Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The boy in the bluejeans, and the sixty-hour render

I know I promised to talk about the fire/flame effects today, but ... tomorrow, guys. That's going to be a complicated post, because I need to yack on about alpha channels and masks and feathering objects and ... yeah, right. Not with the headache from hell, y'understand!

(And yes, I see my chiropractor tomorrow, and I'm going to hit her with this problem. You know the way chiropractors swear up and down that spinal problems cause everything from warts to cancer?! Well, let's put that to the test. "Doctor Alice, stop these headaches of mine!")

So today, just a couple of things. Above: a new skinmap I'm taking for a test drive: Raphael, which is on sale at DAZ right now. They're having a "We Love M4" sale, with scores of real M4 items at 50% off, plus a lot of M3 and V4 stuff that's crept in by accident, I guess. I bought a dynamic teeshirt, a new toupee, a new skinmap, and a shirt with flannel textures. Today, I had a few images rendering in the background while I slogged through work.

So here is the Raphael skinmap -- this is also the stock Raphael face and body morph (very nice ... it's so rare that I actually use a stock face, but I like this one. I think the only other one I use as-is, is Remendado, which reminds me soooo much of Sean Bean).

The hair is the Daryl Hair by Neftis ... it isn't an actual M4 style. It's an M3 model that actually shouldn't have been on the sale table, but is anyway. The good news is that with a bit of pulling and stretching, you can actually make any toupee fit any model, and this one is very "modern" with sticky-uppie bits at the front (David Tennant's Doctor!) which I actually flattened down a lot for these renders.

The result is so nice, I raytraced the top one ... now, that's getting pretty close to photo realistic, if I do say so myself --

Is it me, or does he look like a rentboy? Cuz if he's a rentboy, I reckon he just scored.

The other thing I finished off today is this:

I've uploaded that at 1200 wide, if you'd like to see it near to 1:1 ... it's a Bryce render that took (ready for this?) SIXTY HOURS, and by the time it was done to the bottom, which was the third overnight render session, I found out the bloody program hadn't rendered the shadows. *sigh* So I just painted in the shadows, and then added enough grasses and weedy bits in GIMP to make it a bit more realistic ... added some extra mist, and a flight of geese. (The .abr Photoshop brushes are Ron's Birds, and Ron's Fog, plus Designfera's vegetation.)

Sloooowly, I'm learning my way around Bryce, and actually understand what I'm doing. BUt I'll tell you what, guys: it takes more processor power than I have to get photorealism out of Bryce. In fact, looking around at the work of other artists, I'm not actually sure if anyone is getting photorealism out of Bryce. Art -- yes, and very lovely it is. But if you want CG landscapes that look like incredible photos, you want Vue or Terragen 2. And here's the bad news: not only are they a tad bit expensive, but you need a bigger, better computer to run them. Already, this PC is dancing around the edges of a crash-to-desktop situation half the time with Bryce!

So, I have a fantasy. Picture, if you will: Quad Core, with 20GB of Ram, the fastest processors in the store, on the most powerful motherboard; and the top of the range video card. How much for that? Ooooh, about three, maybe four grand, as a custom build-up from IT Warehouse.

All I need to do now is win lotto. Right. Step one: buy a ticket.

Jade, 24 February
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