Friday, February 4, 2011

The cyborg, the 'Empress of Outer Space,' and ... a chair

You might remember this character from a few weeks ago -- in fact, it was January 9, a post called Space Opera on Steroids! I always intended to come back to this character -- the cyborg -- and the scenario, which I like a lot. Remember this:

And at last I've had the chance to do a little bit more with this. Back in the Days of Yore, when SF was "naive" (we all were, I guess) there was this tradition of "rich and lawless galaxies" where anything could happen, you could muddle up fantasy women, monsters, muscular heroes, space battles and mighty starships. Something happened along the way since then, and SF lost a lot of its innocence. I guess it grew up, and I'm as glad as the next person that it did, because if it hadn't, you wouldn't have movies like Terminator Salvation, and Avatar! But on the other hand, I'm also very, very pleased to remember the old days...

These pictures are all about texture, surfaces and light. I'm in the process of discovering how far I can push the software on the hardware I own at this moment! Not as far as I'd like to, that's for sure ... but it's not bad. Not bad at all.

The quest, mind you, is for photographic realism. It's always in the back of your mind, while you're doing the best artwork you can think of. Niggling away there is the thought, "I wonder if I could get this to look like a photograph? Well ... not without a computer with about 16GB of Ram (!!) and a 4GB video card, and a far faster processor than anything that's normal in desktop systems. But...

I gave myself a small "assignment." A picture that, on the face of it, is very simple, but down deep is very complex:

It's just a chair standing on a hickory plank floor against a colonial type plaster wall. It's all about surfaces and light, texture maps, displacement maps, reflection and refraction ... go ahead and click on it, see it at large size. Is it artwork, is it a photograph? The line is starting to blur. One reason is that I was able to replace every texture in the shot with high-resolution images, which is something you can't do in a very, very complex 3D scene such as the ones above.

The simpler the shot, the more photographic you can get it, but to get the same degree of reality into the highly complex shots, you need one of these render engines like Octane or Reality. One day. Oh yes -- one day.

Jade, 4 February
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