Sunday, January 20, 2019

Snake Charmer ... and a thoroughly alien world

CG character design: Snake Charmer

The Conjurer becomes the Snake Charmer ... except it isn't a snake. It's a little creature that looks alien -- in fact, the same critter that was the size of a house in the render last week! One of the best things about working in CG is that you can change the dimensions of anything and everything. I guess what you have here is the hatchling version of the gigantic creature the magician was "charming" on stage in the other render. (I was looking at an image a few days ago: a baby dragon sitting in the palm of someone's hand, and I thought ... hey, I can do something like that, but not with a dragon! This little fellow is known as the Dinoconda. Lovely thing to work with.) 

Nice! The "plastic" appearance of Michael 4 is thoroughly gone; there's a lot of integrity in these renders now.

I've been working in super-saturated colors lately, because I love firelight, lamplight and so on: it paints surfaces in reds and golds, which my eye just adores. But the other night we were watching one of the new CG animated movies, Resident Evil: Vendetta. Have you seen it? This one has some of the best CG character creation, mocap, texturing and lighting I've ever seen. About 35% of the time you just can not tell that these aren't real human beings. (Sure, 65% of the time,  you can tell. The character that lets this one down the most is the girl: it's a Japanese movie, so they made a doll. It just doesn't look real, sorry dues. But two out of three of the main male characters look very real indeed.) How good is this:

The rendering in this one is superb. Better even than Final Fantasy II, which -- even though it was made almost 20 years ago -- is still the best of the FF movies (notice, I said movies: not talking about the game here). 

And looking at the understated color in the stills here got me to thinking about working with desaturated colors, so I stripped most of the color out of the Snake Charmer, and this is what you have:

...that has a charm all its own. But I still prefer the color saturated one. Could be just a trick of my eyesight, but I do love color.

Also been puttering in Bryce 7 Pro. Trying to get photorealism, and not managing it yet. Starting to wonder what in the world I'm doing, or not doing! Here's the best I've managed to date:

Bryce 7 Pro: highlands. Not too bad, but...
It's not bad, but it's far from what I'd call photorealistic! Am getting cross with myself for not being able to figure this out, because I know for absolute sure, Bryce will do this. Like...

I have no idea where this comes from (thank you, Pinterest ... a credit would help, now and then, guys!) but to my eye it has David Brinnen "stamped all over it." I'd give you odds, this is David Brinnen's work. I'd buy his tutorials, if I could afford them, but at A$50 a pop, they're out of my price bracket. Need to figure this out on my own. So ... keep going.

So, in a fit of pique about not being able to generate a really photographic picture (yet), I thought, ah, stuff it. Let's do SF instead. Alien landscape. Right:

Alien landscape in Bryce 7 Pro
So there we are, done for the day, I think ... it's hot and humid, and I need to get a cool drink, sit in front of the a/c and pick up my book. More soon. 

(I'd love to tell you I'm writing something, but I'm not. It's too hot lately to even think. I did sell another short story, though. That makes three short story sales so far, which is very neat. And I won an Honorable Mention in the SF Writers of the Future competition a few months ago, which was also very nice. But no, I'm not writing anything at the moment. Too hot. Maybe when the summer is over...)
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