Sunday, February 26, 2012

More cute guys, starships and Photoshop recomposition

click to see all images at large size, 1000+ pixels...

As promised ... there's a lot more to upload! And a couple of the images here today are the product of a new line of experimentation. Yesterday, I mentioned an idea mooted by a guy on one of the forums I've been looking at for info on how one can squeeze the most out of the 3DLight render engine (which is integral to DAZ Studio), or else get Poser to play nice. Or both. Preferably both. His suggestion was, to get more response out of an image ... if it had five lights, why not render it five times and do a recomposition of all five images, adjusting them to get the most out of them? I thought, what a good idea.

So, the first of the images, today, was done this way. I didn't render the image five times .. rather, I shipped it into five layers in a Photoshop project and made a dark one, a light one, a red one, a blue one, a green one ... and then played around with the merge/blend modes and the transparencies on each image, until  certain luminosity started to come up. The kind of luminosity you see in much more complex renders than can be managed by the DAZ render engine, which can't do the sub-surface scattering, for on thing.

So I went back into one of yesterday's renders, and reprocessed the whole thing. Well, well! Compare these -- and you'll have to see them at large size to appreciate the "response" which has come up in the skintones:

This, just done today (click to see it at close to 1:1 size. And this...

...which is the original, as posted yesterday -- no recomposition. 

Well, well. I'm not saying it's something you'd do all the time, because it's an extra fiddle which takes about 20 minutes. This provides an alternative to setting 16 dim colored lights, as I did on the Rhapsody in Green render yesterday ... that also is a fiddle, and it takes the same amount of time. 16 lights, 16 shadows, to properly light just one character. Ye gods, I'm trying to imaging raytracing that with a slower computer. I know, I know, I'm spoiled rotten with the Mighty Thor, may blessings be upon it.

I spent a while playing around, trying to find some way to make DAZ Studio generate a Collada file that can be read by anything at all, including its own sister programs, Carrara and Bryce. No joy. All I get is error messages galore. The Collada files I'm making don't seem to be compatible with anything. And Carrara is supposed to be able to open a DAZ file (on the .daz file tag), but all I get there is an error message too, so ... scratch that plan. Hmmm. Next: bite the bullet and install Poser Pro 2010 to my boot drive --

Speaking of which, in an attempt to get around the problem of not being able to get the Michael  and Victoria base models into Poser when it's running off a drive which isn't the boot drive, I spent a few minutes at Content Paradise, which is the model store of the company which issues Poser, SmithMicro. And  was absolutely bloody dumbfounded. Not in a good way. I was looking for FIGURES to plug into Poser, to get around the absence of M4 and V4....

Content Paradise is stuffed to busting with figures. 95% female. There are about four male characters, all for M4 (which rather defeats the object!), and this tiny handful of male characters are either ugly or weird. 

Now, what do you make of that?! Like I said ... dumbfounded. So it's M4 or bust, and I'll install Poser to my boot drive and keep my fingers crossed!

The SF shot -- second from top -- was done in Bryce. The starship is one of a pack of .OBP file format spaceships I got a little while ago, and the ringed planet --? Made that myself. The shot is lit with one light and a "cheat light" to create some fill-in and beat the too-dense shadows, to get an attractive image; the render was done at large size, and the subtle starfield hand-painted in Photoshop. This becomes the starship Gilgamesh ... and I used this on the book cover I just painted, for More Than Human. More about this shortly.

More odds and ends of CG doodling:

Here, I'm playing with lights and textures, basically looking at the interplay of the bounced light off ONE light source that's waaaaay out there and cranked to huge brightness. Actually, to get this much light from a single "source" that's a zillion miles away, I created three or four distant lights on the same coordinates. They're pretending to be the same light, but to get this much illumination, it took several of them. The experiment? I'm trying to get a realistic area of shade on an otherwise brightly sunny day. Like, a backstreet in the shadows at ten in the morning. And I reckon it worked.

And I think I can get back to you inside of February, because this is a leap year. Handy, that.

Jade, February 27
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