Friday, May 13, 2011

Michael 4 gets a new do ... flying in a planetarium ... and bookcovers as art for their own sake

Renderosity is having a sale right now -- members get a 35% discount coupon, and some things I've been watching for a long time have basically come into my price bracket! So Michael 4 just got a new hairdo -- and this one both looks great and gives you tons of morphs, so you can comb it, tease it,twist it, into a lot of different styles. This one is Aether Hair,and I'm very impressed so far. I'll be experimenting with this a lot more in the next few days, and the style fits the Victoria 4.2 model too, so you'll see more of this. I got several more things I've been wanting for ages, and, below, you'll see the planetarium ... complete with spacecraft. But first --

Here's the new cover for Linda Hines's debut m/m Western -- quite the classic art, too. It's quite a lovely piece of art, in and of itself, and I'm reminded of the days of yore, when you'd trawl the bookstores, drooling over the fantastic paperback covers, particularly the fantasies ... and wind up buying a novel because you fell in love with the cover! I used to do that regularly. Y'know, I still have those novels -- and one of two of them, I never even got around to reading!

Playing in the planetarium was loads of fun, as soon as I figured out how in the [line of deleted expletives] you get it to render properly:

...notice, the background has changed in every shot, because this isn't a static backdrop. The planetarium is a dome, with the textures pasted on the inside, and the "wallpaper" images which make up the diffuse maps are something like double-wide CinemaScope -- very, very wide by ratio to their height. In fact,they're 1:4, if you're mathematically minded. They're pasted to the inside of the dome via a set of what's called UV coordinates ... that has nothing to do with lighting. It's an extension of the x,y,z coordinate idea. u,v coordinates tell an image where to plunk itself on a 3D object, and the software takes these instructions from a text file on a .MTL file extension, which is saved in the same folder with the .OBJ file (which is the model itself) and the .JPG images (duh -- the wallpapers). So there you go ... planetarium demystified. I'm a terror, aren't I? No secret is safe. Was it a secret?!

Anyway, the planetarium imported just fine, and the images whacked into place perfectly, but renders were B-L-A-C-K, and stayed that way till I realized all the surface values had defaulted to black. Eureka! All you need to do is change the diffuse, specular and ambient values (in your Surfaces tab), and render to your heart's content.

If you're fascinated by this, it's called Flinks's Sky (or Sky Dome), and it's from Renderosity. My next experiment is, I'm going to take a crack at digitally painting some skies to fit onto the dome. The effects should be sooooo cool. I'll let you know how I go with this -- with any luck you'll be seeing some beautiful skies which I'll paint at 2000 x 8000 pixels, and we shall see what happens next!

This post should have been up yesterday -- sorry about the delay. Blogger was having an outage all day, as per downunder time ... it would have been all night, in the States, but they were still in Read Only mode when I went to bed last night! Dave tells me the story is, they made some errors when upgrading software, and the system went whacko. Some folk have lost blog posts ... none have vanished off ths blog, thank heavens. I wouldn't even be able to track down what was gone, much less rebuild missing posts, because there are close to 530 posts up now, and I've forgotten most of them!

Jade, 14 May
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