Monday, December 27, 2010

Is it Live, or ... ?

After seeing an image from a Morgan brochure, I couldn't help but wonder whether perhaps the company hadn't yet built a copy of the vehicle-- and therefore, hadn't actually photographed it.

So I tried a small feasibility study:

Although my "lacquered aluminium" surface settings aren't quite up to their contractor's skill level, I think that's more a matter of my relative inexperience, rather than any intrinsic limitation in the consumer-grade gear I'm using. Still, the demonstration was sufficient to satisfy me that the original image was, beyond a reasonable doubt, synthetic.

[2011/01/15: Edited to expand technical mumbo-jumbo content.]

For any DAZ Studio aficionados who wander by, this character is a nearly stock Victoria 4.2, with just two Stephanie 4 head morphs, plus a smidgen of The Girl 4-- the latter used mostly for adjusting her head-to-body ratio:
- Grace (Head) 66.7%
- Lily (Head) 33.3%
- The Girl 4 (Head) 12.5%

Her top is Jan19's Coed Chic - the Layered Look. The stretch pants are from JoEtzold's S.H.A.D.O. Uniforms packs (specifically, the HQ-Pant item.) And her slippers can be found in Richabri's V4 Lacewear set.

That hair billowing in the slipstream is from the Project Sailor Moon page at The Realm of Savage. Remarkably versatile, despite having been designed for a specific character.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Montecristo Habana Cigar Fake

Under the raptor-eyed vigilance of its Moderators, spam around the R3 Forum generally evaporates quicker than a midsummer's dew. But on this occasion, I happened to be logged in early enough to witness the Dadaistic splendor of "Free Image Gallery Cigars: Montecristo Habana Cigar Fake" (or whatever the exact subject line was.) I ask you, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, how could any absurdist cartoonist reasonably be expected to forego that opportunity? Hence the costume vaguely reminiscent of early 19th-century dress, as a nod to Monsieur Dumas, and the digital fakery (of yellow sticky note technology.)

No actual yellow sticky notes were harmed during the production of this image.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sculpting a Humanoid

Well, this time, the special the DAZ3D folks ran was on their sculpting app-- so I took a break from chipping away at Blender's brobdingnagian learning curve, to start chipping away at Hexagon... Here's the result of running through the documentation's first tutorial, "A Wild Space Creature."

And, for the sake of silliness, here's a render with a sci-fi wall panel texture applied, such as you might see in an old first-person shooter game. This one is from Bogwoppet; his gallery on ShareCG is well worth checking out, especially his rendered backdrop images.

I haven't tried rigging this for posing; that's a while 'nother kettle of tutorials, and I rather suspect that a bit more planning and tweaking are required to build joint areas into the mesh so that they'll bend reasonably. But still, this app is impressively productive, right out of the gate.

Amusing footnote: these are the first renders I've posted in which all the meshes, apart from the two square-plane stock primitives, are of my own construction. Gettin' dangerous... 8^D*

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lobster Woman vs. Pillbug Man!

R3 Jam: Insect Characters

"Foolhardy isopod! Your multitudinous yet functionally uniform limbs are NO MATCH for the specialized POWER of my CRUSHER CLAW-- and my CUTTING CLAW!"

After another forum member suggested that "Bug Characters" might be more "grammatically" correct, I seized upon that opening to point out that grammar didn't give a fig which noun we were using-- but that taxonomy did!  Thereby expanding the discourse to include the Phylum Arthropoda, and opening up "a whole 'nother can of crustaceans" for my merciless exploitation...

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Anomalous Data

Um, Pasadena, we're seeing some anomalous data in the feed from the rover... Yeah. THAT data. And, along with the image, there appears to be a text message:

"So, is that your Instrument Deployment Device-- or are you just happy to see me?"

This is my second contribution for the R3 Redheads Jam.

Once again, a visual gag, rendered via DAZ Studio. I first posed the girl in mid-air as if she were sitting in a chaise lounge, holding a drink, and amusedly regarding something off to her right. Naturally, I then proceeded to BUILD a chaise lounge, and a drink, and a bangle, and so on... and finally stumbled upon a suitable "something" in the Google 3D Warehouse, courtesy of Alvaro. The weird skydome texture is from an old landsat photo snagged offa the internet years ago; not sure where that was originally from. Hair by Kozaburo again. One of these days I should learn how to use Omnifreaker's shaders to speed up rendering on more modern (read: complex) hair props, to where my aged PC can handle them; but, for now, the simpler stuff still works well.

And now, in an attempt to maintain this blog's R rating, some gratuitous nudity:

This image used a more sophisticated lighting rig, to get the shadows Down There to work properly. Also, a fairly aggressive wide-angle lens, for artistical distortion effects. Ooooohhh...! 8^j*

Here's a closeup of the actor's "amusedly regarding" expression (from an earlier render):

And finally, while I had the location available (so to speak), I couldn't pass up one touristy scenic snapshot. Plus, after manhandling DAZ's Millennium Environment terrain into the scene, I needed to showcase that work a bit.

I'm also rather pleased with how my modest little lighting rig helps harmonize the colors of the image here. Not bad for three fill lights and one shadow caster.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sylvia (Detail)

R3 Jam: Redheads

Sylvia: Process Notes

Being an old monochrome pen-&-ink and graphite type, I have a pronounced tendency to fall into full tonal black and white renderings, unreasonably early in my drawing process.

However, when the topic is REDheads, this'll need a little more work.
All right then, let's drop in some more-or-less flat base colors . . .

. . . and use the old Multiply mode trick with the BW layer:

Uhm, eeuuuw! Well, that's gone a bit necro, hasn't it?
[Side Note-- This is one of my pet peeves with the default settings on consumer-grade 3d rendering gear: all the shading being added via deadening grays. On flesh tones, no less. What could they possibly be thinking?]

So, in years past, I used to use Image->Adjust->Curves with a nice preset I saved, to convert my grayscale layer to sepia. Which at least got the fleshtones to behave. But, it made touchup edits awkward, the layer no longer being in simple gray. And other items on that layer didn't necessarily need to be shaded in skintone sepia either.

Well, on an as-yet-unreleased project, I stumbled upon a sort of backwards use of the Overlay mode. Traditionally, you use it on a grayscale-patterned layer, to apply texture to a color layer below. But you can also use it to apply color tones to grayscale. So, here's Sylvia's overlay layer . . .

. . . and its effect on the BW layer:

Used a traditional orange-brown sepia on the props, and a magenta range for her skin shading. Neutral on the sclera and blue for the irises. And yet-- I can continue to edit my still-monochrome BW layer, while immediately seeing the final effect on the color image! Sweet!

Finally, flatten all the layers together, et voilĂ !

Thursday, May 27, 2010


R3 Jam: Pirates!

Enough to get the idea across, anyway. The rest of my week is booked solid; I wanted to get in on the first wave of this jam; and, as you can see, this design would allow for an indeterminate timespan of fidgeting with details. Hence the sketchy b&w sandwich with scrumptious gradient filling. 8^D*

-- calling for a ration of grog all around for the ARRR3 Army

Sunday, May 23, 2010

That's Some Giant Glowstick

And another render. This one was triggered by a brief thread in Chup's Poser Art Blog touching upon a technical lighting problem. Hey, an art-tech research question? How was I supposed to resist that? 8^D* So, about a week later... (!)

I'm not sure how useful this would be to Chup, unfortunately, as this is (again) a DAZ Studio render, and I don't know if Poser has equivalent weird lighting gadgets. But anyway-- this was rendered using omnifreaker's UberAreaLight and UberEnvironment2. The former, to provide a tube-shaped light source, and the latter, some general ambient lighting. I'm not sure if it's something I did wrong, or if it's a feature-- but having an UberAreaLight in the scene seems to disable shadowcasting on distant lights (i.e., a light source that emits parallel rays, like sunlight.) Specifically, if I try to toggle on their shadowcasting, they go out entirely! But I figured the same author's ambient lighting (and more) gadget would probably be compatible-- and it was. =Whew!=

I also added a couple of point-source lights, parented to the giant glowstick, to light up the inside of her hands and the ground surface near the tip. For whatever reason, the area light seems to illuminate only past some minimum distance, and I couldn't puzzle out a setting that affected that behavior.

Victoria 4.2 is still from DAZ3D, of course, and the other visible objects (apart from the UberAreaLight giant glowstick) are my usual motley crew of Gnabbist-built geometrics. Including that odd helmet-like thing on her head.

-- "That's some bad hat, Harry."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


A foray into a new medium. I've been immersed in the learning curves for DAZ Studio and Blender for a while (and, to some extent, SketchUp, although I got addicted to that years ago)-- so, when an art jam over on the R3 board sparked an interesting idea, it ended up falling into that workflow.

It's in keeping with my personal tradition of pretty much ignoring the character, and instead indulging in hokey wordplay. Which explains why there's a blaze here, and a tidge of modesty...

Traditional 3D Renderer's Acknowledgments:
- Kozaburo built the "Messy" hair (and the "Allback" hair, which I pressed into service as a bun.)
- Adam Thwaites provided the unworn bra and the fire texture. (From the incredible wealth of freebies at his site.)
- The Victoria 4.2 figure, what little she IS wearing, and the rendering application are from DAZ3D.
- Blender and UVMapper allowed me to convert my Sketchup models (a couple of geodesics, and the little miscellaneous scenery-filler standup that's carrying the fire) into a format that DAZ Studio could import.

All of the above being (astonishingly) free for the downloading...! A boon for impecunious artists-- provided, of course, that you can afford the massive timesuck of learning this stuff.

Educational Value: Pretty much the lighting.

The fill lighting comes from three "distant" lights, arranged at "random" angles to each other, to avoid having two soft shadow lines combining and painting a bold stripe across the model's skin. Or, to quote Dr. Spengler: "Don't cross the streams. It would be bad."

The firelight is simulated by three point-source lights of varying hues sprinkled into the vicinity of the fire prop. Which, like the sky dome, is completely lit by its own ambient light-- everything else is zeroed out. Including shadows, cuz it looks silly when your fire casts a shadow. 8^j*

One moderate spotlight provides the overall key light, revealing contours and casting shadows.