Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A superhero ... because it's "Avengers on DVD week"

click to see at large size

Well ... The Avengers came out on DVD this week, so I was in a superhero mood.  I thought, let's take a crack at creating one ... and here he is. You start with Michael 4, of course ... but, first -- hand-paint the skinmap and apply it to the model. I did a kind of "chrome" design and applied it generally. It's not an exact fit (have you any idea how long it takes to paint a seamless, dovetailed skinmap? I didn't have a week to spend on this!) so he's wearing a costume which conceals a couple of places where I'd still be painting the skinmap, if I wanted to wind up with something that was so perfect, you could go on Renderosity and sell it. That wasn't necessary here ... I just wanted to wind up with a nice painting in  couple of hours. So...

The body morph on Michael 4 is "blown out" here and there to get the superhero effect. One of the tweaks I made was to enlarge the hands. Then, get the pose just right -- a kind of martial arts pose. Then drop the Dystopia city blocks into the background. The Dystopia skydome is actually standing in for the background here, but I created a new sky to drop onto it. There's only two lights on this -- both raytraced -- and it was rendered up at 2700 pixels high, to give me wiggle room to get in and paint things like the eyes and brows. I didn't paint the hair ... no need. That's the Aether hair with the peak waaay overcooked to get a "strange" effect, and it'll do just as it is.

The raytrace only took a few minutes, even though the image is huge, because there's only the one hardo ... no feathers, fur, trees, plants. Phew! They're the culprits that slow down renders. In fact, lately I'm doing all the thousand-and-one preliminary renders -- the previews, which you do by the dozens to get things right before you set it up to render properly -- with the hair and foliage turned OFF. This makes your characters look a bit odd, and can make the scene look bare, but you get 30-second previews instead of 6-minute previews. Anything that makes the job go faster, right?

With the render done, then it was time to get the picture into Photoshop, and I spent about an hour painting highlights, shadows, effects, the face, the fog, the smog, smoke, tattoos, symbols, kanji. (Incidentally, don't ask me what the kanji means ... it just looks really cool.)

How much happens in Photoshop? Well, a lot, actually...

...without which, the bare render tends to look pretty "flat," even though there's nothing actually wrong with it. The digital painting later is what brings it to life.

So here's my superhero -- and he looks like a zombie hunter after the apocalypse! Just the thing to make a salute to The Avengers ... which we just bought, and will be watching tonight.

Also, I've done the next Abraxas art ... I just haven't written the Chapter yet. I'll be able to get this done this afternoon, and will upload art and chapter tomorrow, and this actually brings us to the end of August. What happened to the month? It's flown by! The 28th was Dave's birthday --

Those of you who are into Vue might be interested to know that he doubled his RAM, for his birthday -- necessary to run the program better/properly -- plus got the Bontanica and EcoSystem plugin modules for Vue. Now he can create plants and trees and, with the EcoSystem, populate a landscape. Theoretically, this can be done (these are images borrowed from the Vue brochure):

picture credit: the Vue brochure: borrowed, not hotlinked

picture credit: the Vue brochure: borrowed, not hotlinked

...and this is the kind of thing Dave will be figuring out in the weeks and months to come. I would dearly love to collaborate on this sort of art. The Vue plants and trees are far, far superior to almost anything you can get for use in Bryce and DAZ (and by extension, Poser). Vue does everything differently, and I am so impressed. Am dying to see what Dave can do with these new modules --

And for myself, it's Abraxas next. The new piece depicts Leon and Martin, and I'm delighted with it. It was a loooong render because it's full of foliage, and I think I was painting on it for 2-3 hours -- almost every pixel was painted, one way and another. See you tomorrow, with this and the chapter!

Jade, 30 August
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