell you, if you like cutting-edge sci-fi with the delicious thrill of the dangerous and even the forbidden, you could do a lot worse than get into this!)

Right -- caveats and disclaimers have been given, so I can get back to where I was before: Sergeant James Cargill Cronin ..!

In the books, which are set in the 25th Century, the majority of Earth's population is describes as being "Afro-Eurasian," meaning gene strands have woven themselves so far together that most people look a bit African, a bit Asian ... maybe a bit Celtic, a bit Polynesian, a bit Native American if you're from that part of the globe.

So in designing Gil Cronin, I knew several things, which gave me a flying start: he's Earth stock (not a colonial like Jarrat). He's waaaay bigger even than Stoney, which you'd expect, since he's the leader of the elite Raven unit aboard the NARC-Athena. He came up with Stoney, though, so he's got to be about the same age (about 32). He's ex-Army (like Jarrat), and the unit's sharp-shooter; he's as tough as nails, infinitely experienced, but when you scratch the surface he's a lovely human being inside all that riot armor...


The first step was to set the body morphology. I loaded up the Morphs++ for Michael 4, and did Body-builder and Definition. He's a big boy -- come back tomorrow, and see for yourself, because in tomorrow's renders I'll talk a lot more about the physique. Today I just wanted to get down to the face and race. The racial type is "indeterminate" but the face...

Now, you'd never believe in a million years that this guy started off as Michael 4! But he did. I slapped the High-rez skin map on him to produce the deep olive skin that crosses all borders and knows no racial boundaries. I left the skull bald/shaven, because this is how Gilly is described. Then ... eyes, dark brown. For the life of me, I can't find a reference to Cronin's eye color in the books, so -- brown it is. (Jarrat's eyes are slate gray; Stone's are bright blue.)

Then I got to work on the features.

His eyes are a little bit Asian. There's something Polynesian about his mouth. His nose is a bit broad, and I gave him a nice, square law. I also changed the cranial slope, the eye depth, the mouth width, the depth of the corners of the mouth, the set of the temples ... and virtually everything else.

This is the best thing about it: when you load up the Morphs++, and load HEAD, the controls are made available. You get a huge selection of icons in your left-side pane, and every time you click on one of them it adds itself as an "adjustment slider bar" in the appropriate place in the right-side Parameters pane. Then you just go ahead and slide those bars to your heart's content!

The last thing I did, to get really believable shots, was to set up a background of cinder bricks, or blocks, (besser bricks), set up half a dozen lights, and a spotlight to cast a nice shadow. To get the background, I used the Backgrounds Made easy kit, which is terrific -- I've blogged at length about it elsewhere, and it's highly recommended...

Actually, there's one more thing. In the screen capture of the work-in-progress, you can actually see that the Flight Suit the model is wearing is still displaying the Green Hornets unit badge. This comes attached to the M4 Air Crew Flight Suit, and though you can change the color of it, you can't make it disappear ... now, our Sgt. Cronin doesn't fly with the Green Hornets. He's the team leader of the Blue Ravens on the NARC-Athena ... so he oughtta be wearing the NARC-Athena unit badge, yes?!

That's what I thought, too, so I I went back to some artwork I did for one of the book covers years and years ago ... I cropped out the unit badge, and used Micrographx to slap "our" unit badge on top of the US Air Force one. And if you have another look at the second-from-top pic in today's series of renders, well, you'll see the badge right there! Cool, yes?

I'll be back tomorrow to talk about the physique part of this; we'll get some serious guy-candy when I hit the "hide" icon on that flight suit, I can assure you... join me then!

Jade, 8 January

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