Saturday, March 2, 2013

Male nude: Conan takes a vacation ... in LuxRender

(click to see the top image at full size; the two above are 1:1) 

Still getting the hang of LuxRender, and starting to scratch the surface of what it can do, I went back to another picture I was very happy with, last year as a raytrace, and set it up to render again in Lux. Result: fairly stunning, though there were some oddities along the way, like --

I originally had a couple of Austrian pine trees right behind the barbarian here. They show up in DAZ Studio all right, but they're just nor there in Lux, and there's nothing to be done about that. So I replaced them with the young fir trees from Rhodi Design, and also loaded up with grass (also by Rhodi), because I discovered that the grass prop which is problematical in DAZ Studio (and one presumes, therefore, Poser??), is a breeze in Lux. It renders up beautifully.

There where also problems with the skinmap, alas. This is SAV Atlas -- and it's one of the very few characters where I also use the original face morph as well as the skinmap. He's a beauty ... s'why I call this image "Conan Takes a Vacation." And the skinmap looks terrific in a raytrace, but when you come to do the Lux render, you can see "tidemarks" where the patches in which the skinmap is made join together. Obviously, they ought to be seamless, and in Lux, this one ain't. I did a bit of painting, and I also stood some props in front of him to save myself a lot more painting!

Otherwise, it was easy. The render took about 20 hours, and was done at 2000 pixels wide and 1600 high, because I knew I'd have to paint here and there, and I wanted to leave myself space to get in and do it. But what I didn't have to paint was the hair! Miracle of miracles, this is just how it rendered up, and it'll do just fine. I think this is the Akaste hair.

The big tree is the Ultimate Woodland prop (DAZ); and the ferns are from the DM Elven Shed set (Renderosity). The basic sky was done in Lux itself, by changing the values of the "sky light," which is a vastly editable parameter in the Light Groups. But the clouds were done in Photoshop, using the Mystikel Cloud Pack brushes as an overlay.

Next thing I need to work with in Lux is the depth of field ... which I expect is going to be tricky. I'll get some weird and wonderful results before I figure it out. And thing after that will be getting into the Materials editor, and taking control of every little detail. I confess, this image still uses the defaults, and any settings I put on the props in DAZ before sending the scene ti Lux.

Speaking of DAZ (well, any graphical work, I guess), I need a new harddrive. Waaaah! No, it's not busted, it's just full. I'm working with one of the screamingly fast solid state harddrives, and when the system was built for me, the shop kept the price down a bit by using the small boot drive, at just 111GB. Turns out, there's a lot of stuff I use that will only run cleanly off the boot drive ... so the boot drive has consequently filled up in 14 months. I'm scavenging for space now; just managed to get back enough Gigs to keep going for a couple of months while I organize myself one of the new hybrid drives...

A hybrid, you ask? Yep. Seagate came out with some new technology about two years ago. Google the Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid 2.5" SSHD. Uh huh. Speeds are comparable to the SSD (solid state drive), but you can get much higher capacity drives, and at a fraction the cost. In the States, the Momentus retails for as little as $106! Naturally, Australia being Australia, the same thing costs $230 at IT Warehouse, which built my system and will be doing the upgrade, including cloning the original boot drive over.

This is Very High on My Agenda, because I'm seriously running out of room! Have shopped some sales at Renderosity in the last few weeks, got some fantastic new sets and props, and when these are installed, I'm pretty sure I'll be juuuust about maxed out. But, with 500GB on a new hybrid SSHD, I can do all sorts of things ... like, get Poser running on the C: drive, which it demands before it'll install Michael and Victoria ... and then I can also play happily with the Firefly render engine, which admittedly gets fantastic results too. Never been able to do very much with it, because I can't get the figures installed ... and if I do surrender to pure lust and get Vue, I'll definitely need the space. I say "lust" deliberately there. I look at the Vue landscapes, and I just drooooool. Like this, for instance:

The picture credits on these should read: Artur Rosa, and they're borrowed from the E-on site, to show you what I mean about droooooling over the way Vue handles -- not so much the landscapes, as the foliage. Bryce will generate the terrains. It just won't populate them with credible foliage to save its life. You can see from "Conan Takes a Vacation" where my brain is trying to go. Lux is getting me about halfway there, but I honestly don't think the photographic realism you're dying for in the landscape itself will happen outside of Vue --

Though, to be fair, Lux does an incredible job. There are galleries on the LuxRender official site stuffed full of images that I'm still drooling over, and I've promised myself I WILL figure this out. For the moment, though, I'm quite happy with the barbarian's holiday snapshot, and -- well, how good it the figure work, really? As a test, I dropped it into monochrome, to see how convincing it is as a b/w photo, Try this:

...and that's pretty convincing. So... here's the wallpaper version:

...enjoy! It's 1920 wide, and looks a treat on both my monitors, desktop and laptop so it ought to fit most.

Jade, March 3, 2013
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