Saturday, August 22, 2015

When things go wrong -- you learn something new!

Good old Michael 4 himself ...
The actor: "Screentest, take two!"
(He's pinup size . Enjoy.)
LuxRender: an exterior noonday sun render:
Street scene in Mos Eisley. (Well, that's what it looks like!)
Byce 7 Pro:
A surreal arctic land/seascape with fog and glare
LuxRender: an exterior sunset render:
Sunset in the woods.
WTF?! An all night render, and
Lux gives me crap? Say, what?! And --
Problem could be inherent in the skinmap, because it has gobs of probs
even when you just attempt an old fashioned raytrace, Hmm. But --
LuxRender and a DAZ Studio raytrace of the 100% exact samemodel. You gotta be kidding!
Lovely detail rendering up in the street scene ... LuxRender. Nice.
Extreme closeup in low light ... also LuxRender. Nice!
There's an old saying that you learn a lot more when everything goes wrong than when it's all going smoothly. The old wisdom is absolutely spot on. It's been a long, long time since I had a render go catastrophically wrong and take two days to fix, but I guess you're never too smart to never have this happen!

The other day I had a fancy to create a whole new Michael 4 character. Fact is, I'll be using the old M4 for a while longer at least, because I don't have a spare grand to invest in the Genesis 2 system and new Reality gear. So, if I'm going to be flirting with Michael 4 for the foreseeable future, why not have fun? Cool in theory. So ... okay, one new character coming up. Here's the idea: he's a young actor trying out for a part in a fantasy film. The original idea was to have "ooparts" in there somewhere ... like, a wristwatch, smartphone, camera. In fact, I never got that far!

A new face and phsyique (designed by self), new arrangement of an existing hairdo (Aether hair); one of the really nice skinmaps, with a very good venous map (JM Falcon for M4). Set it all up with a quick series of test renders in DAZ Studio, send it to LuxRender, and --

Urk.  The wheels came off utterly. There's something about this skinmap that Lux hates. I tried a dozen different things to get better results, all to no effect, by which time I was frustrated enough with the process to go right back to Studio and see what I could wring out of a raytrace. Set it up again, and --

Urk. The skinmap is glaring with highlights as if the model is coated up with a gallon of baby oil. I tried everything I know in the surfaces settings to fix this, with absolutely no result at all; and confess to being rather flummoxed. It's been a long time since I abandoned a render! Then, on a whim...

I went into the parameters for the lights. Not the skinmap. The lights. Selected "diffuse only," and did another test render. Well, now. That certainly cured the glaring highlights -- the only trouble being that the "diffuse only" render is so flat, the model now looks like he's wearing a thick coat of body makeup, that "bronzing mud" the catwalk models wear. Then inspiration struck.

The solution was to do two renders and blend them in Photoshop. One shot with the glaring highlights, t'other with the bronzing mud effect. Lay one over the other and fade 'em together till it's juuust right. Then, lay over a blue-gray cast to dial down the brilliant colors, plus a couple of "washes" in the margins of the shot to make them more interesting. Done!

So what you see here is "just" a raytrace, but if I do say so myself, it's a very nice on. Fact: it's way superior to a bad render from Lux. Sure, it ain't gonna  rival the photographic effects they'r getting with Michael 6, whom LuxRender appears to adore; but that's fine. Those days will come.

(Speaking of which, it was mentioned to me that I was "courageous," showcasing the cutting edge figures and art on the blog here, when I know I'm not competing. Courageous? Well, it's not a competition, is it?! And if it were, I know what it'll take to put me on the touchline in front of the Liverpool goal, with the goalie flat on his face twenty yards away. Anybody got a spare grand?! No, I haven't, either! Not right now, anyway.  Next year. Also, am thinking of the thousands of fantastic renders done over several years by great artists in Poser and Studio ... the fact is, if the photographic realism of the later Genesis models, added to the super-realism of the top-end plug-in render engines, will negate all that gorgeous art --! No way. That's not just wrong, it's daft. A great picture will always be a great picture.)

But what went wrong between this skinmap and LuxRender? Search me. I never did get it figured out. And it's not like I haven't used this skinmap before -- I have. A lot! Like ...

L-R, Gil Cronin and Joe Ramos, from the NARC series.
Inspired by, and courtesy of, Mel Keegan.
 ...this one, above, for a start -- posted Feb 15, 2012. Joe Ramos (a key supporting player from Mel Keegan's NARC series of novels) is wearing it. Swoon, am I right? It's a gorgeous skinmap. So what in the name of the patron saint of 3D artists went askew?! if anybody out there knows, drop me an email. You can still reach me at jade @ dream-craft (dot) com. I should mention, for the record, that since Dave and I officially left DreamCraft behind, the domain itself has passed into the hands of Mel Keegan.

Back to the drawing board! There's a lot more to learn about LuxRender ... and it's not to late to learn a thing or two about good old DAZ Studio itself. Experiments will commence, LOL.
Related Posts with Thumbnails