Friday, May 11, 2012

A little urban fantasy, anyone ...?

click to see all images at large size...

If you're not chuckling, you're not looking close enough ... or your monitor might be a bit small ... or you might have misplaced your reading glasses. So why don't I make this easy --

Elf, out shopping, took the sports car ... looking for his keys. Right...

And ere's the detail from "Elven Scholar, 2012 style..."

...the top picture is well worth a look at large size. I rendered it at 2000 pixels high in order to paint in some very fine detail, and then resized it down to 1500 pixels high for uploading. He's, um, interesting, isn't he? Elves don't show their age, only their sagacity. My guess is, this guy's about a thousand years old, maybe more, and he does not suffer fools gladly. Or at all. 

What got me onto this train of thought was an old, old post of Mel Keegan's -- it appeared on his blog years ago. He was talking about Lord of the Rings at the time, and referencing the scene where Elrond says to Gandalf that he was there two and a half thousand years ago, when Isildur stuffed everything up by not chucking the ring into the cauldron at Mount Doom (thought: Elrond should have chucked Isildur in, while he had hold of the ring ... boy, would that have saved everyone a ton of angst). Mel was just remarking that given 2500 years' worth of time since that fateful day, how come Sauron didn't run face-first into a brace of cruise missiles when he stuck his nose out of Mordor again? Men, elves, dwarfs, hobbits, wizards ... they never even developed the gramophone, let alone color tv and laser guns --

Which got me to thinking, suppose they had

So here's Master Aldwyr, yonks older than Doctor Who, hunting for the keys to his yellow sports car as the afternoon shadows lengthen, so as to make it home in time for an evening session in the garden with a student of 650, who's ... a little dense, by the look on Aldwyr's face!

These are just raytraces. The 2000 pixel high "Elven Scholar - 2012 Style" was a 3 hour render, and then another hour painting in Photoshop (including gamma, color balancing, photo filtering). I definitely need to set him to render in Lux, I know. What a difference it would make ... speaking of which, you have got to check this out:

Remember The Fugitive, from last week? This, above, is the LuxRender version. Whew! I've uploaded him at pinup size, because you're going to want to keep him. Please do see this at full size!! The detail in the skin is just astonishing And ... the LuxRender image with the raytrace. Photographic realism. The "response" in the skinmap is amazing. This is the Atlas skinmap by SAV, and I'm blown away. 

Now, not all skinmaps work out well in Lux -- at least at my current level of proficiency. One or two render up flat and muddy. I need to work out how to get Lux to handle darker skin tones. But yes, I know, I need to set Master Aldwyr in the garden to render in Lux, and see what happens. I might also skedaddle over to Renderosity and go trawling for some new skinmaps that have levels more detail which Lux can get hold of. And then ...

I need to set the Pinup Boy of the Hyborian Age to render in Lux, same reasoning. What a difference that ought to make. If you were very sharp eyed, and had a really good memory, you might have halfway recognized him from a 2010 project. This is another old, old project that's come out of the archives and been re-rendered, and this is worth a glance:

On the left is the new raytrace, finished in Photoshop. On the right is the old render -- from waaaay back when I couldn't raytrace anything to save my life (result: crash to the desktop and a lot of ripped out hair), and I was also rendering in a keyhole because large images crashed me too. So if you look at the diff between the LuxRender image and the raytrace, and then look at the diff between the raytrace and the old deep shadow map...!

The Fugitive took about 18 hours in Lux. Master Aldwyr will take longer, and so will the calendar boy (he seriously needs a name). So it's "one thing at a time" here, and "don't be hasty," to quote Fangorn himself. In fact, when you're talking about Lux, you can be as hasty as you like ... the software will take its own sweet time!

If you're wondering what in the world I did with the hair on Master Aldwyr ... no, that's not hand-painted. That's actually in the render. What I did was to get into the Surfaces pane and change all the specular settings -- not on the hair, as such, but on each of the 10 different layers that go to make up the hair. You have three things you can change: the amount of glossiness, the color something shines, and the "strength" of the color/gloss, as distinct from the sheer amount of shininess. By jiggling these numbers/values, you can get some great effects and save a heck of a lot of painting --

But yes, even after all this is said and done, there's a lot of painting all over these renders to get the absolute maximum out of them. And I'm working on that Photoshop retouching tutorial -- I am, really I am!

Stay tuned.

Jade, May 11

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