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May 16, 2006

May 2006 Calendar Girl

Image is NSFW

I'm running a little late again this month, but here she is, our May Calendar Girl.

May 20, 2006

Raging Storm

Image is NSFW

This image was a little surprise for me. It was just this vague idea that formed out of a combination of poses I saw in other images, and then the rain came. I didn't really think that much of it at the time. It just happened.

It's been a while since I did any technical details on one of these images, so I thought I'd just toss out a few thoughts.

  • The girl is the same basic model I use in just about all my images with women, but she has a "morph" on her that I bought a few weeks ago for about $10. It makes her look a lot trimmer and a bit more athletic. It's the same one I used in YABP #6.
  • Her hair, which you can barely make out in this light, is dynamic strand-based hair. I now use hair props a fair amount, but once you stray outside the normal head/neck positions, those props don't hang well, so I frequently just let physics do the work.
  • The rain is a prop I bought last year for about $10. It does fog, snow, rain, etc. It's really just a series of parallel planes that you can put transparency maps or other effects on. Its real value is just in all the presets it already has.
  • Dimly in the background, you can make out a wall and some trees. Again, these are props, and I think I paid just a few bucks for each. The wall was a steal since it was part of a larger castle construction set with towers, gatehouses, bridges, etc.
  • The platform she's on is just two cubes. I put a procedure tile texture on it with procedural stone and some turbulance to the tile alignment and displacement.
  • The little puddles are just a plane I dropped onto the platform. It uses a procedural "spot" texture for transparency and displacement, and I used that to trigger some lighting effects on the water. They don't show strongly, but they made a noticeable difference in my test renders.
  • Much of the skin texture is also procedural, setup by a script I paid about $5 for -- one of my best value purchases of all time. It allows me to get anything for extra freckles to rough skin, but in this case I used it to punch up the highlights of wet skin. About the only thing it couldn't do for me here was to put water droplets on her skin.
  • The pose itself was my own -- in fact, it was the main purpose of the effort -- but it was pieced together from other saved poses, e.g. a kneeling pose for the legs, an outreaching pose for the arm, etc. Then it was just free-form tweaking and adjusting through the UI. It had started as a meditation pose, but I didn't like what it did with her feet.
  • It's lit with four lights: a dim light from above hitting the whole scene, a bright spotlight from above just on the girl and platform, a dim spotlight from the side to give a bit more fill, and a dim ambient fill light for the whole scene. Both the ambient light and the bright spotlight used "occlusion shadows" which give the shadows a better look. It's a cheaper way of faking global radiosity. It's not as good, but it's decent.
  • All of this was done in Poser 6, a cheap little rendering system that's really geared towards the hobbyists. As such, it doesn't really get much respect from an industry filled with $3000+ packages, but it's got a shallow learning curve and remarkable power in the nitty-gritty details. The total work time on this (i.e. actual time fiddling with it) was about 90 minutes, maybe less. Most of the test renders took 5-10 minutes, and the final render took about two or three hours -- not sure as I left it running overnight.

But despite all that, I couldn't draw to save my life.

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