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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May 31, 2007

I Don't See the Light

I guess it's about time to talk about my other still picture project. I took an already complete scene of Victoria 3.0 in her faerie costume sitting in a hole in a tree in the woods. She holds her hand palm open and there is a point light hovering above that open hand. I rendered it and you see the light from the point shining on her with a nice glow. However the glow has no visual source. I fixed that by putting a sphere primitive at the centre point of the light. Another render and the light now has a source, but it's pretty sad looking. Enter pwGhost and one of it surface alterations and voila the sphere looks pretty awesome.

There is one thing missing though. The ball is mage of light in the render, there is light shining on Victoria, and there are shadows as appropriate. However there is, to me at least, a huge visual disconnect between the ball of light and the light on Victoria. I feel as if there should be some kind of light "streaming" off of the globe, or at least a sort of corona of light around it. Maybe it's unrealistic, or at best my results might be, but I have to try. The only thing is I that I haven't the slightest clue how to begin. I do not know if I would need a tool that I do not have, practically a project killer at this point, or some sort of process.

May 29, 2007

Back At It

I did something over the weekend that I've wanted to do for a while now. A while back I blogged about setting up a short animation in Daz3D that would take a tonne of rendering time. I had a figure that follows a movement file. I was using Aiko, and lacking any clothing sets she was wearing only the "cat suit", though unnaturally red as it was, and shiny, some people still thought she was naked with her skin ripped off. So I had turned it to blue to alleviate that. I've now fixed it all better thanks to the Mechgirl set. I was going to just use the boots but I like the whole ensemble so on it went. I left out the weapon though since that would take forever to alter the movement for.

The set for this little animation is Corroded City. Long ago I oriented the motion to walk Aiko into the tunnel where I have set up lights and everything. I then stalled on doing anything with it because of the time and the intense computer power that is required to render the scene. Almost all of the processing comes from the effect of the lights, which includes what I hope will be some excellent shadow work. Last night's render of 20 frames took a little over 10 hours to complete. I have rendered about 100 frames so far, 120 if you count the test I ran to check how long it would take. The whole thing will take about 20 nights like last night, I figure. Pity the results are so short, but I hold hope that they are fully worth it.

May 24, 2007

Ghost Picture in My Gallery

I went ahead, after testing out a tip from the comments of my last blog, and did what I said I was going to do. I picked a picture. I added a "plane" primitive to my ghost scene rather than a cube. I applied my picture to the plane, scaled the plane and moved things around to compose the scene. I had issues with sizing since making the background plate an appropriate size, and at the same time keeping it focused, was no easy task. This is a flaw with using a background plate. The scale of the plane has to match the size of the picture with which it is being skinned, within certain parameters. If not then it magnifies and therefore pixelates the picture. Then your figure placement has to work with the size of your render, or you get empty space to be cropped out, or the camera must be placed closer, even too close.

This was not the only issue I had. With the background and the pwGhost modded figure together and rendered there appeared a lighted area toward the middle of the ghost. It did not appear in the render without the background and I saw no reason for it with the addition. I added no lights to the scene so that wasn't it. I ended up fixing it in post-production, along with fixing the eyes so the irises can be seen beneath the eyelids, but not through them. I tried for a while, but gave up on trying to "ghost" them a different colour. Now, I titled the picture "I Don't Belong Here". There's a reason for that. Ghosts don't belong in the cemetery because everyone there is laid to rest. So for a ghost to be there something must have happened. There has to be a story behind it. Of course there is another completely different story possible if the title is a quote from the ghost. I love those double meanings.

May 22, 2007

A Cheat I'm Looking to Try

The other day I was talking about my surface altered ghost. What I would like to do now is to put that little spook into a good picture. I think I'm going to cheat to do it. Rather than buying a setting set, or twelve, like I'm thinking of doing later when I have some disposable funds on hand, I think this is what I am going to do. I need first a good picture of a creepy location. I might have one on my hard drive already. I collect pictures as I see them, both for story inspiration, and for aids in my role-playing games.

Once I have a suitable picture I need to pair the ghost up with it. Normally I would take the render of the ghost that I already saved as a .jpg, and crop out the blank background. Then I would place the ghost over top of the picture at a position that both looks good and appears to be scaled right for distance. There is one problem with this I think. The ghost was rendered as a "ghostly" figure, using a black background. So it would be a black and green ghost, no background details visible through it. My fix, and I think I know how to do it, is to create a cube primitive, and apply my picture as the surface of one of the sides. Of course maybe I can't do that. I'll tell you how it went next time.

May 17, 2007

Ghostly Layers and Deficiencies

I wanted to talk today about my little ghost project. As I mentioned earlier I took a Casper-like ghost figure from one of my packs I downloaded to work with the pwGhost (sorry for the misnaming/misspelling the other day) tool I bought some time ago. I posed my ghost and I applied the appropriate appearing preset of pwGhost and then nothing much appeared to happen. I sorted out that it needs to be rendered first. So, I got everything set and then I rendered. It looked pretty good. There was one problem though. There is no definition to the eyes. That part of the head just looks kind of "blank" for lack of a better word.

The problem appears to be in setting all of the surfaces to be affected by the pwGhost "software". Everything is ghosted in the same fashion and too many of the wrong things overlap as well as other bits not "tracking" well. My first fix was to go in and give the irises of the ghost a colour. That is followed by not applying the surface change to the irises. Of course this makes the irises totally apparent through the ghosted portions as well. This is something easily fixed in postproduction, at least for still images. I do have to wonder what one does for video aside from fix every frame manually. The other thing I have to wonder about is using pwGhost with more complex figures that have teeth and tongues. It seems I might end up with other visual messes in such a case.

May 14, 2007

Returning From Hiatus

Here I am, back from my time off from blogging. Let me just start by saying, I did much of nothing outside of necessary web design work, and some of my online gaming. Boy was it a joy. Needless to say I did next to nothing that I had planned on. I have set up two templates for the review's site though, so I can get some new reviews uploaded soon. I have the text of the reviews, and now the templates (for two movie categories); so, it's just a matter of putting them together and grabbing the Amazon.ca code for the sales portion.

As for writing I did nothing. Catching up on newsletter emails I got nowhere. The game as I said progressed some and I have a few ideas floating around for the future. The players are dealing with some things now, and getting some idea of where things are going and how things are going to be. The story is shaping up excellently on several fronts as well as, I think, building in some good opportunities for the players to do their thing and stretch their playing skills.

On the art front I did spend a little bit of time in Daz3D. I was toying with the presets for pwGhost, a shading/surface program plug-in for those not familiar with the name. First I used it on the very Casper-like ghost figure that I picked up in some pack of figures or other. Then I had a bit more of a dramatic idea. I opened up the faerie forest within the V3 Basic freebie. It has a scene that has everything in place. In it Victoria has a glowing light raised above her open hand. There is no object there to account for the glow from the light, so I put in a sphere, and then made it semi-transparent and textured with the pwGhost.

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Robert G. Male

Name: Robert G. Male
Location: Ontario, Canada

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