Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Poseidon Rising -- revisited

click to see at larger size; #2 is a 1:1 crop from the original

About 20 months ago I did a render, with Poseidon rising from the ocean, and for some odd reason it popped back into my head a few days ago, and stuck there. Maybe it was watching Percy Jackson! Whatever -- the original render floated back out of memory. If you've been following this blog for any length of time you might remember it:

...and see the full post here. Golly, that goes back a long way. That post is dated July 31, 2011. I've always remembered this as one of my best face/body morphs, and I really wanted to go back to it, and do more with it. Sooo....

Then  I remembered that I still have the insert disk from 3D World Magazine, from (!) November 2005 (now we really are heading back to the Paleozoic), and one of the freebies on it was Zygote's dolphin ... an unrigged, low-poly model without any surface tetxtures. Hmm. Here's the thing of it: these days, I don't mind hand-painting something to make a piece of gray plastic look realistic.

Apologies for the download size of the big image, uploaded first today. It was rendered at 3000 pixels wide (to give me painting space), and I've uploaded it here at 2400 wide, because I know a lot of folks looking at these posts are trying to work out how to get these effects ... it really, really helps if you can get to see the piece at Very Big Size, close to the original. So, it will take a little while to download, but if you're looking at ways to do the same kind of work, you and I both know it's far easier to reverse-engineer a BIG image.

Posing the model took about twenty minutes -- and a lot of it was about flying the camera around rather than turning Michael 4 every which-way. A really good "weightless" pose was a good start. Then, import the dolphin and basically use the x,y,z controls to turn it this way and that -- get it the right scale and so on. As I said, Zygote's dolphin ain't rigged (or at least the freebie on 3D World's disk wasn't), so you're stuck with the one pose.(Rigging is where a solid model is given "flex" points, enabling its sub-parts -- for instance, the fins and flukes -- to be moved independently of the whole. And, note to self: I've heard that you can rig a model in DAZ Studio 4 Pro, which I have, and which to date I've only ever used as the bridge to get from DAZ to LuxRender, via Reality. So ... must get into Studio 4 and figure out how to rig models!!)

This is "just" a raytrace. There was no point setting it to render in Lux, which would have taken about a day, because I was going to use so many "atmospheric" ... or in this case, aquatic ... overlays that all the nuance with which Lux would have imbued the characters would have been smothered by these overlays.

So ... a good face/body morph; a great pose ... the critical thing was to get the lights right. I did this with three colored distant lights, and shot myself in the foot. I'd got the lights juuuuust right before I painted the background. It was only when the background was painted that I realized (doah!) I had the sunrays pointing dead opposite where the Studio lights said the sun was. The lights were therefore jogged around to agree with the background. Then ... render.

The raytace took about seven or eight minutes -- long enough to wander off and make some tea. Then, the 3000x2500 raw render went over into Photoshop for lots and lots of painting. The aquatic effects were dead simple, and the one that gives the best effect was the simplest. I took a displacement map that creates a rippled surface on a plane (to give the appearance of a pool or lake) in the 3D render environment ... resized it, plunked it into a Photoshop layer at the "top", and gave it a Merge mode (blend) of Overlay, and an opacity of 18%. How easy was that? Some of the bubbles are .abr brushes ... the motes and impurities in the open water were actually painted into the background before it was imported --

The background was hand painted, using several undersea photos for reference and inspiration, and the motes, whatever you want to call them, in the water, were done with (!) Ron's Magical Snow brushes!

One of the things I'm most pleased with in this one is the way Poseidon's hair is foofing out with the water movement -- it looks so realistic. This was handpainted over the top of the Neftis Danyel hair, which the model is wearing. (He's also wearing the JM Alexander skinmap, but I've done "stuff" with it to make it "shine," for want of a better term.) The fish scale kilt is the Euros Skirt, with new textures and maps everywhere.

And that's basically it. If you're wondering about where the lights are (or would like a peek at the flat-plastic model of the dolphin, pre-painting), have a look at this screencapture from the DAZ Studio workspace, at larger size -- it also shows the orientation of the camera, if you notice the cube floating in the top-right corner:

Yup, I plopped the light representing the sun right where the sunrays were painted into the background. And if you'd like this as a wallpaper, you're in luck. I wanted it too, so I made a version that will fit nicely on either desktop or laptop:

...enjoy! It looks a treat on my desktop monitor -- am looking at it right now. Nice. And I do believe I'm going to do more with this face/body morph. I like it a lot. Aside from "Poseidon," he doesn't have a name yet ... I think he needs one.

Jade, March 7 2013
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