Monday, May 10, 2010

DAZ, Bryce and Gimp all working in perfect harmony

Fantasy art in DAZ 3D once again, as we continue to build on the scene in the ancient shrine. And as you can see, the computer now handles three characters, costumes, sets, props, textures and innumerable lights ... without a hiccup!

In fact, a few days ago before the PC brain surgery I uploaded a render I was doing for another project:

A quayside, made up of a Bryce sky and a lot of props from other kits. At the time, this simple set really, really took some time to render, and I knew I'd never be able to do what I really wanted, which was to swing the camera around and show you the scene from the other angle. What do you expect to see on a quay? Warehouses or something along those lines?

Well, check this out:

No problem! The system could hand the enormous model, and tons of lights!

Next I want to return to the Gimp brush painting effects I was talking about yesterday, because I was just asked, "How do you paint something from scratch? So I did a very quick painting and then dissected it ... which gives you something like Painting By Numbers in Gimp! Stay with me, and I'll talk you through it -- also, click on the image below, see it at full size -- I uploaded it BIG, so you can see it...

So, here you see the finished piece ... looks like a screen print, doesn't it? Do you remember those? They were great, back in the 60s and 70s ... and then a lot of numbered panels. The panels show you how to do this -- they're so self explanatory, they hardly even need a commentary, but let's go through the numbers anyway!

1. Think BOTTOM UP ... think far distance first. Pick a color to represent the distance and bucket-fill a new image that you just made, according to the exact size you want it. I used gray-green for the base sky of a chilly, misty, stormy fall morning. So far, so good. Easy.

2. Create a new layer and select this ... you're going to paint in the new layer, NOT on top of the basic sky background, so if you make a mess you can always delete the layer. Call the new layer something like hillside, or mountains. Then, choose a color to represent the hills. Pick a simple vector brush from the brush menu, make it big ... choose the standard brush, not airbrush; set the opacity to 100%, and just paint in the skyline. Fill it in to the bottom of the frame.

3. Time to paint in the clouds! Pick a color to represent the DARKEST clouds ... pick your .gbr or .abr cloud brush, from whatever set you downloaded. Make a new layer -- paint the clouds into the new layer, NOT into the sky layer -- so you don't run the risk of mucking up something you got right before. Experiment with the opacity and the size till you get it right ... I can't tell you these things, because all artists and artworks are different! But just zap some clouds in, see what they look like. If they don't look right, hit Ctrl+Z however many times and undo them one step at a time till they're gone. Then do them again another way. You're going to paint the DARK colors first, then the LIGHTER colors over the top of them, then the LIGHTEST colors on top of them all. When you're done, your sky should look pretty good. So long as you don't drag the mouse, and you get the opacity and size right, it's hard to go wrong here.

4. Now, the foreground. Create a new layer ... pick a color and just paint in the foreground. Done.

5. Now, the trees. Create a layer -- yada, yada. Notice that I painted THREE ranks of trees, and the ones in the background are pale. You must have noticed that in photos, distant objects get bluer and paler, the further away from the camera you get? Same thing here. Paint BOTTOM UP ... choose a pale color to represent the more distant trees. Choose the tree designs you want; experiment with the size and opacity of the standard brush to get them just right. Don't drag the mouse! "Stamp" them where you want them. Then choose a darker color to represent the closer trees ... repeat process. And then a different shade of green or gold, or whatever you like, to represent the nearest trees.

6. Last -- the top layer. You can also paint some faint, faint tree stamps right over the top of existing trees; this will give you some color variation in the trees for extra realism. This, you can paint in a new layer if you want, but I cobbled them into one "overlay" layer. The overlay is mud and mist ... tendrils and sheets of mist. Choose two or three shades of brown and paint your mud in, in layers first -- DARKEST mud first, then LIGHTER mud over the top of this, and then LIGHTEST mud of all ... then switch to white and gray and pale blue and repeat the process for the mist. (You can paint the mist, the mud and the tree overlays in three separate layers, if you like. I just did it the fastest way here, because time for this was limited.)

So there you are -- Gimp painting absolutely from scratch. Not a touched-up photo ... not something I worked a week on. The whole thing took about eight minutes -- it's taken a heck of a lot longer to write this blog post! Gimp brushes are great, and I'm having huge fun with them. They make the perfect partner to DAZ 3D.

Jade, 10 May
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