Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Eureka! This was the CG horseman I wanted...

The other day I sat down at the computer, needing a horseman and a mountain range, for a new book cover, and although I got a rather nice piece of artwork (see it here), I didn't get even close to what I'd wanted. So I gave it another shot yesterday, and ... eureka. This is what I wanted at the time. Not that I minded getting the other piece of art along the way, mind you! Please do click on this and see it at full size, 600x900. It's a very nice piece.

In fact, I was playing with the other piece in Photoshop, looking at ways to turn a render into a digital sketch...

I wish I could give you a quick and easy cookbook method for doing this, but in fact this effect was created using stacked layers -- about seven of them, all set to different values. Two of them use the "find edge" filter; one of them is a texture effect; one is a color cast; one is a "nose" layer; and so on, and on. The top layer has some zaps with various Photoshop brushes and a couple more filter effects added. You really need to see it at full size to be able to appreciate what the Photoshop "sketch" looks like. The end result looks like a pen and ink-wash drawing that someone labored about four hours to produce! Well ... it took about a half hour in Photoshop, working backwards from the DAZ studio render you saw the other day.  

Cheating? Yup. Will that stop me doing more of this work? Nope. Because I don't have the time to do this stuff physically, and yet -- and this is interesting -- often the client will want a drawing or painting, not a 3D render. It's critically important to be able to deliver what the client wants, yet said client might only be able to pay $25. Who's able to work four hours to create a sketch, to earn $25? You'd starve to death! However, it's Photoshop to the rescue...

If you're wondering what the book is, for which the "eureka" shot was produced:

Not a gay book (makes a change, doesn't it?) but the start of a mainstream list that we'll be developing in 2012 and onwards, working with a couple of new-ish writers. This one is a fantasy story (duh), and it was begging for a gorgeous cover. So here it is.

That's Michael 4 riding the Millennium Horse, which is wearing the Western tack (though I changed out every single texture). Michael is wearing the SAV Atlas skinmap and face morph. The costume is made up of the Lockwood shirt, the Journeyer Scout pants, the Leon boots and the M4 cloak; the only original texture used is the shirt, which I really like. The rest of the textures were switched out for a great Leather Textures pack I got from Renderosity. In the background: Merlin's pine, Rhodi's spruce, a couple of boulders and ferns from DM's various fantasy sets (all available at Renderosity; incidentally, Michael 4, the horse and the costumes are avalable from the DAZ store), and a couple of bricks and some grasses from the H3D Lost set. The background is a digital painting over a snapshot of the Remarkables, in New Zealand. The birds in the sky are done with Ron's Birds, an .abr brush set you can get from DAZ. The ground and the low hill in the middle distance were done with little bits of terrain made in Bryce 7 Pro and exported as OBJ models, and then imported into DAZ. These had displacement and diffuse maps added to make them look like, uh, ground.  Result: nice!

I must start blogging again! I've neglected this blog of necessity for about the last six months. In that time, we've had a death in the family, my health has been ridiculously poor, we've published several books, I've done better than a dozen private art commissions, kept our business operating ... and there hasn't been time to sit down and think, let alone do art for myself, for fun, for it's own sake, for the blog's sake!! I'd started to forget how very much I used to enjoy just DOING IT for the sake of doing it. Ars gratia artis. Pardon the Latin.

I do believe that 2012 is going to be a very different kind of year, and I'm looking forward to having more time for my stuff ... so you can expect to see a lot more from me. Soon. The images I have whirling around my head ...! They need to find an exit route, and they can only come out through my fingertips at the keyboard. 

Oh -- you remember the Abraxas project?? I've promised myself, I will WRITE the story, just as a narrative. I might not have the time to do hundreds and hundreds of panels plus text work, but I'm sure I can find more than enough time to just write the story. It was about to go in some amazing directions, and I'm actually looking forward to this. Again, in belongs to 2012, and it's going to be fun!

Will be back before Christmas. With a card. 

Jade, 21 December (The Solstice of Summer)

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