Monday, September 6, 2010

A DAZ - Vue - GIMP hybrid

A hybrid landscape scene, built in both Vue and DAZ, and finished in GIMP. If you pay some serious money to Cornucopia 3D, you can get versions of Vue where you can do this whole project in one program, but I've been counting the pennies for the last six months or so (domestic drama; you doooon't wanna know), so I haven't yet gotten around to buying much in the way of add-ons for Vue. But you can "fudge" it i you're a bit handy with different programs. Here's how:

Start with the actual landscape as rendered in Vue...

This one still has the company's watermark, because -- as I said above -- I'm still using Vue Pioneer, which is their free version. The downside of using Pioneer is that the software is strictly limited. All renders carry the company crest in the bottom right hand corner; and you can't import OBJ files, so you're limited to what ships with the software, and very few other items that you can buy from Cornucopia, and which are kind of "slaved to your license," and will import.

So, this landscape uses two terrains, plus one atmospheric, plus one added cloud layer; plus daylight conditions tweaked for the occasion; plus grassy-rocks texture on the first terrain, plus early-snows on the far terrain; plus the "dead tree" object with ships with the software; plus a fog/haze layer to make the distance look ... well, far away. So far so good. It took about 20 minutes to render, but I admit, I was doing other stuff with the computer at the same time. Also, I left the resolution at 72dpi, to get the faster render ... but the dimensions are 1000x800, which gives you a nice backdrop. Not high enough resolution for publishing, but high enough for on-screen displays. So...

The next thing you want to do is add a foreground... you set up a DAZ project at the same dimensions as the Vue image you just rendered. Import the Vue render as the backdrop. Then it gets interesting.

Create a plane (in Create New Primitive). Put a grassy texture on it. Put a displacement map on it to ruck it up. Then add some bushes and boulders and plants, to disguise the "join," where the background meets the foreground.

In this project I'm using the boulder from DM Instances; the ferns from Nike Image Pathway; the bushes from PNature; the river pebbles from Nike's Pathway. The dead tree is part of the backdrop, strategically positioned to give you a guideline for where to put the plane (ground). Then you just position all the rocks and ferns and so on. To give a more "continuous" feel, I replaced the textures on the stones and rocks with a texture that matches the color of the rocky terrain in the Vue backdrop. So far, so good. Now...

Add in the figure:

This is DAZ's Michael 4 wearing Remendado's face and skinmap, plus the Narqueliir clothes with the Hombre texture set, and the Noeme hair from Neftis, set to brown. Import and set everything; pose the model... the the fun begins.

I've set four lights on this scene to get the shadows and colors just as I wanted them. The sad thing is, noooooobody can tell you how to set the lights. You just have to do it, and learn how by doing it. There are magic formulas, but they won't "stick" in your mind, and even if they did, you get cookbook lighting. Blah. Like the saying goes, just do it! One day (doesn't take long, trust me!) the penny drops and you can then set lights at whim. So, you're almost there now. I just needs its finishing touches...

Like this:
Birds in the sky and mist on the lower slopes. These were added in GIMP, after the fact. Now, you can add mists and even birds in Vue, but not this easily, and not without buying models of birds to add in the background. It would be critical, if you were going to animate the scene, but if it's "just" a static shot, like this, your best bet is Photoshop brushes, and GIMP.

GIMP is another freebie, and you can even get loads and loads of .abr files, which are Photoshop brush sets. But for these effects I used Ron's Birds and Ron's Fog, which are two brush sets you need to buy, and you can get them via the DAZ store. There's gajillions of brush sets out there -- you can get fantastic ones from Renderosity, too, and if you trawl through the free sites, there's loads of freebies. I use Ron's brushes for three reasons: great prices (and I like to support other professionals), fantastic quality, and they also don't crash GIMP. Sad to say, a fair few of the other brush sets make GIMP hang.

And there you are ... a DAZ-Vue-GIMP hybrid.

Jade, 7 September
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