Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Starting a revamp on the old blog ... and about time!

The Shaman, in LuxRender
Woodland glade, in Bryce 7 Pro
Mist on the great River Anduin ... in Bryce, of course
Bryce again ... city waterfront on a misty, moonlit night

After years without a change, a revamp of the blog is in order, and a good place to begin is with the header art. The toughest job is finding something to fit the constraints imposed by the template. It has to be 980 pixels wide, and I'm using 300 high as a nice ratio between height and width, though it could be anything. 

Looking around among all my LuxRender images, I realized belatedly, not a one of them would drop properly into the required dimensions. Rats. So, somewhat paradoxically, the image you see above is a crop taken from a raytrace done in good on DAZ Studio 3 ... and then painted ten ways from Tuesday in Photoshop. I'll have to see if I can get something going in Lux that will fit the dimensions! It's so odd, because I rarely use DAZ Studio itself any longer.

The Shaman is quite an interesting piece; and you're looking the composite version here. I did three -- a rough in Studio, to make sure everything was in place, then two in LuxRender, one with the depth of field turned OFF, and the other with DOF not only turned ON, but also with a virtual aperture that gave boatloads of blur in the back- and foreground. Then it was a simple matter of shipping both the images into Photoshop as layers and blending them together to get the "juuust right" image.

If you're interested, see this at large size:

I've uploaded that at a good, big size, so you can see what's going in. Neat.

Once again, here I am hand-painting hair, which is something I once swore up and down that I'd never do. The reason is simply that the 3D hair props (wigs, toupees)  so often look baaaad when you render them in a high-end render engine. It's been said before that rather than redesigning their interface, DAZ should really have worked on a better render engine within Studio. If only! I keep hanging on, waiting for Studio 5, which might have been brought closer to something I want to use. At the moment, Studio 4 is still their flagship -- though the Genesis figure which replaced Michael 4 and Victoria 4 has gone into its second generation: Genesis 2. Wow. I still haven't dabbled in this, because no matter how good the figure is, you're still stuck with the crap interface and even worse render engine! Patience, grasshopper. One of these days I'll get into it, I guess. Or else Studio 5 will come out with a gorgeous interface ... and maybe Genesis 3 will be shiny and new to go with it, and I just won't be able to say no.

One question that's very frequently asked of digital artists is, how much post work is done on the art? And in particular, on landscapes? Well, it depends on the work, really ... but you'd have to trust Bryce, much less Vue itself, to do most of the work. After that, you get into Photoshop and do all sorts of stuff to it, but the basic image itself has to be 70% of the way there. For comparison, here's the Mist on the River image, just as it shipped out of Bryce 7 Pro:

And for those who tuned in late and are seeing just the new header art, here, below, is the old art, which was done in Studio 3 with a Bryce 5-generated backdrop and a modicum of over-painting ... and this one was done so long ago, it was over-painted in GIMP! It goes back to the inevitable time when (at last) I got a 64 bit computer that utterly refused to load Micrographx Picture Publisher, which forced me, kicking and screaming, to look into GIMP, because Photoshop was so vastly overpriced, it wasn't going to happen for me any time soon!

In fact, it's so long since I changed out any element in the template (been too sick for too long to even think about it), I'd forgotten how! I believe they've changed the interface not once but a couple of times while I was sidelined with personal problems. I hope ... knock on wood ... that I'm back to blogging regularly now. I used to enjoy this, and am looking forward to doing it again.

More soon, images drawn from the enormous cache of goodies that have been stockpiling while I was in dock...

Jade, Feb 18, 2015.

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