Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New take on an old theme ... Gypsy and Horse ... whoa!

If something about this scene looks a bit familiar ... you've got a good memory! As I run out of times in which I can type "Jade 2010" (I have two more days left in all of time and space when I'll ever type that, short of a typo...) I remember typing "Jade 2009" on the early works appearing on this blog.

More out of curiosity than anything, I was looking back through the archive for December, 2009. Even back then, I had some good ideas, even though the skills to execute them were still to be learned, and the models to build them were still to be bought.

One or two of them are full of potential, and I thought, "Why not rebuild some of them with the skills and models I have today. So here's one of them!

It started with this project...

...on December 6th: http://3d-adventures.blogspot.com/2009/12/3d-male-fantasy-gypsy-rover.html -- and it was a fairly good render even then, Id only been doing this stuff about three months, and I had very few models to work with, so I actually used a photographic backdrop, placed the characters into it, an hand-painted the shadows. Not too bad.

By contrast, the whole scene, a year later, was done in 3D -- including all that grass, on the ground! Now, the grass took a bit if digital trickery. It isn't actually grass. It's a displacement map set on a round plane, with a green-brown diffuse map also applied ... the diffuse map controls the color of the grassy paddock, and the displacement map makes the flat ground plane literally stand up in spikes!

It's a very simple effect, and very effective --

-- you'll have to click on this and see it at full size to see the effect properly, but it's worth a look. This whole thing was done n DAZ, not Bryce ... it was done with two copies of the same bit of "land," which was imported as an OBJ file, and then subsequently fiddled with. In the rolling-hill type foreground, I just flattened out the Y parameter (the up-down parameter). In the background land mass, I increased the Y parameter to make it all taller and more jaggy, like mountain slopes. Then, a nice green texture map on both ... and then a displacement map on the foreground one, to make it stand up in spikes and clumps, like coarse grasses. (Incidentally, the mountainside in the background looks blue with distance because I stood a plane, made from a primitive, in front of it, with about a 10% opacity on it, and a color set to pale blue. You're actually seeing it through a plane. The plane also makes the sky - which is a JPG -- fade out, so you waaaay over-saturate the JPG in your imaging program, so that the "atmospheric" plane applied in the 3D scene just fades it back down to normal. One last little trick: I angled a pale green spotlight on the mountains too, to make them even paler.

Does all of this stuff give photo-realistic results? No, it doesn't. You need a heck of a lot more processor power than I possess right now, to get photo-realism. I have a Quad core, with 4GB of RAM and a 1G video card ... which is nowhere near enough to get into shaders, particle effects, volumetrics and bigger, better render engines. Oooooh yes, I know how it all works, and I cannae do a a skerrick of it at the moment.

However, it's not a completely bad thing, because instead of getting photo-realism you get a very, very attractive kind of art which, in its textures, colors, depth and broodiness, reminds me so much of...
Silver Summer by John Clayton Adams
Shepherd and his Flock by George Turner
Fen Lane by John Constable
The White Horse by John Constable.

When I was a teeny little kid, I used to stare at prints of these paintings and wish I could one day paint that way. 'Twas never to be, but -- seriously -- there's a similar quality which you can squeeze out of the 3D software and the desktop hardware, which reminds you very much of these paintings. So I'm quite happy, till I get some kind of super-computer, and can take the next steps!

Jade, December 29

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