Thursday, October 18, 2012

Michael 4 tries on a new skin and face. Meet Garret

click to see all images at larger size

Test driving a new skinmap and face/body morph is always fun. This is a new skinmap called Mitchell, which you can find through the Renderosity marketplace.  It's from a designer called SAV, or Studio Art Vartanian, and it's another in SAV's line of northern European skins -- highly detailed, with a lovely texture, and a grand contrast to all those swarthy skinmaps in my library. The skinmap is very, very pale, though; it's a bear to light this in full daylight conditions and not have him come up just plain "pasty" in a raytrace. For instance, I'm only about 80% satisfied with the daylight render, above ... before I say any more, let me see how he renders in Lux. Fair go, here: this skinmap was developed for the Firefly engine in Poser, and a DAZ Studio raytrace will absolutely not to justice to it! (Note: this is no reflection on the designer. DAZ Studio users know well ahead of time that to get tip-top results, you ship the work to Reality-LuxRender ... and I'll do this just as soon as I have the chance! Poser users have the Firefly engine built in. LuxRender is actually superior, but the downside is that renders are overnight jobs even on a super-fast system. Ten and fifteen hour renders are commonplace, to get the absolute best results.)

However, in low light conditions, such as the first two renders today, the raytrace was quite adequate to get me into Photoshop for (here's where the fun begins!) painting, post work, with my Wacom Bamboo, which I have come to adore. For me, I gotta tell you, the post work is the big fun. Like this... 

Check out the glasses and the highlights and shadows on the chair's seat, and under the chair. All hand painted. The part I like most is the glass in the spectacles, reflecting the sky above and the chair below. It's so effective, and so easy. And... 

Big fun, adding the shadows and highlights, and bringing the lamp glow alive, and fetching up the light on objects. When you're used to viewing the Photoshop-retouched images, you wouldn't believe how flat the raw renders look. One of my projects is to do a video for YouTube, which fades (blends, morphs) from the finished version into the raw version and back into the finished version, to really show what I mean.

Next thing I'll be doing, though, is rendering the Mitchell skinmap in Lux to see how it performs with a real, proper render engine. But I'm very happy with the face I created to suit this skinmap:

This, above, is Face Designed by Jade, and it was developed because ... well, the Mitchell face morph, supplied along with the skinmap, doesn't appeal to me so much. It's all right, but it's not as "natural" a face as I prefer. Doctor Mike was looking over my shoulder as I test-drove the original face morph and rendered these, below:

I asked him for his opinion, and he said, to his eye the original Mitchell face morph is very "Nineteenth Century," like a marble or bronze, circa French Revolution. It's a good face, but it's stylized rather than having that sense of reality that I prefer. See my face at large size:

That's what I was aiming for, and I'm thrilled with this face. So realistic. I also put a few years on him, you notice. The Michael 4 "doll," just as he loads up, is very immature, just a little more than a boy. Some stories and art need the very young character; some don't. My characters tend to be a bit older, because I do like a mature guy. 

That's the Mitchell hair he's wearing, set to a kind of auburn/red color. The costume is also by SAV, the Sav Hot Men Outfit. For the garden scene, I replaced the textures on the shirt, but the jeans are just as they unpack, right out of the box. These garments have a fantastic set of conforming morphs: they, uh, "undress" the model, allowing for glamor and intimacy, which most conforming garments don't:

Next, I promise with hand on heart, I'll finish and illustrate the next chapter of Abraxas! I got a start, but I've been sick for a few days. Again. Life hasn't been so easy lately. I was asked, how am I going to go about blogging the chapters in future, when the story gets, uh, romantic! I was thinking about putting in the teaser for the chapters containing sensual material, and zipping the whole thing into a PDF and giving a link. That way, people who are only here for the art needn't be bothered; people who like the story but don't want to contend with sensual scenes can also remain unbothered; and those folks who appreciate a bit of Yaoi-style romance can download the PDF and enjoy it for its own sake. So that's the plan.

More soon!

Jade, October 18
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