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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July 28, 2008

Topsy-turvy Blender Groovy

The Render Editor and my all-powerful Vertical Blend does have one downfall. It seems, though it didn't entirely make sense to me, that it only works well with merging the images toward the bottom of the renders. The threshold bars are set so that the primary begins to be blended into the secondary with the starting threshold bar set at a lower number than the ending threshold. There is no function to switch this, so the first thing I tried to do was turn the image upside down in the Render Editor. This doesn't work though because the rotation of 180 degrees to make it upside down is done after the blending is finished. The source renders cannot be turned over in the Render Editor either. This leaves only one solution. You must render the two pictures upside down by inverting the camera.

It's a small and trivial price to pay to turn the camera upside down. So... why am I using this Vertical Blend? What's the point? Well I have an example in the Grotesquerie named "Mandy Money Drop". What I did in this render is cast a red light on the background, outside of the windows in the scene. However that red light was only meant to affect the ground and the trees, not the mountains and the sky. This required, aside from turning the cameras upside down, rendering the scene with the red light turned on, and again with the red light turned off (or vice versa). Then I dragged the two renders into the editor and did a vertical blend cutting off the red entirely on the bulk of the mountains and blending that red light into the rest of the mountains that are even with the high points of trees, then the rest of the background was left alone with all of the red shining on it.

Music: Hot For Teacher by Van Halen.

July 21, 2008

Render Album, My Pal

When I first installed it I didn't much see the use of the Render Album. Sure I was given it free, but what was it really for? Was it just to save renders until you lost them when closing the program? Was it for seeing what you changed between one render and the next? Not to mention, why did it have no icon when you put it in the toolbar? It was just a blank button, though that's been improved upon. There were some controls in the Render album but they seemed clumsy compared to what I was working with in even my old Paint Shop Pro which I've continued to cling onto like a rat on a piece of driftwood in the unending ocean of computer software development time. It's only been recently that I have discovered the one must have feature in the Render Album.

Looking at it now, the add-on's name has been changed to Render Editor. It looks no different to me, aside from the light its been cast in by what I'm about to tell you. The must have function is the 'Blend Options'. How it works, is that you drag two renders up to the 'Image Source' section, a primary and a secondary. Then you chose one of the 7 options (the 8th or 1st is none). The one that I've made almost extensive use of is the Vertical blend option. What it does is take the top part of the primary render and the bottom part of the secondary render and blend them together. There are sliders to determine how much of the primary is left untouched, and how much of the secondary is left untouched, with the middle part being blended smoothly. I'll talk more about this next time.

Music: Good Night Sweet Girl by Ghost of the Robot.

July 14, 2008

Primitives Broke My Render

Let's see if I remember how to blog after so long not doing it. I had a good hiatus I guess. Like any vacation, even one from a single facet of weekly work, the time is never enough time off. I put together a lot of renders while I was gone. Very few of them have been added to my gallery yet. A couple of them will not be available in my Artzone gallery due to their possibly graphic nature. Anyone interested in seeing them will have to go to The Art of Robert G. Male, even then there's one or two reserved for other less public (though still accessible) locations online. In making these new renders I learned a number of things. Here's hoping I haven't forgotten most of them. I learned about some helpful tricks in DazStudio using: the render album's capabilities, reflections, the limitations of a number of scenery sets, where Windows Vista hides the saved files, and how to deal with a new installation of all your sets when somehow they don't end up in all the right locations (a problem with redoing long-standing installations).

Today though, I want to talk about a major problem I stumbled upon. I likely should take this to the Daz forums; they were much help with the re-install issues that plagued me. You get to read it here first though, since it's freshest in my mind of all these topics. I started with an object, it was made of a figure, in this case the Millennium Skull, and two or three sphere primitives. I saved the file and as part of the plan I had envisioned imported a second copy. I did a bunch of work with these two figures. Then I saved the scene for the night. When I returned the next day I opened the file and did some more work, then I tried to render. It immediately came up with an error that the render had failed. I cancelled the failure notice and the program froze. I forced Daz closed via the Task Manager and tried again with the same results. Some days later I made an object wholly out of primitives, and likewise, it would render as many times as I wanted until I closed Daz and tried to render it after re-opening. Obviously, for whatever reason, a scene with multiple parented primitives becomes render-unstable after closing the program. Anyone see something similar? Anyone have any suggestions?

Music: Fates Warning by Iron Maiden.

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Robert G. Male

Name: Robert G. Male
Location: Ontario, Canada

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