Monday, April 16, 2012

The Man in the Hat, the Guardian Dragon, and more

click to see all images at large size...

And speaking of heroes (well, I was, in the last post, a couple of days ago...) try this one: the man in the hat. Uh huh. Try looking at the shadow, not the figure -- and in case you don't want to click to see the pic at full size, here's the detail shot:

Indiana who --?! I think anybody in the world would recognize that silhouette! I just couldn't resist this. The project started off as a "working class hero," and he was going to be (probably still will be) a partner for the PI type character you saw the other day. But as it started to go together, something just made me chase that shadow, and I'll admit, it took an extra half hour, but it was huge fun. Mind you -- the character himself is pretty darned good. Have a look:

...and he's actually standing inside the Palenque ruins standing set, which is an enormous structure. You can get into the temple at the top; and here, I've overdriven all the bump maps in order to bring up oodles of detail which will work well in close-up. Though I confess, I did hand-paint the edges of the big column that appears in the foreground in the full-frame shot. It has perfectly-square edges, which an ancient ruin wouldn't. Easy to fix that, in Photoshop...

The second piece today is Dave's "Guardian of the Mountains" ... a 50-hour Vue render! He's doing fantastic things in Vue, and the render engine is amazing. He needs more RAM -- his computer will max out at 16Gb, and we'll take care of that in a week or two. With more RAM, you could get images like this every day or two, instead of waiting most of a week. He loves to work with dragons, but getting him to do a guest post is like trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip, so I decided to just post this one myself. This piece is really fantastic. Dragons, SF, fantasy, and the gray zone where they cross over is where he likes to work --

Meanwhile, on my side of the desk, the quest for photorealism in 3D goes on:

Adventures in Reality/Lux, Part Three:

Here's the car I promised. I actually did it several times, with different results every time. The top shot, here, is ... welllll, it's a cheat. I took two versions and composited them to get the shot I was trying for. The second shot, below, is the raw Lux render, with just a bit of color correction in Photoshop. I learned a lot. A lot. And I still have about 95% of the learning curve ahead of me. It's an amazing engine, sooooo different from anything I've ever used before. 

The third and fourth shots are revisitations of renders I did not much under two years ago, relit and re-rendered to bring them up to speed. I can do so much more, now that I can handle stupendously large scenes without the system just crashing. This one, below, has a close-to photographic quality:

That's Curt Gable, standing at the parapet of the NARC Air Park, on the roof of the NARC building in Venice, Darwin's. I'm rather proud of this one, because I designed a lot of the textures and mapping myself; I did the atmospherics and depth of field ... and this is still a DAZ Studio render. Am still seeing how far the 3DLight engine can be pushed, for two reasons. One is that it'll be weeks, maybe a couple of months, before I can get Lux to do exactly what I want (!), and the second reason is that 3DLight raytrace renders take a matter of minutes, whereas Lux renders --? Well, the second of the two car shots took five hours.  So, with the best will in the world, and all the skills to boot, you can still only have one Lux render in a session, whereas you could have a whole pile of raytraced images. So it behoves me to get the "ordinary" renders up to the absolute max that can be achieved, right? Right.

Speaking of which -- the last image today (Jarrat, Stone, Cronin and Ramos in the hangar) was completely relit, and marginally reposed. Thank gods I didn't trash any of the original project files! What I've done  here is to reimport the new, improved Joe Ramos character: I redesigned him a while ago, and he's much, much better than before. Then I reposed Jarrat and Stone a little ... deleted all the lights and reset them. Changed some of the texturing, and rerendered it. The original of this, way back when, wasn't even raytraced -- four characters in the shot, plus a set, and a half dozen lights --? Crrraasshhhh! Impossible. Couldn't get anywhere close to it. Can now. Cool! So this one, here, is very nice. Four completely different skinmaps, face morphs, the works. To my eye, Gil Cronin is the one (second from the left) who renders up the best in this shot. It's the way the shadows fall around his face. 

(Incidentally, if you're wondering: sorry, you can't buy these face/body morphs anywhere. Two out of the four were completely designed by me, starting from the raw Michael 4 model; another started life as JM Falcon and was heavily reworked to make Joe Ramos, and the other did start life as a stock morph -- I forget the name -- but he was re-re-reworked, including having the skinmap repainted, for Jarrat.)

Dave and I have something special for you tomorrow. The renders are already done, so -- join me then!

Jade, April 16

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