Monday, February 4, 2013

Male nude fantasy: 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn'

(click to see all images at large sizes)

The forest god ... a pagan image; or a fantasy image, if you prefer. I first painted this in acrylics on illustration board in (ahem!) 1981. Needless to say, the CG version is ten dimensions better, but the inspiration and theme are the same, and I duplicated the pose exactly from the original painting. The original is still in the house somewhere -- packed. Heaven only knows where. But what did show up was an oldoldold A3 size color photocopy of a set of photos (not digital ... your actual, genuine film) of eight of the old paintings before they were either sold or packed. The ancient photocopy is horrible, but there's enough information in it to remind me of the art, and I have a fancy to recreate it digitally. Here's Number One, which I like to call "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn." 

The title is a bit of whimsy derived from that chapter in The Wind in the Willows where the rat, the mole and the otter have been out searching all night for Portly, the otter's young son. They find him just before dawn, quite safe in the care of the god of small animals, and Mole is privileged to catch a fleeting glimpse of the god just as the sun rises -- which is quite visionary, when you consider this was written at the height of the Victorian C of E! 

The piece was rendered at 2000 wide and 3000 high. It took a couple of hours to get it all posed and everything imported. Something like 10 trees, twice that number of little ferns and plants and what have you. I'd have used squirrels and rabbits, if I had the models, but alas, I don't have them yet. I have a couple of birds, so these were added...

The raytrace was a two hour affair, even on "The Mighty Thor," which is still one of the most outrageously powerful computers on the market. It's now just over 13 months since I opened the box under the Christmas tree and did several laps of the room without touching the carpet. (Thank you, husband!) The raytrace took a long time because of all those plants, and the hair on the character. As soon as you add hair and plants, the time taken to calculate the shadows blows out exponentially.

Then it was over into Photoshop for a lot -- and I mean, a lot! -- of painting. I was four hours into the project when the raytrace was finished, and I think I spent four more painting...

The above image is fully captioned, but you'll need to see it full size (duh) to appreciate it. Left - unpainted. Right - painted. The most immediate effect you see is the hair ... then you notice that the skin tones have been enhanced (it’s subtle, but it makes a big  difference). The highlights have been enhanced on the jewelry to make, for example, the earring much more visible. A lot of foliage has been added around the tree.

But the major job was always going to be the hair, which was overpainted in four layers: dark thin strands, light thin strands, both layers given a gaussian blur to make them meld down into the picture; then a few extra dark and light strands left sharp, painted in one layer; lastly, a broad, soft highlight painted over the cap and back of the hair and given a blend mode of “soft light” to bring out the highlights which were otherwise not visible.

The model is obviously Michael 4. The face and body morphs are my own, but the skinmap is Jerome, by Tosca (which I do believe is from the DAZ marketplace ... but I could be dead wrong. It's been a long time). If you don't find it there on a "Jerome for M4" search, go straight to Renderosity. The hair is the Yannis Rasta Dreads, heavily painted (Renderosity again). The head jewels and earrings are actually designed to fit Victoria, but all you have to do is move them a bit and resize them, and they fit Michael. These are from the Destiny jewels set. The bracelets and necklaces are from the M4 Accoutrements pack which also includes watches, a beanie, rings. The decorative item hanging from the horn is an earring from the M4 Earrings pack, with all the textures changed out. The horns themselves are actually the Troglodyte Horns, again with all the textures changed (DAZ). The flowers are two pieces from the Vintage Darlings set (Renderosity) ... the main tree is the Ultimate Woodland prop from DAZ, and the smaller trees are from the Deluxe Trees set -- and for the life of me, I can't remember where I got those. Hiding in there are a couple of the Rhodi Design baby fir trees from Content Paradise. The two birds also came from Content Paradise...

The background was a color sketch done ahead of time and just imported into DAZ as a backdrop:

The foliage around the tree, the very subtle light rays, the birds in the sky, the butterfly, some of the foreground grass, the gleam on the lamp glass -- all this was done with Photoshop .abr brushes. There was a little work to be done on the bark and ivy, but not much, because I overdrove the displacement mapping to really make it come up coarse, rough ... realistic. All other effects were wrangled in DAZ itself, before the raytrace began. 

And after I was finished with the whole thing, I was interested to play around with framing and bordering, in Photoshop. In a post the other day I was mentioned a really neat set of borders that the old Micrografx Picture Publisher had, and which were added to an image with a couple of clicks. I've had a hunt around in Photoshop Elements, and haven't found anything comparable yet ... does anyone know if they're in there somewhere?? So, not finding them, I got creative:

(Incidentally, sorry if the big images take a bit longer to download. I have one group of people asking me for larger images, because you can see so much more in them, and a couple of others asking for smaller images which download faster. Well ... this is the age of broadband and ADSL 2+, and I'm thinking that 99% of people have fast downloads. To the folks who want the really small pictures: apologies, guys, but I gotta go with the majority.)

I'm just tickled pink with the way the hair and jewelry came out! I know a lot of people (most, in fact), don't bother to view the images at large size, so I'm going to hit you with one more, just one, which will show the painting off at a halfway decent size:

Back with more very soon ... actually, with a bit a bit of a rant. Have just learned that DAZ is now charging for the obsolete base models! What--??!! This is deserving of a rant. Tomorrow, or soon. Grrr.

Jade, February 5

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