Monday, July 29, 2013

Recent Renders & New Directions

There have been a number of approaches and projects underway, but none of them is ready for posting here.  This little overview is done is the spirit of the journey, showing what's was started and what's holding it up.

Time of Day


I am expanding the 2EZ lights(see index), to reflect the time of day for  outdoor scenes


The set here is La Piazza from Dreamlight.  This is a fantastic set and seeing this video about the set actually got me to start trying 3D Art

Although it is a budget buster this set is an exceptional value.  For those of us with limited machines, there is great news, too.  Because this set comes with a viable partial loading approach you can include as much stuff as your machine will handle and eliminate (better yet never load ) portions of the village that are outside your scene.

The 2EZ light approach uses only two lights, one of which is very static and one of which is carefully aimed for the current scene.  Now with time of day both lights are static and if they are to be accurate the scene has to have an unchangeable north/south orientation.  The camera must be moved around to find good opportunities.  I was deeply concerned that there wouldn't be enough light for a large scene.  The excellent lighting that comes with the set is composed of many, many lights.  But I think it is going to be fine.  I have a few times of day that are right and a few more that need more work.


Here you can see what I mean by some parts of time of day still need adjustment.  I am trying for and "experiential" time in which noon should feel like flooded with light and almost overwhelming lign.  This is working good on the buildings, but definitely not on the pavement.   

I love this set so much that I am planning a long project where I pretend to live in this town, for a while, make some art and have an exhibition  -- an artist's residency.  I have done actual artist residencies a number of times, so I have something to go on.  This project is a little bogged down because although this is a truly great set, it has a number of features that can make you crazy --  The mountains are on the same skydome and the sky so you can only rotate the sky in you don't care about consistency of the mountains. ( 90 % of the users of this set will think I'm a little crazy, but I have to change this before I move on.

Character Development

These characters were developed using the 2EZ studio and character grouping I introduced in Modeling Monday 5.  This needs some expansion too, especially in saving poses and expressions.  V6 is out now and the method of parenting clothing is different from V5 and Genesis.  Both are different that V4/M4 figures.  The methodology has worked for me in developing and documenting a cast of characters for a graphic novel and I think it work be useful for animations as well.  I need to refine it so I have a single method that works for 3 generations. Its already working for Gen4 and Gen5, so I am hopeful that Gen6 will fit it as well.

Headshot Studio

I am working on a headshot studio that is as packaged and versatile as the 2EZ Studio, but concentrates on head shots.  The lighting becomes much larger with multiple approaches that differ for male and female subjects.  This is the part of character development and scene development that takes the most time for me.  In my opinion, so much of what the character can communicate comes from pose (especially head and neck) and expression.

Expression Research

So much happens in the face - identity, emotion, attitude, mood, personality, and more  Its hard to find a way to improve our results.  The end is intuitive, when we think a connection is there, when the character feels alive, ...

Fortunately there are some avenues to expand knowledge and lead to better results.  In psychology, there is a concept of universal expressions and these universals are covered in the expression sliders available in DAZ Studio.  Again the three most active generations are different, but the mechanism is there and I am learning how to use it and planning to share what I learn.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Modeling Monday 6


A GOBO is something put in front of a light to create light patterns or shadows in the image.  The term comes from theatrical lighting where it stands for Go Between Optics.  The focusing high power stage lights put some limits on GOBOS that we can overcome in 3D Art.

The are made as simple geometric shapes in an image editing program such as GIMP, Photoshop, etc.  Even simple image programs can make GOBOs.

Here are some GOBOs for light patterns.

Create a plane with DAZ Studio's Create menu -> CreatePrimitive...

Name it in the scene tab to easily distinguish from other planes the scene. Then use the GOBO image in the Opacity Strength image (small down pointing arrow then browse to the GOBO image)  The black portion will become invisible and the white portion will block light.  Be sure your GOBO plane has cast shadows on.

Place this GOBO plane behind the camera (so its not visible in the scene ) and in front of a light.  Its possible to get a good idea where the light is going to be my looking through the lights view (in the camera drop out list)

It doesn't work with a distant light because the distant light is everywhere and doesn't have an effective position.

Substitute a spotlight for the distant light ( sun in the 2EZ light setup ).  This light is blocked by portion of the GOBO as expected plus it has the added advantage -- the spread angle controls the width of the light cone which allows keeping it from going around the GOBO.

The results in the image can only be seen correctly in a render, the preview is not entirely accurate for this effect. A good way to tune the effect is with shadow softness the image above is 25%

Once a good GOBO location is set up,  It is easy to try out the library of GOBOs, but just substituting different GOBO images in the Opacity Strength of the GOBO plane.

Lighting GOBOs are usually are exposed to high heat and extreme magnification,  so they are usually cut from sheets of metal, which limits what they can be.  3D scenes don't have these restrictions, so it is possible to use grayscale images for more effects that black and white.

These images can be prepared with contrast changes, etc.

Color is possible, too.  Because Opacity Strength is an absorption model colors are inverted.  To invert a color subtract each of its RGB values from 255.  So if this orange  200 200 0 is wanted use 55 55 255.  The resultant color will be close, but is strongly influence by light color and the color of the surface it strikes.