Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CG art: The Magician's Pet

CG art and 3D render shake hands here. It's about half and half render and digital painting ... and I must say, I'm enjoying Photoshop more and more. Am getting used to it incrementally (BIG increments, that is), and at last am growing accustomed to the way it does things --

Halfway through this piece, I gave myself a kick and said, "Learn something new, why don't you?" So I stopped painting on the canvas of the original render, and painted in layers from then on. To you guys who've been using Photoshop for yonks, this is No Big Deal. But I always found GIMP's way of handling layers to be less than friendly, and of course when I wanted to do anything at all I ran home to my old favorite, Micrografx. Wellll ...

This time, I'm going to give myself a pat on the back, because I didn't do anything at all in the old programs. Gave this to myself as an assignment, and did the whole thing in Photoshop!

So what's going on in this painting? That's DAZ's Michael 4 wearing the JM Alexandre skinmap and the Akasta hair set to dark brown, and the Euros overskirt with texture and opacity maps by self. The props are a wild and woolly assortment of props from DM and ADS, most notably The Mage's Study, Fantasy Visions etc. -- you can get them all from Renderosity. Carpet is actually the plain, boring old rug from the Apartment 39 prop set, with a texture and displacement map set my me to make it interesting! It turns from a flat carpet into a battered, beat up old leather carpet. The floor and wall are planes wearing various textures ... marble, tiles and what have you.

Then the fun begins. First, the lights and shadows, which you can play with to get them juuuuust right for the final render in DAZ. Save this, and import it into Photoshop and start, uh, painting! Smoke, candle glows, drips down walls, gleams on things, deep shadows ... yup, all painted. And by the time you're done, when you go back to the original render you're bemused by how plain it is! Much of the painting was done with a terrific brush set I just got -- Mystikel's "Dirt" brushes, which is a huge set of cracks, grunge, splatter and muck brushes, from Renderosity for $8. Money well spent there! I also used Ron's Smoke, and Fog, and Bokeh Lights.

Last thing I did, just before uploading this, was to apply a 3% "uniform noise" filter to the whole shebang. What this does is take a tiny little bit of the tack sharpness off the render, which for some weird reason makes it look richer. Don't ask me why; it just does. Mind you, to see this effect you'll have to view the piece at large size. I uploaded it at 1000 pixels wide, so you can do just that.

So, just one image today, because it's more of a painting than a 3D project, and the only downside to this is, it takes a lot more time to paint a picture than it does to click "render" and then buzz off to the next job and let the render engine do its thing in the background!

Nice, though, innit? I call this one The Magician's Pet. He could be a student learning the magician's art, or he could be a captive, upon whom the spells are practised. He's lost count of the times he's been turned into a newt...

Jade, 20 July
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