Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Nice. Can we do it again? Plus Amberlight -- and a tough assignment...


This was the project a couple of months ago. The assignment was a toughie: dream up a cover that reflected not one but THREE stories, because this one was for an omnibus edition in which you had spacecraft in the Jupiter system, Bengal tigers in the wilds of NW Tasmania, and a "western" set in a post-apocalypse, nuclear-winter scenario. Okay -- you come up with something that rolls those ideas together!

I was lucky, in that I'd rendered the spacecraft and Jupiter for another cover a couple of years ago (the job was done wholly in Bryce 7 Pro, including the planet). That got me halfway there. Then, a digital painting of a tiger, and a shot of blizzard-driven snow. Then the job got easier: compile everything into a coherent whole AND leave room for the typography! Anyway, I enjoyed the job, though the paperback cover presented a whole 'nother challenge, not because the work was hard, but because Amazon's new paperback generating engine is changing  -- as so much is changing at Amazon right now ... ask almost any indie author ... there's hell to pay behind the scenes: both the publishing and retail engines are having kittens at this time. Took me (me!) three goes to get it right, but here's the final result:


Very pleased with the end result for this one. (Incidentally, if you're interested, you can find the book online here, in a variety of ebook formats and also the above paperback. Christmas is coming, and all that. Okay.)

That's the beauty of digital art: you can re-re-rework a piece without having to go back to scratch and start over. Imagine if a conventional artist had 20 hours invested in a work, and it was done, delivered ... then the commissioning party (maybe publisher, editor, even writer) said ... very nice, but can you make him a bit older?

Which is exactly what happened late last night! I get a surprise email from the writer saying -- after the fact, mind you! -- "Can you put a few years on him? And incidentally, we're changing the title. Thanks." Meaning, the character created for cover of Falconstone, which I showed you yesterday, because at the time we all thought the bloody thing was finished. Can we age him a little? Hmm. Soooo...

Back to the project files, make the character older -- but not too much older. He has to go from looking 27 to looking 32. Subtle. It's all in the shadows, perhaps the fullness of lips and jaw, the upper eyelids. I went right back to Morphs++ in DAZ, reset a lot of parameters, changed the lighting, and the result is this:



...the fact is, the author's right. The model does look better a few years older, and the effect is very subtle. We're not talking about aging someone from 30 to 50. Just a handful of years ... what a difference they make. And yes, it's very simple to change the typography. What was Falconhurst has become Falconstone ... why? Well, it turns out there is already a book, or books, doing the rounds under the old title, and they're not very "savory" books, something to do with slave culture in America in the early-C18th. Ick. So by all means, let's change it.

Anyway, that is quite ENOUGH work for the moment. It's only yesterday whenI was saying art ought to be fun, so I'm going right back to...



These were done in a fantastic program called Amberlight. It's a load of fun to play with -- have had it for a couple of years now, have done a LOT of art with it. I'll upload a swag more of these in the days to come ... also some paintings which I did last year.

My next work will be something exotic. And yes, I know (!) I've been left far, far behind by the new Genesis models, Michael 6, the new render engines, what have you. But let's see how far one can drive the old software. Can't afford the upgrade price just now, guys. One day. LOL -- if anyone has been following this blog since the outset, you may recall that in the early days I couldn't even generate shadows! My computer was so wimpy at the time, as soon as I turned on shadows, DAZ crashed to the desktop! That was fixed with a new machine. Then tons and tons of investment in models and assorted programs. It ain't cheap, and right now I have to be careful. Still, let's see what we can do.

More soon.
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