Sunday, February 19, 2012

A little fantasy, a little whimsy ... and, they're giving it away now --?!




click to see all images at close to original size -- 1000+ pixels wide -- 
especially the Tales of the Riverbank piece, which you can't even begin to see at this compressed size...

Today I'm running all kinds of experiments -- in mapping, lighting, what have you. I'm all over the spectrum, and in fact, learning a lot. I suspect that you never stop learning, and when I look back at my best work from, say, 18 months ago, I'm gobsmacked at the growth there's been in that time ... not that there was anything "wrong" with the work that was being done back then.

But take a look here, below. I've uploaded the "detail" of the leader shot, above, at full-size, so you can see the whole thing properly, because I want to compare it, visually, with a page out of the old Abraxas graphic novel I was working on, till Project Wonderful categorized it as porn, and I dropped it like the proverbial hot spud. In all seriousness, porn was never the intention -- and it might be me, but I still don't see it as porn. Mature? Sure. But porn? I honestly don't think so. Not unless you classify the work of Boris and Julie and Frank Frazetta as porn, too ... and it isn't. Anyway, that's by the by ... and when I come back to the story, it's going to be told in narrative, as an ebook, with "bonus extras" ... meaning, great gobs of images you can download, which illustrate the narrative, all carefully organized so that they play properly on your Android thingamajigs. More about that later. For now, compare these:



There's nothing "wrong" with the Abraxas render (this is page 34, incidentally ... if you want to check out the whole thing, up to the end of Chapter 7, where I curtailed it, click here). But what I'm getting out of the software now, with lighting, mapping and post-working is ... nice. Very nice.

Speaking of the software, I'm starting to get the hang of Poser Pro:


This might look like a simple picture, but it demonstrates large amounts of control over the scene: import a set? Sure. Load up one of Poser's fairly unimpressive stock characters -- no problem. Get it posed, and add a costume and toupee -- okay. Load up a prop (the chair): yup. Get into the Materials Room and get ten layers of textures on everything -- uh huh. Put in a background wallpaper. Put ONE light on it, but be in absolute control of that light. Drive the camera around, as required. Control the shadows. Render it. To get all this under control, you have to figure out the Pose Room, Materials Room (especially the "advanced" pane), the light and camera controls; how to get a costume and toupee to "conform" to the figure; how to select body parts or the whole body; pose the body;  add a backdrop ... 

These are all very basic skills, I know, I know! Be gentle with me, I'm new to Poser, which is very different. I still have to load up some proper content -- sets, costumes, figures, skinmaps -- and basically get rid of the ticky-tacky stock figures that ship with Poser. Then I need to figure out the nuances of manual settings for the Firefly render engine, which was the whole point of getting Poser ... because I can't go any further with the stock render engine from DAZ.

All that comes next, and I have a heck of a lot more to play with --

You've heard me griping about DAZ Studio 4 being the cartoon interface from a cartoon hell? This is perfectly true for the version which doesn't cost $450 -- in other words, the version you can afford, right? Right now, I'm wondering how many other artists are griping the same way, and defecting to Poser, because as of last weekend, DAZ is giving away the Studio 4 Pro version. I'm going to stress that again ... the Pro version. The one that was $449 -- which, coincidentally, is the one where you're supposed to be able to customize the workspace and get back to something resembling workability. At least, this is what I've read on various blogs and forums. Hmm.

Naturally, I downloaded the installer! I have't run it yet, but (along with getting Poser loaded up with proper, useful content and figuring out the manual adjustments for the Firefly engine), this is top of the agenda. I'll let you know know Studio 4 Pro performs.

And yes, while I was at DAZ, I found my way to the "patch," or "fix," which should stop Bryce behaving like a bratty little twerp, breaking its toys all the time. The version I just downloaded is 7.1.0.109, which has to be a long way up the ladder from the 7.0 version which we've had since it came out. 

So I have toys galore to play with, and am looking forward to it all with some glee. 

Meanwhile, you wouldn't believe the stuff Dave is doing in Vue Esprit, and I'm desperately trying to get him to do a guest post. I'm going to have to bribe him with something. (Salt and vinegar potato chips might do it.)

Stay tuned.

Jade, 20 February

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