Learning Dark Arts

Come learn the art of 3D computer generated art and animation. This blog deals with the lessons learned and the art created by Robert G. Male using DazStudio from Daz3D. Also covered are the ancillary software, tools, techniques, and processes needed both before and after rendering in the 3D software.


Spell casting woman.

R.M.T.P. Co.


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March 9, 2007

Virtual Paper, the Future of the Past

Last night I was working with some PDF files. I'm using pdfMachine, which acts like a printer and sends MS Word documents or images from Paint Shop Pro to PDF files. Then I have CutePDF to assemble books together from these two disparate sources. Given the first program is free and the other was like $50 or something like that, I shouldn't complain, but I do have issues. For starters the old version of Paint Shop Pro I have doesn't work that well in this process. I cannot set custom paper sizes so I am stuck having to make all files A4 size and scaling down pages with text and pictures makes for pages much less sharp than I would like. Text is such a pain in image form.

In CutePDF I can take pages of different sizes and make them uniform but it runs into the blurriness issue as well. I found out that animation rendering isn't the only intensive process for the computer. A 200+ page PDF file takes a fair bit of processor chewing and memory to manipulate. Still, I guess it's worth it to use the premiere document format of the web aside from good old trusty HTML documents. Speaking of those beautiful if still sometimes aggravating web pages, I have something special that I'm working on to show off here. Not that I'll upload it to my gallery, but I will link it up for all to see. Hopefully that will be Monday.

March 8, 2007

Projects Upon Projects

I thought I'd leave off from talking about the animation for today, or maybe a couple days while I find time to do something with it again. I have more pressing matters, although I might set the computer to render a small scene while I'm asleep. Any way. I have to put together some image style banners. What I mean by that is I have headers on web pages that are just plain text of an appropriate size. I need to make them pretty banners that not only look better but are representative of not only the overall style of the site, but also individually important or tied to the topic of each page.

A perfect example is for the History page. I immediately made the header a scroll with the words on it. That's what I'm working on. It's not the highest priority, or I'd be sunk because I've been super slow at even coming up with the ideas let alone implementing them. However it has to be done, and sooner is better than later, at least when I'm done rushing the super rush jobs ahead of the rush rush jobs and just the rush jobs. I think they will need to be fairly simple given the way I have to make them with my limited skills. Hopefully though I can work my way up to something better... or outsource...

March 7, 2007

More About Computers than Art

I had to reboot the computer last night due to some software installations. I tried to get into the CMOS to see if I could switch the boot up order of the hard drives. Let me tell you, the new computers are a real nightmare. It took me twelve or more attempts to open the CMOS. There is a small opportunity to issue the command and half of the time my monitor is still blank at that point. To overcome that I pressed the keys at varying times trying to hit the right timing. This caused the computer to think there was a keyboard error. When this happened Windows would start up and neither the keyboard, nor inexplicably the mouse would work. This meant having to force a power down.

Now before the MS haters jump all over this, this is the case, motherboard and CMOS manufacturers faults so stand by, hold your piece, and let the Mac people be all smug. : ) Now once I got into the CMOS I asked it to switch the order of which of the two hard drives boots. I saved the change and let the computer load, and nothing. I give up. I'll just have to try and work with new software installed under XP instead of my tried and true (and lost disc) MGI Videowave. I guess there is nothing to do but generate a couple clips and see how well they go together.

March 6, 2007

Plans of Attack

As has been suggested by my trusty commentators, I can output the animation I have as a series of stills. I have a copy of the Animator program that comes with Paint Shop Pro 6. I use it to make animated banners and other simplistic goodies. I do not know if it can handle all of the required frames at once. It has memory issues. I'm fairly leery of working with things in chunks. I fear that they will not sync up that well. I have much more confidence in fiddling with audio files because of the software I have for that. Maybe I just need a little more trust.

On the front of chunks of video, I have a piece of software to assemble those with if I can get the secondary hard drive in my computer to boot up. It's running Win98, but that's okay for the purpose I have in mind. I do not know the timeframe of outputting video with this software on this new computer-the original computer suffered a literal explosion inside the power supply. It might take a while to link the chunks together, but on the hours scale instead of days. The problem with old software, and even putting together stills in animator is how to apply a compression codec to the final result. It's not much good if a little video fills up my server space online.

March 5, 2007

Renders and Mean Determinations

I've taken the scene that I used to render my little darkened animation and added to it. I decided that an excellent effect would be to add multiple lights to the scene. These lights would make shadows that effectively move and dance. It would be absolutely amazing, I have to imagine, if done right. Now that I know enough to check parts out in render along the timeline I can be sure that it will at least won't be waste of time. I may not get the full effect of it without enough samples, but I think it would be enough of an indication that it was working. I have run into something of a snag though.

Snag isn't the word though. More like seemingly insurmountable wall. I added six lights. Three of them would have shadows on. Here's where the problem lies. The original shadowed light was a distant light. The three shadow creating lights I've added have to be spotlights. This is because I cannot put a distant light in the tunnel. The render time using these four lights is five times that of the single light. This scene would require fifteen days to render. Beyond the simple inconvenience I know this computer can't sustain itself that many days even if I didn't touch it the entire time. Memory clogs up, weirdness things happen, and the render would be stopped. I get about seven days before I have to reboot. This is a no go situation.

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Robert G. Male

Name: Robert G. Male
Location: Ontario, Canada

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