Friday, October 25, 2019

Dark Prince meets Elf, in Iray -- technically impossible, but...

You know that saying, the one that says you learn a whole lot more when things go wrong than when they go right? Well, safe to say I've learned a hulluva lot in the last few days! Because nothing worked out the way it should. But I managed to find enough work-arounds and fixes to say that I know a lot now that I didn't a week ago.

Dark Prince Dae meets Ferendir the woodland elf ... both rendered in Iray. That's a Genesis 8 figure and a Michael 4 character in the same shot. Anyone who's ever tried this will probably tell you (rightly) that you can't render the two together, because the Iray lights that suit one are disaster for the other. To get the light right for G8 --

-- means setting Photometric lighs, which are way too bright for M4, by a factor of 4x or 5x. If you tone down the light so Michael 4 looks right, the G8 figure looks like he's standing in the dark. Soooo, what's the plan, if we want to have the two standing in the same scene?

First, make it simple and use a backdrop to cut down on render time, because you need to render the scene twice. Pose both characters as if you were about to render them together. Set up the lights, too. Then go into the Tone Mapping and play with the shutter speed on the virtual camera (!) to change the light levels -- figure out two levels, one for each character. Jot this down! Now -- whichever character is standing behind gets rendered first, with the shutter speed set for him: but while you make this image, "hide" the other character, plus hair and costume. Store this "bottom layer" render. Now, re-set the shutter speed for the character who's in front, and "hide" the other character ... render again.

You now have two renders, one of each character, both shots perfectly exposed. Paste them into two Photoshop layers and just ... erase the area of the background in the top layer, the part of the background dude is standing in the other shot. Yep, as you erase a swatch of the background in the top layer, it's as if you're painting in the other character, he just ... appears, perfect.

Well, mostly perfect. The truth is, the lighting is off a tiny little bit: Genesis 8 should throw a mild shadow over Michael 4 ... but you would need a very keen eye to spot this. I could have hand painted it, if it was critical, but it isn't so important ... and it's a rather nice picture. Yaoi image, anyone? I get definite Yaoi vibes off this!

So we'll call this done, and file the trick for future reference.

Less success with the experiments with the JM Falcon skinmap, though. I'd had high hopes for this, since it raytraces so well. Based on great results with the Ferendir and Atlas skinmaps in Iray, I'd rather hoped for another stunning result with Falcon, but --

Nope. It looks halfway decent when you see it at postage stamp size, as above -- but see it at full size, or even at 50%, and you'll see the truth. It dithers! This means it refracts, or breaks up, into a mottle of red and green in the Iray lights; and on top of that, it's so matte, I had to do all sorts of things with it to give it anything like the "glow" of healthy skin. Well, dang. So Falcon is purely for raytracing. Harrumph. Then again, I wasn't overwhelmed with the way the High Rez M4 skinmap rendered in Iray either. In a raytrace it looks pretty good, and in Lux, or Reality, it looks fine. But Iray didn't seem to get hold of properly it at all. It was basically ... pale and matte and fairly ho-hum. Is the term naff?

Anyway, there are plenty more maps to try out, and lots of things to play with. I shopped a couple of sales at Renderosity ten days ago, picked up some lovely toys and a couple of new shaders. Here's a quick look at two of the many items a acquired -- catalog images; see Sveva's Store for the lot:

It's just a question of finding the time to play with all this stuff. Have been so busy lately -- but I'm getting there. Back soon with more -- loads of experiments just begging to be done!
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