Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The elven boat on the misty riverbank

As promised -- the elven boat on the misty riverbank! Actually, this is a strangely hybrid piece of art. The background is an image I did in Bryce 7 about six months ago. The foreground is all done in DAZ Studio 3, and the far riverbank and birds were painted in Photoshop...

But you're asking yourself, how much of the atmospheric effects were painted on with Photoshop brushes, right? Answer: nada. Check this out:

Now, it's true that DAZ Studio 3 ... the free version, which I still use, because my computer, beefed up though it is, will probably do the proverbial face-plant if I try to run the full-on version ... doesn't allow for atmospheric effects, right?

True ... and also not all that true. You don't get effects which are done for you by the program, but you can sure as heck add atmospheric layers yourself. You do this by adding a primitive, a plane, at right angles to the ground, and making it blue or gray or mauve, and putting an opacity map on it. Ta da! Atmospherics ... suddenly the riverbank is misty.

The foreground and the far river bank are land masses that were made in Bryce (eons ago) and exported as OBJs, and then imported into DAZ, scaled and set in place. Add displacement mapping, and then start importing plants. I used the ferns from DM's Elven Shed, plus a couple of DM's trees from Fantasy Visions, and a lot of Merlin's trees, from the, uh, Merlin's Trees set. Also one of Rhodi's spruce trees...

The elven boat is a lovely OBJ I got a few weeks ago. It doesn't install into DAZ; you just import it, TGA textures and all. Very, very nice.

Then -- the water. This is done with two primitive planes. The bottom one (being the river bottom) has a sandstone texture added. The top one, being the surface of the water, has a water texture added (a photo of the sea I took from the end of the jetty a few years ago), plus a displacement map to ruck the surface, plus an opacity map so you can aaaaaalmost see through the water. Add gloss to make it glitter and reflectivity. Done!

Add a set of lights, with shadows... and render. It takes a bit more pushing and pulling to get it all into place, and then -- ship the final render into Photoshop to have the opposite riverbank painted, and the birds. Done!

I'm actually very pleased with the way this turned out. Makes me think, I need to get back into Bryce -- which I haven't opened for ages. Confession: I'm a bit stumped when it comes to organizing the lighting in Bryce, and since renders take so long (hours, plural) before you know whether something worked, it's not as easy to get it "nutted out," as the British say, as you might hope. (Yes, Virginia, I downloaded the 1,300pp manual. Oomph. Sometime when I have the occasional year to spend on a project, I'll get through it!) I would also love to get into Cararra. I have Cararra 5 Pro, which I realize is not about two years out of date, but it's waaaay beyond anything I know, so it's a good place to start. There are also some fantastic landscape generators out there. If you're curious, just go to Google, switch to "Images," and search on "Terragen." See what I mean?! Serious "wow factor" there.

Back tomorrow, guys! I have a few things to do before the telecast of the Tour de France starts, and about 20 minutes to get 'em done in.

Jade, 12 July
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