Thursday, May 19, 2011

Michael 4 heads for the high seas

The fantasy ship model is one of a whole set of 3D models a bought a long time ago, to feature in the Abraxas project -- that web comic I was doing, until it was labelled as "pornography" (which I still don't understand, since there was no full-on nudity and no sex in it!) ... and the model has remained shelved ever since, like the web comic. I would love to get back to the Abraxas story, but it takes longer than you think to render up a dozen or so panels per day! There's a whale of a lot of work to be done before I can return to the story and tell it for its own sake, but I do intend to get back to it, when I have the chance.

In the meantime, I finally, finally, broke the model out of storage and got down to playing with it! It's actually quite a nice model indeed, though I would like to have seen more rigging on it. If you've ever been anywhere near a real, genuine sailing vessel, you'll know that the amount of rigging on them is phenomenal. This vessel is officially billed as the "elven trading ship," and there's an element of fantasy ... if it were a real ship, it would take magic to hold it together, with this little rigging on it! On the good side, though, there's some nice wood textures, nice detailing -- and I particularly like the fact the ship's interiors, below decks, are modelled. You can actually take a character down into the cabins! Must do that next time.

How much of these renders is 3D, how much is painting? There's more 3D than you'd think. I did the water as an .obj...

The sky in the first one is a backdrop, but in the second shot, with the galaxy rising on the horizon, the ship, ocean and all, have been placed inside the planetarium! All else ... the spindift, sea mist, bow wave, whitecaps, all were painted in GIMP using .abr brushes, and some sea birds finished off the shots.

Then I wondered -- okay, you've got the ocean and the ship inside the sky dome, let's see how close to the deck we can get, and why not add a Michael 4 character into the scene, for some character? So...

Michael 4, in full costume, with custom lights, on the deck of the ship, on the ocean, inside the planetarium. Complicated?! Noooooo, what gave you that idea?! The fact that the background is a sky dome really adds to the shots. Notice that when the camera moves, the sky moves too, which is so neat.

The last shot was finished with overpainting, and this is worth seeing in closeup. Here's an outtake at 1:1 size:

The effect is really pretty, and by changing the diffuse maps on the sky dome, and changing the lighting, you can make it look like the ship is sailing through day, night, storms, balmy weather, whatever you want. I must take the character below decks next...!

Jade, 19 May
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