Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fantasy landscapes and raven's wings ... Bryce and Vue

Happy New Year ... it's January 1 on this side of the dateline, and I continue to relish the opportunity to do anything except work ... time to indulge in art for its own sake! The two pieces above were my inspiration today ... please do click to see them at full size -- especially the winged hunk...

One of the books I got for Christmas was the art book Welcome to my Worlds, featuring the work of Canadian artist Rob Alexander. Somewhere in one of the prefaces is an observation that Alexander's paintings tell stories, and this struck a chord with me. I realized that this is exactly what I've wanted to do with artwork ... tell a story. Or make people's imagination take off when they look at a piece...

The top piece, today, I call The Raven. If it were a book cover (which it isn't ... there's no such book), the novel would be called Evermore, Quoth the Raven, deliberately mis-quoting a line in Edgar Allan Poe's famous work. The thing is, I have absolutely no idea what the story would be ... but I'll just bet your imagination fills with ideas when you see this guy -- especially at full-size. You have to check out the detail in this piece...  

Wow. Seriously. That's one of my characters -- in other words, face and body morph by me. He's wearing the Jackson skinmap, the Yannis Rasta Dreadlocks --and something I just got. The Feathered Wings, which I picked up on sale from DAZ just yesterday.

If you view the whole thing at full size, please do notice the buildings in the background. Not a backdrop! This time around, with the new computer, I'm able to actually bring in a whole city's worth of buildings and just ... park them there. I lit the windows of the mansion, which makes for a "human" touch, which counterpoints the other-world, more-than-human nature of the figure. The piece was raytraced (four and a half minutes!!) and then quite heavily painted in Photoshop.

I got some other goodies at DAZ, which I'll be sharing tomorrow, or at least very soon. I'd gone there to download (!) DAZ Studio 4, which is free at this moment (a special offer; usually fifty bucks). Now that I have the super-fast 64-bit system, I can look at Studio 4 ... but I also know that the jury is out on how good it is -- and, in fact, on how useful the Genesis figures actually are. Hmmm. I'll know more about this when I've had the chance to play with it, in coming days and weeks.

The second piece today is a real storybook landscape in Bryce 7 Pro. I wanted something that conveyed the fairytale fantasy genre, and I'm very pleased with this one. This time around, having the render power, I should be able to make sense of Bryce. At last!

But while I was setting off to feel my way through the interface for the first time in, I admit, months, I remembered that a year or more ago I was playing with another program called Vue. At the time, I was picking my way through the top layers of Vue 7, and the computer was struggling with it, which is why I never went much further...

So I wondered, naturally enough,   "Hmm, how does Vue run on this new system?"

The answer: like greased lighting, but.

And it's a monumental but. The software will not run properly without being online ... and my new machine has no modem. It is not likely to ever have a modem. It runs 100% in quarantine, away from the Internet, and viruses, and software updates which change the way computers work, and stuff everything up. Well, poop. I mentioned this to Dave, and he was fascinated to go to Cornucopia 3D and see what version of Vue is current now --

They're up to Version 10! He paged through the brochure online, and I have to admit, it's jaw dropping. So he downloaded Vue 10, the free entry level version, onto his machine (which is a quad core with 4Gb of Ram, a powerful video card etc., etc.), and --

Two hours later, he's doing this:

So, right now Dave is playing happily with the entry level Vue 10, learning the interface. And in a few weeks, when he's hopelessly addicted to it, we'll be getting the third level of the program. Level 1 is Pioneer, and it's the freebie; Level 2 is Frontier, and it's $99. Level 3 is Esprit, and it's $199 ... then you add multitudes of modules to make it do amazing things. For one, there's a network rendering engine, which could work out just fine for us, because we have five Windows 7 machines, with 15 processors between them. If Dave can figure out the network rendering, we might be able to do some amazing things.

Speaking of amazing things -- will you look at that top one of his, with the low sun and the lens flare! I mean ... woof. It's going to be fantastic, seeing where he goes with this. And I shall be looking over his shoulder, learning the interface.

Stay tuned!

Jade, January 1, 2012
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