Monday, February 2, 2015

Sunlight in LuxRender and atmospherics in Bryce 7 Pro

Achieving real sunlight is difficult in any render engine,
bu there's a knack to it. LuxRender gets you halfway there
by virtue of offering "unbiased rendering."
Depth of field is turned ON in this shot, which gives
a beautifully natural photographic effect .. check out
that background! A photo stripped in? Nope.
The whole thing was done in LuxRender.
The exact other end of the scale from the
photorealism of LuxRender is the cartoon
render function of DAZ Studio itself ...
never experimented with this before. Fun!
Bryce 7 Pro is really starting to do what it's told for me now ... it's
only taken about three years of fiddling about before the
proverbial penny dropped! But drop it did, in the end.
Bryce atmospherics can give great results:
check out that depth of field, and how the
horizon is soft with ever-increasing haze. Nice.
Two left-side images: DAZ Studio. All others: LuxRender.
Loads more goodies to upload. 

Getting LuxRender and Bryce 7 Pro to "play nice" has been one of the good things that happened in the last couple of years. Each system is enormously complex -- dauntingly so, in fact; but if you persevere, they eventually start to make sense. Of the two, LuxRender is the easier to master because the Reality "bridge" between DAZ Studio and Lux proper is designed to make the job ... well, not "easy" as such, but doable. The Bryce interface is something of a logistical nightmare, especially when compared with Vue; so it's no surprise that Vue is where I'll be going next. As good as Bryce images can be (and some of them are amazing, especially the phenomenal landscapes of the greatest Bryce artist anyone knows, David Brinnen), Vue work is ... well, distinguishable from photographs only due to the fact that reality don't never look that purfek'!

And even now, I haven't gotten the new harddrive for my desktop! So I'm still loading scenes into LuxRender via DAZ Studio 3 files opened through retro-compatibility in Studio 4 ... which faffs about like you wouldn't believe when asked to open a Studio 3 file. Suuuure, it'll open the file, but due to the way it reads directory structure, half the props will be missing. For example: you wanna see a male nude, the whole picture, rendered in Lux? Uh huh, so would I. But DAZ Studio 4, when opening a Studio 3 file, leaves the poor man's dangly bits behind. Michael 4 arrives as an unhappy castrato. (And no, I can't install Michael 4 into Studio 4, due to the aforementioned harddrive problem. It's a long, long story. And no, I haven't switched to the Genesis figure, for unavoidable reasons which are way too complex to go into here. And no, Reality 2.0 will not work in tandem with the final version of DAZ Studio 3, even though it swears up and down that it will. Go figure. And yes, I know that the new version of Reality is out, Version 4.0.x ... and I'll be getting this when I have the new harddrive. Oy.)

However, that new harddrive won't be far away, and the good thing is that in the two YEARS I've spent battling to stay alive and sane while not having one braincell to even think about upgrading the PC ... the hybrid drives are now about 25% of the price they used to be. Which means I can get a HUGE-capacity drive for the same money. Which means I can get Vue, and the new Reality version, and the newest version of Poser, and "triple-install" all my 3D props to suit these various programs; and I might even be able to afford to get the PC's chip updated. When Dave got me the system -- fastest on the market 38 months ago -- the workshop put in one of the best motherboards in the country with a heat sink that'd cool Vulcan's forge. So I oughtta be able to just update the chip and bring this baby right up to current spec. Hope so.

Click the pic to see larger...
One of the things I'm currently trying to learn (still!) is how to hand-paint really good, realistic hair in Photoshop. This is an artform in itself, and when you start to work on human figures in LuxRender, you really must learn it ... because LuxRender has a nasty tendency to render 3D toupees badly. The finished render can look like the model is wearing a plastic bag on its head. It's surprisingly nasty. Spoils the shot. So, hand-painting hair is something you just gotta learn.

The work is done in Photoshop, with tiny brushes, a Wacom Bamboo ... and a hell of a lot of practice. Am still getting there, but when it works, it works. This one, at left, is fairly decent -- also gives you a closeup squiz at the face work done on the Michael 4 model to give him an "alien" aspect ... he's about three inches tall and has pointed ears and lovely blue wings, as well as a foot-high battleaxe with which he could probably chop your foot off at the ankle if you strayed too close to the bottom of the garden where this faery clan hangs out! This work was done in good old Morphs++ for M4, and the effect is extremely nice. This is just a crop out of the middle of the main render (it was a 40-hour render ... you wouldn't want to do it over!), and -- check out that background. A photo stripped in? Nope. The whole thing was done in LuxRender, right down to the most distant tree, with the sunlight cranked up high and the depth of field turned on. Nice. The best hand-painted hair I've seen yet is done by digital artist Nan Fredman, who frankly waltzes rings around the folks who're tutoring this subject in ImagineFX magazine. Right now, I can only aspire to those effects, but I'm getting there: prektiss, prektiss, prektiss.

Jade, 3 February 2015

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