Thursday, June 2, 2011

Raytracing a Michael 4 gunslinger in the French Quarter

Here is a character I just couldn't resist. He looks like he just walked out of the pages of NARC or Hellgate. He's a new character, and I like this one a lot...

He started out as Michael 4, of course. I added the JS Falcon head morph and skinmap, but decided the effect wasn't quite right to match the addition of the Yannis Rastafarian dreads. So I kept the Falcon face morph, but changed the skinmap to Matthias ... hmmm. Too pale to suit those features and the hair. Then I tried Tosca's Jerome skinmap. Hey, not bad. Not quite right, but not bad. I changed the features around -- basically the eyes, using the Morphs++ controls ... aha!

So the end result is M4, Yannis dreads, Jerome skinmap on a rework of the Falcon face morph. Change the eyeballs for a pair of eyes from The Eyes Have It, and you're ready to think about the costume.

That's the M4 bodysuit, to which I added the Hardcore SF jacket, belt, boots, holster and gun. Next -- the set.

It's Powerage's Vieux Quartier, which is a street set -- specifically, a French street set, which gives a nice cosmopolitan contrast to the Native American and Afro styles of the character, and the Chinese characters on the costume. The lighting was interesting ... and I chickened. Once I got it set up, I left the character and the lights glued to the spot and moved the set around! Hey it works, and instead of having to wrestle with the lights every "take," they stay the same.

Powerage's set is terrific. Everywhere you look there's a new background view, with a great level of detail on everything. I'm going to enjoy playing with this a lot. It was on special at Renderosity a while ago. There's also another big street set from them, Beau Quartier, which looks like a scene in Florence or Milan. I don't have that one (yet).

The other day I was asked, "Raytracing ... huh. What's the big deal, why do it?" Well, it's easier to show than to tell, so here you go -- click on these to see the difference raytraing makes:

Basically, you get much better quality and a far higher degree of realism in most raytraced shots ... not all, mind you. There are times when the softer, dimmer deep shadow map renders actually suit the subject better. But fully 9 times out of ten, if you have the time and patience to raytrace an image, it makes a heck of a difference. Caveat: it can take a long time to get a render. It's not so much the reflections you might have configured, it's the number of polygons in the shot. Trees, shrubs, grass props and human hairdos are the culprits. Everything else raytraces pretty quickly, but these slooooow the shot way down. Even with a fast system, be ready for a render to take 20 - 30 minutes.

Now, it turns out this dusky gunslinger came to the French quarter to meet someone. Come back tomorrow, and I'll show you who...!

Jade, 3 June
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