Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tinkering with 3D models ... and yikes, Bryce!

Click on the pic here to see this at full size: wow!

Today I really am just tinkering with 3D models, so it's a grab-bag without any specific theme. I've been getting a few nice models on sale at DAZ 3D, and there's only one problem: getting the time to play with them!

So I tend to grab ten minutes here and five minutes there, while I'm on a break from the boring, boring jobs that keep the bills paid and dinner on the table. (By which I mean wrangling html and javascript code. I hate code. I'm just good at it, so I get the joy of working with it too often.)

One of the neatest models I've acquired lately is called Station 3000, and I got it for about $6 (it's usually four times that price). It's ostensibly a power station in the middle of an alien planet ... but what you actually have is miles and miles of SF sets, which the designers have zipped into a tower by connecting everything up back to back through 360 degrees. Aha, thought I -- how close can you get to the model and have it hold its resolution?

So I created a camera and zoomed, and zoomed, and then zoomed some more ... heck, take a look at the results! You're see a super-closeup on an area about 1% of the model here!! And then I was able to take trusty old Michael 4, dress him in the M4 Air Crew costume, complete with the helmet, and stand him in there. There are scores of potential SF sets ranged all over the Station 3000 model. Amazing!

The hardest thing about it is lighting it. I've got it flooded with lights in the above renders. It's HUGE! It's amazing: 5 out of 5 stars.

My wobbly adventures in Bryce are off to a promising start! I've learned how to sculpt a landscape ... starting with the jagged mountains of Mordor (In which I basically decided on the lie of the land, and the color and texture, not the degree of jagginess ... because if Mordor is anything, it's jaggy!) and sculpting away a little but at a time, to end up with a pleasant kind of "coastal sierra sandstone" landscape:

In Bryce, all terrains start out the same: you click "make mountain," and you get a stock model which looks like the Himalayas from Hell. What you do with this standard model is up to you ... and you can do anything at all.

It's taken me a couple of hours (spread over a couple of days) to cotton on to how to get the props to land where I want them. It's nothing like DAZ! But now I'm pretty confident that I can start with the basic mountain model and sculpt just about anything out of it, down to low hills and glacial saddlebacks ... I just stumbled over the pre-set terrain maps, to make nice-looking forested hills or snowy crags without beating your brains out with the materials editor! The surface on this sandstone bluff was done with the materials editor ... they do not tell you that you have about 50 presets at your fingertips! But now I know, so it'll be a smidgen easier from here on.

Also, I know how to set a water plane ... change everything about the water plane ... sink or rise the land mass(es) in or out of it ... and (!) I'm juuuuust starting to work with lights in Bryce. The above bluff has three lights on it to get this morning light effect. Nice.

Bryce is not really about creating close-ups of nearby ground. The trees and grasses it uses as set dressings are not that realistic ... but here's where it gets good: I just took the sandstone bluff landscape, and exported it to an OBJ complete with its accompanying materials...

And yep, you guessed: DAZ Studio 3 imports OBJ files! So the Bryce 5.5 landscape you see here can pop straight into DAZ. At least, this is the theory. And if I didn't have to go back to work as of five minutes ago, I'd be playing with it right now. Sad to say, it's going to have to wait till tomorrow. Frustrating, isn't it?

Jade, 18 March
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