Monday, January 9, 2012

Adventures in Bryce, and a digital barbarian

click to see at large size...

This one really is a Bryce landscape! I'm still at the stage where, when something goes very right in Bryce 7 Pro, it's usually purely by accident. Well ... not really. But I've only scratched the surface, and am just starting to get the hang of little bits of it. Bryce is not for the faint hearted. It's, um, complicated. If I have a bone to pick with it, it's that Bryce trees are not very realistic -- nowhere near on a par with the trees you see in Vue renders. To put it simply, the results you get (or can get ... there's a difference) in Vue are so realistic, you can't tell they're digital. Can you squeeze these results out of Bryce? I honestly don't think so -- but Bryce has a charm all its own. It makes art, pictures that fall into that curious "middle zone" where art and photorealism merge. By contrast, Vue was used in Pirates of the Caribbean, and I think Avatar was also one of their collaborative projects. 'Nuff said.

The other piece today is a (!) digital barbarian. Give me a reason why not! That's Michael 4 and the Millennium Horse; Michael is wearing the Samson skinmap, and a face by me. The horse is wearing one of the CWRW Pro Pack skinmaps, and the saddle from the Dragon Lord set. Add a couple of gnarly trees from the Gnarly Old Trees set, and the standing stone from DM's Elven Stone. The problem with the Elven Stone model is that they forgot to ship the textures along with it. It unpacks as so much white plastic, so the first thing I do is slap all my own textures onto it. Then, a bit of terrain to stand on, and another bit in the background -- textures and displacement maps on both ... upwards of 60 test renders, including two raytaced ones, to get it all pretty right; then into Photoshop for loads of painting. (And here's the magic: now I can do 60+ test renders to get it all right -- no more copromises, or flawed shots that have to be called "Finished" because there's just no more time. Gotta love that new PC!)

What's been painted? The horse's mane; the grass; the birds. The sky, though, is a digital image. I keep my eyes open for fantastic skies, and then Dave and I shoot down to the beach or up to the top of the hill, and I'll photograph the sky from every angle, at every zoom. The images show up in a lot of my backgrounds.

I was shopping for odds and sods at DAZ the other day, and got a couple of new items to play with, so I'll be back in a day or two with some stuff you never saw before. (Is it me, or is DAZ getting expensive? I haven't had the chance to rummage around at Renderosity for a long while ... hmmm. Must go back there and check prices.)

Jade, 9 January
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