Tuesday, March 23, 2010

3D science fiction: Mel Keegan's Hellgate comes alive!

3D art hits its absolute peak in science fiction and fantasy. Using 3D to simulate everyday reality is a bit of a puzzler ... why would you simulate something you can walk outside and see, and photograph? (Unless you're specifically a 3D artist, and you don't paint or drawn, and 3D is your art form, in which case -- go for it, because 3D is the way you depict all things.) But for most digital artists, 3D is basically one more string to your bow, and it's often (almost always!) easier to work with existing images of real things rather than start juggling 3D models. For instance: you need a picture of a garden, a bench in the garden, and a couple sitting on it? Then, dragoon a couple of your friends into posing on a bench, and do composite work to put the cutout of the figures on the bench into the spot you need in a high-rez image of just the right garden ... and then start painting. The actual appearance of the figures will be very different by the time you're done; your friends won't recognize themselves...

But if you need a series of images of a couple of guys in futuristic costumes, having an argument as they walk out of an airlock ...! It's not as easy to dragoon your pals to go and pose in anything remotely similar to this environment! So 3D comes to the rescue.

This is actually a scene from the next of the HELLGATE books (by Mel Keegan). #5, The Silence of Knives, is well along now. And in it -- without dropping any plot spoilers!! -- Richard Vaurien and Sergei van Donne find themselves weirdly on the same side for a time. Richard doesn't want a bar of it and reads Sergei the riot act as he comes aboard ... "Hey, man, chill," van Donne says, "would I shaft you?" "Yeah, at your first damn' opportunity," Richard says. And he's probably right!

The background for today's renders is another tiny snippet from the Station 3000 model. You're looking at about 5% of the model here -- maybe less. It's a fantastic resource if you need to generate loads and loads of backgrounds:

But I confess that I did chicken out ... I rendered the background I wanted, stripped it in as backdrop image, and added a floor for the characters to stand/walk on. I did this because I'm short of time ... aren't I always? ... and lighting a huge model like Station 3000 (or even a tiny bit of it) is a challenge. I already had 3 lights set up on Richard and Sergei, and being able to generate exactly the right background and just bring it in as a backdrop image, got me through the work of creating these renders in no time.

Richard Vaurien was created by me from the ground up ... Sergei is actually the Remendado character with a few tweaks. They're both wearing Mon Chevalier hair, one set to dark red, the other set to blond. The costuming is a mighty mish-mash from many different clothing sets. The effect is great ... I couldn't be happier, and will be sending these renders to Mel Keegan this afternoon. What's really amazing is that both these models (in fact, everybody you see on the blog) started out as Michael 4.

(And in answer to the person who recently chewed on me for "ripping off Mel Keegan characters," let me just say that Mel is my good friend, these images are done with permission and approval ... I'm MK's long-time cover artist, and nothing on this blog is a ripoff of anything!" If you have any doubts, you know where to find Mel ... go "report me" and ask if this blog is kosher!)

Jade, 24 March

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