Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Wood Goddess ... and having a ball in Bryce

click to see at full size -- 1000 pixels wide ... but I had the presence of mind to zap these guys with a bit of file compression, so they''ll download faster.

The main picture today is called The Wood Goddess ... do you remember the Spirit of Winter I uploaded for Christmas -- the one with the ice wings? I guess this would be the female equivalent. In fact, it's the antlers from the Wood God costume (they're actually attached to a goshalmighty hood, but you can easily make the hood go transparent and leave the antlers behind), and the Yaana skinmap, and the Celestial Hair. The element I like least about this image is the hair, because no matter how you render it, it looks plasticky, and the only thing you can do is paint over it in Photoshop later. I didn't have a whole lot of time to paint on this, but I did enough, I think, to "get away with this"... here's the detail shot:

The thing I like most about the shot is the way the snow came out -- that was done with a terrain created in Bryce and imported into DAZ Studio 3 as an OBJ, and then mapped to hell and back. The backdrop works well ... a digital shot which was adjusted into night colors, then had the moon zapped on with an .abr brush and the stars hand painted ... which was just the start of the fun. There are about 12 layers of additions and effects in Photoshop, to get the image to look like this. The original render was ... glaringly bright and "plastic." You wouldn't have been impressed. The final result? Me like. Muchly.

The second image is a Bryce project, which represents an experiment: this is the first time I ever imported an OBJ and used a real 3D model in a Bryce shot, rather than using Bryce's own trees. Remember the other day, I was grumbling about Bryce's trees not looking very realistic? These little spruce trees are the Rhodi-Design props, which I think I got from Content Paradise (which is SmithMicro's store). There are also some fantastic new trees appearing on the market  now -- so I can't have been the only one grumbling about the ticky-tacky appearance of so many 3 trees! These are on my wishlist at DAZ:

I'm having a ball with Bryce, now that I have the processor power to run it properly. Today's landscape, I call "Craggy Skyline" ... ooooh, I wish I could tell you that was one of my textures on the terrain (the ground), but it would be a horrible fib. It's one of David Brinnen's materials, which were shipped as Pro Materials with Bryce 7 Pro. This is such a complex material, it took only a tiny bit of post work in Photoshop to make it pass muster at any size. But I did configure that sky myself ... and the next thing I'm going to experiment with is what they call "volumetrics," which is a way to make devastatingly realistic cloouds...

It's just possible I started to learn Bryce backwards. You actually can figure out a lot if you play with abstracts first ... shapes and colors and textures. Like this:

Well ... I guess I probably did what everyone else does: jump in headfirst and start with landscapes! In fact, playing with mapping and so forth first would make it easier to learn the tricks. The problem is, it's nowhere near as interesting -- and who starts up Bryce with the idea of doodling with abstract shapes?! You want misty mountains and fjords and stormy skies, and all that good stuff. You tend to make a huge mess for the longest time, and then eventually the penny starts to drop.

There's an image rendering in the background right now, which I hope to show you tomorrow. Even on my new system, it's going to be a looooooong render, but it should be worth it. The original render settings called for a "maximum ray depth" of 12 ... which would have resulted in a 15 hour render! Hmmm. Revert to the defaults, and it comes back to a 2-3 hour render. I can live with that. And when it's done, I have another experiment to run --

Get into the advanced render settings in DAZ, and see how far the render engine can be driven. The default settings are low, and I never had the ability to go past these. In the last few days, Dave and I have been looking at every render engine from Lux to Reality to Octane ... but the problem is compatibility. Getting DAZ to shake hands properly with anything is a major issue.  As much as I love DAZ Studio, I'm facing the very real possibility (probability) of being compelled to change up to one of the more industry standard programs, in order to get access to the render engines. If you're interested, have a look at Luxology, which is a cool grand. Don't even think about AutoDesk's Maya ... it's five grand. Oomph.

Will let you know how the experiments work out ...!

Jade, 13 January (yep, it's a Friday)
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