Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Now, that's more like it!





click to see all images at large size...

Suffice to say ... it worked. I've been looking for the right skinmap for Neil Travers for a long, long time, and it turns out, my intuition regarding the Bart skinmap -- which you saw yesterday, with the Brad Pitt clone wearing it! -- works very nicely indeed. I did have to do a little bit of painting to tone down some redness in the facemap, but otherwise, it looks very, very "right" on Colonel Travers here. (What's that, you say Colonel Travers? If you're still thinking Captain or Major, you just haven't gotten along to Flashpoint ... and you don't know what you've been missing!)

So I'm going to count this one done and dusted. He's amazingly realistic, especially when the lights are brighter; he got Mel Keegan's stamp of approval about fifteen minutes ago (in fact, Mel is thrilled with this -- "the best best ... lock it, call it good," said MK. So I did), and I look forward very much to posing him with Curtis Marin, Rick Vaurien and Mark Sherrat. I'll probably revisit some of the old renders -- open the projects back up, apply this skinmap, and the slightly repainted face, to the character, and re-render them ... especially as, now, I have the ability to fairly easily raytrace things that were giving my computer a hernia last year!

Speaking of lighting and rendering ... I got into the lighting settings of those David Brinnen scenes I mentioned yesterday (something I can do now, since I got the upgrade on Bryce), and ... aha. He's using something called IBL lighting, which I never did before. IBL stands for Image Based Lighting. It comes down to this: you load up an image of the sky, which the software uses to map the lighting onto your scene. The image you have to use is a special one called an .hdr file. The only software I have that can generate .hdr images is Bryce itself, so I had to render a bright sky, and then load it up to be used as the lighting map in this one:


In fact, this is a re-render of a shot you saw a couple of weeks ago. The original one was heavily, heavily enhanced in Photoshop to be useful at all, and even so, it was blue, with a purple cast, which you couldn't get rid of for love or money. I knew it was all about the lighting, but no way could I do much about it in the render. So I went back into the most problematical render I've done in ages, and loaded up a bright sky as the IBL map...

The result is hugely different, and a generation better. I won't say this is photographic, because it's not, but boy, what a difference it made! And it was easy to make the .hdr file and load it. Now comes the tougher job: figuring out all the fiddly bits. The settings and fine-tunings, to make it work properly But this one is well worth sharing, because if you compare it to the original, you can see the world of difference, and the only thing done differently is the image map used for the lighting.

All weird and wonderful ... and yes, I know, guys, I have a tonne to learn about this. I'm getting there! I still have't had the chance to install DAZ Studio 4 Pro, or run the Collada experiment, to -- hopefully -- get DAZ and Poser Pro 2010 talking to each other. I have high hopes, and I'll let you know how it goes!

Jade, 23 February
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